As the curry house has established itself as a British institution, it has thrived more around Shish Mahal. In 1979, when Mr. Aslam renovated the place, he reopened it with a clever trick: all original 1964 prices, for a limited time. This resulted in long, frantic lines down the block. In photographs taken at this time, Mr. Aslam was handsome and cheerful, in a tuxedo and tie, with the thick, bouncy hair of a movie star.
There were a few hundred curry houses in Britain when Mr. Aslam opened his restaurant. By the time Mr. Cook gave his speech, there were thousands. Mr. Aslam, though not named in the speech, has become an essential part of the story of Britain itself.
Although two of his sons took over the Sheesh Mahal property in 1994, Mr. Aslam never officially retired, continuing to drive his white Jaguar to work and wear the cool suits he designed on Savile Row. Known for his uncompromising work ethic, he considered himself the proud Glasgow work ethic, who is entirely Scottish.
The dish, which had grown much larger than the man’s, was as likely to be a symbol of British comfort food as its non-authenticity. Although recent surveys have identified other types of curry, such as Chicken jalfreziAs the most popular in Britain, chicken tikka masala is widespread. It’s found on planes and as a pizza topping, in fast food chains and pre-made in grocery stores around the world.
Sheesh Mahal was closed for 48 hours in honor of Mr. Aslam and he posted the news of his death on his Facebook page. The multi-generational fan base of Glaswegians joined in remembering the restaurant.
“Enjoyed my first proper curry at Shish Mahal on Gibson Street,” wrote one fan, Wendy Russell. “Cheeky Chicken Madras.”
Funeral prayers were held by Mr Aslam’s family on Tuesday at Glasgow Central Mosque which was open to the public. His son Asif Ali said about 500 people, young and old, attended.
The restaurant has become part of the city’s fabric. Over the years, Mr. Aslam has welcomed generations of miserable teens, who waited in the cold after pubs closed, as well as new parents who handed chunks of warm naan to their children. Families have become regular. What many seemed to remember was not the famous dish, but the man who made them feel at home.
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