As my beloved Birmingham City made their way to the field for the League Cup Final I must admit I was a tad emotional. It came to my attention that we haven’t won much.

This is the first major final at Wembley in my lifetime; the last time Blues were there in a major cup final was 1956, Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, gas was $0.20 a gallon, new TV shows included "As The World Turns" and "The Price is Right". Mothers could now buy disposable diapers and Tefal non stick Frying Pans. Elvis Presley appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and entered the music charts for the first time, with "Heartbreak Hotel". The average price of a new house was $11,500. A16 year old called ‘Pele’ joins Brazil's Santos team.
Blues lost to Manchester City 3-1.

Before that they made it to the FA Cup Final in 1931, Herbert Hover was president, the Empire State Building is completed, and becomes the tallest building in the world, the George Washington Bridge opens connecting New York and New Jersey, a loaf of bread costs $0.8 and
Joseph Stalin was in power in the USSR.
Blues lost to West Bromwich Albion 2-1.

They did make the League Cup final in 2001 but that was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, although that was a huge achievement for a second division {ok, Championship} team and a great day out for the fans it wasn’t the same.
Blues lost to Liverpool on penalties.

I have been lucky enough to see blues win a trophy at Wembley. In 1991 they beat Tranmere Rover to win the Leyland DAF {the what cup now? Exactly!} A tournament for the 3rd and 4th division teams as they were called at the time. That was a day out to remember although come to think of it I can’t remember that much about it now.

So here we are in 2011, a black man is the President, a woman is the Secretary of State, and Birmingham City have beaten Arsenal at Wembley.
My wife was at church with my daughter and on her way home she heard the screaming coming from our house. She thought that someone had been murdered. Blues had just scored with a minute to go. I was throwing my son in the air, he is only two so he may not remember this, I will never forget.
Birmingham City beat Arsenal 2-1. I can die a happy man.

So how would a ‘Brummie’ such as me celebrate such a momentous occasion? Well, by making a curry of course {and by drinking copious amounts of beer.}

Birmingham is known as the capital of the Balti, which is not surprising as this spicy dish was introduced to the city by its large Kashmiri population.

The word balti literally means 'bucket', but in reality it is a round bottomed wok with side handles which was originally used by the people of Baltistan in Pakistan. A balti meal is a type of curry, fast cooked over a high flame with fresh meat and/or vegetables marinated and then cooked with extra spices added during the cooking process. The meal is then usually served up sizzling in the balti dish. Each restaurant jealously guards its own special recipes, but spices like cumin, cardamom, coriander, cloves, cassia bark and ginger are typically used.

The vast majority of Balti houses are situated in the Sparkbrook, Balsall Heath, and Moseley areas of South Birmingham, which essentially forms the famous Balti Triangle. Most of the restaurants are unlicensed with diners bringing their own wine, beers, etc. with a number of off-licences conveniently situated in the area.




½ tsp mustard seeds, crushed
2 tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
1 tsp Garam Masala
4 dried curry leaves, crushed
1 tsp palm sugar
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp turmeric
3 green chilies, chopped
4 cardamom pods, split

1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
½"/1 cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 large chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
250 ml vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp tomato purée
Salt to taste
1 bay leaf
1 large tomato, sliced

Serves 2

Assemble all the spices. You will find it easier to make the curry if you get all the spices ready beforehand.

Heat the oil in a large roomy pan until hot but not smoking, add the mustard seeds, cook for 30 seconds only then add the chopped onion, reduce the heat and cook for 3 - 5 minutes until soft. Add all the spices, the garlic and the ginger and cook on a medium heat taking care to ensure the spices don't burn.

Add the chicken, sugar and stir well making sure all the chicken is coated in the spices. Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, tomato purée, a pinch of salt and the bay leaf. Stir then lower the heat and cook gently for 25 minutes. Finally add the cilantro/coriander and tomato, stir and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Serve piping hot in balti dishes with naan breads on the side.

AND FINALLY…Two Blues fans, both hard of hearing and strangers to each other, were about to ride the London Underground. One of them, peering at the station they were entering, said,

 “Pardon me, Sir, but is this Wembley?”

“No,” said the other, “Thursday.”

“No, thank you,” said the first. “I’ve already had a little drink.”



Chicken Balti