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Chicken Balti Pie

Introduction & method

The balti style of of curry was invented in Birmingham and became very popular in the 80s and 90s. And then somebody had the brilliant idea of putting balti curry into a pie. Balti pies are massively popular at football matches and elsewhere.

Chicken Balti Pie Recipe

Prep the Filling Ingredients

If you are using chicken thighs, remove the skin and cut away the bone. Dice the chicken into smaller than bite-size pieces. Peel and dice the onion. Dice the bell peppers. Finely chop the coriander and fenugreek leaves. Peel and crush/mince the garlic and the ginger. Chop the tomatoes. You might want to add some finger/bird's eye chillies, in which case they'll need to be sliced - nobody wants to find a whole chilli in their pie.

Cook the Filling

Heat the rapeseed oil in a frying pan/karahi/wok and add the chopped onion. Cook for about 5 minutes till they're starting to brown, then add the garlic and ginger and a pinch of salt. Cook for a minute then add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato puree. Add all the spices and about half of the fenugreek. Mix well, add the chicken and chopped chillies if using. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to get rid of the raw pinkness of the chicken. Add a cup of water, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the remaining fenugreek and the coriander. Taste for seasoning and add salt if required.

Make the Pastry

Cut the butter and the lard into small pieces, about a centimetre (half an inch). Note, you can use all butter or all lard if you wish. Mix together the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment and set the mixer going on low speed. Add the chunks of fat one at a time so they don't stick. After 5-10 minutes the fat chunks should be no longer visible and your mixture will look like coarse sand. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can rub the fat in using your fingertips. Slowly stir in the water until the mixture comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic film and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Assemble the Pies

You'll need some pie dishes to make your pies in, or you can use steel cutters about 10 centimetres (4 inches) in diameter. Grease the insides well with butter. Sprinkle some flour on your worktop, take about one third of the dough and roll it out into a thin sheet. Use a cutter to stamp out however many lids are needed. If you're using pie dishes, invert one of them on the pastry and cut around it. Set the lids aside. Take some more dough, roll it out and press it into a dish or ring, making sure you get it right down to the bottom. By the way, if you're using cutter rings, there's no bottom so it's a good idea to put them on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Press the dough up against the sides, making sure there's no folds or creases. Trim off the excess pastry but leave a 1 centimetre rim. Spoon filling into each pie, moisten the rim with water, place the lid on and press it down all round.

Bake the Pies

Heat your oven to 180°C (356°F) for a fan/convection oven, 200°C (392°F) conventional, gas 5. Place all of your pies on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Whisk together an egg and a splash of milk and paint the top of each pie with this eggwash. If you like, you can sprinkle a few cumin seeds on the top for a bit of decoration. Bake the pies for 35 minutes and turn them round halfway through to get even colouring. Remove from the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes before removing them from their tins.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Chicken Balti Pie on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 350 grams plain white (all-purpose) flour
 85 grams butter
 85 grams lard
 1 tsp salt
 about 1 cup water
 450 grams boneless chicken thigh or breast
 1 large onion
 2-3 large tomatoes
 1 tbsp tomato puree
 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
 2 cms ginger
 3 cloves garlic
 1 tsp chilli powder
 half a tsp turmeric
 half a tsp curry powder
 half a tsp garam masala
 half a tsp coriander powder
 2 tsp chopped fenugreek leaves
 2 tsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  salt to taste

To glaze the pies, 1 egg and a splash of milk. Optional decoration for the pies - a teaspoon of cumin seeds.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 4 -6 individual pies
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Resting/cooling time: 1 hour.
Cooking time: 1 hour.
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes.