Every country has its national cuisines, every city a speciality. However much Britain prides itself on its fry up breakfasts and Sunday roast dinners, times are a-changin’ and the curry has upped and settled in the stomach of every Birmingham local on a Friday night. Yes, we have stolen the national cuisine of India and now the city council of Birmingham are having the cheek to say no one else in Britain is allowed it. Well, not all of the curry menu, just the balti dish-so called after the flat bottomed wok it was first cooked in.
It was thought to have been invented in the late 1970s in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, which now houses over 30 restaurants specialising in the dish. So specialist do they believe they are, they feel no one outside of the, “balti triangle” should be allowed to refer to the dish as so, such like Champagne and it’s French district namesake and Wendsleydale Cheese.
By looking at it you’d be let off for not knowing how it’s different to other curries, the main cooking difference being the wok and in the last 10 minutes of cooking it is cooked at high temperatures. When you’ve found out if it’s a balti or not, it is best not to use cutlery for being accused of being a cheater-just like the looks you get when you swap from chopsticks to fork halfway through a Chinese. Instead, naan bread is to be used as a scoop for the meat and sauce all kept within the bowl rather than poured out onto a plate with rice – the etiquette for the balti.
So now, you’re in the city that intends to deprive your hometown of the dish and you know how to eat it without getting looks of pity from experienced locals, take advantage of the best in the Midlands, and maybe soon, the UK. Head down to Ladypool Road in Sparkbrook (about 2 and a half miles outside the city centre) for the best experience and soak up the lively atmosphere and neon lights of the Balti Triangle.
Adils Temporary address: 352-355 Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook. Permanent address (currently being refurbished): 148-150 Stoney Lane, Balsall Heath.
Boasting not only to be the restaurant that introduced baltis to the area, they have kept the tradition of glass topped tables and homegrown knowledgeable staff to recommend the best for you. A great place to try your first balti that will encourage you back for more.
Grameen Khana 310-312 Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook. grameenkhana.co.uk
Not only offering many dishes that will not be found anywhere else, in case you end up going with somebody really boring/ugly they feature Bollywood films on a plasma screen to keep the surroundings attractive and interesting.
Kababish 29 Woodbridge Road, Moseley
Fully licensed, and close to Moseley village means you can start your night off well fed and full of authentic Indian food and in the mood for an adventure after sampling the extensive wine list.
Balti main courses usually start from around £5 upwards and like many curry houses bringing your own booze is not frowned upon.