A long campaign ends in failure for the Birmingham Balti.
The announcement to reject the application for the Birmingham Balti to be a protected dish has left an unsatisfying taste in the mouths of Brummie curry lovers across the city.
Andy Munro of The Birmingham Balti Association had applied for Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status, which states “it must have a traditional name and characteristics that distinguish it from other similar products.”
It was during the 1970’s when the restaurants in the ‘Balti’ Triangle area of South East Birmingham was serving the now what is a cherished British dish.
The much loved flavoursome food is based on homestyle cooking of the local Pakistani/Kashmiri community, but was modified for Weston needs and tastes.
The Balti is cooked and served in the dish in which it derives it’s name from. The boneless meat, onions, tomatoes, vegetable oil, ginger and garlic puree are added with a selection of spices and cooked over a high flame. The meal is traditionally accompanied with a Naan to scoop and wipe the dish clean.
Apart from huge economic benefits, it protects the reputation of regional food, including traditional recipes to prevent imitation. Ready meals from supermarkets couldn’t be labelled as balti, nor could restaurants use pre cooked ingredients in a dish the exclaim to be a balti.
The EU Protected Food Name Scheme identifies regional and traditional foods whose authenticity and origin can be guaranteed.
The EU said: “Some different varieties of balti are allowed; those varieties are not definitively identified.
“The colour of the dish changes (either lighter brown or more reddish) depending on which ingredients are added.
“The additional ingredients and spices may but not have to be added. It is therefore not possible to determine what the final recipe to be followed is.”
Munro, said: “This is a shameful way to treat such a well-loved British food institution. It shows crass insensitivity to the ethnic diversity of modern British cooking.”
Birmingham-based food critic Richard McComb said: “An authentic Birmingham balti has a distinctive cultural and culinary heritage and to suggest otherwise smacks of EU bureaucratic ignorance.
“The city’s balti restaurants prepare thousands of different dishes each night and it is ludicrous to suggest they should all be the same colour. I doubt any of the people making these decisions have ever bothered tasting a balti.”
The association has been given a deadline of June 21 – two days before the referendum vote – to withdraw the application, or face it being refused forever.
Read more about the beautiful Birmingham Balti here at balti-birmingham.co.uk