Glaswegian who 'invented' chicken tikka masala dies

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Ahmed Aslam AliImage source, AFP via Getty
Image caption,
Mr Ali, in his Glasgow restaurant with the dish he is credited with inventing

A Glaswegian chef credited with inventing the chicken tikka masala has died, aged 77.

Ali Ahmed Aslam is said to have come up with the dish in the 1970s when a customer asked if there was a way of making his chicken tikka less dry.

His solution was to add a creamy tomato sauce, in some versions of the story a can of tomato soup.

His death was announced by his Shish Mahal restaurant which closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect.

Known to friends and customers as "Mr Ali" he was born in Pakistan but moved with his family to Glasgow as a young boy before opening Shish Mahal in Glasgow's west end in 1964.

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 #shishmahal #mrali #ripmrali

Posted by Shish Mahal on Monday, December 19, 2022
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In an interview with the AFP news agency, he would later describe the moment he came up with one of Britain's favourite dishes.

"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'," he recalled.

"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."

While it cannot be proved with certainty that this is the origin of the dish, chicken tikka masala is widely regarded as a curry that has been adapted to suit Western tastes.

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 customers paid tribute to Mr Ali on social media, many recalling visits to his restaurant and describing him as a true gentleman.

Surveys have often found chicken tikka masala to be Britain's favourite curry, although chicken korma has also tried to claim that mantle.

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