A selection of news articles by Andy about the Balti and the Balti Triangle ...
The Balti Triangle recently hosted a visit from a budding filmmaker making a film about Balti as part of their University project. A short film Charlotte Armer made for her Filmmaking Practises Module at University of Birmingham about the balti and it's cultural heritage in Birmingham.
An interesting stat was revealed where it seems that people outside Birmingham know more about Balti than the residents. Is it another case of a City's own community not appreciating what they've got ... add to that list the Jewellery Quarter, Custard Factory etc etc. Maybe something that Marketing Birmingham should consider ....
The Birmingham Balti Association's ambitious bid to achieve the European Union's coveted TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) status for the City's (and arguably the Country's) favourite dish has taken another step forward on its culinary journey. Having been steered through the UK objection period, it is now in the hands of Brussels who have six months to deliberate on the application.
Birmingham Balti Association Chairman, Andy Munro, said,'It's been a long hard road since we first drafted the application back in 2011 but we are now very optimistic that we will achieve our goal. Once the EU Commission have deliberated, there is a final 3 months objection period for other EU country's to object if they wish. However, I would like to think that, for example, a country like Greece wouldn't object ... unless, of course, we decided to do a Balti Meat Moussaka!'
What a Curry On!
The results of the 'Capital for Curry' have been announced with Bradford winning again, Glasgow runners up and Wolverhampton a creditable third. Birmingham, as usual, were nowhere ... the difference being that all the others were backed by their local authority, marketing organisations etc. Yet studies show that the estimated economic benefits of winning to a City exceed £1.5m. It's just a shame that our City Fathers and their relations don't really value our 'Curry' offer as they're too busy disappearing up their 'Michelin starred' culinary backsides!
BALTI ON THE CURRICULUM
Part of Birmingham's new vocational education initiative, the Birmingham Baccalaureate, includes instruction in culinary skills. Well known Balti Triangle restaurant Shabab hosted an instruction session for a video which will be used by participating schools.
Andy Munro, Chair of the Birmingham Balti Association said,
'As soon as I read that curry and specifically balti was to be featured, I was determined to see it featured and cooked correctly. The concept of featuring balti was a masterstroke by those who have been developing the initiative. Balti is part of Birmingham's culinary history, it is a truly multi cultural fusion dish and it is a healthy way of cooking taking little longer than a microwaved meal. Hopefully this latter point will encourage youngsters that fresh, tasty and convenient cooking doesn't have to be microwaved!'
BALTI BAKE OFF!
A film crew was recently in Birmingham to film yet another 'Bake Off' competition likely to be televised on ITV in early 2014. Filming took place at award winning Itihaus in the Jewellery Quarter and featured a French bakery, Maison Mayci, from Kings Heath who had reached the semi final of a national competition. Their idea was to fuse their pastry skills with Birmingham's curry heritage to create a balti porkpie. The session was a precursor to their final product and they received advice from the owner and chef of the restaurant and Andy Munro.
"As you would expect the pastry was second to none and the pork used was from a top quality local Tamworth breed. However, we hopefully gave them some good advice on introducing more colour and spice using red chillies, paprika and turmeric to name a few ingredients."
AN INDIAN CURRY ON
Recently India played host to a British Curry festival ..... talk about taking coals to Newcastle! Apparently it was a real success and the locals loved the offer with Balti the named favourite dish. This will, of course, be a blow to all those overprice 'authentic' restaurants back in Blighty!'
No Capital in Curry?
It seems as if Birmingham has, yet again, decided its 'curry' reputation is no longer important. Last year's bid for 'Capital For Curry' was a last minute debacle with a last minute bid being rushed in with the inevitable ignominious result. This year invites have gone out early from the organisers and proposals to involve Colleges and the local community were put to the local media, Marketing Birmingham and University College Birmingham. The proposals included a Home Cooked Recipe Competition, a Cook Off involving Restaurants, Use of Traditional but not widely known Asian Vegetables by Restaurants in a Charity Week, A Birmingham Curry Guide and A Best Suburban Restaurant for each City Suburb.
Unfortunately Marketing Birmingham response was that they had no financial resources to contribute,the local media said that it would conflict with their own proposed generic 'Best Restaurant' feature and the UCB failed to respond after an initial expression of interest. I wonder what the Urdu expression is for 'C'est La Vie'?'
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A recent email was received from Susan Meacham who runs 'Taste of the Raj' in the south west of France. She was trained by a Gujerat chef many years ago and has run takeaway and delivery services for over fifteen years. She asked if we could authenticate the Balti dishes on her menu. So we sent her a Balti 'audit' form and her method of cooking a balti qualifies it as a 'proper' B'ham Balti apart from serving it up in the balti itself .... which is not surprising as it is a takeaway and delivery service!
We wish the best of luck to Susan for spreading the word so next time you are in France and have had too many snails ..... Her website incidentally is www.indian-cuisine.fr.
LATEST EDITION OF CURRY BIBLE
The latest edition of the renowned Cobra Curry Guide is now out featuring over 1500 of the circa 9,000 'curry' restaurants in the UK. Based on reader recommendations, it includes a West Midland section that has several pages on the Balti Triangle. Restaurants featured are Adil, Al Frash, Al Faisal, Grameen Kadah, Imran, Kababish, Popular, Shabab, Shahi Nan Kebab House, and Shereen Kadar. Congratulations, by the way, to Jewellery Quarter Restaurant 'Itihauss' which is one of only nine restaurants over the last 25 years to secure the coveted 'Best in UK ' Hall of Fame category.'