Balti is a type of curry cooked and served in a thin, pressed-steel wok called a “balti bowl,” the steel or iron pot in which it is cooked. The word Balti is found in Urdu, Hindi and Bengali, and means “bucket.” (For our purposes, the heavy skillet you use in your kitchen will work just fine for this recipe).
Balti curries are cooked quickly using vegetable oil rather than ghee, and over high heat (sort of like a stir-fry), and any meat is used off the bone. This vegetable-oil-plus-boneless-meat combo differs distinctly from the more traditional slow-cooked, all-in-one-pot Indian curry. Balti sauce is based on garlic and onions, with garam masala and cardamom, among other spices.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 tsp Celery Seed
4 Tellicherry Black Peppercorns
2 Whole Green Cardamom Pods
1 stick Cinnamon, Hardstick
1 tsp Cayenne Chile Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1/2 tsp Ginger Powder
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, diced in 1/2 cubes
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 fresh green chiles, finely chopped
2 Tbsp lime juice
Fine Sea Salt to taste
Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent and almost golden. Add the tomatoes and celery seed to the onions, along with the peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, chile powder, garam masala, garlic, ginger and salt. Cook, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.
Add the diced chicken to the skillet. Toss gently to coat with onion-tomato-spice mixture and then cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for an additional 5 minutes. Add the yogurt, stirring to combine. Cover the skillet and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make certain the ingredients are heated through.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in the fresh cilantro, green chile, and lime juice. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately with cooked rice.