Beef Balti

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: April 3, 2020

Last Updated: February 22nd, 20240 Comments on Beef Balti

This intensely delicious Beef Balti (Balti Gosht) is ALL the flavour and fragrance of Pakistan and North India in one delicious serving. A thick and glossy beef curry where the sauce clings to the meltingly tender meat. It’s almost too much to bear!

A small copper balti pan holds a portion of Indian Beef Balti

This beef Balti recipe creates one of my most favourite of Indian/Pakistani dishes. It reminds me so much of back home in the UK. No night out would be complete without a visit to one of the many Balti Houses for that distinctive Balti taste! It is said that Balti Indian dishes originated in the northern part of the country along with origins in northern Pakistan too.

The curry is a dry-style, in that the sauce is glossy, thick and concentrated. It has an intensely flavourful taste, rich and powerful, although not especially chilli hot. The spices cook down to create something truly magical in flavour.

Making this curry is actually not a difficult affair either - it just takes a keen eye and enough nerve to let the curry reduce enough into the right consistency. All that patience pays off when you're scooping it up in a buttery paratha or roti bread, trust me. It's one of the most luxurious curries ever!

Beef Balti simmers in a large Karahi Pan 

What is Balti Curry?

Indian Balti curries are not strictly curries. I mean, they ARE, but if we're getting technical - the technique and specifically the Balti Pan is what makes it different. The word balti translates as 'bucket', but unsurprisingly this name didn't take off as a name in English speaking countries. We kept the term Balti which sounds much more exotic, right!?

Balti spices are similar to those of regular curries, but the cooking technique differs. The pan, much like a two handled, flat bottomed wok is used over a high heat to cook the dishes. The meat is often marinated or pre-cooked so that the dish can be finished quickly over a high temperature, a little like a Chinese stir fry.

DID YOU KNOW? The origins of Balti cuisine are debated, but it gained popularity in Birmingham, UK, during the 1970s. Some claim it originated in Baltistan, Pakistan, while others suggest it evolved from traditional Pakistani and Kashmiri dishes in Birmingham's Balti Triangle.

The consistency of Balti dishes are typically thicker and drier than a regular curry. This fast method of cooking creates a wonderful glossy sauce that intensifies the more it's reduced. This is probably why I love them so much! There's nothing better than a super tasty balti beef!

Why it works?

It's intensely flavourful - this beef balti is one of my most intensely satisfying curries. It's almost unfathomable just how much is packed into this fantastically flavourful bowl of food. A little goes a long way and this curry never fails to garner a small ripple of applause from those tasting for the first time.

Various spices and fresh ingredients that go into making an Indian Beef Balti Curry

Stuff You'll Need

Making the beef balti is actually a simple affair, but does have a few key steps and a fair roll-call of ingredients for the paste. Fear not however, there's nothing too taxing to get your hands on from most supermarkets or Indian stores.

  • Beef - Use chuck steak/stewing steak
  • Whole Spices - Coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds and cloves
  • Ground Spices - turmeric and chilli powder (you can add paprika instead of chilli to take out the heat).
  • Fresh - curry leaves, garlic, ginger, onion and bay leaf
  • Vinegar - adds a little sourness to the sauce
  • Oil - to fry the paste
Spices being dry fried in a small frying pan to make a curry powder for beef balti
A ground beef balti curry powder in a spice grinder
a spice paste for beef balti curry in a small bowl
Frying beef balti curry paste in oil in a large kahari pan
Simmering beef pieces in a large pan with beef balti curry paste and water
Frying onion with beef balti curry paste
Frying cooked beef in beef balti onion and paste
adding water and reducing in a large kahari pan with beef and balti curry paste
A glossy beef balti curry in a large kahari pan

Step by Step

Balti cooking is a little different and more involved than a regular, 'leave it and stew' kind of curry, but boy does it pay off! The rich, reduced curry that you end up with is unlike any other. Absolutely jam-packed with flavour. That said, it's not THAT difficult, follow my simple steps to achieve the most amazing balti beef you'll ever taste!

  1. Step 1 - Dry fry the whole spices until they're just dancing around the frying pan.
  2. Step 2 - Transfer them to a spice grinder and grind into a powder.
  3. Step 3 - Mix in the ground spices, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and vinegar to create the curry paste. You can make this in bulk and freeze in portions for later use if you like.
  4. Step 4 - Take a half portion of the paste and fry in oil until cooked (around 2-3 minutes).
  5. Step 5 - Take the remaining half of the paste and add to a pan with the beef. Cover with water and cook gently for 1 hour until the meat is just beginning to soften. Drain and retain the cooking liquid and keep the meat separate
  6. Step 6 - Fry the onion and bay leaf in the heated oil for 4-5 minutes until they are browned and softened. Incorporate the remaining curry paste into the onion.
  7. Step 7 - Add the beef and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Step 8 - Pour approximately 1 cup of the beef cooking liquid into the pan and add salt. Allow it to gently bubble for 5-10 minutes until it reduces to a thick sludgy consistency.
  9. Step 9 - Repeat the process of adding liquid and reducing until all the cooking liquid is used, which should take about 30 minutes. The result should be a thick sauce coating the beef with very soft onions.
Beef Balti simmers in a large Karahi Pan 

Pro Tips

  • Make the paste in advance and freeze - To save yourself a little time, make the curry paste (up until stage 3 above), and freeze in small zip-lock bags, flattened out to defrost quicker. Make it in bulk and you'll have more portions for instant access, saving yourself a tonne of time.
  • Oil separation - don't be alarmed when the oil separates from the curry sauce. This is perfectly normal and gives the sauce its unique balti appearance. If it's freaking you out too much, blot off the excess with paper towels. Personally, I just stir it in and pretend it never happened. :)

Serving & Storage Suggestions

In my humble curry-eating experience, dry curries like this work so well when served alongside breads. You can use naan, chapati and roti, but my favourite are butter-rich paratha breads. I don't make my own, I bhuy the super-handy frozen paratha and cook them from frozen. They take a matter of minutes and are the perfect vehicle to scoop up the chunks of meat.

You can find these paratha in many supermarkets these days, and if not they're always available in Asian/Chinese and Indian deli's in the frozen section.

  • Fridge - If you can bear it, make this curry a day in advance and leave in the fridge to develop in flavour. It REALLY benefits from a little time to mature. Leftovers will be fine in airtight containers for up to 7 days. Reheat until piping hot.
  • Freezer - Curries like this one are the perfect contender for the freezer. Store in single portions in airtight containers for up to 3 months or beyond. I like to add 1/4 cup water to the top before reheating in a microwave until piping hot.
Beef Balti with Paratha

Ready to get cooking?

This beef balti truly is part of curry royalty with a luxurious texture and flavour that's on its own planet! I cook this when I want to impress and it never fails me. It's great for the freezer too, so a good option to have at hand in single portions ready to mix and match with other freezer curries (see below for more suggestions). Before you know it, you'll have an Indian FEAST from the freezer. Enjoy this recipe, I know you will!

A small copper balti pan holds a portion of Indian Beef Balti
A small copper balti pan holds a portion of Indian Beef Balti

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about Balti Cuisine? Let me know in the comments.

What defines Balti cuisine?

Balti cuisine originates from Birmingham, UK, and is characterised by its unique cooking method using a thin, pressed steel wok known as a "Balti dish." It typically features aromatic spices, fresh ingredients, and a blend of Indian and Pakistani influences.

What are common ingredients in Balti dishes?

Common ingredients in Balti cuisine include various meats such as chicken, lamb, or prawns, as well as vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala are also essential for flavouring.

Is Balti cuisine typically spicy?

Yes, Balti cuisine often incorporates spicy elements, although the level of heat can vary depending on personal preference and the specific dish. Traditional Balti dishes are known for their bold and aromatic spice blends, which contribute to their distinctive flavour profile.

A bowl of Kofta (meatball) curry drizzled with yoghurt and garnished with chopped cilantro

The Best Curry Recipes in the Cook Eat World.

Discover all my favourite curries from around Asia. Here are my Best Curry Recipes in the Cook Eat World.

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A small copper balti pan holds a portion of Indian Beef Balti

Beef Balti

Rate this recipe

4.72 from 7 votes
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 808

Video Recipe


Curry paste

Other ingredients

  • 2 lb beef (chuck, cut into chunks)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion (large, peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp salt


  • In a small pan over a moderate heat, add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds and cloves. Stir them gently for 30 seconds until the seeds start to pop and spit around the pan. Remove from the heat.
  • Add to a pestle & mortar or a spice grinder and drind into a fine powder.
  • Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, curry leaves, garlic, ginger and finally the vinegar. Stir well to combine everything. Set aside.
  • Heat a non-stick wok or frying pan over a moderate heat with the 1/4 cup of oil until just hot. Add the curry paste and fry gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. Remove from the heat and spoon the paste into a bowl and set aside.
  • Add the beef to a saucepan and add one heaped tablespoon of the curry paste. Cover with 4½ cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the heat and using a slotted spoon, take out the beef and place in a separate bowl. Keep the cooking liquid.
  • In a non-stick wok, heat 2 tbsp oil over a medium heat until hot. Add the onion and bay leaf and fry for 4-5 minutes until browned and softened. Add the remaining curry paste and stir into the onion before adding the beef. Stir well for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add about 1 cup of the beef cooking liquid and the salt. Let it gently bubble for 5-10 minutes to reduce to a thick sludgy consistency. Repeat this process of adding liquid and reducing to a thick consistency for about 30 minutes, until all the cooking liquid has been used. You should end up with a thick sauce coating the beef and very soft onions. Some of the oil should also have separated, this is normal. See the pics and video in this recipe for a visual guide to how it should look.
  • You're done! Remove from the heat and serve your beef balti with Indian Breads, like flaky paratha, roti, chapatis or naan. You can also serve with basmati rice of course.


Calories: 808kcal (40%) | Carbohydrates: 10g (3%) | Protein: 41g (82%) | Fat: 67g (103%) | Saturated Fat: 34g (213%) | Cholesterol: 161mg (54%) | Sodium: 746mg (32%) | Potassium: 773mg (22%) | Fiber: 4g (17%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 214IU (4%) | Vitamin C: 54mg (65%) | Calcium: 121mg (12%) | Iron: 7mg (39%)
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