Chicken saag balti is a hugely popular balti!
In this recipe, you will learn how to make a chicken saag balti as it should be.
There are lots of imitations out there but this is how a chicken saag balti would be made at the best balti houses.
Served in the flaming hot pan it’s cooked in, you’ve got to try this one!
What exactly is a chicken saag balti?
Saag refers to the spinach that is cooked into this famous curry. You could add it finely chopped or do as I did and blend it with some fresh chillies.
So a chicken saag balti is a balti with spinach and chicken.
You could cook this chicken saag balti with the main ingredient of your choice though.
Add cooked lamb for a meat saag or go veggie and try this with paneer and/or potatoes.
How are balti curries different?
Balti cooking was developed in Birminghamin the 70s and 80s. That was its hay day but it is still very popular today.
What makes baltis like this chicken saag balti special is the way they are cooked.
A true balti will be cooked in an authentic Balti bowl and be served hot off the fire in the same bowl.
Unfortunately, many chefs don’t do this correctly. These days you are much more likely to receive a balti, cooked in a frying pan and then served in an ornamental balti bowl.
This just isn’t the same but you can make sure your chicken saag balti is cooked and served to perfection with this recipe.
Making this recipe right…
For best results, you should cook your balti in an authentic stainless steel balti bowl. They are now being made in the UK again by The Birmingham Balti Bowl Company.
Although not essential, a chicken saag balti should be cooked over high heat. For this reason, I like to cook mine on the barbecue but a good gas hob will be close enough.
If needs must, use an electric hob.
The base sauce (gravy)
One of the secrets behind getting the curry house style curry right is the base sauce.
A prepared base sauce is used in all BIR curries. It’s mild and it needs to be. The base sauce is used in every curry from the mildest
chicken tikka masala to a spicy vindaloo.
Step by step photos…
If you enjoy this recipe with spinach some of these too:
- 110g (1/4 lb) baby spinach leaves
- 3 green bird's eye chillies - roughly chopped
- 1 handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
- Juice of one lime
- 2 tbsp ghee or rapeseed (canola) oil
- 1/2 onion - finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp basaar curry powder OR
- 1 1/2 tbsp mixed powder
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 70ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree
- 250ml (1 cup) base sauce
- 1 tbsp plain natural yoghurt
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- Start by preparing the spinach.
- Place all of the spinach, chillies, coriander and lime juice in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. You may need to add just a bit of water to do this. Set aside.
- Now heat the ghee/oil in a balti bowl over high heat.
- When hot, add the chopped onions and fry for about 15 minutes until translucent and soft but not overly browned.
- Add the cumin seeds, stir and then add the ginger and garlic paste and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
- Add the ground spices and ensure they are stirred into the onions well.
- Stir in the tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Then add one ladle of the base sauce. This is a dry curry so only add more if it is looking a bit too dry.
- Add the blended spinach mixture and cook for a further two minutes.
- Check for seasoning and add the salt and pepper to taste.
- Just before serving, whisk in the yogurt and a little more lime juice if you like.