Balti Chicken with Tomatoes and Coconut

Balti Chicken 1 words edited 4 final

Here is an Indian dish I developed several years ago, have perfected over time, and it’s been one of my favorite Indian dishes since.  My family loves it and it’s always a hit with our dinner guests.   The flavor is out of this world delicious.  Multiple layers of flavor will keep your taste buds entranced the whole meal through.

Indian food is one of the most complex cuisines in the world.  Indian meals are often prepared after Ayruvedic philosophy that insists the meal be balanced to include each of the following flavor components/characteristics:  spicy-sour along with something pungent like garlic or onion, bitter (like fenugreek or lemon), astringent (like green vegetables or potatoes), and sweet (like chutney, fruit, or dessert).   and it’s one that I particularly enjoy cooking.  And while each of these components may not be present in one dish alone, the complete meal (including sides and condiments) will traditionally have each of these components represented.  So next time you eat out at an authentic, traditional Indian restaurant, pay attention to the careful preparation that goes into the meal.  It’s fascinating.

I love experimenting with the vast variety of spices that are common to Indian cooking.  And it’s not just the ingredients that make Indian food so flavorful and delicious, it’s the various cooking methods involved.  One dish can utilize several cooking methods in specific orders.  Whether it’s sauteing, stir frying, stewing, steaming, tempering, caramelizing, slow cooking…everything is aimed at coaxing the maximum flavor out of each ingredient.  Dry roasting whole spices before grinding them to a powder is essential to optimal flavor as is frying whole spices in hot oil before adding the other ingredients.  I love to cook – and eat – Indian food.  And today I’m sharing one of my personal favorites with you:  Balti Chicken with Tomatoes and Coconut.  I’ve named it such because many of these particular spices and ingredients are commonly used in Balti cuisine.

A fabulous variety of spices and ingredients combine in this dish to make its flavor profile simply amazing.  You’ll love it!


Balti Chicken prep 4

Now, don’t be intimidated fall into the trap of equating foreign spices with “difficult”.  This dish is super easy to make and is ready in 30 minutes.  You just need the right ingredients.

Before we get started, here is a list of some of the spices used that you may not already have in your spice cabinet.  If you’re serious about Indian cooking, these are all spices you should have as they’re used again and again in various Indian dishes, so don’t worry – they won’t go to waste!  You’ll them used in the other Indian recipes on my blog and there will be many more recipes to come.  Some of these spices you can find in regular grocery stores.  Others you will only find in your local Indian grocery store, if you’re lucky enough to have one.  Otherwise, you can purchase them online and **I’ve provided links to where they can be conveniently purchased (just click on the name of the spice).  My nearest Indian grocery is an hour away, but I usually order online anyway because I like to buy in bulk.  It’s far cheaper that way and I go through them fairly quickly.  And yes, as long as you store them in airtight jars (I use glass) in a dark cupboard, they (especially the whole spices) will last a long time without losing their flavor and aroma.

Nigella Seeds (aka, kalonji or onion seeds) – an amazing tasting spice

Fenugreek Seeds


Curry Powder – I will be posting my own secret homemade curry powder in the near future – stay tuned!

Sweet Paprika Powder

Ground Cumin – I normally dry roast whole cumin seeds and grind them for optimal flavor, but I realize you may not want to take those extra steps

Ground Coriander – see remarks for ground cumin

Sesame Seeds

Poppy Seeds


Now that you’re equipped, let’s get started!


Chop up the garlic, ginger and cilantro

Balti Chicken prep 16

Dice up the chicken.  For even more flavor, you can use dark meat (boneless, skinless chicken thighs).


Balti Chicken prep 1

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ketchup, sugar, paprika, chili powder, salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cumin, coriander, and curry powder.

Balti Chicken prep 5

Add the shredded coconut and stir to combine.

Balti Chicken prep 6

Add the water and stir to combine.

Balti Chicken prep 7

Stir in the chicken pieces until thoroughly coated.  No need to marinate for more than a few minutes.

Balti Chicken prep 8

Heat the ghee or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the nigella and fenugreek seeds and fry for one minute until aromatic.

Balti Chicken prep 9

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute.

Balti Chicken prep 10

Add the chicken mixture along with the bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Balti Chicken prep 11

Add the cherry tomatoes and fresh cilantro and simmer for another 3 minutes.  The tomatoes should be tender but still “snappy.”

Balti Chicken prep 13

You will be amazed at how aromatic this dish is.  It smells wonderful and tastes even better!

Balti Chicken prep 14


Balti Chicken prep 15

Serve with Basmati or jasmine rice and/or naan bread.  Enjoy!

Check out my recipe for Perfect Naan Bread and the BEST homemade Indian Mango Chutney!

homemade naan bread recipe indianIndian Balti chicken recipe curry tomatoes coconut nigella kalonji seeds

Balti Chicken with Tomatoes and Coconut
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thigh meat), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup ketchup (yes, ketchup is used regularly in Indian cooking today)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder (mild or spicy - your choice)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1½ tablespoons curry powder
  • ⅓ cup shredded dried coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, or oil
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ pint (1 cup) cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. Combine the ketchup and next 9 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut and stir to combine. Add the water and stir to combine. Stir in the chicken until thoroughly coated. Set aside.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a large skillet until hot. Add the nigella and fenugreek seeds and fry for one minute until aromatic. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute. Add the chicken mixture and bay leaf, bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cherry tomatoes and chopped cilantro and simmer for another 3 minutes until the tomatoes are tender but still a little "snappy." Add salt to taste.
  3. Serve with steamed Basmati or jasmine rice and/or naan bread.



**Blogger Disclosure:  This post includes links to my affiliate account at, and The Daring Gourmet earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

18 Responses

  1. Puss N. Boots

    wrote on

    Dear Kimberley,
    sorry to be a curry pedant but I suspect you are not aware of the controversy about the origin of the cooking style Balti. it appears to either come from the Black Country of the uk particularly Birmingham ( as in dark satanic mills, industrial midlands hence black, predating it’s now large asian population ) or the Baltistan region of Pakistan. As an aside many “indian” restaurants are in fact run by Bangladeshis.

    Wikepedia has a seemingly balanced summary on the matter.
    p x

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hiya Boots! My point was simply that it’s called “Balti” chicken because many of the spices/ingredients in this dish are common to Balti cuisine. I won’t argue with you that some of the best Indian food is found in the UK. I agree 100%. Some of the most popular Indian dishes in the Western world are of UK origin. In fact, it was while I lived in England that I really fell in love with Indian food and I still maintain that England has the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever been to. I so wish I could pop into one of them right now!

  2. jesusan

    wrote on

    I love Indian cuisine, so I’m very happy to see this recipe. Looks like it’s well worth trying.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Susan, there you are! I wondered if maybe you were on another one of your world tours. In any case, I’m happy to hear from you again and I might have guessed it would be an Indian (or Mexican) recipe that would entice you back for a visit :) YES, this dish is a must try! Whenever you get around to it, let me know what you think. It’s sweeter than it is spicy, but if you like heat you can use hot curry powder or use some Kashmiri chili powder instead of regular. Hope you’re having a lovely Spring. Best, Kimberly

  3. Liz

    wrote on

    I absolutely adore Indian food and the flavor combination in this recipe sounds absolutely amazing! I will definitely try this, thanks!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks, Liz, you’re going to LOVE this!

  4. lgw

    wrote on

    I am an accompolished cook and have made a lot of “authentic” Indian recipes. But I don’t care whether this is authentic or not: it is one of the easiest, most flavorful dishes I have made in a long time. I’m going to try to freeze batches of the chicken in marinade to make it even faster. Thanks so much.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      I’m so thrilled to hear that, lgw! It’s become one of our favorite Indian dishes. While it’s an original recipe of mine, it is “authentic” Indian in terms of its ingredients. I even cleared the use of the ketchup through a chef friend of mine who lives in Pakistan who confirmed that ketchup is used regularly in cooking there. I wanted to be sure just in case I came under fire :) Thank you so very much for your feedback! Best, Kimberly

  5. Neha

    wrote on

    This was great! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you, Neha, so glad you enjoyed it!

  6. wrote on

    This is a restaurant quality dish. I used Kashmiri red chili powder so it was plenty spicy for me, but my SO, who prefers really spicy, added sambal oelek at the table. Next time I will leave out the tomatoes since the recipe was perfect without them.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you, grayslady, I’m glad it was a hit! Kashmiri chili powder and sambal oelek – youch!! That IS spicy :) I love the color that the tomatoes add to the dish, that beautiful combination of the reddish-brown sauce, fresh green cilantro sprinkled on top before serving and those bright red cherry tomatoes. Besides tasting and smelling wonderful it’s such a gorgeous looking dish, too.

  7. Christina

    wrote on

    What an amazing dish! The flavors were out of this world. My “steak and potatoes” husband found it very enjoyable as well–WIN. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes, Kimberly!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear that, Christina! I absolutely love Indian cuisine and love experimenting with new flavor combinations. This is a dish I’m particularly proud of and is a family favorite. It’s always a hit when I serve it to guests. Thanks so much for making it and for your feedback, it’s greatly appreciated! Best, Kimberly

  8. Jennifer

    wrote on

    I liked it! It wasn’t too sweet (from the sweetened coconut shreds), the heat was just enough and didn’t have to play around with the salt.Your recipe was perfect. MInd you, I”m not sure my 2 year old will eat it cause of the heat but we’ll see. Thank you.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Wonderful, so happy you enjoyed it, Jennifer! My kids are really strange that way, they’ll eat even hot foods. Heck, my 4 year old will eat Chinese mustard plain!! In very tiny doses, of course, lol. But kids are so funny sometimes :)

  9. AayArJay

    wrote on

    These delicious and tasty dishes were developed during the Mughal Era
    . Most of the Indian Hindus are vegetarians and it is forbidden in their religion to eat any kind of meat.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi AayArJay, I’ve seen varying statistics. Wikipedia says that an estimated 20 to 30% of all Hindus are vegetarians, and a UN study done in 2003 says 42%. In any case, yes, quite a few Hindus are vegetarian.

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