From meals at the dinner table to potlucks and special festivities, family recipes can link generations and families. Food is not only a source of nourishment, but a way to bring diverse groups of people together to bond and celebrate life.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Darren Middleton's cooking is influenced by the Indian influence there.
“Although I have never been to India, there is a very large Indian population in the United Kingdom,” Middleton, a professor of religion, said. “Indian food is on practically every corner.”
This love for Indian food was sealed during his time as an undergraduate student at the University of Manchester.
“There was a long road called University Avenue and every other store was an Indian restaurant in this community," Middleton said. "The running joke at the time was that you would graduate on time if you ate at every restaurant."
Middleton's favorite Indian food dish is Chicken Tikka Masala.
It's made with roasted chicken in a spicy sauce called masala. Masala is often made of garlic, ginger, and onions, and is served with Jasmine basmati rice or Indian naan bread.
The creamy curry sauce can satisfy a range of palettes. It can be varied for a diner who prefers more spice, or for someone with a taste for milder foods.
“Some say that all Indian food is very hot. It does not have to have a heat to it, although it can," Middleton said.
Although it might be ordinary to some, the significance of Chicken Tikka Masala to Middleton is anything but simple. The meal is significant, reminding him of the pluralism of the United Kingdom and his memories as a student back home.
In 2001, Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, stood up in the House of Commons and announced that the national dish of the United Kingdom was now Chicken Tikka Masala.
“It’s that popular”, Middleton said. “You can get it anywhere, even in a British pub”.
Not only is Middleton’s favorite food readily available in the UK, it can also be found locally in Fort Worth.
The Bombay Grill on Donnelly Avenue is known for their Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.
Middleton, a regular patron at Bombay Grill, joked that he should have a frequent flyer card for all the times he has eaten there.
For Middleton, Chicken Tikka Masala tells the story of a group of people and a culture much different than his. But it has shaped his life.
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut in 1 inch cubes
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 piece minced ginger ( 1-inchinch" long)
- 6 bamboo skewers ( 6-inchinch")
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapenos, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garam masala ( buy in Indian market)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Soak bamboo skewers in water.Thread chicken on skewers, and marinate (in the refrigerator) for an hour or so.
- Discard marinade.
- For sauce, melt butter on medium heat.
- Add garlic & jalapeno; cook 1 minute.
- Stir in coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala & salt.
- Stir in tomato sauce.
- Simmer 15 minutes.
- Stir in cream; simmer to thicken- about 5 minutes.
- Grill or broil chicken, turning occasionally, to cook through- about 8 minutes.
- Remove chicken from skewers; add to sauce.
- Simmer 5 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro Serve with basmati rice, naan or pita bread.
- Note: You can make your own garam masala. McCormick also makes garam masala; it's available in super markets.