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British CTM

By Nickunj Malik - Aug 10,2016 - Last updated at Aug 10,2016

While I was in London last week, everyone on social networking sites, including Pammi Aunty, was wishing happy friendship day to each other. What is a friendship day? I don’t know because it was never around when I was in school and had a lot of friends. To my mind it is a creative spoof on the definition of democracy, which was first described by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, as a government, of the people, by the people and for the people. Similarly, friendship day is something, for the social media, by the social media and for the social media. 

Who is Pammi Aunty? Now, if you were a regular on Facebook, you would not be asking this question but for the benefit of those of you, who like my spouse, refuse to open an FB account and think it is a colossal waste of time and energy, let me tell you, Pammi Aunty is the best thing that happened to hordes of Punjabi speaking people all over the world. Modelled on a boisterous pop culture stereotype, behind Pammi Aunty’s fancy pink glasses and giant hair curlers is actor Ssumier S. Pasricha, whose wickedly hilarious impersonation of a typical Aunt complaining about everything under the sun has made him an overnight sensation on Facebook. Pammi Aunty has plenty of opinions and advice, all unsolicited, to offer on the problems of life. Her telephone conversations with her friend Sarla are exaggerated snippets of tongue-in-cheek humour. 

Following Pammi Aunty’s hysterics, I can state with complete certainty, that all of us have at least a couple of Pammi Aunties in our lives. If not more, that is. These self-assured women know everything and are a personification of the Encyclopaedia, Thesaurus and Google Search, all rolled into one. 

But I wonder what she would think of the strong impact that CTM has made on British cuisine to become such a part and parcel of it. Short for Chicken Tikka Masala, this Indian fare is now the national dish of Great Britain, according to the Lonely Planet’s Guide. The succulent red creamy chicken with the perfect blend of spices has an extraordinary fable.

About 5,000 years ago when tandoor clay ovens were invented, the local population was beginning to raise chickens at the same time and realised both made an awesome combination. But the small bite sized pieces, which we now call “Tikka”, came into existence, thanks to the nitpicking of Emperor Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty. He was so wary of choking on the chicken bones that he ordered his Punjabi chefs to remove the bones before cooking the meat in the tandoor. The resulting delicacy was called “Joleh”, Persian for “Tikka”.

Some argue that this is not the real story. They contend Chicken Tikka Masala originated in British India where its spicy precedent was toned down to suit English palates. Regardless of its mysterious origins, organisers of National Curry Week claim that if all the portions sold in one year in the UK were stacked, they would constitute a tikka tower 2,770 times taller than the Greenwich Millennium Dome.

“Hello?” our daughter was on the phone

“Pammi Aunty this side,” I replied copying Pammi Aunty’s voice. 

“Where are you?” she questioned

“Why?” I sounded as suspicious as Pammi Aunty. 

“You want to have CTM?” she asked. 

“To celebrate FD?” I queried. 

“Oh mom!” she giggled. 


“Let’s go and make the GMD taller,” I gave in.

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I was smiling as I read this one!! Between Pammi aunty & CTM this article will have maximum Punjabi votes! amazing how you find stuff to write an interesting take on!

Hilarous as usual Nikki. Loved reading about Pammi Aunty. Yes all of us do have a large number of Pammi Aunties in our lives. But without them don't you think life would have been so insipid.

Never having heard of Pammi Aunty and a recent convert to vegetarianism too boot, I still must say that I enjoyed reading the fast paced column essentially on what is known as 'trending', by the ubiquitous and all pervasive social media.

Your latest column is a perfect blend of humour and food which everyone loves, Nickunj M! Pammi aunty has bowled over his audience with witty ones. With his funny videos he is keeping alive the rapidly vanishing generation of Sarla bhenjis’. I loved reading your write-up as much as I love eating chicken tikka masala.

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