I've spent a long time trying to create an authentic balti as served in most Asian restaurants these days. My favourite places are Channis on the Stratford Road just South of Sparkbrook in Birmingham, the Plaza on the Ladypool Road in Sparkbook itself and in particular the Bhano Pool on New Road, in Rubery.
As for cooking a balti at home, I'm pleased with the following recipe. To be honest it is a combination of various recipes that just didn't work alone. Many recipes in books are just too bitter and dark. I think you'll find these two both work fine. Try them both and let me know how you get on.
A wok is ideal for cooking a balti.
Keep your spices freshly ground and in small quanties. In particular ground coriander quickly looses its aroma if kept too long.
A Braun electric coffee grinder is ideal for grinding coriander and cumin seeds.
Sunflower oil is an ideal alternative to the less healthy gee.
Asian stores are an economic place to buy your ingredients.
Fresh ginger can be frozen. Peel and cut it into small chunks first.
Fresh coriander leaf is available from many asian shops but it is easy to grow in large pots.
Dried coriander leaf is awful but the frozen variety works well. Large supermarkets sell small quantities at a price!
1 tbl oil
1 Spanish onion chopped
1 clove garlic grated
1cm ginger grated
2 chicken breasts cut into pieces or vegetables
½ half a stock tablet dissolved in cup boiling water
1 tsps tomato purée
1 bay leaf
1 large tomato sliced
¼ tsp asafoedita
¼ tsp mustard seeds
2 tbl fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp garam masala
4 dried curry leaves, crushed
1 tsp palm sugar
1½ tsps ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp turmeric
1 to 3 green chilli chopped
4 green cardamom
Heat the oil in a pan, When hot, add asafoedita and mustard seed add to pan and fry for 30s on high heat.
Add onion and cook for 3-5 mins on medium heat until soft.
Collect the spices, garlic and ginger and stir in. Cook for 5 mins on medium heat checking it doesn't burn.
Cut the chicken into chunks.
Add the meat or vegetables and sugar if used and stir to coat thoroughly. Cook on medium heat until meat is browned.
Add ½ stock tablet to a cup of boiling water, add pinch salt, teaspoon tomato puree and a bayleaf. Add to pan and cook on low heat for 25 mins.
(After 10 minutes, curry leaves and/or sliced green pepper can be added. After 20 minutes, sliced mushroom can be added.)
Add garam masala, fresh coriander and tomato to pan. Cook on low heat for 3 mins and serve in balti dishes with roti or rice.
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