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Balti is a popular Indian and Pakistan food. In the past 20 or 30 years, there have been a number of restaurant specializing in Balti food. These restaurant are known as Balti House. However, in the states, the food is still relatively unknown. One way to experience this without booking a flight is by making your own. To get started, using a Balti Dish would be a good idea. The Best Balti Dish should be able to hold heat well and let you stir food much like a Wok Should.
What is a Balti Dish
A Balti Dish is a wide pan with two loop handle. Because of the wide opening, they are great for stirring and tossing food. Unlike most other Indian dish, Balti are designed to be cooked quickly. They’re not meant to be stewed like the other curries.
Balti Dish Uses
If you get a heavy duty Balti Dish, they are great for searing and stirring food. You can basically do anything that you would in a cast iron. I would argue that they make for a great braising pan. The two loop handle keeps it compact and lets you serve it on the table.
The smaller Balti Dish that you see available are most used for presentation. They’re neat if you want to heat it up before hand. Whats funny is that most restaurant use a regular pan to cook in and just serve with a Balti Dish.
For whatever reason, a lot of Indian Cookware are made thin, very thin. Unless you have a high heat source, they are lousy at retaining heat. Whenever I see a Indian cooking food, the meats are never browned but rather stewed in Ghee. Nevertheless, their combination of spices and herbs still make one of the best food I have ever eaten.
Most models that are available uses that same thin construction. If you happen to get a Balti Dish like that, I recommend you use that for serving. As stated before, you simply wont get a good browning out of it.
The cast iron construction balti dish are another story. Since its so heavy, it can store a good amount of heat. This make it a perfect vessel for searing. Unlike the thin pan, it wont drop in heat and will give a beautiful browning on lambs and other cuts of meat. This also make it a good vessel for serving food. They are also oven safe like some of the cheaper one.
Balti Dish vs Wok
You might be tempted to use a Wok and in some case you can. The main difference is the base. In a Balti Dish, the base is wide and more suited for a home stove. That wide extra space gives you room to sear food in larger batch. While in a Wok, its crowded and you will steam your food. The Chinese Chef can get away with tossing food because of the sheer fire power they have. Our home stove simply don’t hold a candle to it.
Both the Balti Pan and Wok are great for stirring. They are wide and easy to move food around. In that sense, they are both great for stir fry. The handles on the Balti Dish are a bit annoying though, they rise up sharply and can get in the way. The long handled wok are easier to maneuver as well.
When you go to cook, I recommend that you use the burner closer to you. The tiny handle makes it difficult to move the pan around. Not only that, it gets screaming hot, you need to use a glove. In that sense, its pretty mediocre.
Best Balti Dish List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best Balti Dish on the Market. There are a few different configuration available, choose one that best suits you.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Balti Dish (Best Overall)
Nobody does cookware like Le Creuset, the beautiful color and the heavy construction makes it one of the Best Balti Dish on the market. You have all the Classic Le Creuset color to choose from, great if you want a matching set. The base of the Balti Dish is wide and great for searing large batch of food. The only thing I dont like is how awkward the handle is. It would be better if it was more wide. Other than that, this is great for a stove to table top dish.
Lodge Pro-Logic Wok With Flat Base (Best Bare Cast Iron Model)
Since there arent any bare cast iron model Balti Dish, this lodge wok is a good alternative. This has a better nonstick performance than Le Creuset model and it sears better as well. In my past experiment, a bare cast iron browns better than one with a enamel coating. The handles are better designed as well. It is wide and comfortable. However, the base is a lot smaller than the Le Creuset model. This is the defining difference that makes them the winner.
Enameled Cast Iron Balti Dish With Wide Loop Handles (Best Buy)
If Le Creuset or Lodge is too expensive, this generic brand is a good alternative. The cast iron construction is heavy and perform very similarly. They have quite a few different color as well. If anything you should do almost anything you can do on the Le Creuset model.
Karahi Indian Serving Dishes (Best for Serving)
If you just want one for serving, these little dish is a great alternative. It has a beautiful copper exterior and brass handle. These resemble very much like the serving plates that you get from indian restaurant. However, I would use these for cooking, they’re mostly for serving.
These Balti Dish are great to frying and stir frying food. They resemble a Wok and the main benefit is the large wide base. This lets you burn and sear food a lot better. I personally would avoid the thin pan and get a thick cast iron model. They perform better and keep food hot. The best overall is the one made by Le Creuset, its beautiful and heavy. If used correctly, it can replace your everyday pan. However, for a bare cast iron model, I would use Lodge Wok. They perform better, its just that the base is thinner.
Looking for more Indian Cookware? Check out our article on the Best Karahai Pan.