Balti Chicken Curry with Simple Rice Pilaf!

Balti Chicken Curry is a very simple preparation which can be easily made with regular staples in your pantry. Its the quality of spices used which makes this curry so flavorful. The dried fenugreek leaves/ kasuri methi are a must as they impart a depth of flavor to this curry.

Balti Chicken is considered to have originated from Baltistan in northern Pakistan. Its said to have made its way to Birmingham, UK by way of immigrants. Its here that this dish was reinvented and popularized. It has now become one of Britain's favorite curries. "Balti Houses"- restaurants exclusively serving this dish are very popular in Birmingham.

Balti Curry- could also get its name from the container its usually cooked or served in. Its a round bottom iron kadhai/wok with 2 handles on each side. Balti in urdu/ hindi usually means "bucket".

There are many variations of this recipe. I have adapted it from a "Balti house" chef from here.

  • 1 lb chicken meat on bones
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely  (about a cup)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped finely 
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder/ paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (I grind my own, recipe here)
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi/ dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2-3 springs of cilantro, washed and chopped finely
  • salt to taste
  • oil

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil to medium.
  2. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute till soft. Salt helps the onions to sweat and release water.
  3. Now add the ginger and garlic and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in the tomatoes and cook till they have pulped.
  5. Now add in the spice powders - turmeric, kashmiri chili, coriander and garam masala. 
  6. Keep stirring to mix the spices well and create an nice sauce.
  7. Add the chicken pieces, salt and half the kasuri methi and mix well.
  8. Continue sauteing till chicken starts releasing it own water.
  9. Reduce heat. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  10. Pour in about 1 to 1.5 cups of water to create desired amount of gravy.
    Cover and let the curry simmer till the chicken is done.
  11. Lastly add remaining kasuri methi and cilantro and mix well.
  12. Switch off the flame and let the curry sit for about 5 minutes before serving. This helps the flavors develop more.
  13. Serve delicious Balti Chicken with your favorite rice pilaf/pilau or naan. (Gluten Free version here)

Simple Rice Pilaf

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small stick of cardamom
  • 1 bruised green cardamom
  • pinch of turmeric (just for color)
  • 3 cups water
  • salt to taste  

  1. Wash the rice in few changes of water.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add the washed rice grains and the spices.
  4. The rice grains will expand and elongate as they cook.
  5. Let the rice cook till the grain is about 90% cooked. The grain should feel cooked when pressed between your fingers.
  6. Switch off the heat and drain the rice and water through a colander.
  7. The rice grains should be separate and not clumped together.
  8. Add the rice back to the saucepan and close the lid and keep warm till serving time.

Other Chicken Curries:

Zero Oil Chicken Curry
Chicken Xacuti with Malvani Wade 
Cilantro Chicken with Carrot Rice 
Chicken Kofta Curry / Chicken Meatballs in sauce! 
Malaysian Chicken Curry
Chicken in Mint Curry!
Fiery Goan Chicken Vindaloo 
Thai Chicken Curry! 



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