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Chicken Balti

Balti is a dish, created by Pakistani immigrants to Birmingham, England. It is one of the dishes that I fell in love with when I spent time in the second city of the U.K. for two years. It is cooked with a stir-fry method rather than the slow, simmering dishes that I have seen being used in South Asia. That way, Balti can be made to order in “Balti Restaurants” that have become so well known around the Birmingham area, and that has now spread around the U.K. It is delicious. It is also a perfect example of the B.I.R. (British Indian Restaurant) cooking that has become so popular around the world. It can be cooked with lamb, beef or, as with this case, with chicken. For lamb or beef, I would suggest you use pre-cooked meat.

A bowl of Chicken Balti by Simon Majumdar

Chicken Balti Recipe

(Serves About 2)



  • 2 Boneless Chicken Thighs Cut into 1-2 Inch Cubes (You can use chicken breast for this, but I think thighs have more flavor)

  • 3 Tablespoons Canola or Vegetable Oil

  • 1 White Onion (Roughly Chopped)

  • 4 Cloves Garlic (Finely Chopped)

  • 1 Inch Ginger (Finely Chopped)

  • 3 Serrano Chili (Deseeded and Finely Chopped)

  • 1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika

  • 1 Teaspoon Kashmiri Chili (Optional - Used For Color Not Heat)

  • 1 Teaspoon Hot Red Chili Powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin Powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder

  • 1 12-Oz Can Diced Tomatoes (or 3 Fresh Tomatoes - Chopped)

  • 1 Tablespoon Fenugreek (Methi) Leaves (Optional)

  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

  • ½ Green Bell Pepper or Red Bell Pepper or Both (Roughly Sliced Into Quarters)

  • ½ Bunch of Fresh Cilantro Leaves (Roughly Chopped)



  1. Place the oil into a saucepan (or a Balti pan, if you have one).

  2. Allow to come to a medium temperature.

  3. Add the white onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent.

  4. Add the garlic, ginger and Serrano chili. Cook until they have begun to lose their raw smell (this will be around 2-3 minutes).

  5. Add in the spices: turmeric, paprika, Kashmiri chili (optional), hot red chili, cumin, and coriander. Cook until the spices have begun to lose their raw smell (this will be around 2-3 minutes).

  6. Add the chicken pieces. And, allow to cook until about half way done.

  7. Add the tomatoes (fresh or canned) and allow the chicken to cook in the tomatoes.

  8. Add the Fenugreek (Methi) leaves and stir in. This is optional.

  9. Add the garam masala and stir in. I prefer to use this after the chicken has cooked through to echo the spices used in cooking.

  10. Add the green bell pepper and/or red bell pepper, and allow to soften gently.

  11. Turn off the heat and garnish with the the roughly chopped cilantro leaves. Traditionally, this dish would be served with a large naan (don’t say "naan bread" – naan means bread) but I do love serving it with basmati rice too.

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