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LONDON, ENGLAND, April 21, 2001: A bland red curry known as chicken tikka masala has joined the ranks of pizza and chow mein in culinary history. That is, just as until a few decades ago no Italian in Italy had seen a pizza, and no Chinese in China ever tasted "chow mein," now the British have not only invented an Indian-like curry, their foreign secretary, Robin Cook, called it "Britain's national dish." Some 23 million dishes are served every year to satisfy British palates, preceded by onion bhajis and cooled down by pint after pint of English lager. Retail chain Marks and Spencer sells 18 tons of its readymade version every week. The dish is spiced grilled chicken served with a thick sauce, and apparently invented to satisfy a British customer's demand for gravy with his meal. The designation as national dish has not gone unchallenged, however. Some culinary experts have proposed fish and chips, others rib eye steak and chips, neither noted for their contributions to the consumer's health.