Birmingham is renowned for it. The capital of Baltiland. The word 'Balti' literally translated means bucket. However, this was originally an earthen dish with handles on. Nowadays it tends to be a cast iron pot. So, just what is a balti? Where did it come from?
The Balti is an Indian dish. Some argue it was introduced to the city by the Kashmiri immigrants. Some will tell you that in its present form it is an invention of Birmingham. It is a type of curry. The food is cooked quickly in some ways akin to a stir fry. The ingredients are generally fresh meat and/or vegetables which are first marinated and then cooked with spices. The meal is served piping hot as soon as it has been cooked. There are many variations of the balti and many restaurants claim to have the best version. The dish contains spices such as coriander, ginger, cumin, cloves, cassia bark amongst others. It is best sampled with naan bread or chapattis.
Birmingham is full of well known Baltihouses that are generally found in the Sparkhill, Sparkbrook areas of the city. Ladypool Road is one such location where a meal out and a good balti can be found at the most reasonable of prices. These areas are where the best balti houses can generally be found. Many are not licensed for alcohol but you can take your own. The best baltis tend to come from the basic and popular restaurants that are often crowded and known to the locals for the quality of their food rather than the ambiance of the surroundings.
People from far afield already know what a good balti tastes like and whilst it may seem like a new food fad, the people of Birmingham have been used to it for years. You would be hard pushed to find someone from Birmingham who had not tried this wonderful dish.
According to ABRA and the Birmingham City Council who carried out a survery on the consumption of Baltis the following information was recorded:
Around 50% go for a balti at least once a fortnight
Around 60% go for a balti at weekends
14% come from outside the West Midlands
65% are loyal customers to a particular restaurant
Over 70% rated the service as good or better
Over 85% rated food as good or better
60% feel safe coming into the area
40% go for a balti more frequently than 3 years ago
There is even a move to create a Birmingham Balti Academy.
Balti Beer - You think we are joking? Well we are not. There is now a Balti Beer courtesy of Aston Manor Brewery. Aston Manor Brewery tell us that the Balti Beer is specifically designed to enhance the richness and flavours of the spices found in traditional Indian Food. Take a look at their website at www.astonmanor.co.uk