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Chicken Balti The Original Brummie Curry

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Chicken Balti

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.

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!

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 usually follows a common theme of either meat or vegetables in a thick tomato-based sauce.

That thick heavy 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.

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!

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.

If you liked this recipe, you should like this one too!  Indian(ish) Pepper Chicken

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.

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!

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!
5 from 1 vote
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
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

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
Servings: 2
Calories: 585 kcal
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.

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!

2018-04-18T11:30:32+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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