Birmingham City Council is currently investigating if it can trademark the curry name of Balti.
If this happens, nobody outside the Birmingham area would be able to make and sell a Balti curry, in much the same way as nobody outside the champagne area of France can make and sell champagne. In fact, probably nobody outside The Balti Triangle area of Birmingham would be able to make and sell a Balti.
Birmingham’s claim to the Balti is based upon the dish first being made in Britain by a Pakistani immigrant to Birmingham in 1977 (it’s hard to believe that such a widely eaten dish was only introduced in 1977). The delicious dish was an instant hit and became very popular in the Sparkbrook, Balsall Heath and Moseley areas of Birmingham – the Balti Triangle.
If the council decide to go ahead and try and trademark the Balti, they are bound to get a lot of opposition from all around the UK with at least one Balti dish being on the menu of most curry houses in the country.
Opponents to the trademark move point out that Balti is a style of cooking, not a specific dish, with traditional Baltis made in a special Balti cooking wok which has been used worldwide for hundreds of years.
It will be interesting to see what happens with this story.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy a good Balti down our local curry house.