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Scots curry house is 'best place on earth' for chicken tikka masala

A SCOTTISH curry house which has claimed credit for cooking the world's first ever chicken tikka masala has been recommended as the best place on earth to try the dish.

TASTY: The Shish Mahal in Glasgow has been named in Lonely Planet's new book The World's Best Spicy Food, as the best place on earth to eat chicken tikka masala
TASTY: The Shish Mahal in Glasgow has been named in Lonely Planet's new book The World's Best Spicy Food, as the best place on earth to eat chicken tikka masala

The Shish Mahal in Glasgow's West End has been singled out for praise by Lonely Planet's new book The World's Best Spicy Food, which explores 100 must-eat dishes.

It is the only Scottish establishment to be named in the publication, putting Glasgow side-by-side with originators of flavours in far-flung locations such as Nam Phrik, from Thailand, and Wasabi, from Japan.

While the roots of chicken tikka can be traced back to 16th century Pubjab, legend has it that the massala sauce was not added until some point in the 1970s, when an unhappy diner at Shish Mahal complained about the dryness of his meat.

It is said that then-owner of the restaurant, Ali Ahmed Aslam, hastily cooked up a sauce using spices and a tin of tomato soup - which he had been eating while recovering from a stomach ulcer - and chicken tikka massala was born.

Mr Aslam's son, Asif Ali, said the eaterie had already won worldwide fame as a result of the discovery.

He said: "We're delighted, we do get a lot of interest and recognition from all over the world because of the link with chicken tikka massala. People are fascinated by it and the fact that this worldwide dish started from humble beginnings in Glasgow, even though it happened completely by chance.

"I think it's so popular because it's a dish everyone can enjoy. It's a bridge between so many different kinds of Indian food."

Chicken tikka massala has become the most widely available curry in the country.

The guide hailed the dish as an "edible exemplification of multicultural Britain". For the benefit of the uninitiated, it is described as "a vibrant-red vision, so bright it glows".

In keeping with its Glasgow origins, it is recommended that it is enjoyed as part of a "classic curry-house experience... usually after a night on the town" with a beer.

Shish Mahal also hit the headlines in 2009, when it backed a bid to have the Glasgow origins of Chicken Tikka Massala recognised through applying to the European Union for Protected Designation of Origin status.

Had it proved successful, restaurants and takeaways everywhere could have been obliged to call the dish Glasgow Tikka Massala on menus, similar to Arbroath smokies and Melton Mowbray pork pies.

However, others have laid claim to creating the curry. Descendents of Sultan Ahmed Ansari, another Glasgow restaurateur, have claimed he was the originator. Others have argued that it first cooked up in London or Birmingham, while it has also been said that it was created in New Delhi in the 1940s.

Norwich, home to Coleman's mustard, also made it into the guide.

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