The Balti Cookbook by  Shehzad Hussain

I’ve had this book quite a few years now, but when I feel the need to rustle up a quick curry or spicy dish then this book is the one I turn to. With plenty of recipes to choose from and written in an easy to follow, step by step guide, that even I can understand, it’s well thumbed pages bear testament to many a successful supper over the years.

Balti is usually done on the stove in a pot called a Karahi and is a fast and furious cooking method, usually reducing the sauce until it has almost evaporated, leaving behind a thick, delicious liquid that works well with pretty much any meat.

I like to experiment with the recipes and add whatever takes my fancy at the time, they usually work (usually). There is a bit of a debate as to where “ Balti” originated from, is it from a region called Baltistan in Pakistan or did it originate in Birmingham via Pakistani immigrants, whatever the answer is I’m glad it found it’s way to me because I love it and, I’m sure after the trying the recipe below you will love it too, for that excess turkey after christmas, try substituting turkey for the chicken and warm yourself after a chilly afternoon walk. It can all be cooked in 20 mins from start to finish.

Harry loves grilled banana on top of his, great for kids who love crushing it into the delicious, zingy sauce.

Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken

– 1 white onion, thinly sliced, my addition
– 3 tbsp tomato puree
– 2 tbsp Greek- style yogurt
– 1 ½ tsp garam masala, I usually add a little more to make it richer
– 1 tsp chilli powder
– 1 tsp garlic pulp
– 2 tbsp mango chutney
– 1 tsp salt
– ½ tsp sugar, only if you like it very sweet, the mango chutney is enough for me
– 4 tbsp corn oil
– 650g chicken, skinned boned, cubed, up to you but I think thighs work best for taste
– 150ml water
– 2 green chillies finely chopped, 1, deseeded works better for kids
– 2 tbsp fresh coriander
– 2 tbsp single cream



Blend together in a bowl the, tomato puree, yogurt, garam masala, chilli powder, garlic, mango chutney, salt and sugar until all well combined together, you should have a smooth paste. This is Harry’s favourite bit!

Harry and Frank

Harry and Frank

Harry and Frank

Harry and Frank

Heat your oil and gently fry onions until soft and golden, then with a slotted spoon remove and set aside, add paste mixture and boil for around 2 minutes stirring now and again.

Heating the onions

Add the chicken and stir well, reduce heat a little and add the water slowly to thin the sauce to your liking, not too thin, check for seasoning, add the onions and cook for around 15 minutes, add the chillies, coriander and cream and cook for another 2 mins stir well. Serve straight away.


Goes great with basmati rice, plain naan bread, mango chutney, lentils and yogurt raita ( see below) on the side.

Yogurt Raita

– 2 cups plain yogurt
– 2 cups finely chopped or grated cucumber
– ½ tsp salt
– Freshly ground pepper to taste
– Couple sprigs coriander, finely chopped

Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well together and serve as a side or dip.


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