This post was originally published on May 14, 2015.
From the coasts of the Arabian Sea– a city from the past inspiring the merging of eclectic flavors from both the Eastern and Western worlds. Today, I bring you my Bombay Bloody Mary recipe influenced by Mumbai, or the former Bombay, and chicken tikka masala. The resulting cocktail is deep in rich flavors, but flavors that are just rich enough to make you lick your lips, lingering for more. As chicken tikka masala is one of my favorite British-Indian dishes, I wanted to incorporate the mouthwatering flavors of the dish into a Bloody Mary. Chicken tikka masala is tomato-based, so the creation of a Bloody Mary with similar ingredients was necessary. Before I enlighten you with the recipe, I wanted to include some details about both the city of Mumbai and chicken tikka masala.
Bombay, now known as Mumbai, is one of the largest cities in the world and is quite cosmopolitan in nature due to the blending of various cultures and its significance as a world trading center. The city is the capital of Maharashtra (an Indian state) and lies on India’s western coast. Many centuries ago, Mumbai was not the large mainland city it is today. Instead, seven islands existed that were fishing colonies owned by native empires, which were subsequently given to the Portuguese, then the British East India Company when a marriage between King Charles II and Portuguese Catherine of Braganza effectively gave King Charles II the seven islands and the ports of Tangier (1661). In the 1700s, the former Bombay was “reshaped by the Hornby Vellard project, which undertook reclamation of the area between the seven islands from the sea.” The birth of Bombay as a major harbor on the Arabian Sea arose from this reclamation; now Mumbai is the cosmopolitan center of India.The name Bombay comes from the Old Portuguese name Bombaim (Old Portuguese is a language from the Middle Ages), which meant “good little bay.” Bombaim transformed into Bombay after the Brits took control in the 1600s. In the 1990s, the name was changed to Mumbai to reclaim the Indian identity of the city.
The history of chicken tikka masala is not as clear; the dish is believed to have originated in Glasgow, UK circa the 1970s when a customer ordered chicken tikka (aka tiny pieces of chicken) at a Bangladeshi restaurant and complained that the dish was too dry. Therefore, the chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam, who was supposedly eating tomato soup at the time, tossed in yogurt, tomato soup, and spices to create what we know today as chicken tikka masala. This story is widely believed throughout the UK and even prompted a campaign to declare Glasgow as chicken tikka masala’s place of origin by means of an “EU Protected Designation of Origin,” which did not end up happening. This theory is contradicted because many parts of the whole that is “chicken tikka masala” are Indian in nature and are many centuries old, such as the tandoor ovens used to cook the dish and the small pieces of chicken known as chicken tikka. Other theories of origin include somewhere in the Punjab or Uttar Pradesh regions of India in the ‘70s (as noted by New Delhi street food connoisseur, Rahul Verma), from Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s family recipes, and in 1961 at Balbir Singh’s Indian Cookery. We may never know the truth of origin of chicken tikka masala, but you can be sure to taste the eclectic flavors within the Bombay Bloody Mary recipe I present below. As a side note, there’s no exact amount of spices used in the recipe because I literally just added a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Use your imagination and add roughly equal amounts of each spice to the Bombay Bloody Mary!
- 1.5-2 oz vodka
- 6 oz tomato juice (my favorite is R.W. Knudsen’s Organic Tomato Juice)
- 1/4 lemon squeezed
- dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- dashes of black pepper
- dashes of turmeric
- dashes of cumin
- dashes of chilli powder
- dashes of garam masala (try Spicely Organic Garam Masala)
- dashes of salt
- dashes of cayenne
- dashes of ground ginger
- dashes of garlic powder
- sprinkle of onion flakes
- slice of sweet potato or yam
- slices of eggplant
- cocktail onion
- cucumber (I bought little cucumbers that resembled pickles but were not in brine)
- Fill a glass halfway with ice.
- Pour the vodka into the glass.
- Pour in the tomato juice.
- Squeeze the lemon into the glass.
- Toss in some dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
- Add all of the spices except the onion flakes (black pepper, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, garam masala, salt, cayenne, ground ginger, and garlic powder).
- On a plate, mix together some garam masala, cayenne, and salt.
- Grab another pint glass (this is the one your actual cocktail will be in) and rim it with a lemon wedge.
- Rim the same glass with the mixture you just created (garam masala, cayenne, and salt).
- Transfer the materials from glass to glass aka “rolling” to mix all of the ingredients together nicely. Your drink should end up in the rimmed glass.
- Sprinkle the onion flakes on top of the cocktail.
- Place the sweet potato, eggplant slices, samosa, and cocktail onion on a cocktail pick.
- Place the cocktail pick horizontally across the glass.
- Toss the cucumber into the glass.
- Sip your Bombay Bloody in the spring sun, envisioning yourself on the beaches of the Arabian Sea. Enjoy!