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Brit who invented the chicken tikka masala dies aged 77

Brit who invented the chicken tikka masala dies aged 77

Ali Ahmed Aslam said he came up with curry house staple chicken tikka masala in the 1970s after a customer complained of dry meat

The Glaswegian chef who invented chicken tikka masala has sadly died at the age of 77, his restaurant has confirmed.

Ali Ahmed Aslam famously came up with the curry house staple in the 1970s after a customer complained about the meat being dry.

His death was confirmed by Shish Mahal, the restaurant Aslam had opened in Glasgow’s West End back in 1964, which said in a statement on social media that staff were ‘heartbroken’.

The restaurant added that it would be closed for two days in the wake of the sad news.

“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.”

His restaurant confirmed the news on social media.
Shish Mahal/Facebook

Aslam’s funeral took place on Tuesday 20 December at Glasgow Central Mosque, according to a follow-up post from Shish Mahal.

Customers and friends flooded the comments to pay their respects, with one writing: “My very first proper curry experience. 1972. And he remembered me when I went back after 20 odd years absence. Lovely man. Very sad.”

Someone else said: "My condolences to all of his family. We used to visit regularly as a family back in the 70/80s. Fond memories."

A third added: "I was one of those who queued up Gibson street every week to have one of his great curries. It was the 70s and this was the cool place to be. I still have his recipe book. Condolences to all his family and the staff."

Aslam was born in Pakistan, but moved to Glasgow when he was a young boy.

Ali Ahmed Aslam.
Shish Mahal/Facebook

While it has never been officially confirmed that he invented the chicken tikka masala five decades ago, he always maintained it was his idea to add a creamy tomato sauce to a customer’s ‘dry’ chicken dish.

In an interview with AFP, Aslam revealed how he dreamt up the dish that would become one of Britain’s all-time favourites.

He said: "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 the sauce that contains yogurt, cream, 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 yogurt and cream."

The chicken tikka masala is now a curry house favourite in Britain.
Stephen French/Alamy Stock Photo

After his death, Aslam’s son Asif Ali spoke fondly of his father’s ‘humble beginnings’, telling the Glasgow Times: “Dad came to the UK in the late 1950s, about 1958 or 1959 and they were from a very, very, very poor background.

“When he came here, he started to work for his uncle in the haberdashery business, called Sher Brothers.

“So he would help out and work there during the day, then he also found a place with his dad to open a café and he would work there at night."

He continued: “He made Glasgow and Scotland his home, he did not look back.

“He was Glaswegian and Scottish first. He was very, very proud of being Glaswegian, very very proud of being Scottish, and it was very important to him.”

The proud son added: “He set up a lot of charities and he donated a lot of money because he was from such humble beginnings.”

Featured Image Credit: Shish Mahal/Facebook

Topics: Food And Drink, UK News, News