BBC Balti Baloney

Radio 4 Food Programme report

Radio 4 Food Programme report

Many years ago the BBC (and particularly Radio 4) could be relied upon to do their research thoroughly and provide accurate and objective reporting. Unfortunately last week’s Radio 4 Food Programme report is anything to go by, those days are long gone.

Under the heading ‘Birmingham’s  Beloved Balti’ their reporter Yasmin Khan proceeded to angle her report to fit her opening lines that the ‘Balti is Dead’. In an attempt to back up the statement she went to a couple of restaurants which, whilst perfectly okay in terms of cooking traditional Pakistani food, don’t actually cook proper Baltis. In fact she dismally failed to interview any that actually cooked a proper Birmingham Balti to the extent that one wonders whether she even has a clue as to how a proper Balti is cooked and served.

She made the point that the Balti Triangle now has a far greater variety of restaurants serving world cuisine … so what’s her point? Brummies whether of Pakistani origin or not actually like to try different cuisines so why should the Balti Triangle be any different? She also seemed to suggest that at the height of the balti phenomenon, the area was awash with racial tension when it was actually responsible for breaking down racial barriers.

However, here’s a few facts to balance what can only be described as BBC fake news …

  • The Balti Triangle is where it all began and where the dish was invented.
  • The founders Adils are still operating in the area and cooking up proper Baltis.
  • Balti is a method of cooking and not a recipe and  there are still a number of restaurants in the Balti Triangle  serving the real deal.
  • The Baltihouses still bring in customers from outside the area contributing to its friendly multi cultural atmosphere of which Balti still plays an important part.
  • Typically the Baltihouses still get around 30% or more Pakistani customers.
  • Now the Balti bowls themselves are being manufactured back in Birmingham, their popularity suggests that if people haven’t got a genuine Baltihouse near them, they are even cooking them the right way at home.

Perversely her piece ends up contradicting her opening statement by saying ‘she has a feeling Balti isn’t going anywhere’ … at least she got something right!

2 Responses to BBC Balti Baloney

  1. Robert 15th October 2018 at 2:50 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more. I heard the podcast and thought it poorly researched and very frustrating for someone who grew up eating Balti’s and still enjoying them now in the few authentic restaurants that still remain and still serve an excellent balti- why no mention of AlFrash or Shababs?. It’s such a shame that Balti bashing has become a cheap shot often by people who have probably never tasted the real thing. Birmingham’s culinary scene has really diversified and that is to be shouted about, but the Birmingham Balti was the start of that culinary innovation – it is the only fusion dish of it’s kind in the UK and that is something to celebrate!

  2. Andy munro 16th October 2018 at 7:03 pm #

    Robert..your comments are spot on and, yes , ‘balti bashing ‘ has become all too common anongst the self styled culinary elite in our city

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