We recently featured a delicious Balti Chicken as our sample. 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).
The word originally developed from the Portuguese ‘balde’, meaning bucket or pail, and traveled to South Asia via the Portuguese seafaring enterprises of the early 1500s. The origins of Balti cooking are wide ranging and owe as much to the spicy Chinese cooking of Szechuan and the spices of Kashmir in the mountainous northwest of the country.
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.
On the other hand, another recent spotlight recipe, Beef Vindaloo, is an Indian sour curry dish popular in the south-western coastal region of Goa, derived from the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos (Literally: meat, wine and garlic). Over time, Indian cooks replaced the red wine with vinegar.
Vindaloo is the culinary hallmark of Goa, a tiny state on the southwestern [Malabar] coast of India. Goa is more renowned today for being a haven for enthusiasts of clubbing and electronic trance music than for being the birthplace of a global favorite dish.
Vindaloo is the culinary love-child of Goa and Portugal, which ruled over Goa as a colony from the 1500’s until the state’s independence in 1961 [interestingly, a whole 14 years after the rest of India gained independence from Great Britain].