Ahhh, curry. Everyone loves a good curry. There are those who pride themselves on trying to track down the last authentic curry in London (difficult, Brick Lane caters mainly for tourists unless you know what to order), and there are those who just want something tasty. Then there's those who egg each other on to eat the hottest, spiciest thing they can just to prove their credentials. This node is about these latter folks.

In 2001, then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stated that "the British are a mongrel race and the national dish is Chicken Tikka Masala." The thing that, in retrospect, bothers me about this line the most is that he was completely right. Chicken Tikka Masala was (until recently, when jhalfrazi overtook it, thank Odin) the most popular curry in Britain. It's inoffensively mild, usually comes in a box, and is a slightly alarming shade of orangey-beige. It's also not very healthy and thus suits the average Briton right down to the ground. It's also completely inauthentic (i.e. not really from India) and apparently invented in Birmingham. Or was that balti. I forget.

Seasoned curry-munchers sneer at Chicken Tikka Masala. The authenticators because it was invented in Brum or wherever. The tastemeisters because it tastes of... well, nothing really, and the hotheads because it's not hot. These latter group will say to you if you order this, "yeez're a bunch o' homs?!" if I may quote Viz's "Sid the Sexist." They will go and have their double mutton phaal with extra peppers and a ridiculously belt-hitching name like "Satan's Ashes." They won't spare a thought for Britain's national dish in their élitism.

They have not tried my Chicken Ninja Masala.


  • 2 skinned, boned chicken breasts
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 200ml single cream
  • 2 squirts lemon juice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chopped coriander
  • 20g grated ginger
  • 1 large splat tomato purée
  • 7 tsp naga jolokia paste
  • 7 tsp cayenne chilli powder

1. Cut up chicken and marinade for 30 minutes in vegetable oil with ginger, garlic, 1 squirt lemon juice, chopped coriander, and so forth.

2. Cut up onion. In a large karahi or wok, heat up some more vegetable oil and cook yon onion and yon chicken until sealed. Then bung in the cayenne powder and naga jolokia paste and simmer for about 5-10 minutes on a low heat.

3. Stir in the cream, turmeric, cumin, tomato purée, and what have you. Simmer gently until done for about 5-8 minutes. What I do is bring it to the boil then turn the gas right down.

Serves two to four. Dish up with basmati rice and nan.

Want to know why it's called Chicken Ninja Masala? Well, it looks inoffensive and safe, like the aforementioned Brummie dish, but then, when you least expect it, it KICKS YOU IN THE THROAT. This concludes my writeup and begins your dinner. Oh yum yum.

(IRON NODER 2011, 7/30)

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