Talk:Balti (food)

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Yes, thanks, thanks for the history of it, but why doesn't this page actually say what Balti IS??[edit]

This article is very poorly structured and very flawed. It has lots of information about where Balti food is supposed to come from, lots of back and forth about whether it is Indian or Pakistani, whether it was invented in Birmingham or not, how it is cooked, irrelevant information about British supermarkets, etc...NOWHWERE does it actually say what on earth "Balti" food actually is, e.g. ingredients, taste, variations. The standard is much better for pages on other curries like Korma, Bhuna, etc...this just seems to be a mish mash of topics peripherally related to Balti. This isn't a wikipedia entry - it's a collage of Balti related topics. I don't see how so many people could edit it and contribute to the page without documenting/making sure was there, what Balti actually IS! I came to this page to find out what Balti is, I now know all about history of Balti houses in Birmingham - but I have no idea what Balti is. Presumably these entries weren't generated by robots? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:45, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

From Bangladesh originally then spread elsewhere — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:41, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

The strong probability is that the term refers to the pot in which the (regular Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi) curry is cooked (or served). So it is not a style of cooking in the sense of using particular ingredients or cooking techniques. A Balti house is therefore a place in which one eats a curry cooked (or served) in a balti. The attribution to Baltistan seems unnecessary if the word has an Urdu source, as seems to be agreed. This seems to me to be a full answer to the very verbose comment/request in the article. I have no doubt that the serving of balti dishes in Britain originated in Birmingham, but even the most insular Brummie would have to admit that it might also be eaten elsewhere. Anyway I've tried to clear up the lead, and cut down the comment, which largely duplicates the above Chrismorey (talk) 07:45, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
At the risk of being obnoxious, this doesn't answer the question. Curries range from the Belgian (which is what you get if you don't temper your curry spices but use them uncooked, raw) to the Chinese (somewhat glutinous) to the East Asian (Thai and Indonesian in particular, but also including the Vietnamese), to Bangadeshi, Goan, Keralan, Sri Lankan, then the whole corpus of mainland Indian curries, finally passing through the Muslim ones of Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iran. Finally we have the foreign inventions, the Tikka Masala with its additive of British tomato soup, and the Balti. Now, to claim that any curry can be a Balti rather suggests the style is not so much a dish as a service style, which is patently wrong. Subjectively, I might think that it is a poor-quality mass-market middle-of-the-road curry with few distinctive traits of flavour highlights. Would I be wrong? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

Recent Updates[edit]

The page is looking much better, HOWEVER. Just because a source states that balti is a anglo-english word - this does not mean that the word used in this context is the same. There is no proof that this word and this context are the same considering the birmingham balti house community are pakistani/kashmiri in ethnic origin and the hindi language would be of no consequence to them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:12, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm.... I don't think you can really say the Hindi language would be of no consequence to Pakistanis and Kashmiris. Spoken Hindi is essentially the same as spoken Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. Melaena (talk) 22:27, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

RE: The origin of the word[edit]

It is already established that Balti can be translated as bucket in Hindi. There is no disputing the origin of the Hindi word balti/balty. I think it is pretty presumptuous to assume that because this is generally referred to as Indian food - that there is any connection to the Hindi language. Most of the owners of balti houses in Birminham are Karhmiri in origin.

Read the balti cookbook by Pat Chapman - A man who has done more for the curry scene in the UK than anyone, you will find he has researched a lot more into it, than just assuming because there is a word in a phrase book which sounds like it then it must be right.

Kashmir is joined right on to the Baltistan area, and baltistan is joined onto china which is where the cast iron cooking came from.

Chris303 10:38, 01 June 2008 (GMT)

It is an absolute misconception to claim that the word and the term Balti originates from the Urdu/Hindustani/Hindi word for bucket 'balti', It is derived form the place where the style of cooking originates from Baltistan... and area of Kashmir with territories both in India and Pakistan, I feel the writer has let his imagination loose with other dish names which originate from various utensils, like kadhai, haandi, matka, tawa, etc —Preceding unsigned comment added by AlexTrivianni (talkcontribs) 22:18, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

—Preceding unsigned comment added by AlexTrivianni (talkcontribs) 22:20, 14 February 2009 (UTC) 


I suggest that the "bowl Tea" explanation is merely an urban legend derived from a source not understanding the meaning of Balti as a bucket, equally so the Baltistan connection is suspect 01:04, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree that the "bowl Tea" suggestion is merely urban legend.
However, I have encountered references to the region of Baltistan before. Apparently, they often use the Balti (as in the pot) in their cookery and so I beleive that was the motivation for naming the dish in this way, much in the same way that other "British" curries are named after regions of the Indian Subcontinent.
As for the fouth suggestion regarding a "particularly hairless Indian chef"... this is clearly urban legend, and perhaps not appropriate for the article. If there are no major objections, I would like to remove this section.
Ryecatcher 16:20, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Balderdash and Piffle[edit]

In a programme of this name on BBC2 on 16 April 2006 a claim was made that a restaurant in Newcastle was serving baltis in 1982. This may well be the case, but not even the Oxford English Dictionary disputes that the balti, nevertheless, originated in Birmingham. This is their new, revised entry for the word:

Entry revised for OED Online balti, n.2 DRAFT REVISION Apr. 2006

Cookery. Also with capital initial. [Origin uncertain and disputed. The word was first used in connection with restaurants chiefly in the area of Birmingham, England, in the early 1980s (cf. quot. 1982; one source claims that that first Balti house opened in 1977, but no printed evidence for this has been found). It is unclear whether there is any antecedent in languages of northern India, Pakistan, or Kashmir; it is not recorded among the many borrowings from these languages in R. J. Baumgartner Eng. Lang. Pakistan (1993). It is widely suggested that the word is derived < Hindi bl pail, bucket (perh. ult. < Portuguese balde), referring to the small, two-handled pan used in balti houses (Urdu karahi), but as there is no evidence that the Hindi word was used for vessels of this kind, this is probably a folk etymology. Derivation from Panjabi b deep brass dish (cf. Hindi b, Bengali b) has also been suggested; the intrusion of an -l- would be difficult to explain phonologically, but might have arisen in an English linguistic context from an error in transliteration, from misinterpretation of the retroflex t as -lt-, or by confusion with Hindi bl (see above). It has also been suggested that the word has some connection with Baltistan (see BALTI a. and n.1). The cuisine is found throughout Pakistan and north-western India, but with the notable exception of Baltistan, which has a subsistence economy (although sharing of food from a communal pot, or bucket, is app. a feature of Balti culture). The first balti houses may have been so named because of their simple, bring-and-share style, or because an early proprietor of such a restaurant was a Balti from Pakistani Kashmir. The predominant British pronunciation with back vowel is perh. after BALTIC a. and n.]

I. Simple uses.

1. A style of cooking influenced by the cuisine of northern Pakistan, comprising highly spiced dishes usually served in wide, round-bottomed, metal pans and accompanied by nan bread. Also: food or a dish in this style.

1982 Heathan (Balsall Heath, Birmingham) July 8/1 (advt.) Specialists in kebab, tikah, balti meats tandoori chicken and all kinds of curry. 1984 Curry Mag. Winter 29/1 Can anyone tell me what Balti is?.. Some unusual dishes on the menu are Curried Quail, Balti chicken or meat. 1990 Independent (Nexis) 24 Feb. 32 A lot of to know about ‘going for a balti’ while training in Birmingham. 1993 Times 26 June (Mag.) 35/2 I've eaten some passable, if crude, South American stuff and supped off the true Brum vernacular, which is the Kashmiri balti—only in this city do you get a table laid with a metre-long bread. 2000 Evening Post (Bristol) (Electronic ed.) 4 Nov., Not that students have to eat curry before a monster drinking session. They can, of course, grab a balti during and after, all equally satisfying.

As can be seen from the above, Birmingham has a print reference (The Heathan, a local newspaper) equally as old as the anomalous one from Newcastle (1982), and the OED have chosen to ignore the Newcastle one. Perhaps, like the early reference for mushy peas from Tenby (same episode), they were unable to verify it, as it was simply a printed menu. In any case, the question is acedemic, because even the OED admit that the term was coined in 1977 in Birmingham. The source for this is Adil's Restaurant - the people who actually invented it - see here [1]. For all I know, there may well have been an isolated balti house in Newcastle in 1982 - the Asian community have extended families all over the country - but in 1982 there were already dozens in Birmingham, where the concept had already been in existence for half a decade. TharkunColl 18:12, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

What is balti?[edit]

This article explains how balti is served, how it is eaten, where the word came from... but not what it actually is! What are the ingredients? How is it made? How is it distinguished from other curry dishes?

Someone please add some information. Mtford 22:18, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree, a better description of the food itself is desperately needed. I am actually from Birmingham and eat baltis regularly, but even I fail to see what the difference is between a balti and just any old curry. I always thought balti referred speciically to the metal dish in which it is both cooked and served. 23:30, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm from Birmingham too. A balti is called such purely because it is cooked (and served) in a balti dish. They tend to be milder than a "curry" - although curry in itself is a misnomer as it comes from a word meaning sauce and is purely a generic term to describe a range of food. A Balti is a curry, but a curry isn't necessarily a balti. The Mayor 13:47, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
I've always understood that 'Balti' is just the latest substitute word for curry, largely used for fashion or marketing reasons. Back in the early 80's 'curry' was just 'curry' and was largely what we'd now refer to as 'keema madras'. Essentially minced lamb with paprika, ground corriander, cumin, chilli and garam masala in it. At some point in the mid 80's 'curry houses' started to use a lot more chicken and fresh herbs, and the 'tandoori house' was born. But tandoori has fallen out of favour as a substitute word for 'curry' and 'balti' has become fashionable. Even now though balti is falling out of favour and is being replaced with 'karahi' or 'kashmiri'. Essentially balti is chicken marinaded and then fried in a sauce made as follows, then topped with fresh corriander and tomatoes - Fry chopped onions, garlic and chillies in (A LOT OF!) vegetable oil, then add spice mix (see below), and pasata and continue cooking. after 20 minutes of simmering, blend the mixture into a sauce. Spice mix is (proportions differ), ground cumin seeds (high proportion), ground corriander seeds, ground cardomom seeds, turmeric, chilli powder and a tiny bit of garam masala. Fried for a few seconds in very hot oil to activate the flavour. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:28, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
A tandoori house should, etymologically, specialise in food cooked in a tandoor, a top-loaded clay bottle-oven. Etymologically, a tandoor is related to the Arabic tanoor, which is a front-loaded brick bread oven indistinguishable from European bread-ovens found from the earliest of days until the arrival of a domestic cooker-oven. The ingredients given are those of a fairly generic middle-of-the-road curry, and the method used is banally normal: every curry should start with cooking the spices out. This makes me think the entire thing is simply a marketing con, and the meme should be relegated to a small section of the wider page on curries, principally to recognise the use of the pan for serving. The question of geographical attribution therefore becomes irrelevant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 2 October 2015 (UTC)
And then serve in a small wok-type thing known as a balti dish. It's not a balti if it doesn't come in one of them, it's just a plain old curry. TharkunColl (talk) 12:59, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Not just SERVED in a dish, but cooked in it - if they just spoon it into the dish from a big pot, it's not a balti... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:53, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

The link in the references section,, gives a 404... anyone know the correct address?

The full link is --Unre4LITY 15:17, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Balti Food[edit]

"Most balti houses are run by Pakistanis. This spicy dish was introduced to the city by its large Kashmiri population (of Pakistan). It's a way of cooking that started in the city in the 1980s." [2] (Sources included, please have a look)

Unre4L 03:46, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

I am Pakistani from Pothohar region and balti food is our centuries old traditional dish. This style of cooking was brought to UK by mirpuri immigrants. Balti word has nothing to do with Baltistan, In our native languages balti (pronounced baalti, with a retroflex t ) is term for pot and balti [pronounced belti with a dental t sound) ] means someone from baltistan. In english they may be spelled similar but are very different words in our language. Balti food is very popular in traditional style restaurants in Rawalpindi, mirpur and neighboring area. I think you guys need to go out of UK to trace the origin of this food. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:26, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Got any reliable sources to back your statement up? Geoff B (talk) 02:36, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Hi Geoff, did you remove the Lloyd Grossman reference because it isn't cyclopedic or because it's wrong or for some other reason? Seems quite interesting and as a leading chef he seems a useful source... 17:54, 10 January 2010 (UTC) Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 17:55, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

A visit to Rawalpindi will do, As restaurants there are selling Balti long before it was introduced in Britian. Anyways a quick google search shows Both The Hindu (Indian newspaper) and Dawn (Pakistani newspaper) refer Balti as traditional cuisine and are leading newspapers. Hindu report also gives the dish origins. Any Urdu knowledge should be able to resolve the misconception arising due to transliteration in English. Unfortunately Balti is only popular in Pothwar region and almost unknown in rest of Pakistan where a similar styled dish is called Karahi (again a name of Pot). Many Pakistani spices do have recipes for making both balti and Karahi. Its remarkable to see a dish from a small region to go international and have a wiki page. I think I have pointed to right direction but know that a hubcab sounds more astounding... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:56, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Jamesinderbyshire, sorry I missed your comment and the substantial delay in my reply. I've removed it because it's unsourced. It needs a cite. Saying that it's on the jar won't work because another editor can simply say "I've just been to the shops and it says no such thing." Geoff B (talk) 19:32, 4 February 2011 (UTC)


The recent edit to exclusively categorise Balti as "Pakistani" does not seem NPOV to me. Baltistan and Kashmir are both disputed and there are claims to both Indian-ness and Pakistani-ness for them. The food itself has not had its origins firmly established. I don't think it's right to exclusively categorise it as "Pakistani". Comments? Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 10:57, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Baltistan is a region which falls in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and hence the Pakistani connection; the Indian connection, as far as I can tell, comes from the fact that some Balti restaurants are marketed as 'Indian.' In terms of origin, the food is largely relevant to Pakistan. Also keep in mind that almost half of British Pakistanis are of Kashmiri origin, and hence Kashmiri culture forms an important part of Pakistanis in the UK. The origins and similiarities of this food to where it came from should be acknowledged; Mar4d (talk) 01:23, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
A problem then arises. With the origins of the dish disputed and no-one able to produce a definitive source as to where it was invented, if we add a Kashmir/Pakistani category, we must also add a British cuisine cat. The source of the dish was one of the three, but where? We either cat it as all or none, as far as I can see. Geoff B (talk) 22:14, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Maybe all. I accept that it is commonly seen as Pakistani or of that ilk, but the problem is proof. The sources such as they are tend to contradict each other. When I lived in Birmingham I recall articles in the local media that it was invented in Birmingham for example. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 22:25, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
Cat it as all three is fine with me. Geoff B (talk) 22:49, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
I have no problem with keeping all the relevant categories. The British cuisine category should definitely be there, since that's where the food took recognition. Mar4d (talk) 11:42, 6 February 2011 (UTC)
No need to categorise as British cuisine. Both the cat I created on clearing up the category British cuisine - Indian cuisine in the United Kingdom - and that created by Mar4d - Pakistani cuisine in the United Kingdom - are sub cats of British Cuisine. I originally crated the Indian category, as a large number of articles in the British cuisine category were of British influenced/delivered dishes of the Indian sub-continent, covering both India and Pakistan. However, rather than allowing the sub-continent cat to sit, Mar4D felt the need to create the Pakistan cat, which I can understand the idea of, although some things now sit in both cats! I have hence again removed the British cuisine cat. Also, can someone explain why this article sat in the main cat of Birmingham, West Midlands? I could possibly understand the sub-cat of culture, but even then - even though I lived in Brum for a few years - does it have a unique claim on Balti??? Rgds, --Trident13 (talk) 01:39, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Stainless steel? Iron?[edit]

A recent edit in the intro has the buckets being made of stainless steel, but further down, the article says they are made of steel or iron. I wonder if there are any decent sources on this? Tried to find one, but failed. We probably shouldn't have the article being self-contradictory though. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 14:42, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

They're probably made of whatever is handiest. Utterly pointless to specify, because I doubt we'll ever turn up a source saying "Only real balti buckets are made from stainless steel, if it's made of iron or tin it's just a bucket." Geoff B (talk) 20:09, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
I think I agree Geoff - after the last edit, the opening sentence reads " Balti (Balti: བལི་, Urdu: بالٹی) is a British-style type of curry cooked and served up in a type of wok made of stainless steel." - shall we change this to " Balti (Balti: བལི་, Urdu: بالٹی) is a British-style type of curry cooked and served up in a type of small metal wok." ? Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 20:13, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Seems alright to me. Geoff B (talk) 20:42, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
So it could be gold, or uranium? In fact, a balti is a type of wok that something is cooked in, which is stainless steel. Note that the source cited for iron is 19th century (and it doesn't say cast iron). ðarkuncoll 00:25, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
It could be, I suppose, if you really wanted a radioactive curry. If you have a source that says they are all made of stainless steel, please provide it so we can add it to the article. Geoff B (talk) 00:34, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I suggest wok should be removed then. You can see it's like a wok, of course, by looking at the pictures - but then, you can also see it's stainless steel. ðarkuncoll 00:39, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
You cannot detect what something is made from merely by looking at it. Unlucky. Geoff B (talk) 00:44, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, in many cases, such as this one, you can. I get the impression that you've never even had a balti. ðarkuncoll 00:45, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
I think you're slightly heading into OR territory there. It actually wouldn't matter if none of us had ever had a Balti, at least in theory, although I'm sure we've all had too many. :) The point about your describing it as "stainless steel" in the intro is that further down it says they can be iron. Do you acknowledge that's a problem? And do you have, as I asked above, any sourcing that says they are either mainly stainless steel, exclusively stainless steel or a mix? I realise we are unlikely to find useful sources on that, hence "metal". Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 09:18, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Also, thinking about it, the word "wok" with it's East Asian cookery associations is probably wrong, but I don't think "utensil" hits the mark either - "small metal bucket"? That would go more with the speculation of the article on "buckets". Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 09:20, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

The source that says iron dates to 1886, appriximately 90 years before the balti, as a style of cuisine, was invented. And all that speculation about Baltistan is way off the mark too, since its inhabitants are Tibetans, not Kashmiris. The fact is that balti does indeed mean bucket. These may have been iron in the 19th century, but they aren't now. ðarkuncoll 10:33, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Anyway, found a source:

The balti emerged in the south east of Birmingham in 1975 and was a product of Birmingham’s entrepreneurial Pakistani Kashmiri community. Its chefs wanted to create a flavour of their homeland which would appeal to local tastes and generate a few quid for the family coffers. Many of the businesses have remained true to their roots and are family owned and run, which ensures overheads are kept down.

A thin, pressed steel wok-like pan was developed in Birmingham and it is used for the balti style of stir frying over a very high heat. The “balti bowl” was also made in Birmingham, again using thin steel rather than cast iron.

ðarkuncoll 10:49, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

I know about the Balti Birmingham website, but I wonder if it qualifies as a source? It's a commercial website? Not clear who runs it or wrote it, hard to tell from the blurbs on it. Agree about Baltistan, I think that's probably just a silly confusion, although the name being the same it's an obvious leap to make. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 11:50, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
That's an article from the Birmingham Post. ðarkuncoll 12:04, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Oh yes, so it is a good source I s'pose, although it also serves as a puff-piece for Andy Munro and Mo Ahmed. :) However, I think the quote stands up and we can use it. Geoff, you cool with that now? Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 12:18, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

"A Balti (Balti: བལི་, Urdu: بالٹی) is a British-style type of curry cooked and served up in a thin, pressed steel wok-like pan."[edit]

This is not what the source says. The source states

"A thin, pressed steel wok-like pan was developed in Birmingham and it is used for the balti style of stir frying over a very high heat. The “balti bowl” was also made in Birmingham, again using thin steel rather than cast iron."

This refers to two separate things, the 'pan' used to cook it and the 'balti bowl' used to serve it in. It just wouldn't be practical for restaurants to cook each individual portion in it's own bowl.Muleattack (talk) 12:29, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

International view[edit]

Since this article is only about balti from your small island nation, or rather from the West Midland portion of your small island nation, is there another article about balti in the larger world? Balti in Canada is a specific spice blend and flavor.```

British not Pakistani — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:34, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

British cuisine[edit]

The balti may or may not have its origin in Britain but patently features in British cuisine and has evolved significantly in Britain. It may well be pertinent to add templates for Pakistan and/or other countries but the "British cuisine" template is highly pertinent. Mutt Lunker (talk) 13:53, 8 December 2013 (UTC)