The Devastating Death Of Ali Ahmed Aslam, Chicken Tikka Masala Pioneer

The man credited with creating one of the most popular dishes rooted in Indian cuisine, chicken tikka masala, has died. Ali Ahmed Aslam died at the age of 77 in his longtime hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, per The Guardian. His restaurant, Shish Mahal, which he had owned and operated since 1964, closed for 48 hours in respect of his legacy and for his wife, five children, and many friends and customers in the Glasgow area. 

Pakistani by birth, Aslam moved to Glasgow with his family when he was just a child, per The Glasgow Times. The family had little money and worked hard to make a living, with Ali Ahmed Aslam working both day and night jobs to help the family make ends meet. 

Prior to him opening his own restaurant, he worked in his family's restaurant, which eventually closed. Aslam's restaurant went on to become a well-respected and adored eatery that has withstood the test of time, becoming one of the most popular curry houses in Glasgow. In fact, legend has it that it was here that chicken tikka masala, a staple on any Indian restaurant menu, was born.

How chicken tikka masala came to be

One day in the 1970s, a customer suggested his chicken tikka meal was too dry. According to The Guardian, Ali Ahmed Aslam made a sauce to accompany the dish which included tomato sauce, yogurt, cream, and spices, and chicken tikka masala was born. Per Britannica, the dish became so popular in Britain over time that many citizens consider it the country's national dish and it has even been called a "symbol of modern multicultural Britain."

The beloved dish may be what Aslam will most famously be remembered for, but The Glasgow Times notes that he was extremely proud to be a Glaswegian, and regularly donated to charities in both Scotland and Pakistan. He considered his customers to be guests who had come to his home and treated them as such. In turn, they affectionately called him "Mr. Ali" as a sign of friendship and familiarity. A symbol of kindness, wonderful food, and warm hospitality, Mr. Ali will surely be greatly missed in his community.