Chilli chicken balti

Chilli chicken balti

I Love Curry
4–5, can be halved
Jonathan Gregson

Many curryphiles have argued over the roots of balti, but I don’t think there has been a general consensus. What I do know is that Birmingham is known for its baltis, rich tomato-and yogurt-based curries that can contain almost anything. This is my chicken balti, with lots of green chillies as much for their flavour as heat. They really add to the dish and I do recommend you leave them in. I’m not sure it will taste quite the same as the balti in your favourite curry house, but it is delicious nonetheless.


Quantity Ingredient
15g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
6 fat garlic cloves
2 largish tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika, for colour
1 rounded tablespoon full-fat yogurt
salt, to taste
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
6-10 green chillies, whole but pierced
500g boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2.5–5cm pieces
lots freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
large handful finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stems


  1. Blend together the ginger, garlic and tomatoes until smooth. Stir in the ground spices, yogurt and ¾ tsp salt.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they have popped. Add the bay leaf, onion and green chillies and cook over a moderate flame, stirring often, for six to eight minutes, until the onions are well browned.
  3. Add the blended ingredients and cook on a high flame, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and most of the excess liquid in the pan has evaporated. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the paste releases oil.
  4. Add the chicken and stir it in the thick masala for a few minutes. Add enough water to come halfway up the chicken. Bring back to a boil and cook for seven minutes.
  5. Increase the heat and toss the chicken in the sauce for another five minutes; the sauce will reduce to a lovely creamy consistency. Check a piece of chicken by cutting through; there should be no pink in the middle. Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding a little water or reducing it a little further, as you prefer.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking, adding lots of black pepper and a little lemon juice if your sauce is not tart enough. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve.
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