Curry king, Ali Ahmed Aslam, who claimed credit for cooking up the world’s first chicken tikka masala has died

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Ali Ahmed Aslam, 77, the Glasgow restaurateur who was often credited with the invention of chicken tikka masala, died on Monday.

His son Asif Ali said the cause was septic shock and organ failure after a prolonged illness.

Aslam invented the famous ‘tikka masala’ dish by improvising a sauce made from a tin of tomato soup at his restaurant Shish Mahal in the 1970s.

The death of the chef from Glascow was announced by his Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow, which closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect.

The eatery announced: ‘Hey, Shish Snobs … Mr Ali passed away this morning … We are all absolutely devastated and heartbroken.’

‘He would eat lunch in his restaurant every day,’ Ahmed said.

‘The restaurant was his life. The chefs would make curry for him. I am not sure if he often ate chicken tikka masala.’

The Glaswegian chef is known by locals as ‘Super Ali’, tributes have been pouring in for him, since his death was announced.

Ahmed said his uncle was a perfectionist and highly driven.

‘Last year he was unwell and I went to see him in hospital on Christmas Day,’ Ahmed said.

‘Super’ Ali, who opened his renowned Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow in 1964, then created a sauce using spices and a tin of Campbell’s tomato soup which he had bought to eat while recovering from a stomach ulcer

‘His head was slumped down. I stayed for 10 minutes. Before I left, he lifted his head and said you should be at work.’

In an interview with AFP in 2009, the chef said he came up with the recipe for chicken tikka masala after a customer complained that his chicken tikka was too dry.

‘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,’ Ali said.

‘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.’

The dish went on to become the most popular dish in British restaurants.

Although it is difficult to prove definitively where the dish originated, it is generally regarded as a curry adapted to suit Western tastes.

Ali said the chicken tikka masala is prepared according to customer taste.

‘Usually they don’t take hot curry, that’s why we cook it with yoghurt and cream,’ he said.

Supporters of the campaign to grant the dish protected status point to the fact that former foreign minister Robin Cook once described it as a crucial part of British culture.

‘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,’ Cook said in a 2001 speech on British identity.

Ali, originally from Punjab province in Pakistan, moved with his family to Glasgow as a young boy before opening Shish Mahal in Glasgow’s west end in 1964.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.

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