It’s a version of food from the Indian sub-continent developed by immigrants in the 1970s, but the ‘Birmingham Balti’ cuisine is expected to soon receive protected status under European Union regulations that is accorded to quintessential British food such as Cornish Pasty or Stilton Blue Cheese.
An application to EU was moved in early 2014 to accord the TSG (traditional speciality guaranteed) to ‘Birmingham Balti’.
Downing Street sources have revealed that after going through several hoops, final regulatory hurdles for the traditional cuisine were now expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
The TSG status will give it legal protection against imitation through the EU.
The TSG status is not geographically bound, so if anyone meets the specification and is audited to prove it, then they can use the name ‘Birmingham Balti’. It is not restricted to Birmingham.
Moved by the Birmingham Balti Association (BBA), the application defined the cuisine as “a fast cooked curry dish which can be made using chicken, fish, meat or vegetables. The Birmingham Balti is cooked and served in a thin steel wok-shaped bowl called the balti, from which the dish gets its name”.
The history of ‘Birmingham Balti’ goes back to the 1970s, when people from Mirpur in Pakistan were displaced by the Mangla Dam project migrated here, and brought with them their traditional method of cooking: slow cooking meat on the bone or vegetables, usually in an earthenware pot called a ‘haandi’.