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July 7, 2009

A battle of words has broken out between the Indian restaurateurs of Birmingham and Glasgow with both laying claim to the origins of certain styles of curry. In Birmingham, there are moves afoot to have balti curries trademarked so that only curries cooked within the city’s balti triangle can legally call themselves baltis.

Not to be outdone, Glasgow and specifically the Shish Mahal are claiming first dibs on the chicken tikka masala. Mohammed Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Central, says that he will be tabling a motion for the curry to be legally recognised as a regionally designated food.

According to The Times here, Asif Ali, the manager of Glasgow’s Shish Mahal, has waded in to the dispute with all guns blazing. ‘(Chicken tikka masala) is rightfully a Glaswegian thing,’ he is reported as saying, ‘and we have a far better claim to it than Birmingham has to the balti.’

Evidently not in the mood for a spot of rogan joshing, he continues:

‘Balti is like saying our national dish is a burger, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s such an inconsequential dish. It’s never really taken off in Glasgow because our palates are a bit more refined here.’

Miaow. A plate of milk for Mr Asif, please.

Arbroath smokies are already protected by the EU’s Protected Geographical Indication scheme. Surely it is only a matter of time before the campaigning cudgels are taken up for the Forfar bridie and Aberdeen’s rowies. Natch, Edinburgh’s councillors are trying to secure a geographic trademark on people having already had their tea.

One restaurateur who is unlikely to face much opposition should he try to trademark one of his culinary inventions is Manchester’s Umar Farooq who plans to inflict a tikka tagliatelle on his customers.