Chicken Balti – a low-fat version for the health conscious!

11 Feb

Curries sometimes have a reputation for being high in fat due to the ghee in the ingredients.  This Chicken Balti dish is just the opposite!  I got the recipe from one of my Good Food magazines, made it ahead and then ate it when we came back from the pub on a Friday night.  A perfect end to the evening!

There is an area in Birmingham called the Balti Triangle.  I have only eaten there once but it was a truly memorable experience.  the Balti Triangle is an area of Birmingham in Sparkhill, Balsall Heath and Moseley bounded by sections of the Moseley Road (A435) and the Stratford Road (A435).  I am sure my friend Sheila is probably an expert on all the restaurants there, she loves curries so much! 

Did you know that The “Birmingham Balti” could soon have its name protected by an EU scheme, if a bid by the Birmingham Balti Association (BBA) is successful. The BBA say the Birmingham Balti originated in the city during the late 70s, when curry chefs started to make their dishes lighter, healthier and served faster to suit Western tastes. If the Birmingham Balti is successful in gaining EU Traditional Guaranteed Status, restaurants with Birmingham Balti on the menu will be annually inspected to ensure they meet the correct curry criteria.   Here are a few other bits of trivia on Birmingham Balti:

  • A true Birmingham Balti must be served in the same thin steel bowl it is cooked in over a hot flame, as it is this “Balti” bowl that gives the dish its name.
  • The purpose of the Balti dish is to keep the curry hot after it has been cooked over a high heat.
  • As well as keeping curry sizzling, the metal Balti dish retains all the dish’s flavours. The curry should then be scooped up and eaten with a naan bread instead of using cutlery, in a traditional fashion.
  • The high heat method of cooking Balti is thought to have stemmed from Western customers’ expectations to be served their meal quickly.
  • While ghee is the traditional cooking ingredient used on the south Asian sub-continent, the use of vegetable oil in Birmingham Baltis is stipulated as a key unique feature in the BBA’s application to EU.  This makes it a much lighter, fresher curry.
  • Another requirement is for all meat to be “off-the-bone” to allow it to be cooked quickly over the hot flame
  • Pre-prepared generic commercial curry pastes and powders are not used and not permitted in any true Birmingham Balti.

Here is a link to the recipe on the Good Food website, along with the usual slide show of when I made it.

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