Balti is a fast cooked dish, traditionally over a high flame and served in the very bowl it's cooked in. It is made with vegetable oil and not ghee, producing a lighter tasting and healthier alternative to a traditional slower cooked curry. We believe the freshness of the flavours, due to this cooking process sets balti apart as a curry taste sensation!
To make an authentic balti you need a balti bowl.
An authentic balti bowl is made of thin carbon steel and is not the same as a ornamental copper or stainless steel serving 'balti bowl' (the name lifted from the real Birmingham Balti!) to serve Indian cuisine - such serving bowls are not designed to cook with. A balti bowl is not the same as a heavier cast iron karahi, which doesn't have the quick heat application of thin carbon steel or a flat bottomed base for even heat distribution and isn't designed for cooking and serving the curry fast, sizzling and fresh as a one pot, one person dish. These unique qualities are what make the Birmingham Balti unique, both in flavour and health properties.
The success of every balti relies on a pre-prepared balti sauce which is added at the conclusion of the intense, high-heat stage. This sauce can be made in a large batch and even frozen if you like, to be kept for quick access whenever you fancy a Balti.
Watch a balti being cooked HERE. Video demo by Bob Flanagan
BALTI SAUCE or BASE GRAVY RECIPE (enough for 4 Balti's)
3x Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
4x Chopped Onions
2cm length piece of peeled and grated fresh ginger
l large crushed and peeled garlic clove
1 teaspoon The Birmingham Balti Garam Masala
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1tsp chilli powder
1 large grated tomato
1 teaspoon of salt
Handful of chopped coriander
Heat the oil in a large pan over a moderate heat then add the onions, ginger and garlic, stirring regularly until onions are translucent. Add the tomato and stir into the mixture, then add the water and all the other ingredients, give it all a good stir and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely then blitz in a blender/food processer until smooth.
BALTI CHICKEN RECIPE FOR ONE
6 tbsp balti curry sauce or Base gravy
3 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 grated tomato
2 small finely chopped onions
2 diced chicken breasts (dice in smallish pieces to ensure speedy cooking)
2 small chopped chillis (take the seeds out if you prefer a milder taste)
1 tsp of ginger paste
1 tsp of garlic paste
2 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of The Birmingham Balti Garam Masala
4 teaspoons of The Birmingham Balti spice pot blend OR 1tsp ground Paprika, 1tsp dried fenugreek leaves, 1 tsp ground cumin and 1 tsp ground tumeric.
Fresh coriander to garnish
* Throughout cooking ensure you stir frequently and small splashes of water to avoid sticking and drying out
Heat oil in balti bowl until sizzling. Add chopped onion and tomato and cook until onions are translucent. Add ginger, garlic purees, chillis and give it a quick stir, add in 4 teaspoons of balti spice blend or individual spices and stir, add a splash of water. Add chicken, cook for a few moments then add 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala and 2 pinches of salt. When the chicken is nearly cooked add in 6 tablespoons of your balti sauce. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with Naan bread.
If you enjoyed this recipe try a Chicken and Mushroom Balti from the balti boom years as served in balti favourite 'I Am The King' Restaurant and featuring a secret ingredient!
Other featured recipes;
Balti Keema Dopiaza by The Royal Watan
More Balti recipes below featuring our authentic bowls by leading curry chef and top selling curry author Dan Toombs 'The Curry Guy'
We highly recommend checking out Richard Sayce AKA 'Misty Ricardo' author of 'Indian Restaurant Curry at Home' which features a Birmingham Balti cooked in our authentic steel pressed bowl. Below is a Lamb Balti and a Spinach and Mushroom Balti by Misty.
Lamb Balti Recipe from 'Indian Restaurant Cooking at Home'
by Richard Sayce (Misty Ricardo’s Curry Kitchen)
Lamb Balti by Richard Sayce
4 TBSP (60ml) Oil
1 Star Anise, 10cm Cassia Bark, ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Black Cardamom (seeds of), 2 Green Cardamom (seeds of), 3 Cloves
80g Onion, sliced into segments
100-125g Red and Green Pepper, sliced into 3cm triangles (about one third of each red and green)
1 tsp Ginger/Garlic Paste
¼ tsp of Cumin Powder (freshly toasted and ground)
½ tsp of Coriander Powder (freshly toasted and ground)
¼ tsp Fenugreek Seed Powder (freshly toasted and ground)
½-1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
1 tsp Mix Powder
¼ tsp Garam Masala
¼-½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Kasuri Methi
200g Pre-Cooked Lamb (see Notes)
330ml+ Base Gravy, heated up
A handful of Mushrooms, cut into quarters (optional)
Half a Tomato, cut into segments
2 TBSP very finely chopped fresh Coriander Leaves
Special Balti Paste:
This makes a batch (about 2-3 times more than the 5 TBSP required for this recipe). All the following
ingredients are chopped and blended to a paste:
2-3 Red Chillies. (Optional. Remove the seeds unless you like it very hot)
2-3 TBSP fresh Coriander Stalks
4 Garlic Cloves
2 cm chunk of fresh Ginger
5-6 TBSP Tomato Paste
1 TBSP Tamarind Paste, or 2 tsp Tamarind Concentrate, or 1½ TBSP Tamarind Sauce/Juice
2 tsp Mango Chutney
2 tsp Poppy Seeds (optional)
1 TBSP Onion Paste/Bunjarra (optional)
1. In preparation, toast and grind the cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds to a powder, and make the special
balti paste (see ingredients).
1. Add the oil to a Birmingham Balti Bowl on medium high heat.
2. Throw in the star anise, cassia, bark, cumin seeds, cloves, and black and green cardamom seeds. Stir diligently
for 45-60 seconds to infuse the oil with flavour.
3. Next, add the onion and red and green pepper. Fry for 2 minutes until slightly softened, stirring frequently.
4. Now in with the ginger/garlic paste, stirring until the sizzling eases off and the sound of crackling can be
5. Add the cumin, coriander and fenugreek powder.
6. Also add the Kashmiri chilli powder, mix powder, garam masala, salt, methi, and a small amount of base gravy
(e.g. 30ml) to help the spices fry without burning.
7. Fry for 20-30 seconds, stirring constantly.
8. Add the 5 TBSP of special balti paste.
9. Turn up the heat to high while stirring constantly for 30-45 seconds, or until the sauce has reduced very
slightly, with small craters forming around the edge.
10. Add the pre-cooked meat of choice and mix well into the sauce.
11. Now add the first 75ml of base gravy, stir into the sauce, and leave on high heat (not stirring) until the sauce
is reduced slightly, oil separation is apparent, and the little craters form up again.
12. Add a second 75ml of base gravy, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan once when first
added, allowing the sauce to reduce again.
13. Optionally, throw in a generous handful of quartered mushrooms.
14. Now add the final 150ml of base gravy and tomato segments. Stir and scrape once when first added.
15. Leave to cook on high heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the desired consistency is reached (medium thickness)
and the peppers have softened but retain a slight bite. Add extra base gravy if desired to thin the sauce out if
you want. Avoid fiddling with it unless the curry shows signs of starting to burn.
16. A minute before the end of cooking add the fresh coriander leaves.
17. Also at this point taste and add a little salt, mango chutney and/or tamarind if desired.
18. Locate and remove the whole spices, and add optionally add a knob of butter ghee.
19. Spoon off excess oil from the top of the curry if you want to be health conscious.
20. Serve hot and fresh in the Birmingham Balti Bowl accompanied by naan, chapati, or paratha.
a. The recipe for my pre-cooked lamb, mix powder, and base gravy can be found in my Book, ‘Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1’
b. You can also find video tutorials for each recipe on my YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/c/MistyRicardo
c. You can use chicken instead of lamb for this recipe if you wish, either raw or pre-cooked.
d. All spoon measurements are level unless otherwise specified. 1 tsp = 5ml, 1 TBSP = 15ml.
Spinach and Mushroom Balti
By Richard Sayce (Misty Ricardo’s Curry Kitchen)
I have found that experimenting with leftovers can often be an inspiration for new recipes. This spinach & mushroom balti is a curry that I was pleased to stumble on. The flavours of the spinach and mushroom are brought together and accentuated with a balanced mixture of ingredients.
I like using an authentic Birmingham Balti Bowl to cook this curry. The thin pressed steel transfers a lot of heat while cooking, and imparts a distinctive and delicious taste to the balti.
- 250g Raw Spinach
- ½ tsp Salt (in two stages)
- Pinch of Black Pepper
- 150g Mushrooms of your choice, halved or quartered
- 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
- 5cm Cassia Bark
- 1 tsp Panch Phoran
- ¼ - ½ tsp Ajwain Seeds (Carom)
- 2 Green Cardamom pods, split open
- 50g Onion, finely chopped
- 2 Garlic Cloves, finely sliced
- 2cm fresh Ginger piece, finely sliced
- 30g Red Pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp Mix Powder
- ¼ tsp Chilli Powder (Optional)
- ¼ tsp Garam Masala
- 4 – 5 TBSP Tomato Paste
- 3 TBSP fresh Coriander Stalks, finely chopped
- ¼ - ½ tsp Tamarind Concentrate
or 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 225ml+ Base Gravy
- Tomato segments
- 4 TBSP Oil & fresh coriander to garnish
- Firstly, we prepare the spinach. Heat 1 TBSP of Oil in a medium or large sized pan.
- Add the raw spinach, ¼ tsp salt, and a pinch of ground black pepper.
- Cook for a couple of minutes or until the spinach goes soft, and wilts to a fraction of its original volume. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the spinach, drain, and squeeze all the excess liquid from it. Chop it up finely.
- Heat 3 TBSP Oil in a balti bowl, korai, wok, or frying pan on medium high setting.
- Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 2 minutes to brown them. It is normal for the mushroom pieces to shrink in size as they release water. Scoop the mushrooms out and set aside.
- Then to the same pan add the cassia bark, panch phoran, split green cardamom pods, and the ajwain seeds. Fry the whole spices for 30 seconds to infuse the oil with flavour.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper. Fry for a further minute, stirring sensibly.
- Now, add the mix powder, garam masala, ¼ tsp salt, and the chilli powder (if using).
- Fry for 20-30 seconds, stirring very frequently. Add a splash of base gravy (e.g. 30ml) if the mixture dries out, to avoid burning the spices and to give them enough time to cook properly.
- Next, add the tomato paste, the tamarind/lemon juice, the coriander stalks, and turn the heat up to high.
- Add the wilted, squeezed spinach and mix together well.
- Leave to cook for a minute. The spinach will still contain water which will need to be evaporated.
- Now add in 75ml base gravy, stir once, and leave to cook until the sauce is reduced a little, and small craters form again around the edges of the pan.
- Add the pre-cooked mushrooms and second 75ml base gravy. Stir then leave to cook for a further minute or two until the craters form again.
- Add a third 75ml of base gravy. Stir once again, and leave to cook down for a few minutes, or until the sauce has become thick and caramelised around the edges of the pan. Avoid stirring to let the sauce caramelise on the sides and bottom.
- Taste and add extra salt if desired.
- Top with 1 – 2 tsp of butter ghee just before serving, and mix gently. The ghee will add a rich flavour and give the balti an attractive appearance.
- Finally, serve in the pan you cooked it in, garnished with fresh coriander and tomato segments. Serve with naan bread for best results.