Aston Villa F.C. ~ Billy (Walker) Balti

Introduction: This recipe is named after William Henry “Billy” Walker, considered by many to be the greatest ever Aston Villa player. He was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire and joined Villa in 1914 where he stayed for the rest of his playing career, retiring in 1934. He played for the club 478 time scoring 214 goals, he is still their all time top goal scorer. He played for England 18 times scoring 9 goals.

This recipe is from the Balti Triangle. Birmingham became Britain’s Balti capital following its arrival in the city in the 1970’s courtesy of the city’s Pakistani and Kashmiri communities. A Balti curry is traditionally cooked over a high flame with spiced fresh meat and/or vegetables then cooked again with extra spices and served in the round-bottomed balti dish.

You will find it easier to make the curry if you get all the spices ready beforehand. Do not attempt this recipe if pleasantly light headed. Kickballers, know your limits!

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 40 mins

Home kit: a large ovenproof casserole

Away kit: 4 balti dishes, naan bread and spoons

Serves: 4 as a starter

Dry Ingredients

  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 4 dried curry leaves, crushed
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. nigella seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods, bruised

Other ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped
  • 1 thumb fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 5 green chillies, chopped
  • Bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 250 ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. tomato purée
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large tomato, sliced

Method: preheat the oven to 180oC

First half

Heat the oil in the casserole over a medium heat, when it is hot but not smoking, add the lightly crushed mustard seeds, cook for 30 seconds only, beware they may pop and spit out of the pan. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Then add all the spices plus the garlic and ginger. Cook for another couple of minutes, taking care to ensure the spices don’t burn.

Add the chicken and sugar stirring briskly to make sure all the chicken is coated in the spices and fry for 5 minutes , continue stirring to make sure nothing catches and burns.

Second half

Add the stock, the tomato purée, the pinch of salt and the bay leaf, bring to the boil and pop in the preheated oven. Cook for 25 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove from the oven, add the fresh coriander and tomato, stir and set aside to continue cooking while you warm up the naan bread.

Full time result

Serve piping hot in Balti dishes with naan bread and Aston Spumante on the side.

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