I love to cook. But i love people cooking for me just as much. And i’ve had UK-based celebrity chef Anjum Anand cooking wicked Indian curries with me in my kitchen for the past week — well, almost.
I’m off to India for a food-writing trip with Anand tomorrow, representing The Australian Financial Review’s Life & Leisure section. In the lead up to the trip i was sent a selection of curry sauces from Anand’s Spice Tailor range. They said cook in “3 simple steps”. I was curious — and sceptical — because anyone who likes cooking curries, as i do, know it takes much more than that.
The packaging is colourful and cleverly designed. You can see three plastic pouches: a small one containing whole spices — the Rustic Rogan Josh collection includes bayleaf, black cardamon, cinnamon, black peppercorns, green cardamon and a dried red chilli; a slightly larger pouch containing a base sauce; and a larger one again containing curry sauce.
The instructions tell you what “bits to buy” — for the rogan josh it was 275g of lamp rump, neck or chops, and what you need “from your cupboard” — some oil and a whole chilli, for extra heat. Then follow three steps: 1) Heat oil and fry spices, 2) Add meat and brown, then add the base sauce and simmer for 2 minutes 3) Stir in the curry sauce and simmer.
Included on the pack are “tailor to taste” recommendations to customise each dish: including things like which vegetables to add, or the inclusion of fresh spices for extra zing. There are “sauce facts” too, including details of each curry’s origins, and a link to the Spice Tailor website for “online inspiration”, including other recipes to use the sauce with. They’re made without colours, preservatives and additives. They’re pretty damn impressive.
I’ve now tried the rogan josh and tikka masala — they were both full bodied, gutsy curries with a home-made authenticity that casts off the stereotype of usual pre-made packet sauces. The vibrancy of the whole spices — a very clever addition by Anand — cannot be understated. I’ve been making Indian curries for years, and have some really good ones up my sleeve. I’d be thrilled to turn out something as good as these.
My partner is thrilled, too. There are some remaining sauces in the cupboard. While i’m wandering bazaars, sampling street food, drinking at tea stalls, and having some hands-on tuition with Anand, he’ll be cooking with her at home — well, almost.
Note: The Spice Tailor range is available in Coles. RRP: $4.99.
A feature of the trip to India will appear in Life & Leisure. Link to follow.