Posts Tagged ‘balti’


Being in Jakarta and sorely missing Indian food, I attempted my hand at a pretty simple dish, Balti Chicken. Nothing over the top crazy spicy about this version of chicken masala, but the magic of melting of tomatoes mashed in with browned onion with a little garlic and ginger is perhaps responsible for the most traditional of flavours when it comes to homestyle Indian cooking.

What you’ll need

  • 1 kg chicken thighs, drumstick, or any chicken pieces scored, that is cut slits into the chicken pieces.  (I prefer chicken with their bones on them. Flavour, flavour, flavour.)
  • 2 brown onions / 1 brown onion and a handful of shallots chopped. (I prefer some shallots or go all the way with them because they brown quickly and easily and I find them full of flavour.)
  • 3 tomatoes quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves (I use a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic and ginger together. There’s something very earthy about using them and I prefer them to a grinding gizmo).
  • an inch and half ginger (or equal to the amount of garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp of whole cummin
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 3 black cardamom (if you cannot find this at your grocer’s, you could try adding 4 green cardamoms, ground, or whole).
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder (Not nearly as explosive enough, to me!)
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbs plain unsweetened yoghurt whipped
  • 1-3 large green chillies sliced (Optional, though one is for garnishing)
  • coriander leaves chopped
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • water 1-2 cups (add more water for more gravy).
  • 1 tbs of squeezed lime juice
  1. Firstly, heat a little oil in a pan and sautee the onion until brown. I find that adding a little salt helps to draw out the moisture in the onions and allows it to brown faster. I also pour in just a little bit of water when the onions begin to fry as it helps the onions to soften quickly.
  2. Add the tomatoes and sautee until soft and mash it in together with the onions.
  3. Add the cummin, pepper, cardamom pods, garam masala, garlic and ginger paste, and salt and sautee. I love hot stuff so I added 3 green chillies to mine. I ran out of chilli powder, but I usually add a little more.
  4. Add the chicken, a couple of pieces at a time stirring well to make sure the chicken pieces are well covered with the mixture. I prefer to let the chicken face the full force of the heat at the bottom of the pan so that it gets a little scalded on the outside. Just a personal preference for overdone chicken.
  5. Add the yoghurt and stir and leave to simmer.
  6.  Add 1 cup of water and leave to simmer for about 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked and the ‘oil separates’ (the oil surfaces to the top of the pot/pan/wok. I used a non-stick wok).
  7. Taste for salt.
  8. Plate it, spread the lime juice over it and garnish with chopped cilantro and one chopped chilli.

This dish would go well with white rice, pilaf, bread, or on its own. I added two medium potatoes to mine – after adding the chicken to the wok – so there’s carb already there if I choose to eat it on its own. Note that with stunts like the above, remember that the potatoes will absorb some of the salt, You would also need to adjust your time to allow the potatoes to cook.

If you don’t have plain yoghurt, cream could do, I suppose, but you’d lose the slight tinge of sour, but there are already tomatoes and the dash of squeezed lime to give it a lttle zing. I sometimes skip the yoghurt for a simpler taste.

A good condiment would be a simple onion and or cucumber raita. I just used the balance of the lime and added it to sliced onion which served as my version of pickled onion.

In my eager haste and hunger, I forgot to whip out my DSLR. The next time, I will definitely keep the camera near. 🙂

I hope you enjoy it with the same relish as we did ours at home.