Ali Ahmed Aslam, who famously invented the Chicken Tikka Masala, has died at the age of 77. The innovative chef came up with the iconic dish in the 1970’s when a customer reportedly asked if there was a way to make the classic Chicken Tikka dish ‘less dry’.
Aslam added creamy tomato sauce to the dish and created what we know as the delicious Chicken Tikka Masala Curry. In some versions of the story he actually added a can of tomato soup.
The restaurant he owned, restaurant Shish Mahal, confirmed his death and closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect to the chef. The announcement read: “Hey Shish Snobs…Mr Ali Passed away this morning...we are all absolutely devastated and heartbroken. The restaurant will be closed for the next 48 hours”
He was fondly known to friends and customers as Mr Ali Aslam was born in Pakistan but moved to Glasgow as a young boy before opening his restaurant in the West End in 1964. It has been a staple across the city, and wider UK, for decades.
In an interview with the AFP news agency, he described the moment he came up with one of Britain’s favourite dishes, saying: "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’.
"We thought we’d better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here we cooked chicken tikka with a sauce that contains yoghurt, cream, and spices. It’s a dish prepared according to our customer’s taste, usually they don’t take hot curry, that’s why we cook it with yoghurt and cream."
Former Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar once tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for it to be recognised as a Glaswegian delicacy.
Hundreds of fans have taken to the restaurant’s social media page to pay their respects to Aslam, recalling their delightful experiences at the restaurant and encounters with the man himself.
One comment read: “My very first proper curry experience. 1972. And he remembered me when I came back after 20 odd years of absence. Lovely man, very sad.”
Another wrote: “Very sorry to hear this! Mr Ali was truly a gentleman! Always welcoming and always for our (then two year old) son to enjoy a proper Shish curry. Our thoughts are with your family and friends.”