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I've spent a lot of time cooking and writing about Indian food, and a lot of my Indian food writing time on why not to order, eat or even acknowledge chicken tikka masala. Chicken tikka masala takeaways are among the most popular dinner options in England. But it's not really Indian food.

I’ve spent a lot of time cooking and writing about Indian food, and a lot of my Indian food writing time on why not to order, eat or even acknowledge chicken tikka masala. That’s right, with all due respect to bangers, mash and the people who love them, England’s inexplicably lofty population of Indians won out. Chicken tikka masala takeaways are among the most popular dinner options in England.

But, sorry to break the news, it’s not really Indian food.

It translates well enough: “chunks of chicken in a curry environment.” Masala itself is hard to define. It does mean “spice,” but the underlying context can designate something else entirely. When I do gripe about chicken tikka masala, it’s about how Westernized it is, not how it tastes (which is absolutely delicious). So to everyone who ever demolished a container of delicious lo mein right out of the box and called it Chinese, I recommend knocking out a batch of chicken tikka masala and touting your exotic new skills with a fake British accent.