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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