Named after the “balti bowl,” the large wok-like pan in which the dish is prepared. Though it’s origin is contested, one theory is that it was developed in the Baltistan area of Pakistan. Traditionally, a balti is scooped up and enjoyed on pieces of naan bread. The British version first became popular in Birmingham’s “Balti Triangle.”
A tomato dish with rich flavours and medium-hot spices.
Stir fried vegetables and onion share a wok with chunks of spicy meat. Chilli, peppers and coriander combine to flavour a thick sauce that is reduced down to make the curry chunky and dry.
From the Urdu meaning “to be fried,” bhuna is strictly the name given to the practice of frying spices and oil. The bhunas we enjoy in British curry houses are made in this style, which is believed to have been developed as part of Pakistani cuisine.
Juicy meat, and spicy. Deep and rich.
The bhuna cooking process means that meat is cooked in it’s own juices, and picks up lots of delicious flavour from the spices and oil. Green peppers and onions are often used in the preparation of a bhuna, and include cumin, mustard seeds and clove after clove of garlic to give the dish a satisfyingly deep flavour.
Hotly contested! Tikka Masala is certainly not an Indian creation. Though there are a number of theories as to who the inventor actually was, it was certainly created especially for the British palate, somewhere on these shores. Glasgow perhaps has the greatest claim, but we’re not completely sure! In any case, it’s become one of Britain’s favourite curries.
Smoky and aromatic tikka pieces, and a sauce that is not hot, but is spicy and rich
Normally made with chicken, which are marinated in spices and yoghurt and cooked to tender perfection in a traditional stone-bake oven, called a tandoor. The masala sauce is tomato based, but is also thick from the use of cream and coconut. Coriander, turmeric and paprika make the sauce flavoursome and mouthwatering.
A favourite of the Parsi community, who traditionally cook the dish on Sundays, it has been a central dish for feasts and banquets for hundreds of years. The “dhan” section of the name means “rice,” as it is traditionally served with a fried, spicy rice dish on the side.
Hot, sweet and sour, with fruity, lemony notes.
Dhansak was originally a lamb dish, but you can usually get it with whatever meat you fancy. The sauce is thickened with a mix of lentils to give it texture and flavour, and can be made with a mixture of up to 15 spices including ginger, mint and green chilli. Sometimes lemon is added, and very occasionally a chef will sweeten a dhansak with chunks of pineapple, though this is not traditional.
This masterpiece, and the go-to dish for the spice-averse, is a creation of Mughali cuisine. The name comes from the Urdu word meaning “braise,” and the term traditionally refers to various dishes made in this style.
Creamy and mild, with tender meat pieces and a thick sauce, but still bursting with flavour.
The meat is marinated in yoghurt, and braised slowly to make the meat tender and to give the dish a thick and tasty sauce. The ample use of cashews, almonds and other assorted nuts, as well as fresh cream and coconut.
A sauce from the city formerly of the same name, now known as Chennai, in Southern India. The curry itself is a British creation, that employs the sauce of the same name.
Hot and spicy, with a rich tomato-y taste
The sauce is loaded with hot chillies, that make this very hot and spicy and give the dish its irresistible dark red colour. There are many variations to how chefs like to make a madras, though garlic, coriander and fresh curry leaves are common. Including meat makes a madras creamier, and gives a fuller texture to the sauce.
Derived from a Portuguese meat dish - “carne de vinha d’alhos” - in the Indian city of Goa, where it evolved to become a spicy and flavoursome local favourite.
Hot. Very, very hot. Sometimes pepper and lemony, but you might not notice over the heat!
A wine vinegar and garlic base, to which the chef adds chilli. And more chilli. And a bit more. Often, British curry chefs include diced potatoes and vegetables too, and a dash of lemon juice. Did I mention the chilli? Not for the faint hearted!