The Daily Telegraph published an article, just a couple of days ago, about the state of our curry houses. The Chairman of the Asian Catering Federation, Yavar Khan, was intimating that in the next ten years one in two curry houses were likely to close. Most are Bangladeshi owned and the Chairman of the ACF intimated that the restaurant community were both insular and complacent.
So where does the Balti Triangle stand on the issue?
Well, firstly, the shortage of Asian chefs is a real disincentive to open new restaurants and also is a negative for existing ones. Maybe, one of the few good things to come out of Brexit might free up movement from the Indian sub continent. Luckily, most balti houses are family affairs because most young aspiring chefs don’t see fast cooking a traditional balti with traditional ingredients, over a high flame, or risking wrist burns in the tandoor as an exciting or creative culinary career.
The other issue is that these Pakistani restaurants (not unlike those that are Bangladeshi owned) think that sticking to tried and tested ingredients is the safest business proposition. This is particularly frustrating in the case of Balti which is a method of cooking rather than exact ingredients. How about a Duck Balti with Mango or Balti Lamb and Date or Balti Paneer with Fig? The list could be endless and maybe such developments might be Balti’s eventual saviour although a properly cooked Balti with that unique caramelised flavour will hopefully survive the impending curry doomsday forecast by Mr Khan.