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Balti cooking, which has gained popularity in the UK, is one of my favorite forms of cooking. It gets its name from "Balti" which literally translates to bucket in India. The cooking is an indian /pakistani style of cooking that uses the wok or Balti as the main utensil

One myth is that Balti originated from Baltistan, a place in the is situated in the dry arid Karakoram mountains between the international borders of China & the northern sector of the disputed "Kashmir" territories of India & Pakistan. I was informed of this by a friend who is from the Baltistan area. My family is from Multan originally, a close neighbor. Balti cooking was created, it is my understanding in the UK.

There are some wonderful Balti sites and recipes out there. I have eaten some prepared at the homes of friends here, but alas have never been to the UK to taste the magic there

Simon, can you tell us a bit more on this cuisine?

Does anyone have recipes they would like to share?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Interesting. There is a series of cookbooks put out by Merehurst (in the UK) called A Taste of ... and one of them is A Taste of Baltistan. (Others are Goa, Kashmir, and Punjab.) At least the "Baltistan" book does say "... a lot of dishes are cooked and served in one pan, called a karahi."

As an aside: can I use a large cast-iron (at least 12" diameter) skillet as a tawa?

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Balti cooking, which has gained popularity in the UK

when i was in london around this time last year i enjoyed many excellent "balti" dishes. i remember being surprised that i hadn't really encountered these dishes at restaurants in NY/NJ. there's a relatively new restaurant in NYC that supposedly offers many balti dishes, but i have not had a chance to visit it yet. they don't have an online menu but if i go i will report back. :smile:

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Balti cooking, which has gained popularity in the UK

when i was in london around this time last year i enjoyed many excellent "balti" dishes. i remember being surprised that i hadn't really encountered these dishes at restaurants in NY/NJ. there's a relatively new restaurant in NYC that supposedly offers many balti dishes, but i have not had a chance to visit it yet. they don't have an online menu but if i go i will report back. :smile:

Thanks for your post, do you know the name of the rest. in NYC?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Balti cooking was created, it is my understanding in the UK.

I always understood this to be the case. But I understood that the reason they called it Balti was because the chefs were from that region. We had the same thing in the U.S. with Cantonese Cuisine. The chefs might have been from Canton, but the original cooking style they invented was Cantonese/American. But Americans used to think of things like Shrimp in Lobster Sauce as "Cantonese."

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Balti cooking was created, it is my understanding in the UK.

I always understood this to be the case. But I understood that the reason they called it Balti was because the chefs were from that region. We had the same thing in the U.S. with Cantonese Cuisine. The chefs might have been from Canton, but the original cooking style they invented was Cantonese/American. But Americans used to think of things like Shrimp in Lobster Sauce as "Cantonese."

Interesting, and I thought it was because of the word "balti" meaning wok and that most of this style of cooking is done in a WOK. Have you tried it? How similar or different do you feel it is from the traditional style of cooking Indian food?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Well that might be the case as well but I think the chefs had to come before the baltis don't you think? Unless chefs from a different part of the sub-continent started using baltis and thought they were originally from that region.

I've been to Lahore Kabob House and it didn't make quite the impression on me that it seems to make on other people. But that was many years ago, maybe 5. I should go again when I'm in London next. A few years ago I did business with a company in Birmingham and when I asked them about Balti cuisine, they sent me a balti as a gift and I have it hear somewhere. But it looks like a small wok. I think in order to have the real deal you need to go to Birmingham.

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Well that might be the case as well but I think the chefs had to come before the baltis don't you think? Unless chefs from a different part of the sub-continent started using baltis and thought they were originally from that region.

I've been to Lahore Kabob House and it didn't make quite the impression on me that it seems to make on other people. But that was many years ago, maybe 5. I should go again when I'm in London next. A few years ago I did business with a company in Birmingham and when I asked them about Balti cuisine, they sent me a balti as a gift and I have it hear somewhere. But it looks like a small wok. I think in order to have the real deal you need to go to Birmingham.

Agreed :biggrin:

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Most restaurants calling themselves Balti Houses are indeed outside of London mainly in the Midlands and the North of England.

Basically it was a way for bog standard curry houses to re-invent and re-market themselves as there is fierce competition between them in some of these cities. Balti cuisine isn't a cuisine at all and the term doesn't indicate quality in the slightest. Nearly all Indian restaurants in the UK have used woks in their kitchens since they opened. It's just that some bright spark had the idea to use the word for wok as a way of describing the restaurant and then going on to pretend that it denoted a different type of cooking. It doesn't.

Steve, I'd be wary of the Lahore Kebab House if I were you. Its been shut down and fined by environmental health inspectors several times over the years and twice this year. Go to New Tayyabs up the road instead. We go there twice a week and know the owners well. If you're interested I'll take you there next time you're over.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
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Balti cooking, which has gained popularity in the UK

when i was in london around this time last year i enjoyed many excellent "balti" dishes. i remember being surprised that i hadn't really encountered these dishes at restaurants in NY/NJ. there's a relatively new restaurant in NYC that supposedly offers many balti dishes, but i have not had a chance to visit it yet. they don't have an online menu but if i go i will report back. :smile:

Thanks for your post, do you know the name of the rest. in NYC?

Brick Lane Curry House on 6th Street and Haveli on 2nd Avenue both have balti dishes. I had one at Haveli a while ago and was underwhelmed. BLCH might be worth a try as it's a pretty good English style Indian restaurant.

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Brick Lane Curry House on 6th Street and Haveli on 2nd Avenue both have balti dishes. I had one at Haveli a while ago and was underwhelmed. BLCH might be worth a try as it's a pretty good English style Indian restaurant.

Monica: Brick Lane Curry House is the restaurant I was referring to above. I am going to try to get there this weekend.

g. johnson: I have also been to Haveli and sampled their Balti dish-I believe it was chicken but I can't remember. I too was underwhelmed. I have heard that BLCH actually features Balti dishes on their meno, as opposed to Haveli, which, if memory serves, had only one or two. So I am hoping that BLCH is good!

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I presume the Brick lane Curry House refers to Brick Lane in London. The curry houses in Brick Lane are strictly for tourists. No Londoner who knows anything about Indian food eats in them. The term "Balti" has nothing whatsoever to do with the regional origins of the chefs or any particular regional food. Avoid.

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I presume the Brick lane Curry House refers to Brick Lane in London. The curry houses in Brick Lane are strictly for tourists. No Londoner who knows anything about Indian food eats in them. The term "Balti" has nothing whatsoever to do with the regional origins of the chefs or any particular regional food. Avoid.

Tony, I have been silent on this thread for I felt I had little to add. You said better than I, everything I would have wanted to.. or would have hoped to say. I have come back to this thread everytime someone has added stuff.. and kept quiet. This last post of yours made me speak up... Thanks for sharing your great knowledge of Indian food. I am always humbled by it and wanting to hear more from you.

The Baltistan area has food very different from what people call Balti food. For that matter, I am not sure when many of them ever got a chance to eat a peaceful meal. They are living in great strife.. and in poverty... I was told by the food Guru at the Taj Group of hotels that Balti Cooking was the name given to a modern day, London take on basic North West Frontier Cooking. She dismissed it as having no roots in Indian cooking of any repute. I am of the school that if it works, enjoy it.. but I certainly have no desire to find roots of a cuisine that has none in the Indian Sub-Continent. It can be just as good without being traced back to Baltistan.

BLCH is serving terrible food.. and is certainly for tourists or those that cannot travel too far.... and are happy eating in their hood. I live not very far... and would never find myself going there again. Unless I am told something radical has been done to their food and soul.

I never understood how it got famous (the restaurant in NYC, BLCH). It is not very good. But what do I know... I am happy eating Sweet Corn Soup made by Ed Schoenfeld at his home than get a free meal a friend promised at an Indian restaurant.

And I have enjoyed your most wonderful posts on what Balti cooking really is and is not. Thanks!

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I presume the Brick lane Curry House refers to Brick Lane in London.

It is a recent addition to the 6th Street restaurants serving so called Indian food. Some believe that one kitchen services all the many restaurants in the hood. Largely uninspired food is served at largely cheap rates.. in largely ghastly settings. But all said, it does have its own charm, or lack thereof.

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so suvir...i guess what you're saying is that i should avoid BLCH like the plague and go to Diwan instead?  :unsure:

Nope... I would avoid BLCH for I have had terrible experiences there.

I would much rather go to places that I have enjoyed better.

Pongal (for Southern Indian), Dimple (for street foods and some Gujarati specialities), Tamarind (for ambience and inconsistent but great food at a lucky night or day), Bukhara (Northern Indian food), Diwan, Dakshin etc...

In the end you have to make your own choice I cannot think for you.. and should not be steering you to any one place. You can make that decision and for your own reasons. You may hate the places I love. But that is just another reality of life. :wink:

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In the end you have to make your own choice  I cannot think for you.. and should not be steering you to any one place.  

of course--i didn't mean to imply otherwise. i was just struck by your strong negative reaction to the restaurant...i probably will visit the restaurant but i appreciate the opportunity to hear others' impressions, good and bad. thanks. :smile:

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In the end you have to make your own choice  I cannot think for you.. and should not be steering you to any one place.  

of course--i didn't mean to imply otherwise. i was just struck by your strong negative reaction to the restaurant...i probably will visit the restaurant but i appreciate the opportunity to hear others' impressions, good and bad. thanks. :smile:

I am sorry for being honest. I have had two very bad meals there.

And it was even worse I guess for I went there after hearing good stuff in the NY Times and also on eGullet.

If I had stumbled onto it with expectations of only an average meal, for I was in the hood.. I may have not had a bad reaction, I may have simply never gone back.

But I went back for so many love it so much.. and unfortunately, it presented itself even worse on the 2nd trip.

What can I say... Sorry.

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Between Tonyfinch's comment; Suvir's experiences, I decided to keep my impressions to myself.

On a friend's insistence, I did drag a few others along -- I apologised later to every body for the poor service, and arrogant attitude when pointing out the under-cooked pieces of meat.....

Hey !! They can survive without the few measly bucks from us :smile: I agree the BL curry houses in London are for outsiders and folks unfamiliar with indian food.

anil

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Between Tonyfinch's comment; Suvir's experiences, I decided to keep my impressions to myself.

On a friend's insistence, I did drag a few others along -- I apologised later to every body for the poor service, and arrogant attitude when pointing out the under-cooked pieces of meat.....

Hey !! They can survive without the few measly bucks from us  :smile:  I agree the BL curry houses in London are for outsiders and folks unfamiliar with indian food.

Anil, I would rather be the quiet one. Please never do that. I love the way you kindly share your experiences. Always a huge treat for me and I am sure for all others. And across the site, not just this Indian forum.

I am happy that I was not alone in having had a not so nice experience. I too was having to apologise the second time I was there. This time I had included friends to come join me... and I was sad. I felt cheated. :shock:

What other places have you been eating at lately? Any fund Balti meals? What are your thoughts on Balti dishes?? :wink:

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