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Chicken Balti a British Indian Curry

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

It is a curry with a thick and boldly spiced sauce that is famed for being cooked in the bowl it is served in. I cook mine in a wok to mimic the caramelised sauce around the edges and served it in a hot karahi.

Chicken balti curry served in and iron karahi with fresh coriander.

The Original Brummie Chicken 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!

It is a curry typically served in the dish that it is cooked in, however in many places the “balti dish” has become more of a presentation piece rather than a cooking implement.

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, lamb pasanda and lamb rogan josh play second fiddle.

Overhead Chicken balti curry served in and iron karahi and a naan bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I cook this in a Balti bowl?

Yes, absolutely, the Brummie balti is typically served in the bowl that it is cooked in. I do not find that a particularly efficient way of cooking for two, yet alone more.

Make the balti sauce as per my instructions then blend it. Then stir fry the ingredients for your curry over a very high heat in the balti bowl and then add the sauce and cook until it is done.

Can I make different versions?

Yes, you can change it up very easily, add chicken tikka, lamb tikka, even paneer tikka and you have a tikka balti.

Cook it with mixed vegetables or mushrooms then add the sauce and you have a veggie balti.

Can I make this in advance?

The sauce will store for 3-4 days in the fridge and will freeze for up to 3 months. The balti it self is best cooked fresh so that you get all of the caramelised bits of the sauce.

However, you can make it all, store it and serve it with no issues.

Chicken balti curry served in and iron karahi being eaten with naan bread.

Serving Suggestions

It would verge on being a crime not to serve a chicken balti with a tandoori style naan bread. Although I do have friends that occasionally request them with chapati or roti. Well, when I say friends 😉

Likewise, it is equally proper to start off a trip to a curry house with poppadoms, a take on kachumber salad and some mint raita.

Rice is always a nice option with a curry, although not really required with this meaty curry. A nice jeera rice works particularly well, although a pilau rice is just as good.

If you want something really different, then how about some aloo methi or fenugreek potatoes.

If you are craving some greens, then how about a green bean poriyal?

Close up chicken balti curry served in and iron karahi with fresh coriander.

Equipment Used

I tend not to recommend specifically branded pieces of kit in the kitchen, I’m a cook, not an equipment reviewer. If you have any questions please shout up in the comments below.

  • Stovetop.
  • Wok, I use a carbon steel wok.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Steel, iron karahi, kadai or balti bowls.
  • Blender.
  • Sharp kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
Chicken balti curry served in and iron karahi with a naan bread.
Yield: 2 Servings

Homemade Chicken Balti Recipe

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 that gives me a true taste of home!

Ingredients

For the Balti Sauce:

  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Onion
  • ½ Red Pepper
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 15g (½ Thumbnail Sized Piece) Ginger
  • 3 Red Chilli Peppers
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard Oil
  • 6 Curry Leaves
  • ½ Tsp Onion Seeds
  • ½ Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Ground Corriander Seeds
  • 3 Cardamom Pods
  • 2 Cloves
  • ½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Tsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Water
  • ¼ Tsp Salt

For the Curry:

  • 400g (14oz) Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee
  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Onion
  • ½ Red Pepper
  • 1 Medium (100g) Tomato
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Water
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tbsp Jaggery
  • ½ Tbsp Garam Masala
  • ½ Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves

Instructions

  1. Cut the onion for the gravy base into a 1cm (1/2") dice.
  2. Cut the the half of the red pepper for the gravy into a 1.5-2cm (1/2-3/4") dice.
  3. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and ginger.
  4. Pick the tops from the red chilli peppers.
  5. Heat the oil for the gravy in a wok over a high heat and when it is hot add the onion, red pepper and red chilli peppers and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until everything gets a nice colour.
  6. Throw in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two taking care not to burn the garlic.
  7. Turn the heat down to low-medium then add the curry leaves, onion seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods and cloves and cook for two minutes.
  8. Add the turmeric, nutmeg, and fenugreek leaves and cook for another minute stirring continuously.
  9. Add the tomato puree and turn the heat up to high and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Pour in the water and vinegar and add the salt, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  11. Transfer the gravy to a blender and blitz to a smooth sauce.
  12. Cut the remaining half of the red pepper into a 1cm dice.
  13. Cut the onion for the curry into a 5mm dice.
  14. Cut the tomato into 8 wedges, then cut the wedges in half.
  15. Cut the chicken into 2cm (3/4") cubes.
  16. Clean out the wok and heat it over a high heat and when it is hot add the ghee.
  17. If you are planning to serve it in hot balti bowls add them to a fiercely hot oven now!
  18. When the ghee has melted add the onion and red pepper and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  19. Throw in the chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
  20. Add the tomato and cook for a minute.
  21. Add the blended sauce to the wok along with the water and stir to combine.
  22. Add the jaggery, garam masala, salt and dried fenugreek and cook over a high heat until the chicken is cooked, which will take 5-7 minutes.
  23. Transfer to a hot "Balti" dish and garnish with coriander.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 676Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 154mgSodium: 1408mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 7gSugar: 17gProtein: 61g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Tony

Sunday 27th of March 2022

Wow a blast from the past! I remember going to Adils in the early 80’s for their Balti and table naan ( size of the table), menus under glass on the table. Especially after a night at the Fighting Cocks or Trafalgar. Great times. Now living in Kenya and needing some Brummie classics to put on my menu here in sunny Nakuru; nestled in the Rift Valley.

Brian Jones

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

I was a little later, my Balti adventure started in the late 80's! This recipe was born out of a similar motivation, there ain't many cuurry houses in rural Hungary, although I suspect even fewer in Kenya :)

This recipe is long overdue a bit of a make over and it is on ly list to give a tickle to.

Darren

Sunday 30th of May 2021

I've never tried an authentic Brummie Balti, but I used to live in a shared house in the 90s with 4 from that way. They introduced me to the Balti, and that was it, I loved it. I moved to Australia about 20 years ago, and have cooked a shed load of currys since, but never found a Balti recipe I've been happy with.

Wow, I'm a bit surprised at this recipe. It was looking balti-ish while I was cooking, but tasted... disappointing. Then, as soon as I added the garam masala at the end, bam, it was a total transformation. It was like a step back in time... Fragrant, mildly spicy, spot on.

I made it with coriander stalks in the onion mixture, and whizzed up fresh peeled tomatoes instead of the passata and puree. I can't wait for the left overs for lunch tomorrow!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 8th of June 2021

Glad you enjoyed it Darren.

Linda

Saturday 6th of March 2021

Have made this 3 times now. I don't have 2 of the spices (Asafoetida, Black onion seeds) but it still came out delicious.

Brian Jones

Sunday 7th of March 2021

Excellent, both the onion seeds and asafoetida add accent flavours rather than dominant flavours so you are getting almost all of the recipe :) So glad you like it.

ANDY

Saturday 14th of March 2020

Hi Brian, super recipe! Cooked it the other day and was really pleased, it's bang on how I like it. Wondered, is ok to freeze the gravy and use at a later date? If so, how long would you recommend keeping for? Many Thanks, Andy

Brian Jones

Saturday 14th of March 2020

Hey Andy... Glad you like it, it is definitely my taste of home! You can definitely freeze the sauce, as a general rule you can freeze sauces for 4-6 months although they remain safe to eat long after that. Personally speaking, I tend to try and not store anything longer than 3 months, but that is mainly for my sanity and staying on top of what I have in the freezer.

Greg

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

Really good. I'll be cooking this again.

Brian Jones

Thursday 17th of October 2019

Glad you enjoyed it :D

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