For those you who missed my post last week, I launched a pop-up event called The Curry Club bringing Anglo-Indian curries to British establishments around the city. Our first series is being kicked-off at The Jones Wood Foundry (right here in NYC), an embodiment of all things British. As patrons dunked toasted naan bread and rice pilaf into hot Goan shrimp curry, some felt they had been transported to the UK itself where a beer-and-Friday-night-curry is said to inaugurate the weekend.
Last Monday was our second Curry Club night. For many Brit expats, this one was really special. It was like re-uniting with a long lost relative; The Balti - a chicken of spice and succulence. Why so much emotion? Because the Balti was christened by the British, or to be precise, by the folk in Birmingham UK. In India, Balti refers to a bucket, but in the UK it is nothing less than juicy and tender pieces of chicken that are coated in a peppery sauce of tadka (classic base of ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes) and a hit of vinegar. The dish is ‘comfort personified’ and even when non-expats walked through the doors of The Jones Wood Foundry, they understood what the fuss was about and were ready to assimilate.
Recipe for Balti Chicken
- 2 lb skinless chicken thighs, (with some bone)
- 1 TSP. Ginger, minced
- ½ TSP. Garlic, minced
- ¾ Tsp. Salt
- 1 TSP. White wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
- 1 TSP. cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Green cardamoms
- 1 ½ onion, finely diced
- 1 TBSP. ginger
- 1 TSP. garlic
- ½ TSP. Haldi/ turmeric
- ½ TSP. chili powder/ cayenne pepper
- 1 TSP. Coriander powder, roasted and crushed
- Salt (3/4 to 1 tsp)
- ½ TSP. fresh cracked pepper
- 1 heaped TSP. Kasturi methi, crushed by hand
- 1 TBSP. Tomato puree
- 3/4 can peeled plum tomatoes, crushed
- 1 Heaped TBSP. plain yoghurt
- A handful of chopped cilantro
1) Combine chicken, vinegar, ginger, garlic and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside for 1 hour
1) Remove from chicken from refrigerator, cut in to medium-sized cubes
2) Heat oil, add cumin, as it darkens and sizzles around add onions, cook on high until it brown at sides and gets jammy (you should need to scrape bottom of pan as you mix as the onion sticks. If not, this indicates that the heat is not high enough and it will make your sauce a dirty brown color with a slushy texture)
3) Add ginger and garlic, cook to lose rawness and it turns golden. Add cayenne pepper, coriander powder, fresh cracked pepper, Kasturi mehthi, crushed by hand
4) Add tomato puree. Cook to remove rawness. Add crushed tomatoes. When oil separates, add sugar and add the chicken and continue to cook on high for 4 minutes. Add ¼ cup of hot water bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
5) When ¾ cooked through, add beaten yoghurt. Cook until yoghurt loses the milk color. Remove from heat and serve immediately with a garnish of chopped cilantro
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Saira Malhotra, is of British –Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes