A Chicken Balti curry is the pride of Birmingham. A curry not of Indian heritage but of Anglo Indian heritage dating from the late 1970’s that went global!
This chicken Balti recipe definitely 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 the UK’s 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 many foods, there are arguments about origin and I will stay away from most of that nonsense. However, the Balti is ‘officially’ noted as being ‘invented’ in a place called Adils in 1977. A place now noted as the Balti triangle, a place I remember very well indeed.
A lot of terrible things have been 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.
The Authenticity Question.
The only place for authenticity is in a museum as far as I am concerned. Food like language is fluid and alive.
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 curry usually follows a common theme of either meat or vegetables in a thick tomato-based balti sauce.
That thick heavy balti sauce left in the bottom of your Balti dish must be cleared with a naan bread. Ordering anything else in an Indian Restaurant in Birmingham would have resulted in raised eyebrows when I was discovering Indian food.
Apart from that the flavour of your balti will vary massively depending on where you eat it!
The Changing Face of Anglo Indian Food.
However, as with everything things change with time. Anglo Indian food is no different, the scene in Birmingham has changed beyond recognition with a smorgasbord of regional specialities. Not to mention a number of very high-end Indian Restaurants.
Oddly enough the humble Brummie curry, 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 its heart, a Chicken Balti has all of the flavours that Indian food is known for. Asafoetida, turmeric and Fenugreek for the comforting back end. Then chilli for heat, which of course you can vary and in the middle you have the cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger holding it all together.
The Composition Of Recipes.
I often think that food is a lot like music, pretentious and daft I know. However, it is how I think 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. 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.
Just give it a go whether it be my Chicken Balti or any of the other great Indian recipes you can find either online or elsewhere and get some of that magic Indian spice on your table.
I could not live without it!
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)
- 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
- 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
- Then add the onion paste all allow to cook out for 3-5 minutes.
- Now add the ground spices and cook out for 1 minute.
- 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.
- Set this gravy aside and clean out your wok.
- Throw in the Pepper and the Onion and cook until the edges begin to catch which should take 2 or 3 minutes.
- 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.
- Once cooked remove from the heat and add your Garam Masala and natural yogurt, stir and allow to sit for a minute before serving.
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