A Glug of Oil

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Restaurant Style Chicken Balti

Chicken Balti

Balti is a curry with a tomato-based sauce and this is my perfected recipe! Balti restaurants are often known in Birmingham as 'Balti houses'.

Restaurant Style Chicken Balti

Balti houses have a reputation as being inexpensive places to eat. This is because they commonly have no alcohol license, although customers who wish to drink are welcome to bring their own alcohol with them.

You can use fewer chillies if you wish, but what's the point of having curry if it isn't hot?!

You can easily make this into vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock and the chicken with vegetables such as okra, fine green beans and or aubergine.

Yield: 2-3
Author: Jan Bennett
Chicken Balti

Chicken Balti

Of course, you can use fewer chillies if you wish but what's the point of having curry if it isn't hot is there?!
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 45 MinTotal time: 1 H & 4 M


  • a glug or two of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds - crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of black onion seeds (Nigella seeds) - crushed
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 3 green birds eye chillies (remove the seeds if you don't want it too hot) chopped
  • 2 nice fat cloves of garlic - finely chopped
  • a piece of ginger about 2cm square - peeled and finely chopped
Dried spices
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • about 6 cloves - ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 2 skinless chicken fillets - cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of soft brown sugar
  • 1 good tablespoon of tomato puree (known as tomato paste in the US)
  • a little salt to taste
  • **make up 200ml of chicken stock from half of a Knorr stock cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 x 400ml tin of good quality tomatoes
  • a small handful of dried curry leaves - crumbled
  • 3 whole cardamom pods - split
  • 1 fresh tomato - quartered
To serve
  • a small handful of fresh coriander - chopped
  • Rice and a fried egg if you fancy it and of course, Naan bread!


  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, when hot throw in both the mustard and black onion seeds.
  2. Stir about for 30 or 40 seconds till they just start to pop.
  3. Now add the chopped onion.
  4. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft but not too coloured.
  5. When that's happened, add the green chillies, garlic, ginger and all the dried spices.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat - stirring and making sure they don't burn.
  7. Now add another small glug of oil and throw in the chicken and add the sugar and stir to coat.
  8. Keep the chicken moving about so it gets sealed and slightly starts to brown.
  9. Stir in the tomato puree, cook for 1 minute and then add just 100ml of the 200ml of chicken stock.
  10. You may or may not need the rest later so keep it to one side.
  11. Add the bay leaf to the pan along with the split cardamon pods and the tin of tomatoes including the juice and crumble in the curry leaves.
  12. Cook over low heat for about 25 minutes, try not to let it bubble too much or your chicken will become tough.
  13. You want the sauce to reduce and become thicker.
  14. If you do need to add the rest of the stock then do so if you need to.
  15. About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve and then add in the quartered tomato.
  16. Then, when you're ready to serve try to fish out the bay leaf and the cardamon pods (they're horrid things I think if you bite into them)!
  17. Serve piping hot with rice and a fried egg (like they do in some restaurants) and sprinkle over the chopped coriander. 
  18. Oh and don't forget the Naan bread!
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  1. I have never used Spanish onion. What is like compared to Vidallia, regular yellow and other tyoes of onions?? And, what preferrable dishes is it used in besides "poultry"?? Thanks, Jan!


  2. This dish is making me so hungry now!!!! That fried egg is just the cherry on the top!!!

  3. I have heard of Balti chicken but did not know how to define it. This looks excellent.

  4. Oh that looks good Jan! I don't like hot curries myself, so I like them toned down a bit, but your curry looks fabulous!

  5. Yes! Thankyou! This looks like a great recipe. I bet it becomes a classic in our house!

  6. Boy does this look good to me Jan, fab recipe. Lucie x

  7. Lien - A Spanish onion is just a really large (brown skinned) onion - very strong in flavor.
    Chicken is the usual 'meat' in balti, but you can use just vegetables if you like - whatever you fancy really!

  8. Wow! That sure looks good, Jan. I've never heard of Balti before. The ingredients alone are sending me over the top. I can just imagine the taste and SMELL!!!

    Thanks for introducing me to a new dish!!!

  9. Oh wow, this is such a delicious recipe! Love how you place in the egg. Looks so yummy!

  10. Indeed, I like a curry to be at least a bit hot! Sounds delicious.

  11. Looks delicious, I love curry, especially tomato based so will have to make soon!

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