What do Cornish pasties, Parma ham, Wensleydale Cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies have in common? Other than making for quite a delicious picnic, they also share a protected name status.
For those unfamiliar with the EU Protected Name Scheme, gaining this status means a regional and traditional food can have its authenticity and origin guaranteed. For example, while there are many types of blue cheese, only that which has been made from Leicestershire, Derbyshire, or Nottinghamshire cows is allowed to be called Stilton.
Tired of seeing the name applied to all manner of curries and supermarket sauces bearing little resemblance to the real deal, local champion Andy Munro – author of 'Going for a Balti' and 'The Essential Birmingham and Midlands Street Balti Guide' – successfully spearheaded a campaign to get the Birmingham Balti recognised with the same protected status.
The Balti was invented in Birmingham during the 1970s, when the city's Pakistani residents created a fusion dish inspired by traditional Kashmiri recipes but cooked in a way that was more appealing to western tastes.
Now, thanks to its official recognition, we may soon expect to see any authentically-made curry referred to as a 'Birmingham Balti' (regardless of where in the world it is cooked), to help distinguish it from its many inferior imitators.
In order to qualify as a Birmingham Balti, a curry must meet a number of requirements, including being cooked and served in a pressed steel balti dish, with ingredients that include turmeric, fenugreek, garam masala, garlic puree and fresh ginger.
If this has made you hungry, check out our list of top Indian restaurants in Birmingham.
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