Self-proclaimed inventor of iconic chicken tikka masala cuisine dies at 77

The self-proclaimed inventor of the iconic chicken tikka masala dish has died at the age of 77. The Glasgow chef, Ahmed Aslam Ali, previously claimed that he invented the dish by creating the sauce from a can of tomato soup. He owned a restaurant called Shish Mahal in the 1970s, which his nephew says, became his life.

“He would eat lunch in his restaurant every day. The restaurant was his life. The chefs would make curry for him. I am not sure if he often ate chicken tikka masala.”

According to The Straits Times, Ali previously told AFP in 2009 that he came up with the recipe for the dish 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.’ We thought we’d better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here, we cooked chicken tikka with a sauce that contains yoghurt, cream, and spices.”

Although it is difficult to prove that Ali created the dish, it is generally regarded that the dish was created to adapt to Western tastes.

Supporters of giving the dish a protected status say that former British foreign minister, Robin Cook, described the cuisine 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.”

Ali was originally from Punjab province in Pakistan but moved with his family to Glasgow as a young boy. He opened his restaurant in 1964 and later said the dish he claimed to create was a gift to Glasgow, his adopted city. Ali leaves behind a wife, three sons and two daughters.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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