A BANGLADESHI chef from Oxford will be heading back to his homeland to represent the United Kingdom in a prestigious international cooking competition.

Muhammad Ali, head chef at the Karma restaurant in Oxford Road, Cowley, pipped six other chefs to the post in the semi-finals of the International Indian Chef of the Year Competition.

His dishes of Bengal lamb, Rajasthani chicken and chotpoti, a dish with potatoes and chickpeas, saw him picked to represent the United Kingdom in Bangladesh later this month. Mr Ali said: “I only believed I would get as far as second or third place, but to be given the chance to go to Bangladesh to represent the country is just wonderful.”

Mr Ali said he had not yet decided what his contest menu would be but added that it would be something “a bit special”.

He added: “I’m just so glad to be going to the finals.

“I never imagined I would get this far but I hope I’m in with a good chance.

“For the judges to pick me above all of the other chefs is an honour.

“To be honest, this is a dream come true.”

Mr Ali was born in Sylhet, in north-east Bangladesh, and has organised a series of fundraising dinners to help the area after it was devastaed by a cyclone in 2007.

The £5,000 he has raised is being used to build an orphanage in his home town.

The last time Mr Ali was in Bangladesh, in 2008, he helped feed more than 1,600 people left homeless after the cyclone struck.

But now Mr Ali will return to the country to enjoy a tour around its attractions, and to go head to head with the world’s best Indian chefs.

If he is named International Indian Chef of the Year he will win £1,000.

The competition was founded in 1991 by Edinburgh chef and hotelier Tommy Miah to promote innovation and quality in Indian cuisine.

Past finals have been held in Edinburgh. This year’s eventhis will be the first time the final has been held in the Indian sub-continent, with the chefs competing in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka.