A Conversation for Advice for Eating in an 'Indian' Restaurant in Britain

Balti

Post 1

Vestboy

Over 20 years ago when I lived in Birmingham we went to many restaurants in the Balti Triangle - where Balti was first exposed to the British public. Knives and forks did not exist in many of the restaurant - as table cutlery at least. The balti (the name of the cooking pot) was set before you on the table and you were expected to eat the meat, chicken or veg using the naan bread alone.

You can now get knives and forks and the restaurants have gone up-market but ordering a "table naan" is still recommended for people who want to experience something different. It is huge and will satisfy the requirements of everyone at the table rather than ordering individual naans.

All of the Restaurants were "dry" in those days but bringing in your own beer or wine was encouraged and the off licence situated in the midst of the restaurants did a roaring trade.


Balti

Post 2

Mu Beta

BYO is still encouraged, if the Brum meet is anything to go by.

The table or family naan is indeed a treat - I always found they were a little undercooked though. smiley - sadface

B


Balti

Post 3

Number Six

I thought the Balti was actually invented in the West Midlands smiley - erm

I know there's something that was, and was pretty sure that was it.

smiley - mod


Balti

Post 4

Mu Beta

Well, yes and no. The whole issue is very blurred, which I made reference to in the entry.

People in North India do extensively use a Balti dish for cooking, and definitely do serve food similar to the Balti we know. It's probable that linking the name to the dish only first happened in Birmingham.

B


Balti

Post 5

Number Six

I've been doing a little research...

http://www.recipeland.com/encyclopaedia/index.php/Balti_(food)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A280900
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balti_%28food%29

...all seem to concur on being invented on the Stratford Road in Birmingham.

I must say, as a very occasional proud Midlander (what with both my parents coming from the South, my having moved to London as soon as I could, and my supporting a football team from the South-West) that I've always had Balti down as one of our better contributions to world culture, right up there with Dexy's Midnight Runners.

Whenever I see a Balti described in an 'Indian' restaurant as something like 'speciality of North-Western frontier' I tend to scoff and say something like "What, the frontier between Birmingham and Dudley?"

The wikipedia entry says this:
"The origin of the food would not appear to come from the region of Baltistan or the Balti people who live there; they cook a very different type of Tibetan-influenced food that is based around pasta/noodle dishes. However, Baltistan is a very remote and little-visited mountainous area on the border of Kashmir, and so it is possible that Kashmiris in Britain may have tried to give their newly-invented dish a cover of spurious 'authenticity' - by claiming its origin as being in mysterious Baltistan"

although obviously I never give *too* much credence to Wikipedia stuff because I know I could go there now and edit the entry to say whatever I wanted, but still...

smiley - mod


Cobra Beer

Post 6

Number Six

By the way, I hate to P on your bonfire, but I just remembered the "I say! It's brewed in the UK!" small print at the bottom of the Cobra beer adverts they had on the tube last year.

Imported it ain't - check out the front page of http://www.cobrabeer.com

Lovely stuff though.

smiley - cheers


Cobra Beer

Post 7

Mu Beta

Leaving aside the Cobra argument for a minute...

The name Balti doesn't originate from Baltistan. The word 'Balti' simply translates as 'bucket', which is the name of the cooking dish. The names of the dish and the region are simply coincidental.

B


Cobra Beer

Post 8

Number Six

I did hear a rather romantic version that it was originally cooked in hubcaps by Indian truckers...

smiley - mod


Cobra Beer

Post 9

Mu Beta

Hmmm...I don't really think I need refute that.

B


Cobra Beer

Post 10

Number Six

Sounds as plausible as the North-Western frontier idea to me smiley - tongueout

smiley - mod


Balti

Post 11

cochise475

The earlist 'curry house' I can remember was on Church Road in Moseley. It was called 'Butts'. The meals were not yet 'Balti'. This was some 35 years ago.
It was an experience. The tables all had a plastic checker table cloth, and the menus were on the table but under a sheet of glass.
When your meal arrived there was no cutlery, you ate it with your fingers using a chapati to scoop up the food. This type of restaurant meal soon became known as a 'finger dip'.
At the end of the meal you ended up with yellow fingers.
A typical 3 course meal would set you back all of £3.00.
'Butts' is the first restaurant I can remember to bring in the Balti using the Karahi bowl.
More restaurants sprang up but this was along Ladypool Road and in Stoney Lane, Sparkhill. These two roads formed two legs of the eventual triangle with Stratford Road arriving a little later to form the third leg.
'Butts' has now been renamed and Mr Butt himself has a a very large new restaurant 400 yards away in Ladypool Road.
The food in most of the restaurants is still good and reasonably priced.

Hope this helps.


Balti

Post 12

Vestboy

Memories! I've eaten in Butts. Mmmmm. Balti!


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Balti

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