Glasgow chef Ali Ahmed Aslam, credited with inventing chicken tikka masala, has died aged 77.
The death of Ali Ahmed Aslam was announced by his restaurant Shish Mahal in Glasgow, which closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect, The Guardian reported. The diner posted: “Hey Shishsnobs… Mr. Ali passed away this morning… We are all absolutely devastated and heartbroken.”
He invented the dish by improvising a sauce from a can of tomato soup at his Shish Mahal restaurant in the 1970s, he died on Monday morning, his nephew Andleeb Ahmed told AFP.
“He had lunch at his restaurant every day,” Ahmed said.
“The restaurant was his life. The chefs would make him a curry. I’m not sure if he ate chicken tikka masala very often.”
Ahmed said his uncle was a perfectionist and very driven.
“He was sick last year and I went to see him in hospital on Christmas Day,” Ahmed said.
“His head was down. I stayed for 10 minutes. Before I left, he looked up and said you should be at work.”
in 2009 in an interview with AFP, Ali said he came up with the chicken tikka masala recipe after a customer complained that his chicken tikka was too dry.
“This restaurant invented chicken tikka masala, we were making chicken tikka, and one day a customer said, ‘I’d like to have a sauce with this, it’s a bit dry,'” Ali said.
“We thought we’d better cook the chicken with some kind of sauce. So from here we cooked chicken tikka with a sauce that has yogurt, cream and spices.”
The dish has become the most popular dish in British restaurants.
Although it is difficult to definitively prove where the dish originated, it is generally considered a curry adapted for Western tastes.
Ali said that the chicken tikka masala is prepared according to the customers’ taste.
“Normally you don’t get hot curry, so we cook it with yogurt and cream,” he said.
Supporters of the campaign to give the dish protected status point to the fact that former foreign secretary Robin Cook once described it as an essential part of British culture.
“Chicken tikka masala is now a true British national dish, not just because it’s the most popular, but because it perfectly illustrates how Britain absorbs and adapts to outside influences,” – in 2001. said Cook in a speech about British identity.
Originally from the Punjab province of Pakistan, Ali moved with his family to Glasgow as a young boy before opening Shish Mahal in Glasgow’s west end in 1964.
He said he wanted the dish to be a gift to Glasgow, to give something back to his adopted city.
in 2009 he unsuccessfully campaigned for the dish to be given Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Union, along with champagne, Parma ham and Greek feta cheese.
MP Mohammad Sarwar in 2009 submitted a motion to the House of Commons calling for EU protection.
Ali leaves behind his wife, three sons and two daughters.
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