Balti Chicken recipe is called ” a curry in a hurry” and is the most popular South Asian dish wherever there are curry lovers in the world. The enigma of its name and origin has baffled many a food historian and food writer.

It’s a meat main (chicken, lamb and more recently fish), traditionally cooked in a metal wok with two handles and served in that same wok.The whole act of its being brought to the dinner table, steaming hot, in the wok and served with naan bread, as big as a car’s wheel, adds to it’s lure.

One school of thought says that the wok used for its cooking is called a Balti, that explains the food being named after the pot in which it is cooked. The same wok is also called Karahi in some other regions, so basically Balti and Karahi Chicken should be one and the same.

People who debate this say that Karahi and Balti are listed alongside on the menus of many restaurants as two separate entries, which means there is a difference.Some people believe that the recipe originated from Baltistan, a place in the Karakoram mountain ranges of Pakistan, hence the name Balti.

Well, in my opinion Balti and Karahi are really two different dishes, not just two different names for a same dish, with different cooking methods. Balti is definitely a more basic and rustic recipe from the mountains and Karahi is its urbanised counterpart. Less spices go into the making of Balti Chicken Recipe than Karahi, the finished dish has more stew, whole tomato chunks on top and has fewer spices than Karahi.

Due to the commercial success of Balti, restaurants are selling all kinds of meat curries under that name to the unsuspecting customers.

An authentic Balti is the most uncomplicated curry possible, cooked within 20-25 minutes – something you cook when guests turn up unexpected right before dinner time or when you want to have comfort food minus chore-like undertaking.


1 kg chicken cut ups
3 medium onions, sliced
5 ripe tomatoes, puréed
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
Juice of a lemon
Ginger, green chilli peppers and fresh herbs (coriander, parsley) for garnishing

This Is What You Do:

Heat oil in a metal wok on medium-high heat. Add onions, stir fry till onions are opaque (not golden or brown).

Add crushed garlic and chicken pieces, continue to stir fry another 5 minutes till chicken is golden on outside. Add tomato purée, salt, red chillies and turmeric. Continue to stir fry till the juices from chicken and tomatoes are slightly reduced (almost 5 minutes).

Add the chopped tomatoes and cover the pan. Reduce heat to low and let simmer another 5 minutes or till the tomatoes are tender but not disintegrated. Take off heat, garnish with ginger, green chilli pepper and herbs.Squeeze a lemon and serve hot in the wok with naan.

Serves 4.

7 Replies to “Balti Chicken Recipe, Curry in a Hurry”

  1. Assalaamu alaikum Maria. I wanted to let you know that I made this dish earlier this week. Turned out very well. Took me a little linger than 30 min to make, but the effort was with it. Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. Ah ha! That’s fantastic! 👏👏 Thank you for the feedback, Anjum. 😊
      It’s my go to curry on most busy days.

  2. Love this recipe for a simple, rustic Balti chicken. I love learning about the history of dishes ,so read your post with great interest!

    1. Thank you, Sandhya!😊 I love to trace the origin of recipes and the stories behind food. I’m delighted to know you enjoyed reading the post. 😊

    1. Thank you Leslie! 🙂 So now you can have a scrumptious brunch with this within 30 minutes 🙂

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