Note on measurements
All ¼, ½, ¾ & 1 teaspoon measurements etc. are level unless otherwise stated.
Note on chilli powder
You can use whatever suits your taste and how hot you like it. You can also vary the amount you use to suit individual preference.
Background of Balti
To speed up the cooking of take-away curries the high street restaurant developed a style of cooking that produced a characteristic flavour that has been difficult to re-create at home.

Pre-cooked base sauce/gravy/stock containing onions, ginger, garlic and a selection of spices and other ingredients was created and this along with pre-cooked meats and sometimes spice mixes allowed an order to be fulfilled in just a few minutes.

The base sauce is, essentially, a spiced vegetable stock suitable for most of the curry types on offer.

The high street Indian take-aways/restaurants/curry houses are dominated by Bangladeshis and these all offer baltis, but they are cooked in the Bangladeshi (BIR - British Indian Restaurant) style and differ from what many would call a 'true' balti.
'True' balti curry flavours and consistency can be very different from the more common high-street BIR curry house offerings and could be compared more to a traditional curry but cooked in a fast-food format.
This is because the Balti was developed in the Birmingham area at the end of the 70's into the 80's by the Pakistani community, largely from the Mirpur region of Kashmir. Due to the different cultural origins the Birmingham Balti is cooked in a different style.
Many of the spices used are similar to the Bangladeshi (BIR) style, such as coriander, cumin and turmeric, but the Pakistanis also favour the use of paprika and also cloves, cinnamon, cardamom etc. and depending on how 'heavy-handed' the chef is with the spices, they may not be to the liking of those brought up on the more common Bangladeshi BIR curries.
It is this variation in spice use along with a stir-fry cooking technique that differentiates a true Balti.

To accommodate the British liking for saucy curries a balti base sauce is often used towards the end of cooking thereby necessitating a thicker sauce - the problem with the addition of the balti base sauce is that it can dominate the flavour and cause all dishes using it to taste similar.
Having said all of this it is evident when examining recipes from Birmingham's Balti Triangle restaurants (such as are available) that some restaurants do not use pre-cooked meat or a pre-made base sauce/gravy. Some restaurants use both and some use raw chicken but do use pre-made base sauce/gravy. Most use individual spices but some use pre-made spice mixes and some even use commercially made pastes. A definitive statement on Balti cooking is therefore almost impossible due the great variation in individual cooking styles and chef's interpretations. Information on Balti cooking is scarce but I have pieced together such information that I could find to produce this suite of recipes which will use the variation of styles evidently found within the birthplace of balti - the "Birmingham Balti Triangle".
C41 Balti Base Sauce
Quantity 1200 ml - 1¼+ hours - significant preparation - 6 - 8 single portions.
It is based on numerous restaurant recipes but has the spicing reduced so that it does not dominate all the baltis cooked using it - this can be a problem. It is also diluted and heated at point of use to allow preferred sauce consistency be achieved.
References to Balti
Note: I have no affiliation to any of the following, they are simply included here for general interest!
Balti Birmingham Company
History of the Balti
Birmingham's Balti Triangle Note: Numerous references on this site are now unavailable.
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