Tributes pour in after the death of respected Glasgow chef, who invented the chicken tikka masala
Image by AFP via Getty Images
Glasgow-based chef and restaurateur who is believed to have invented the popular chicken tikka masala, loved by many in Britain, has died aged 77.
Ali Ahmed Aslam, owned the popular Shish Mahal restaurant in the city. He was born in Pakistan and moved with his family to Scotland at a young age when the restaurant opened its doors in 1964 to customers in Glasgow’s west end. He was married and has five children.
Aslam’s death was announced by the team at Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow, which closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect on Monday, 19 December. It announced: “Hey, Shish Snobs … Mr Ali passed away this morning … We are all absolutely devastated and heartbroken.”
His funeral was open for the public to attend and was held at Glasgow Central Mosque on Tuesday.
After the news of his death was announced, tributes started pouring in on social media.
A user on Twitter wrote: “I am sure Mr Ali was serving that Friday lunchtime in the summer of 1981 when I had my first proper curry with vegetable pakora, chicken dopiaza & chapatis. It was the start of my love-affair with curries. My deepest sympathies to all his family and friends.”
“Very sad news, a Glasgow legend of Indian cuisine,” a user by the name @Kingsparkrovers commented.
On Facebook, a warm tribute to Aslam was given by the Lost Glasgow Facebook page. Many users commented on the post.
Dorothy Rudge said, “Remember queuing in Gibson Street to get after the pubs had shut, my introduction to curry, can still remember the decor and that unique smell. Journey safe sir.”
“Many a Saturday night I spent at the Shish having a chicken korma. Best curry in town. RIP Mr Ali,” Mary Ann Coyle wrote.
Margo McKee wrote: “Best Indian restaurant in Glasgow. First curry I ever had was there.”
In an interview with the AFP news agency, Aslam had explained how he invented Britain’s favourite curry in the 1970s. He said that he created the dish for a customer who wanted their chicken tikka to be less dry. He then had the idea of adding a creamy tomato sauce to give it a fragrant and flavourful taste.
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 yoghurt, 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 yoghurt and cream.”
In 2009, then Labour MP for Glasgow Central, Mohammed Sarwar, called for Glasgow to be recognized as the home of the chicken tikka masala. According to The Guardian, he also campaigned for the city to be given EU Protected Designation of Origin status for the curry and tabled an early day motion at the House of Commons.
However, this attempt was unsuccessful as several other UK food establishments came forward to claim that they had invented the popular curry.