Tag Archives: Travel

Balti from Brum: Birmingham’s most celebrated curry

Balti from Brum: Birmingham’s most celebrated curry
Skip the fish and chips and make this delicious English-meets-Indian curry.

Skip the fish and chips and make this delicious English-meets-Indian curry.

Back in March, my fiance and took our pre-wedding honeymoon trip to the UK and Ireland. What excited me most about the trip (besides visiting the Doctor Who museum in Cardiff) was the prospect of sampling the many global cuisines that these countries have to offer. They have become a melting pot of cultures over the past few centuries due to English colonization, immigration, etc., and this in turn now characterizes their food and the way people eat.

While perusing the travel book I brought along, I learned of Balti curry, a now renowned English dish that was created in Birmingham (known as “Brum” by the locals) by North Indian and Pakistani immigrants in the 1970s.

This Punjabi-influenced curry is very aromatic, filled with warming spices, tomatoes, onions and cilantro, and can be made with meat, vegetables or paneer (an Indian fresh cheese). It’s a one-pot dish traditionally served in a metal or copper, two-handled dish called a “Balti”, which means “bucket” in Hindi. Instead of eating it with rice (or even silverware), the diner will scoop it up with naan or chapati flatbread. The best thing about Balti is that it cooks up quickly, like a stir fry, and can be completed in about half an hour — no need to watch over a simmering pot for hours.

Don’t be intimidated by the myriad of spices used in Balti: most of them can be found in specialty grocery stores that have a bulk spice section and the rest can be obtained from an Indian grocer (which is a culinary adventure in itself to visit). I’ve even seen a Balti spice blend sold at Whole Foods under their own brand. As for the protein, beef, lamb, pork or even vegetables can easily be substituted for the chicken.

No need for a passport here as you can take your tastebuds for a trip to jolly old Brum with this easy to prepare, savory Balti dish.
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Culinary Adventure: San Antonio, Texas

Culinary Adventure: San Antonio, Texas

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Last weekend I was able to fulfill a long-standing dream of mine: visiting San Antonio, Texas. Why San Antonio, you ask? Well, there’s the historic Alamo, the touristy River Walk, and many other cultural and historic sights. But this city has also been the mecca of Tex-Mex food in my eyes (and also a stop on my “BBQ of the U.S.” tour) for longer than I can remember.

I had been planning this culinary pilgrimage for almost two months, as soon as I found out I was going (courtesy of wonderful boyfriend and free airline tickets), and did extensive research on just about every Tex-Mex/barbecue/Mexican restaurant in town. My main goal was to stay away from eating on the River Walk as much as possible, since it contained mostly overpriced tourist traps with bland interpretations of the authentic Tex-Mex food I sought. This weekend getaway made me feel like Giada on one of her “Weekend Getaways” (minus the camera in my face). Read the rest of this entry