The passing of a Pakistani-Scottish chef named Ali Ahmed Aslam, aged 77, has stirred a debate about who created the world’s first chicken tikka masala.
Aslam emigrated from Pakistan as a young man. He was the proprietor of Glasgow’s well-known ‘Shish Mahal’ restaurant, which he opened in 1964.
How chicken tikka masala was invented:
According to Aslam’s version, the recipe was created one evening in the 1970s. It was after a customer complained about his chicken tikka being too dry. The chef blended a can of condensed tomato soup, cream, and spices. That blend is what you call ‘chicken tikka masala’ of today.
British claims ‘chicken tikka’ recipe:
A Glasgow MP sponsored a campaign in 2009 to have chicken tikka masala designated as a ‘protected heritage dish.’ However, the bid was turned down when other British restaurants asserted their ownership of the dish.
Some claim that South Asia is where the curry was unquestionably created. Head of the well-known Indian restaurant chain ‘Moti Mahal Monish Gurjal claims his grandfather has been serving chicken tikka masala to Indian rulers since 1947.
The other side:
A truly British national cuisine, chicken tikka masala is what the U.K.’s foreign minister, Robin Cook, said in a speech in 2001, exemplifying “multiculturalism as a beneficial force for our economy and society.”
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