It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it – Birmingham Post reporter and curry connoisseur Ed Chadwick joined the judging panel to find Birmingham’s first “official” balti.
It is a debate that has set tongues wagging for generations – which restaurant serves up the best version of Birmingham’s trademark balti dish?
The age-old argument may never be settled but one chef can now lay claim to being the man behind the city’s first official balti dish after a hotly contested curry cook-off.
Bangladeshi-born spice master Mohammed Abdul Basid’s 100-year-old family recipe saw him run out winner after wowing a panel of judges, including myself and Michelin star-winning Simpson’s head chef Luke Tipping.
The chef’s employer, Ladypool Road-based Grameen Khana, will now be able to proudly market itself as the definitive purveyors of the famous dish and will do battle at the National Curry Awards.
And they can be proud after his fragrant, rich and expertly-spiced dish wowed the curry connoisseurs at the Masterchef-style event at University College Birmingham.
We unanimously plumped for his version ahead of three other city kitchens – Imran’s, also on Ladypool Road, Cinnamon Red on Moseley Road, and the only non-Balti Triangle restaurant, Royal Watan, on Pershore Road in Selly Park.
Restaurant owner Mosiwar Hussain said: “If it’s the best balti in Birmingham, then it’s the best in the world because nobody can make them like we can here in this city.
“There are some fantastic restaurants here and I’m sure we will have a tough time hanging on to this.
“It’s a recipe that he was given by his mother and he has changed it slightly because we don’t have open fires to cook here like in Bangladesh.”
City leaders organised yesterday’s contest as part of its promotion of the city’s world-renowned Balti Triangle and considers a bid to trademark the dish.
The move could mean the meal – invented in Birmingham in the 70s and now enjoyed around the world – could get the same protected status as Champagne and Stilton cheese.
The finalists were shortlisted from chefs who were asked to write in 100 words why they thought their dish represented the city.
Kanon Miah, head chef at Cinnamon Red, said: “We ought to be really proud of the balti because we have created something unique here in Birmingham and it has gone all over the UK and now the world.
“I’d like to see it trademarked because it’s a dish we should be taking credit for.”
Mr Tipping said: “I thought it was a very authentic balti with great complexity of flavours and I could tell a lot of thought went into it.”