CHEF and blogger Paul James writes for our paper.
Okay, I just had to write a recipe to coincide with Birmingham’s Commonwealth games didn’t I?
I had to participate somehow, being as the organisers overlooked my letter offering my services to run up and down our stairs with the baton – but I’m not one to hold a grudge.
I was searching through some of my recipes and some of Birmingham’s famous dishes such as faggots and peas or the balti – which incidentally was created in our own city.
Local legend has it the Pakistani-style balti dish was invented in the 1970s in restaurants owned by members of the Pakistani community in Sparkbrook, many who had migrated to the city from the Mirpur area of Pakistan in the 1960s.
‘Baltis’ thought to come from the Hindi word ‘balty’ meaning ‘bucket’ due to the steel dishes they were cooked in.
Now I know many a person who always asks for the hottest curries imaginable when visiting the local curry house after one too many beverages on a night out.
So ‘bucket’ brings a whole different meaning to the word ‘balty’.
Anyway moving on quickly, Birmingham’s vast multi cultural background gave us the perfect opportunity to explore the different flavours and tastes that changed the gastronomy of Birmingham, but still blended in with some of the traditional dishes that will stay forever in the hearts of the people of Brummagem.
So this dish – ‘Brummie bacon cakes’ come from an old time recipe which consists of a mixture of flour, salt, and butter with chopped bacon and cheese added to it.
The addition of Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and milk brings with it a scone like texture.
But I wanted to make it a bit more ‘Brummie’ so I ditched the tomato sauce, for a drop of tomato purée then added the magical ingredient – our very own ‘Aston made’ HP sauce – which like so many things born to our heritage has been taken away (don’t get me started).
I also add a couple of flicks of crushed chilli peppers to add a little bit of our local culture to the dish and away I went.
The scone like texture is definitely not a Cornish cream tea type of indulgence but more of ‘A late night visit by the Peaky blinders who are coming to collect a debt type treat’. Served with some chutney, I’m sure you will enjoy it has much as I did.
One last word for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – the international sports event is represented by the 72 members of the Commonwealth.
This evokes memories of my childhood trips from south west Birmingham into the city centre and to the various markets such as the Bullring, Rag Market and outdoor markets, bringing with it aromas and flavours of spices, herbs and ingredients from around the world.
So good luck to everyone taking part and bringing even more culture to our city.
Visit recipesfrommytravels.com for more on Paul’s recipes and blog.
Brummie Bacon Cakes
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
225g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
25g cold cubed butter
75g grated cheddar cheese
1tbsp HP sauce (brown sauce)
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of black pepper
1tsp of tomato purée
A pinch of crushed chilli flakes
1. Heat the oven to 180C and on a baking tray cook the bacon rashers until crispy.
2. Remove from the oven and leave to go cold.
3. In a bowl sift the flour, then add the pepper and salt. Then add the butter. Gently mix with your hands until you get a texture resembling fine breadcrumbs.
4. In a sandwich bag add the cold crispy bacon and with a rolling pin break up the bacon into fine pieces.
5. Add the bacon into the bowl along with the grated cheese.
6. In a jug add the milk, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée.
7. Give it a mix and pour gradually into the bacon cake mixture.
8. Gently working it into a soft dough.
9. Then place a sheet of parchment paper onto a baking tray and roll pieces of dough the size of a golf ball in your hands and arrange on the tray. Brush each one with a touch of milk.
10. Then sprinkle some more grated cheese over the bacon cakes if you wish and bake in the oven for roughly 30 minutes or until risen and golden brown.
11. Serve buttered with a chutney and salad of your choice.