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Vegetable Curry - Balti

Dear readers,


Today, I am excited to share with you my recipe for Vegetable Balti, one of my favourite curry dishes. In this recipe, I will introduce a technique commonly used in restaurants for preparing curry. To start, we will prepare a curry base gravy, which serves as the foundation for many Indian curries. This versatile and flavourful sauce will be the key ingredient in our Vegetable Balti. Additionally, you can utilize this base gravy in other curry dishes as well.


Let's get started with the recipe!


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Vegetable Balti in a dish on the table served with rice

What is Vegetable Balti?


Vegetable Balti is a flavourful and aromatic vegetarian curry dish that originated in the Baltistan region of Northern Pakistan and Indian Kashmir. It is a popular and versatile dish in British Indian cuisine, particularly in the UK. The term "Balti" refers to the traditional round-bottomed, two-handled cooking pot in which the dish is traditionally cooked and served.


Indian Temple

The Vegetable Balti is characterized by its combination of vibrant vegetables, aromatic spices, and a tangy tomato-based curry gravy. The recipe typically includes a variety of colourful vegetables such as onions, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, cauliflower, peas, and cabbage. The dish gets its rich and robust flavour from the base curry gravy, which is a blend of sautéed onions, carrots, tomatoes, and spices.


The cooking process involves stir-frying the vegetables briefly to retain their texture and colour, followed by simmering them in the base curry gravy until they are fully cooked and infused with the aromatic flavours. Yogurt is often added towards the end to lend a creamy richness to the dish, and a knob of butter may be used to enhance the overall flavour.


Vegetable Balti is typically served hot, straight from the Balti pan, and can be accompanied by naan bread, rice, or other Indian bread like roti or chapati. It's a delicious and wholesome vegetarian option that showcases the wonderful array of spices and flavours found in Indian cuisine. As with many traditional dishes, variations of Vegetable Balti can be found, with different regions and households adding their unique twists to the recipe.


 

Portions: 4-6 servings

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Base Gravy cooking time: 40 minutes

Vegetable Balti cooking time: 35 minutes



Ingredients for Curry Base Gravy:



Ingredients for Vegetable Balti:


  • 2tbsp of ghee or vegetable oil

  • 2 medium-size onions, cut into four then broken apart

  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8

  • 1 red pepper, cut into 8

  • 2 medium-size tomatoes cut into wedges

  • a handful of white cabbage cut into squares

  • 10 Okra fingers, tops removed and cut in half

  • two handfuls of frozen peas

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

  • half of small cauliflower, cut into florets

  • 1tbsp ginger garlic paste

  • 2-3 ladles of base curry gravy

  • 2tbsp of yoghurt

  • knob of butter (skip if using ghee)


Instructions for Curry Base Gravy:


  1. In a large saucepan or pot, heat the ghee or vegetable oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the cumin seeds and coriander seeds to the hot oil. If you have ground cumin, you can add it later along with the other spices. Sauté the cumin and coriander seeds for a minute or until they start releasing their aroma.

  3. Add the diced onions and carrots to the pan. Cook and stir them for about 5-6 minutes or until the onions become soft and translucent.

  4. Now, add the garlic ginger paste to the pan. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, until the raw smell of garlic and ginger disappears.

  5. Mix in the turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, and paprika (if using ground cumin, add it now). Stir everything together to coat the vegetables with the spices evenly.

  6. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes become soft and start breaking down.

  7. Pour in the vegetable stock, and give the mixture a good stir. Bring it to a gentle boil.

  8. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and let the curry base gravy cook for about 20-25 minutes. The vegetables should become tender, and the flavours will meld together.

  9. Once the vegetables are fully cooked, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down slightly.

  10. Using a blender or an immersion blender, blend the mixture until you achieve a smooth and thick curry base gravy. If the consistency is too thick for your liking, you can add more vegetable stock to reach the desired thickness.

  11. Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or spices if needed.


Your curry base gravy is now ready to use! You can use it immediately in your favourite curry dishes or store it for later use. This flavourful base will enhance the taste of your curries, whether you're preparing vegetarian, chicken, lamb, or any other type of curry.



Vegetable Balti Close Up Shot


How to prepare Vegetable Balti:


  1. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a Balti pan or a large wok over medium heat. Add the broken apart onions to the pan and stir-fry for a few minutes until they start to soften.

  2. Toss in the potatoes, green and red peppers, and continue stir-frying for a couple of minutes.

  3. Add the tomato wedges to the pan and sauté briefly until they start to break down and release their juices.

  4. Incorporate the white cabbage, okra, frozen peas and cauliflower florets into the pan. Stir everything together to mix the vegetables evenly.

  5. Add the ginger garlic paste and continue to stir-fry for a minute or two, ensuring the vegetables are coated with the paste.

  6. Pour in the base curry gravy. Start with 2 ladles and adjust the quantity based on how saucy you want the Balti to be.

  7. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the vegetables cook in the gravy for about 15-20 minutes or until they are fully cooked but still retain their texture.

  8. Check the seasoning and add salt or additional spices if needed.

  9. Stir in the yogurt and mix it well with the vegetables and gravy. This will add a creamy richness to the dish.

  10. If you're using vegetable oil, add a knob of butter at this stage to enhance the flavours of the Vegetable Balti.

  11. Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking and the flavours have melded together, turn off the heat.


Your Vegetable Balti is now ready to be served! Transfer it to a serving dish, and you can garnish it with chopped fresh coriander leaves if desired. Enjoy this flavourful and aromatic dish with naan, rice, or any bread of your choice.



Variations for the Vegetable Balti Recipe:


  • Paneer Balti - Replace the vegetables with cubed paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for a creamy and protein-rich twist.

  • Tofu Balti - For a vegan option, use tofu instead of vegetables, and let it absorb the flavours of the curry base gravy.

  • Mushroom Balti - Add sliced mushrooms to the vegetable mix for a meaty and earthy flavour.

  • Chickpea Balti - Include cooked chickpeas in the curry to add a hearty and protein-packed element to the dish.

  • Spinach Balti - Stir in fresh spinach leaves at the end of cooking for a healthy and nutritious touch.

  • Coconut Balti - Infuse a tropical flavour by adding coconut milk to the base curry gravy.

  • Lentil Balti - Mix cooked lentils into the Balti for an extra dose of fiber and texture.

  • Cashew Balti - Add cashew nuts for a delightful crunch and nutty flavour.

  • Eggplant Balti - Incorporate diced eggplant for a delicious and meaty texture.


From the Chef


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