The father of chicken tikka masala is dead

Despite the difficulty of proving where this dish was born, a Scottish MP had taken steps to have chicken tikka masala recognized as a local specialty.

Scottish chef Ahmed Aslam Ali, who claimed to have invented chicken tikka masala, a dish that has become a classic in South Asian restaurants around the world, died on Monday at the age of 77, according to his restaurant’s Facebook page in Glasgow.

Creamy and moderately spicy, this curry recipe was born in the 1970s in the kitchens of the “Shish Mahal” restaurant, before becoming one of the most served dishes in the United Kingdom.

“Chicken tikka masala was invented in our restaurant, we used to make chicken tikka (grilled marinated chicken), but one day a customer said, ‘I want some sauce with this, it’s a bit dry'” Ahmed Aslam, originally from Pakistani Punjab, said in 2009.

“So since that date, we’ve been cooking it with a sauce based on yogurt, cream and spices.”

A local Scottish speciality

“The restaurant was his life,” said his nephew Andleeb Ahmed. He had lunch there every afternoon. “The chefs made a curry for him,” he said, recalling last year at Christmas visiting his perfectionist uncle in hospital, who told him at the end of his visit that he “should be at work”.

Despite the difficulty of proving where this dish was born, generally regarded as an adaptation of curry to Western tastes, at the time a Scottish local MP, Mohammad Sarwar, had taken steps to have chicken tikka masala recognized as a speciality.

In 2001, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook described this curry as “a true British national dish” and “a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts to external influences”.

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