Ali Ahmed Aslam, ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ Inventor Dies At 77
Ali Ahmed Aslam, a Glasgow-born chef known for creating the “chicken tikka masala,” passed away at the age of 77. According to The Guardian, Ali Ahmed Aslam’s Glasgow restaurant, the Shish Mahal, made the announcement of his passing. The restaurant was shuttered for 48 hours as a gesture of respect.
The restaurant yelled, “Hey, Shish Snobs… He died this morning, Mr. Ali. We are all heartbroken and completely upset. He created the dish in the 1970s at his restaurant Shish Mahal by creating a sauce using a can of tomato soup. His nephew Andleeb Ahmed informed AFP that he passed away on Monday morning.
“He would eat lunch in his restaurant every day,” Ahmed said.
“The restaurant was his life. The chefs would make curry for him. I am not sure if he often ate chicken tikka masala.”
Ahmed said his uncle was a perfectionist and highly driven.
“Last year he was unwell and I went to see him in hospital on Christmas Day,” Ahmed said.
“His head was slumped down. I stayed for 10 minutes. Before I left, he lifted his head and said you should be at work.”
In a 2009 interview with AFP, Ali claimed that a customer’s complaint that his chicken tikka was too dry inspired him to develop the chicken tikka masala recipe.
“Chicken tikka masala was invented in this restaurant, we used to make chicken tikka, and one day a customer said, ‘I’d take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry’,” Ali said.
“We thought we’d better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here, we cooked chicken tikka with a sauce that contains yogurt, cream, and spices.”
Later, it rose to the top spot among menu items in British eateries.
Although it is challenging to pinpoint the dish’s exact origin, it is generally accepted that it is a curry that has been modified to appeal to Western tastes.
Ali, who was born in the Pakistani district of Punjab, immigrated to Glasgow as a young child before launching Shish Mahal in the city’s west end in 1964.
He claimed he wanted to give something back to Glasgow, his chosen city, by giving the dish as a gift.
He unsuccessfully lobbied the European Union in 2009 to recognise the meal as a “Protected Designation of Origin,” joining other products like champagne, Parma ham, and Greek Feta cheese.
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