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Balti cooking and Baltistan

Baltistan has no connection with the present wave of cooking known as "Balti cooking". Baltistan (or Balti-yul) is situated in the dry arid Karakoram mountains between the international borders of China & the northern sector of the disputed "Kashmir" territories of India & Pakistan.

The word Balti refers to its people - "the people of the rock or those of the rock". They are of Mongolian & Caucasian descent & speak an arcahic Tibetan dialect said to resemble 7th Century classical Tibetan.

However in Pakistan & India the word "balti" (pronounced as baahl-tea) refers to bucket. The wok-like utensil used in so-called "balti" cooking is known as a Karhai in these countries & has seemed to have had the name "balti" added when it became popular in the Birmingham area of the UK, where there is a community originally from Pakistan who have no origin in Baltistan.

The main dish from Baltistan is a pasta/noodle dish known as "bal-ley" very little meat is eaten & most dishes are based around root crops, lentils, wheat & barley.

These facts are based on my several visits to Baltistan where I have lived with Balti people & eaten the local dishes.

article by - A.Xavier

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