London Series: Chicken Tikka Masala from Sipson Tandoori

I was so intrigued. When I first heard that the national food of England is Chicken Tikka Masala, I thought that someone was pulling my legs. In a few days I was in London, some people (mainly Indian taxi drivers) told me the same thing too. Here is what I learned the past few days — let me know if I get this correct.

Masala is an Indian term that refers to a mixture of many ground spices. What does the word Masala mean? Spices? And Chicken Tikka Masala is really invented in Great Britain. So, I figure since I am in London I must simply try the national dish. πŸ™‚

I had blogged on the Sipson Tandoori the last time I was in London here. I vivid remembered making an unkind remark about the “pretty dumb” paper bags the delivery came with. I had the tendency sometimes to be brash, I admit. He he he … the paper bags I guess will always be there but at least this time, the curry did not leak all over the place.

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Got a question for you, Rukya. How many pieces does people normally order the papadam? When I ordered ONE piece, the person who took my order sounded so surprised. I mean, the papadam is such a large piece that one is more than enough for me. Guess what, when they delivered to me, they game me four pieces. Hey, I have no complain. I must say that Sipson’s papadam is simply one of the best I had tried … they are so crispy and flavourful … and they tastes just as good the next morning. 50p per piece but they charge me only for 1 piece — nice!

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You know, most curries looked and tastes the same to me. So I really can’t figure out what Chicken Tikka Masala is. It looked and tastes like Butter Chicken but am sure it is not. Rukya, can you tell us about Chicken Tikka Masala?

The curry gravy was awesome — very rich and if I recall correctly, it was not spicy hot. I enjoyed this a lot. This one costs about 8 GBP.

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I also ordered the Bhindi Bhajee … fresh okra (a.k.a. ladies fingers). I like ladies fingers and there are lots of this here. One thing about okras … the seeds do not breakdown in your body right? πŸ™‚ 3 GBP.

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I can’t remember what this is … but if I make a guess, I think this is the Lemon Rice which is described as “Basmati rice cooked in ghee flavoured with fresh lemon“. 3 GBP.

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I enjoyed this meal in the hotel room. There were lots of food. I do come away having the impression that London has some of the best Indian cuisine restaurants in the world.

Sipson Tandoori Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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  1. Ben,

    I can just smell the wonderful spices you have there in the hotel room. I’ve heard from some of my Indian friends that the UK has the best Indian food. The first place I was introduced to Indian food was in Hong Kong (an old British colony) and I’ve never had better since even after living in Silicon Valley.

    It’s true that the British have a real fondness for Indian food. I asked one of my UK colleagues what he was going to do on the weekend and he said, “Go out for some curries.” rather matter-of-factly. Say what you want about how uptight British people are but the ones I know are some of the most cosmopolitan/educated people I’ve met.

  2. ooh.. I love indian food! Masala.. from my understanding, it’s just a mix of different spices, different people mix it differently. Not sure if that’s correct.. And papads… are YUMMY….. usually umm.. I have quite a few at a go.. but that’s me.. I like it when they give it in a basket

  3. i just got back from london 2 weeks ago, if you’re in soho you _have_ to check out mela. the best indian food anyone in my party has ever had. it’s on shaftesbury ave, you can look up all the details online….

    i have a couple hdr images of my trip on my website too. check em out if you’re bored.

  4. Anyone know where in Vancouver area can you find good papadams? I want some NOW!

    Hi Rukya: I am curious … won’t you eventually take over running the two restaurants? I assume so. I am getting comfortable at roaming around London already and yeah, for sure, I know where to go for Indian food. Hang around this blog … I still have a lot to share about London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.

    Hi Matt: I like your HDR shots and some of your shots in London is so similar to mine — spooky! πŸ™‚ I am home in Vancouver already. I did not manage to visit Soho at all … next time maybe.

  5. that looks so good! i love indian. i have yet to make some indian food.

  6. Hmm. I’m getting the impression that you think I’m some sort of curry guru – “Rukya: the amazing Indian cuisine know-it-all” (hahaha, sounds quite cool). Despite my father founding a couple of popular Indian restaurants which were virtually there my entire life (the first one, Grapes Tandoori, was founded in 1988 – a year after I was born) and eating homemade Indian dishes every night for dinner since birth, I have only a certain amount of knowledge about Indian food (unfortunately). There’s an entry on the wikipedia website about Chicken Tikka Masala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_Tikka_Masala) – it has very interesting information about this particular dish. You’re right; “Masala” (pronounced “mossla” in Bengali) does mean “spice” or “blended spices”. Concerning your question about the number of papadams people usually order; I’m far from the average person, but I normally eat 3-4 pieces of papadams at a time (heeheehee). Also, everybody knows that take-aways and deliveries are cheaper than eating in at restaurants, so that should explain the four-for-the-price-of-one papadams. Anyway, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your meal. I’ll be looking forward to your next visit sometime in the future.

    PS – I hope the okras didn’t give you digestion problems… the seeds breakdown quite well in my body (hahaha)!

    πŸ™‚

  7. I remember I watched a programme on BBC2 (called QI), they explained how the Tikka Masala came from:

    I can’t remember how many decades ago, there was a lad went to an Indian restaurant for curry in Glasgow. He wanted something with a lot of gravy because most of the Indian food was quite dry. So the chef put a lot of tomato in it. The lad was very impress and asked the name of the dish. The chef said it was Tikka Masala.

    Just wonder Ben, have you been to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteens?

  8. bummer, you’ll have to check it out next time you hop over the pond. πŸ™‚ i was noticing we had a couple similar shots. i didn’t have nearly enough time in london on my trip. next time i’m doing a full week.

    i look forward to using your reviews next time i’m in canada (hopefully next winter).

  9. Hi Ben! I don’t know whether I’ll take over running the two restaurants; it really depends on if I want to. I certainly don’t mind doing all the financial stuff if it means that the restaurants would stay within the family. I’m currently doing my first degree at the University of London – I would love to go into the Media & Communications Industry. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what I want to do as a career. Yes, I will hang around this blog for a while – I really want to read the rest of the London Series. DonÒ€ℒt be afraid to email me anytime!

  10. Hi Erick: You know, I too don’t find Brits uptight but do find them very “hierarchical” if you know what I mean. I can’t find the words to describe them. Oh, I don’t find them good dressers.

    Hi Maggie: I wanted papadams so much that I went to the local IGA stores to get some microwaveable ones to make at home.

    Hi Windy: So, that’s where Chicken Tikka Masala originated … Glasgow. I did not know that. Oh, I planned to visit Jamie Oliver’s 15 but did not get down to doing a reservation. I was so busy at work and the website was so confusing (i.e. different sections of the restaurants with different opening times most days) that by the time I got down to it, I could not get anything close to my schedule. Next time perhaps.

    Thanks Rukya for the tips and pointers. ALthough we never met, I felt I know you as a friend already!

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