Chicken balti (#49)

Last weekend I went back to visit my dearest Mother. When she has various gifts for me she asks me to bring a suitcase in which to take everything back to my London flat. In this case, she bought me a book by John Torode. Leaving that to one side for a moment, I also discovered a range of old cooking books I’ve had for years, including The Hairy Bikers’ Great Curries.

Now, Indian cuisine can be inconvenient for a London millennial with a job and social life. It’s not uncommon for a recipe to take a whole afternoon or day. This won’t discourage me in the long term, but for immediate purposes I had to turn to a recipe in the book that wouldn’t take forever, hence the balti.

Tasty, smells good. Was a tad watery, so I’ve added in a little more tomato puree and a little less water than their recipe. But ultimately, it was still a dream to have for lunch for most of this week.

Most difficult ingredient to get is balti paste, so try and find that first. I’ve banged on about this in several recipes: get the hardest to find ingredient before anything else.

Good things: quick for an Indian recipe and familiar flavour

Bad things: doesn’t feel like the full shebang, but we’ll get there!

Ingredients & requirements: serves 3-4 lunches

  • 15g butter
  • 2 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 25g fresh ginger 
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Balti curry past
  • 1-2 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 150ml of just boiled water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 200g spinach

Preparation & cooking:

  1. Preparation:
    1. Roughly chop 2 large onions and 25g of pelled fresh ginger, and then slice up 3 peeled garlic cloves. Set aside together in a bowl
    2. Cut up 4 boneless chicken breast into 8 pieces each
  2. In large non-stick saucepan (with lid), melt:
    1. 15g butter
    2. 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  3. Add the following ingredients, cover with lid and cook for 15 mins on a low heat:
    1. 2 onions
    2. 3 garlic cloves
    3. 25g fresh ginger 
  4. Remove lid and turn up heat. Cook for 2-3 mins more, stirring constantly until well coloured.
  5. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Balti curry paste. Turn down heat slightly, cook for 3 mins more, stirring frequently.
  6. Remove from heat and add in 1-2 tablespoon of tomato puree
  7. Blitz the mixture with a stick blender and set it aside in a bowl
  8. Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil to the same saucepan and add chicken breast pieces. Fry 3 mins, turning often. (If serving with rice, I’d probably add the rice to the boiling water around the same point as you put the chicken on).
  9. Add the following ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for 4 mins:
    1. The spiced onion mixture
    2. 150ml of just boiled water
    3. ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
    4. 1 teaspoon caster sugar
    5. 4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
  10. Add 200g spinach in handfuls, allowing to soften before adding the next batch. Cook for 1-2 mins once all added and then serve.


As mentioned, it was a tad watery even if very tasty. I however dream of luxuriously rich and creamy curry sauces, so although a balti this isn’t necessarily my favourite curry, this is definitely a great balti recipe.

So I ended up going to the Brixton Tesco superstore to obtain balti paste. Pataks, of course. The two Sainbury’s Locals and the M&S did not have any balti paste, only tikka and rogan josh in paste form (if memory serves).


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