Aladdin Cafe’s Dish of the Month: Chicken Tika Kebab

To start off 2017 on the right culinary mood, the chef of Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant in San Diego recommends Chicken Tika Kebab, a fusion dish that is not only delicious but also very interesting in terms of its origin.

Chicken Tika Kebab is perfect for a healthy lunch or a light dinner enjoyed during the spring and summer months. This meal consists of two chicken kebab skewers served with fresh basmati rice, vine-ripe tomatoes, hummus, Lebanese salad, pita bread, and a side portion of garlic sauce. The kebabs are white meat chicken tenders marinated in a tika, also known as tikka, sauce and carefully broiled to a crispy and golden perfection.

The History of Chicken Tika Kebab

Although the word kebab comes from an Arabic term used to describe Persian recipes that called for grilling chunks of meat, chicken or lamb on skewers, cooking instruments to make kebabs dating more than 1,500 years BC have been found by archaeologists in Greece. Even philosophers and authors from Ancient Greece mentioned this method of cooking in their scrolls; therefore the origin of kebabs is certainly Mediterranean.

Turkish historians acknowledge that kebabs were popular in the royal courts of the Persian Empires; they were subsequently adopted by many Mediterranean cultures as a breakfast or lunch dish to enjoy with pita bread.

The chicken tika marinade happens to be popular in the United Kingdom, precisely in Scotland. In the 1970s, a restaurant that specialized in Indian and Pakistani dishes came up with the marinade by accident. A diner ordered a chicken curry, a dish that had already become popular across the UK by the 1960s. The diner complained that the curry was too dry; the chef fixed up the dish with tomato soup as well as a few spices and the result was an amazing combination.

After the accidental tika invention, Indian and Pakistani chefs in the UK started to experiment with a chicken marinade that included yogurt, tomato and other spices. The chicken was baked tandoori-style, covered with an elaborate masala sauce, and served over rice.

Chicken Tika in San Diego

Although the original tika recipe can be considered to be a British dish, the chicken tika kebab of Aladdin Cafe is a Mediterranean variation that puts the chicken tenders on skewers after they have been marinated. Other Aladdin Cafe meals prepared with the tika marinade include lamb kebab and shish kebab.

Since this is a Mediterranean-inspired dish, it can be enjoyed with iced tea, lemonade, a frosty lager style beer, blush wine, or Pinot Noir.