James Martin’s very best of British: Chicken Balti
From a spicy chicken curry to these mouthwatering beef pies with oysters, sample succulent dishes from James Martin, inspired by his culinary tour of the UK British
One of Britain’s favourite curries, the Balti is definitely one you’ll want to add to your repertoire
Birmingham has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other British city outside of London and a buzzing food scene.
While we were there, we just had to cook a balti.
It is said to have originated in north Pakistan and became popular in Birmingham in the early 1970s, when we all lapped it up – just as the crew did shortly after I cooked this during my visit.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, chopped into 3cm pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed with 1tsp salt
- 4cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 1½tsp mild chilli powder
- 2tsp garam masala
- Juice of 1 lemon
For the sauce
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 2tsp mild chilli powder
- 4tsp garam masala
- 3tbsp fresh fenugreek leaves, finely chopped (or 1tbsp dried)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 large fresh tomato, roughly chopped into 2cm chunks
- 2tsp light soft brown sugar
- 75ml (2½fl oz) double cream
- A small bunch of coriander, chopped
- Naan bread, warmed according to packet instructions
First, marinate the chicken. Put the pieces in a sealable container and add the garlic, ginger, chilli powder, garam masala and lemon juice. Stir, cover and chill for up to 2 hours.
When the chicken has finished marinating, take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan over a medium to high heat and, when hot, add the diced onion.
Cook for about 8 minutes over a medium heat, stirring until the onion has softened and is lightly coloured.
Add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom pods and continue to fry for 1 minute, stirring everything around.
Add the chilli powder, garam masala and fenugreek leaves then stir-fry again for a further minute.
Increase the heat and add the marinated chicken and season with a good pinch of salt.
Stir the chicken into the onion and spices and fry for about 5 minutes, until starting to colour, then add the tinned and fresh tomatoes. Stir, season, then bring up to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
The chicken should now be cooked through but check by slicing a big piece in half; there should be no pink meat.
Reduce the heat down to low, then stir in the sugar, double cream and coriander (reserving some) and cook for 1-2 minutes to heat through.
Taste to check the seasoning then scatter the remaining coriander over the top and serve with warmed naan.
If you’re pushed for time, you can marinate the chicken for just 15 minutes.
James Martin’s Great British Adventure is published by Quadrille, £25. To order a copy for £20, visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640, p&p is free. Spend £30 on books and get FREE premium delivery. Offer valid until 23/02/2019. Photographs: Peter Cassidy. James Martin’s Great British Adventure TV series starts on Monday at 2pm on ITV.