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Ali Ahmed Aslam, 77, credited with inventing Chicken Tikka Masala, dies


Mr. Aslam was born on April 1, 1945 to a farming family in a small village near Lahore. As a teenager, newly arrived in Glasgow in 1959, he worked with his uncle in the garment industry during the day and chopped onions at a local restaurant in the evening.

Mr. Aslam was ambitious and soon opened his own establishment in the city’s West End. He only set up a few tables and a brilliantly hot pit of a tandoor oven, which he learned to wield in a sweaty process of trial and error. He brought his parents from Pakistan; his mother, Saira Bibi, helped run the kitchen and his father, Noor Mohammed, looked after the dining room.

In 1969, Mr. Aslam married Kalsoom Akhtar, from the same village in Pakistan. In Glasgow they raised five children. In addition to his son Asif, his survivors include his wife; their other children, Shaista Ali-Sattar, Rashaid Ali, Omar Ali and Samiya Ali; his brother, Nasim Ahmed; his sisters Bashiran Bibi and Naziran Tariq Ali; and 13 grandchildren.

Chicken tikka masala exploded into the curry houses of 1970s Britain. Soon it was just a simple dish you could order off the menu or buy packaged in the supermarket; it was a powerful political symbol.

Mr. Aslam in an undated photo. When he reopened the Shish Mahal after some renovations in 1979, he caused a stir by offering dishes at their original 1964 prices.Credit…via the Ali family

In reality, Mr Cook’s vision of multicultural Britain often clashed with reports of everyday life in Britain – and in curry houses, where after local pubs closed it was common for diners racists and drunks show up, demanding the South Asian foods they had come to love while abusing workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

As the house of curry established itself as a British institution, it flourished more around Shish Mahal. In 1979, when Mr. Aslam renovated the place, he reopened with a nifty trick: all the original 1964 prices, for a limited time. This led to long, frantic queues in the block. In photos taken around this time, Mr Aslam looks handsome and beaming, in a tuxedo jacket and bow tie, with the thick, flowing hair of a movie star.

nytimes Gt

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