Ahmed Aslam Ali, a chef in Glasgow, died aged 77, a family member told AFP on Wednesday. The culinary artiste, who is believed to have invented Chicken Tikka Masala, was the owner of the restaurant Shish Mahal, which he opened in 1964, in Glasgow’s West.
The chef, popularly known as ‘Mr Ali’, was born in Pakistan, but as a child, he relocated to Glasgow in Scotland, with his family. He was married and has five children, according to a report by The Guardian. Ahmed Aslam Ali, who invented the dish by improvising a sauce made from a tin of tomato soup at his restaurant Shish Mahal in the 1970s.
In an interview with AFP in 2009, Ali said he came up with the recipe for chicken tikka masala after a customer complained that his chicken tikka was too 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, and spices.” The dish went on to become the most popular dish in British restaurants.
In 2009, Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central, called for the city to be officially recognised as the home of the Chicken Tikka Masala. Though he campaigned for the curry to be given the EU Protected Designation of Origin status in the House of Commons, his bid turned out to be unsuccessful.
“Chicken tikka masala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences,” Robin Cook said in a 2001 speech on British identity.