Balti is a style of cooking that developed in Birmingham twenty or thirty years ago. There are a number of theories on the origin of the term Balti, some say Balti describes the cooking pot and others say it refers to a style of cooking that evolved in Baltistan, somewhere on the North West frontier no doubt. I canít actually say, but Iím willing to bet that what is served in a restaurant today, described as Balti, would be unrecognisable on the Indian sub-continent.
So in a Ďtraditionalí Balti restaurant, everything is a Balti, and probably reasonably priced. In a normal Indian restaurant, anything described a Balti is usually on a separate section of the menu and a couple of quid more expensive. And thatís the main difference.
In a Ďtraditionalí balti restaurant, the dish is served in a large balti pot and eaten with Indian breads, such as Nans, Chappatis and Parathas.
In some Indian restaurants, the term Karahi or Korai is encountered. This refers to the serving dish, which is made of cast iron on a wooden base and pre-heated, so that the curry sizzles in the serving dish when it is brought to the table. Donít touch the Karahi or you will get your fingers char grilled.