Ali Ahmed Aslam’s death created a flutter worldwide. The 77-year-old chef from Glasgow, Scotland, is credited with inventing the popular dish, ‘chicken tikka masala’. Aslam’s restaurant, Shish Mahal, announced his death with the following message: “Hey, Shish Snobs … Mr Ali passed away this morning … We are all absolutely devastated and heartbroken.”
On Tuesday, Aslam’s funeral was held at Glasgow Central Mosque. As a young boy, Aslam moved to Glasgow from Pakistan, where he was born. According to the Guardian, a social media post reveals that he is married with five children. He opened the Shish Mahal in Glasgow’s west end in 1964.
So how did Aslam come up with the chicken tikka masala? According to reports, in the 1970s, a customer had asked whether there was a way of making his chicken tikka less dry. So he added a creamy sauce, and that’s how chicken tikka masala was born.
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The Guardian quotes Aslam’s AFP news agency interview where he said the following: “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 yogurt, cream, and spices. It’s a dish prepared according to our customer’s tastes. Usually, they don’t take hot curry – that’s why we cook it with yogurt and cream.”
While ultimately, it is difficult to prove the authenticity of the claim, chicken tikka masala with cream and yoghurt is often believed to have been made keeping the western taste bud in mind. Reports also say that Mohammad Sarwar, a former Glasgow MP, had once tabled a motion in the House of Commons and called for the dish to be recognized as a Glaswegian delicacy.