Keema and veg balti

I grew up just outside Birmingham, and balti practically runs through my veins. In my youth, a standard Saturday night with my parents and their friends would involve a trip to Azim’s on the Lozells Road and a heated dissection of the latest Aston Villa defeat.

We became regulars, and eventually the staff learned not to bother handing my mum a menu, as she would reliably order exactly the same thing on every visit: a keema and veg balti.

To stay faithful to the original, I’m using lamb mince for the keema. And the veg in question is a potato, 1/2 a cauliflower and some frozen peas (collectively <£1.50). My version is heavily-spiced but you can still recognise the flavour of lamb for what it is, and it’s as close to the legendary Azim’s balti as I’ve ever come across.

Aside from the veg, only the mince (£3.39) was really an expense – everything else is stuff I regularly have in.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes


  • 1tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 1tbsp garlic paste
  • 1tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 finger chillis, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp garam masala
  • 1tbsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1.5tsp table salt
  • 1tbsp tomato puree, diluted with water
  • 1 large potato, skinned and cubed
  • 1/2 a cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 mug of frozen peas


  1. Melt the ghee over a medium heat in a wide frying pan, then add the onions and fry until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger pastes, and the chillis. Reduce the heat to prevent burning, and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the spices and salt, and cook briefly to release the aromas. Tip in the lamb mince and gently brown for a few minutes.
  4. Once the pan is becoming dry, add the tomato puree, potato and cauliflower, then add a decent splash of water to prevent anything sticking. Cover to create steam and reduce the heat, stirring occasionally.
  5. Use a sharp knife to check the potatoes are cooked, and simply throw in the peas for the last 5 minutes.

Serve with your preferred combination of rice, naan and chapatis. (Azim’s tradition calls for a garlic naan and chips, but you do you.)


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