British Indian Chicken Balti Curry

A 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!

Portrait image of a chicken balti curry in a copper coloured curry bowl served with a naan bread

The Original Brummie Curry.

This Balti Curry recipe probably says more about where and when I was raised than any other recipe here on Krumpli.

I was born in the mid-1970’s in Birmingham. If it were to be a Country its national dish would almost certainly be a Balti!

As with many foods, there are arguments about the origin and I will stay away from most of that nonsense.

However, the Balti is ‘officially’ credited as being ‘created’ in a place called Adils in 1977.

A place now noted as the Balti triangle, a place I remember very well indeed.

A place where classic Indian curries like chicken saag and lamb rogan josh are second on the bill!

Portrait overhead image of a chicken balti curry in a copper coloured curry bowl served with a naan bread

What is a Balti Curry?

The name Balti actually refers to the bowl or karahi that the curry is cooked and served in rather than the curry itself.

I cook mine in a frying pan, because at home we use frying pans and not fierce gas burners with rounded bottom pans.

A Balti follows a common theme of either meat or vegetables in a thick tomato-based sauce or “gravy”.

That thick heavy balti sauce left in the bottom of your dish must be cleared with a naan bread.

Ordering anything else in an Indian Restaurant in Birmingham would have resulted in raised eyebrows.

Apart from that the flavour of your curry will vary massively depending on where you eat it.

There is no such thing as an Authentic Balti Recipe! Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something that simply ain’t true.

Portrait close up image of a chicken balti curry in a copper coloured curry bowl served with a naan bread

Recipe Variations.

This recipe is very simple to tweak and change.

That is because this balti curry recipe is prepared using the curry house tradition of preparing the sauce separately and adding to “stir-fried” ingredients.

One of the most common variants of this recipe is a chicken tikka balti.

You may not be shocked to know that it is identical to this recipe but it uses chicken tikka rather than raw chicken.

If you want to try it then just use the chicken tikka part of my chicken tikka masala recipe.

As for the vegetables, knock yourself out, chuck in anything that is good!

You can easily turn this into a vegetarian balti by dropping the chicken.

Go with par-cooked potatoes or cauliflower, maybe even chickpeas, or all of them!

Simple Chicken Balti Recipe

Simple Chicken Balti Recipe

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This chicken balti recipe is a chicken curry recipe that screams of its home town, Birmingham in the UK and it is a recipe I am very proud of!

Ingredients

For the Gravy

  • 1/2 Large Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Chili
  • 20 g Ginger
  • 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

  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Green Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 50 ml Natural Yogurt (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop the half onion for the sauce and place in a blender.
  2. Peel the garlic and ginger and add to the onion.
  3. Throw in the chilli and blend to a smooth paste adding water if required.
  4. Heat a pan over a high to medium heat with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
  5. Add the asafoetida, black onion seeds and Cumin seeds and fry for 30 seconds to a minute
  6. Then add the onion paste all allow to cook out for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Now add the ground spices and cook out for 1 minute.
  8. Throw in the tomato puree, tomato passata, water and honey then allow to cook down for 5 minutes.
  9. Now is a good time to check the gravy for spice, if you want it a little hotter add some Kashmiri chilli powder and season to taste.
  10. Set this gravy aside and clean out your pan.
  11. If you want a thinner smoother sauce then blend the gravy at this point and pass through a fine sieve.
  12. Roughly chop the green pepper and cut the remaining onion into quarters.
  13. Heat some oil and then throw in the green pepper and the onion into a hot pan.
  14. Cook until the edges begin to catch which should take 2 or 3 minutes.
  15. Cut the chicken into large chunks and cut your tomatoes into wedges then deseed them.
  16. Add the chicken and stir for a couple of minutes and season with some salt.
  17. Then add your gravy and tomatoes then turn down the heat to medium and cook until the chicken is tender which should take about 20 mins.
  18. Once cooked remove from the heat and add your Garam Masala and natural yoghurt.
  19. Stir and allow to sit for a minute before serving.

Notes

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

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 676 Total Fat: 30g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 154mg Sodium: 1408mg Carbohydrates: 43g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 17g Protein: 61g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

32 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. Super stoked to find this recipe and from a fellow Brummie too, bonus points.
    Moving to the USA made me miss a good curry unless I make it myself. Certainly does not beat Mazells though.
    Going to try this this week and will report back.
    Cheers for sharing!

    Reply
    • Glad you found me, if you click on the curry corner option at the top of my site you’ll find I am rather fond of the odd curry… I have over 50 floating around here including many of curry house favourites. Enjoy the balti 😀 It always makes me feel like home 😀

      Reply
  2. Thanks Brian this recipe is amazing! !! By far the best one I’ve tried and I’ve been cooking curries for decades now. Nice to know I’ve got it right.

    Reply
  3. This is the second week I have tried this recipe… Why? Because last week, after we got home from the match, it was by far the best home made Balti I have ever done, and tomorrow night is Curry night, so after marinating in the fridge over night I know it will be great!
    I have been scouring the internet for a GOOD Balti recipes for years, although, I have also been working from Kris Dillon’s book since the 90s, but it’s time for a change. Living in Brum, we’re never far from a Balti House, but we’ve had too many sit down disappointments of recent, so this recipe is top of my Balti list… Cheers Brian and thanks

    Reply
    • Cheers Paul… Thanks for taking the time to write to me! So glad you like this, it was designed to trigger my memories of eating balti growing up in Brum, I’ve been living in rural Hungary for 10 years and this triggers memories every single time!

      Reply
  4. I have to say a massive “Thank You” Brian for this recipe!! I grew up not too far from the Balti Triangle and used to go to Ladypool Rd (The Lunch House/Box I think?) back in around 1984/5. I think that closed down, and I ended up for many years going to the Grand Tandoori that was just around the corner on the Stratford Rd.

    I have tried, literally hundreds of times to recreate something even vaguely similar, and always failed (I don’t live in the UK anymore). But finally, the quest is over 🙂

    I missed out the yoghurt, and Garam at the end, and added a bit of fresh Corriander, and it was PERFECT!!

    So, thanks again, and I’m looking forward to trying out some more of your recipes!!

    Reply
    • Cheers Paul… I remember the Grand Tandoori well. Glad you like the curry, my curry recipes are built at trying to recreate the rough flavours that I remember from that very area in the early 90’s, so hopefully youfind a few more that trigger memories! Enjoy 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi Paul,

      Is your quest really over? Ive been searching for a recipe for years to get a balti flavour, ive tried numerous books and websites and never got close to that balti flavour. I am going to try this soon.

      Is it really that close to the real thing?

      CJ

      Reply
  5. Thank you Brian I will definitely try this as we used to eat in Adils when you had to ask for cutlery -if you dared! 30 years later and now living in Perth, Australia, it will give the kids a taste of home???

    Reply
    • Haha… I remember lots of the restaurants being cutlery ‘reluctant’ and still much prefer to eat my curry with flat bread 😀 I hope the kids love your taste of home!

      Reply
  6. Just made this following instuctions to the T. I live in birmingham also so have been and still go to many a balti house.. The smell is awesome when cooking of the spices. Served it up in a balti dish with rice on the side and a garlic Nan.
    I actually really liked it and would make it again my wife who is asian (Thai) also loved it. The only thing i would say is if you like a bit of a kick to it then add some more chilli as Brian points out.
    Going to make this for the relatives when they come over for a meal. It would be perfect for them as they dont like to much spice where im a Madrass lover.
    Great reciepe and easy to follow thanks Brian for sharing.

    Reply
    • Cheers Peter!

      Spice in a recipe is so difficult to write for, I know people that will claim a recipe is too spicy if there is a cut chili in the same kitchen I prepared their food in lol. Glad you like it, Balti changes so much from place to place so kinda relied on my memories of balti from my favourite places on the Ladypool Road.

      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.

      Reply
  7. 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

    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 😮

      Reply
      • Hey Brian, it’s now 2019 and the Balti didn’t happen but the Biriyani did, it was fab!! Ironically, as I have only just this morning come across your reply, this Thursday is Balti day! Your recipe will finally come about

        Reply
        • lol, welcome back 😀 Glad you enjoyed the Biriyani and I hope you finally get round to the Balti. If you want a steer I published a Chicken Saag recipe a while ago that people are saying very nice things about!

          Reply
  8. 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!

    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 😀

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

    Reply
  11. 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 one with chicken though. so this is looking pretty good!

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

      Reply

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