Birmingham Balti curry seeks EU protected status

Balti dishes Round-bottomed Balti pans, similar to woks, were first used by people in Baltistan, Pakistan

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Curry houses in Birmingham are applying for the city's famous Balti dish to be given protected EU status.

If the application is successful, the name "Birmingham Balti" would be given EU protected name status.

Adas, the agency which helps in the application process, said it would be a big advantage for the city's so-called "Balti Triangle" district and "pin down" its recipe and cooking method.

The application by Birmingham Balti Association is being consulted on.

Under the 12-week UK consultation, which ends in September, interested parties will be able to comment or object to the application.

'Unique sauces'

The association wants to make Birmingham Balti a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed product (TSG), which means only curries conforming to a precise specification can use the name.

It includes the meal being served in the Balti dish in which it is cooked and fresh spices and vegetable oil being used.

Key principles of the Balti

  • Must be cooked in a steel bowl over a high heat
  • Must be served, sizzling, in its cooking bowl
  • Must be cooked using vegetable oil, not ghee
  • Cuts of meat must be off the bone
  • Pre-prepared commercial curry pastes not allowed

Irene Bocchetta, EU protected food names manager at Adas, said it was unusual to have a place name included in a TSG application.

"But people know the Balti is from Birmingham," she said.

"It is a reputation that has been built up over years."

Balti chefs say the use of vegetable oil and adding one ingredient at a time during a fast-cooking process gives the dish its distinctive taste.

The sauce is pre-prepared and "unique to each Balti house", according to the application.

Dozens of restaurants specialise in the dish in the Balti Triangle, the name given to the areas of Sparkbrook, Balsall Heath, Sparkhill and part of Moseley.

If there are no objections to the Birmingham Balti plan, it will go before Defra which will decide whether to forward it to the European Commission.

Forty-eight UK products have been given various protected statuses under the EU food scheme, including Stilton Blue and Bonchester cheese.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Surely this kind of protection is only useful if anyone actually cares about the authenticity of the product. Champagne, I can understand. Cheddar cheese, just about. But a Balti ? Not so convinced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Something created by Indians can be created anywhere. Indians and Indian culture are now an ingrained part of modern British society and culture. Something can be both Indian and yet come from Britain. Not hard to grasp.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    What poppycockcracy. Go to India and ask for a Chicken Balti and you will be directed to the Khasi. UK Baltis are fast food curries, cooked in a wok, unlike traditional Indian curries that are stewed slowly for hours (days even). Baltis are OK btw cos they use fresh spices rather than paste and they have their place in Brum but I wouldnt want to live nextdoor to one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    It was one of the mystery flavours in a recent crisp company promotion. That was the first I'd heard of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    What a lot of rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Does the Glaswegian deep fried mars bar have protected status?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Balti means a bucket in Indian language and they have been serving food in buckets at public banquets for centuries, So how did it get invented in UK ? Also how can you patent a dish which does not have a specific recipe ? Surely the credit has to go to India and Indian cooking of which it is a part. French fries are from France and Hamburger is from Hamburg right and not from USA ? Its from India

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    This is nonsense the balti was invented in Stoke-on-Trent in the 1960's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I don't actually care whether it was invented in Birmingham or Baltistan all I know is I could murder one now!

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    To echo No.7 - there are far more deserving foodstuffs needing protected status. The Lincolnshire sausage being foremost on that list

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    *Puts on flame redardant suit* Who cares? This is a non-story. There are far less trivial things happening throughout the world which deserve more column inches than this drivel. The only thing multiculturalism has ever done for this country is fast food at 4am while blind drunk. What a legacy....

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    'Bucket' may be *one* meaning of 'Balti', but there's a region in northern Pakistan called Baltistan and it takes it's name from the Balti people who live there. So the food called 'Balti' in Britain should be cooked the way Balti people cook theirs. But if it isn't cooked that way, should the proper name of the Birmingham product be 'Birmingham Bucket'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I would guess that this would be hard to achieve as; like many dishes today, there are so many variations on a theme; so which one would be right?

    I think the claim for Birmingham as the “City of Curry” outside India would be easier to achieve...

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Having lived in Birmingham for 4 years I can categorically say that the curry houses don't need a gimmick such as this. The quality is kept high by competition. This is a protected status too far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I'm afraid the Balti was not invented in Birmingham. I was enjoying identical Balti dishes, served in the same Balti pans , (known there as Karais) in Baltistan back in the 1970s, long before the Birmingham Balti houses appeared. Maybe it is the restaurateurs of Baltistan (a scenic region of Pakistan) who should be seeking this recognised status. What next - New Zealand cheddar?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    If Defra decided against putting forward Lincolnshire sausages then Birmingham Balti has no chance & is a colossal waste of time & money.

    Utter nonsense, my personal take on the Balti recipe is made in London, can I get protected status for that & call it the 'Brick Lane Balti'

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    what a load of rubbish, there's about as much uniqueness to Baltis' as there are with fish and chips. Most proetected food status are foods which have a long rich history. I bet all the chef will have their own 'precise specifications' which in turn makes the protected status invalid. We Scots should may be protect the deep fried mars bar!...may be not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Until this article, I had no idea Birmingham claimed ownership of the Balti.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    For a long time British food and British Regional food was ignored or laughed at, now its recognised that we have some of the best food in the world. I think this is a great move that celebrates our global heritage.


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