Chilli Balti

The curry I tend to make frequently at the moment is best described as a chilli balti. It can be vegetarian with the aid of cauliflower, and sometimes I’ll add prawns or chicken too.

Base Ingredients

  • Sunflower oil – enough to generously cover the bottom of a big pot
  • Fennel seeds – a big spoonful from a bag
  • Cumin seeds – a handful from a bag
  • Fresh coriander – bunched so you can access stalks and leaves
  • Onions – 2 average sized
  • Garlic – a whole bulb, don’t muck around. Bigger the better
  • Ginger – having peeled it, should be about the size of your thumb
  • Fresh green chillis – just get loads of these
  • Garam Masala powder – just have loads available
  • Green peppers – 1 or 2
  • Balti paste (crucial to get paste, not sauce)
  • Fresh tomatoes – 12
  • Lemon – 1
  • Tomato purรฉe – just in case

Optional Ingredients

  • Cauliflower
  • Prawns
  • Chicken

Serve With

  • Rice
  • Naan Bread
  • Chapatis

You’ll Need

  • Big pot
  • Chopping board
  • Big knife
  • Food blender. Preferably at least 1kW. Don’t muck about.


Quantities are vague below because it is all a case of suiting your taste.

  • Big pot. Generously cover the base with sunflower oil or similar. Put on a low heat.
  • Add fennel and coriander seeds in a 1:2 ratio. Perhaps use a large dessert spoon and do 1 spoonful of fennel seeds and 2 of coriander.
  • Chop the coriander from the stalk end. Stop when it gets leafy. Add the stalk choppings to the pot.
  • Chop the head off any chillies you want to add whole, and then add them to the pot.
  • Leave all that on a low heat.
  • Peel the onions, garlic and ginger. Put these in a blender with any chillies you wish to add to the base.
  • Blend. Add to pot. Don’t fuss about the cleaning out the blender.
  • Turn up the heat on a pot a bit – get things sizzling.
  • Add Garam Masala. Perhaps another large spoonful. Stir.
  • Chop the green pepper(s). Add to pot.
  • Chop the cauliflower. Steam or boil this until softened a bit. Then add to pan. Keep the water.
  • Fry off any chicken or prawns in a separate pan with oil and some balti paste. Add to main pot when sealed.
  • Add cauliflower water as needed to stop things sticking to the base of the pan.
  • Add a big spoonful of balti paste.
  • Put the tomatoes in the blender. Add some coriander. Blend.
  • Add to pot. Stir. Add more cauliflower water as needed to obtain your desired sauciness.
  • Taste. Add more balti paste until you are completely sure no one could legitimately describe it as bland. If it isn’t tomato-ee enough, add tomato purรฉe.
  • Add the juice of half a lemon. Taste again. Should be lively now.
  • Chop the rest of the coriander. Sprinkle it on the top before serving.