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Chicken Balti The Original Brummie Curry

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Chicken Balti is the pride of Birmingham and a curry not of Indian but Anglo Indian heritage dating from the late 1970's and went global!

My chicken Balti recipe definitely says more about where and when I was raised than any of the previous recipes here on Krumpli and in reality probably more than any recipe I could post.  I was born in the mid 1970’s in the UKs second City, Birmingham and if it were to be a Country its national dish would almost certainly be a Chicken Balti…  Or it would have been back when I was growing up anyway!  As with all sorts of food there are arguments about authenticity and origin and I will stay away from most of that nonsense. But the Balti is ‘officially’ noted as being ‘invented’ in a place called Adils in 1977 in a place now noted as the Balti triangle, a place I remember very well indeed.  There has been a great deal of terrible things written about ‘British Indian’ food but without Brick Lane in the 60’s and Birmingham in the 70’s then both British and Indian cuisine would be very different.  Authenticity has a place in museums as far as I am concerned, food like language is fluid and alive and the Balti as far as I am concerned played a very important role in the global acceptance of Indian food and certainly in my acceptance and love of international food.

The Chicken Balti, or in fact any Balti has an Anglo Indian heritage, it is born of Indian blood but it is definitely a Brummie child.  The name Balti actually refers to the bowl that the curry is cooked and served in rather than the curry itself, although a Balti usually follows a common theme of either meat or vegetables in a thick tomato based sauce of varying degrees in spice.  That thick heavy sauce left in the bottom of your Balti dish must be cleared with a naan bread of your choice, ordering anything else in an Indian Restaurant in Birmingham would have resulted in raised eyebrows when I was discovering Indian food.

Like this recipe? Then you should definitely check out this one!  Roasted Chicken Leg with Tomato, Capers and Polenta

However as with everything things change with time and Anglo Indian food is no different, the scene in Birmingham has changed beyond recognition with a smorgasbord of regional specialities and a number of very high end Indian Restaurants.  Oddly enough the humble Brummie curry (a Brummie is the colloquial term for someone from Birmingham), the chicken balti seems to have been exported around the world with ‘Balti’ restaurants spread as far as the US and Australia and has even been exported back to India and Pakistan.

However at heart a Chicken Balti has all of the things that Indian food is great at, asafoetida, turmeric and Fenugreek for the comforting back end and then chili for heat, which of course you can vary and in the middle you have the cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger holding it all together…  I often think that food is a lot like music, pretentious and daft I know, but it is how I think of it when I am trying to create a new recipe. I need a bit of bass, a bit of high end, some rhythm and then something to make it sing.  For me Indian food is like the most wonderfully complex music with so much happening and I struggled for years to get that balance just about right without it being a noisy mess, but get the balance just right and then you have something wonderful comparable to nothing else in the world.  So just give it a go whether it be my Chicken Balti or any of the other great Indian recipes you can find either on line or elsewhere and get some of that magic Indian spice on your table, I could not live without it!

Chicken Balti is the pride of Birmingham and a curry not of Indian but Anglo Indian heritage dating from the late 1970's and went global!
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Chicken Balti: The Original Brummie Curry

Chicken Balti is the pride of Birmingham and a curry not of Indian but Anglo Indian heritage dating from the late 1970's and went global!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Anglo Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 2
Author Brian Jones

Ingredients

Ingredients

    For the Gravy

    • 1/2 Large Onion: We will use the other half later.
    • 2 Cloves Garlic.
    • 1 Chili.
    • 20 g Ginger: Peeled.
    • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil.
    • 1/8 Tsp Asafoetida.
    • 1/2 Tsp Black Onion Seeds.
    • 1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds.
    • 1 Tsp Ground Corriander.
    • 1 Tsp Ground Turmeric.
    • 1/2 Tsp Ground Fenugreek.
    • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree.
    • 200 ml Tomato Passata.
    • 1 Tsp Honey.
    • 100 ml Water.

    For the Curry

    • 1/8 Teaspoon Asafoetida.
    • 1/2 Green Pepper: Roughly chopped
    • 1/2 Large Onion: Quartered
    • 2 Tomatoes: Cut into 8 wedges and de-seeded.
    • 2 Chicken Breasts: Cut into Large Chunks.
    • 1/4 Tsp Salt.
    • 2 Tsp Garam Masala.
    • 4 Tbsp Natural Yogurt (optional)

    Instructions

    1. Roughly chop half of the onion and place in a blender with the garlic, ginger and chili and blend to a smooth paste, add vegetable oil if required to let down the paste
    2. Heat a wok over a high to medium heat with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and add the asafoetida, black onion seeds and Cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds to a minute
    3. Then add the onion paste all allow to cook out for 3-5 minutes.
    4. Now add the ground spices and cook out for 1 minute.
    5. Add the tomato puree, tomato passata, water and honey then allow to cook down for 5 minutes, now is a good time to check the gravy for spice, if you want it a little hotter add some kashmiri chili powder.

    6. Set this gravy aside and clean out your wok.

    7. Throw in the Pepper and the Onion and cook until the edges begin to catch which should take 2 or 3 minutes.

    8. Then add the chicken and stir for a couple of minutes season with some salt and add your gravy and tomatoes then turn down the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is tender which should take about 20-25 minutes depending on how large you chopped the chicken.

    9. Once cooked remove from the heat and add your Garam Masala and natural yogurt, stir and allow to sit for a minute before serving.

    Recipe Notes

    Needless to say this should definitely be served with Naan Bread or the whole of Birmingham will collectively sigh in disapproval 😉

    Like this recipe? Then you should definitely check out this one!  Indian Chicken Kofta Masala
    Chicken Balti is the pride of Birmingham and a curry not of Indian but Anglo Indian heritage dating from the late 1970's and went global!
    Chicken Balti The Original Brummie Curry
    Chicken Balti is the pride of Birmingham and a curry not of Indian but Anglo Indian heritage dating from the late 1970's and went global!
    2017-11-16T12:53:06+00:00

    13 Comments

    1. Meeta March 9, 2016 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      I love balti! I have a pretty robust lamb balti recipe on my blog too and it’s my go to recipe. I have to admit though I do not think I have every made balti with chicken though. so this is looking pretty good!

      • Brian Jones March 11, 2016 at 11:49 am - Reply

        Lamb Balti sounds awesome, I would hazard a guess that chicken Balti is probably the most ordered Indian dish in restaurants of that type in Birmingham where I was born 😉

    2. Lisa March 17, 2016 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Can’t wait to give this a go, I grew up in Wolverhampton same era and remember what a good chicken balt tastes like. I now live in New Zealand and look forward to cooking this for my family, a taste of home, thanks for sharing,

      • Brian Jones March 29, 2016 at 8:48 am - Reply

        Excellent, thanky for commenting Lisa, I have been to many a fine curry house in Wolverhampton, I hope you enjoy.

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    4. Nick June 9, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      Its pretty close to a balti flavour 😉 I like mine a bit hotter.And Naan is obligatory for any dish in Brum.Even rice pud!

      • Brian Jones June 11, 2017 at 7:34 am - Reply

        Cheers Nick, given the variation on ‘balti’ I have tried around Birmingham, yet alone further a field I’ll take close 🙂 I’ll also see your naan with rice puc and raise you under the grill in the morning and spread with marmalade for breakfast 😀

    5. Graham Lightfoot August 8, 2017 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Going to try this on Thursday. Balti is well known to me as I am on the edge of Birm/Black Country in Hednedford and I’m a musician and all musicians are curry fanatics (esp after a gig!!) Have also trained as a chef but can’t make curry like the restaurant.Despite the Balti triangle the best curry the wife and I have ever eaten (several times) was at ‘Spice For You’ in Pickering Yorkshire. I’ll let you know if I succeed on Thursday.
      Going to try your Biriyani at some point as it’s the wife’s fav.

      Best

      Graham

      • Brian Jones August 10, 2017 at 6:25 am - Reply

        Hey Graham, great to hear from you… I hope you enjoy my take on a Balti, Hednesford is not far from my old stomping grounds, I am a Brummie by birth and most have eaten hundreds of Balti’s all a little different, aint that always the way 😉 I used to live in the Balti Triangle, the Moseley end to be precise, sadly there are far fewer curry houses in my new home, I have to travel 100km to the nearest one 😮

    6. Omy omar October 24, 2017 at 7:29 am - Reply

      Thank you this is a great recipe made it in Saudi hubby loved it

      • Brian Jones October 26, 2017 at 6:25 am - Reply

        So glad to hear it, it’s one of my favourites.

    7. ash December 19, 2017 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      won’t it taste powdery cos your not cooking the garam masala

      • Brian Jones December 20, 2017 at 11:10 am - Reply

        Not at all Ash, not cooking Garam Masala is a pretty classic and old school technique and provides the high note flavours in the recipe as opposed to the slighter deeper and duller notes of the cooked spices… You do need to stir it in and allow to sit for a couple of minutes.

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