Balti cuisine is all the rage in England these days. It is a style of cooking which is thought to have originated in modern day Northern Pakistan. The term “Balti” refers to the actual cooking vessel in which the food is both made and served. It is a rounded cast iron heavy bottom pot, similar to a wok, but with two handles. Balti dishes are very rich and flavorful and are famous for their use of highly aromatic spices. Balti Chicken Pasanda is a delicious simple curry with bold and complex flavors.
BALTI CHICKEN PASANDA
1˝ lbs chicken, boneless & skinless, cut into 2 inch size pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, finely chopped
1 cup good quality yogurt
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick (2 inches in length)
4-6 whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp garam masala (plus a little extra for garnish)
˝ tbsp red chili powder, to taste
salt to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
6-8 almonds, skinned & ground into a fine powder
˝ cup of light cream
2-3 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
finely chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt along with the ginger, garlic and green chilies. Mix well and then add the spices (cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, garam, masala, red chili powder and salt). Stir well to combine and then add the chicken pieces. Let marinate in the refrigerator (covered) for at least 4-6 hours, but overnight is best.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until slightly browned. Next, very carefully add only the chicken pieces (shake off any excess marinade & reserve the marinade for later). Then add both the tomato & almond paste and stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Reduce the heat to a gentle low simmer and add any remaining marinade. Mix well and let cook for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender. Finish the dish with the cream and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves & a light sprinkle of garam masala. Serve with fresh naans and fragrant Basmati rice.