Balti cuisine is a style of Indian food that can proudly trace its roots back to England. The city of Birmingham, with its large population of Kashmiri immigrants, is thought to be the birthplace of this delicious Indian method of cooking. The name "balti" literally translates into "bucket", but actually refers to the vessel in which the food is both cooked & served. The cooking vessel is similar to a heavy bottomed cast iron or copper bottom wok with large handles. The Balti cooking technique is similar to stir frying (fast cooking done on high heat), so it’s a good idea have everything ready before you start. Balti recipes are traditionally rich & spicy curries with lots of bold flavors.
Feel free to use your favorite vegetables in dish. You can also use this same basic recipe with chicken, seafood, eggs, paneer or your choice of meat. You can also combine various ingredients to create your own flavor combinations.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2-3 fresh small Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise
1 large ripe tomato, diced
2 cups of small cauliflower florets
3-4 baby potatoes, boiled & quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into even bite size pieces
1 bell pepper (green, red, yellow or orange), cut into even bite size pieces
1 cup of baby corn, cut into 1” pieces (canned is fine)
1 cup of cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
1 cup of sweet green peas (frozen is fine) or edamame
1 cup of baby tomatoes (red, yellow, orange…), cut in half
2 cups of baby spinach, finely chopped
1 can of tomato puree (12-14 ozs size)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
1 heaping tsp of Spanish paprika (mainly for color)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
3 tbsp of oil, vegetable or canola
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a large wok or kadai on medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of the oil and the ground cumin. Keep the pan moving quickly, so the cumin will not burn. Next, add half of the onions along with the ginger, garlic & green chilies. Stir fry until the onions become translucent. Add the spices (salt, pepper, red chili powder, paprika, turmeric & ground coriander powder). Stir fry for 2-3 minutes and add the diced tomato. Let cook until the tomato cooks down and then add the tomato puree. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, reduce and let simmer for 25-30 minutes on low heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. This is the basic Balti curry, you can eat the curry as is or if you prefer, blend the mixture into a smoother puree depending on your personal preference.
In a large clean wok or kadai on high heat, add the rest of the oil and when hot, add the onions. Stir fry until translucent, add the carrots & the cauliflower florets. Stir fry for a few minutes and add the baby corn, chickpeas, peas and potatoes. Keep stir frying for a few more minutes and add bell peppers, baby tomatoes and spinach. Stir fry for a few more minutes and carefully add the Balti curry sauce. Let simmer for 4-5 minutes on low, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh naans & fragrant Basmati rice.