My quest to eat my way through the full range of Scratch meals continues, however it is becoming a bigger challenge than I first suspected. You just can’t track them all down. I got hold of the Chicken Thai Green Curry no problem, I just walked into Sainsbury’s and there it was. The King Prawn and Chorizo Paella was pretty easy too as the lovely folk from Scratch brought one to my door, but even if they hadn’t, I’d seen the paella in many a Sainsbury’s so it wouldn’t have been too tough. Beyond those 2 though the Makhani Chicken Tikka Masala, Singaporean Crayfish Noodle Laksa and the Tagliatelle Pistachio Pesto have remained elusive.
To save you time searching, I can confirm that you won’t find any of the above meals in the following Sainsbury’s Locals: Waterloo – The Cut or Waterloo Rd branches, East Dulwich, Herne Hill, Clapham Old Town (although they do all have the Chicken Thai Green Curry and King Prawn and Chorizo Paella). If however you go to the Sainsbury’s Local in Clapham Junction Station you may well find that they do stock the Chicken Tikka one, but they don’t have it at that particular moment in time. Your best thing to do is head to the Queenstown Rd branch where you will find a Tikka Masala but quite possibly the last one on the shelf. What I have yet to find in any branch at all is the noodle laksa or the tagliatelle… still I’ll continue my Sainsbury’s tour and feedback my findings.
As with all the Scratch meals the presentation and packaging design is super (there’s even a free spoon these days). The instructions are clear and if you read every inch of blurb on the packaging there’s plenty of wit and humour – where else would you find a dessicated coconut joke. I peeled back the lid to reveal the ingredients separated into their little pots, and was slightly perturbed to find them dripping in pepper juice. At the bottom of the pepper section was a pool of pepper water, and some of the slices had gone soggy. Scratch meals have never been guilty of this before so perhaps it was a one off, but wiping slime off everything before I began was not the best start. Maybe the peppers should have a sealed pot of their own like the curry paste.
To begin you boil some water for the rice, and heat some oil in a pan for the curry. When the oil is warm add in the curry paste, a couple of mins later the chicken and soggy peppers, a couple of mins after that the tomato and curry leaf, then boil the (pre cooked) rice for a few mins, right at the end you stir some yoghurt into the sauce mix and you’re done. They really can’t be beaten for speed, ease and a sense of achievement that you did some cooking when in fact you just did some stirring.
I had a taste and it was OK, but it lacked a complexity of flavour. It was quite sharp from the tomatoes but mostly it was overwhelmed by heat, and it wasn’t a layered heat - just hot. The ingredients for the paste are fairly comprehensive; garam masala, chilli powder, cumin, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, coconut, tandoori masala, turmeric. Whilst a curry paste shouldn’t taste of each individual ingredient, but should meld to create something new and wonderful that you can’t quite pin down, in this instance the different spices made something far less dynamic than the ingredients would suggest. All that being said it wasn’t bad, but after the dizzy heights and genius of the Thai curry, my hopes were set much higher.
So if your experience is the same as mine at tracking this curry down, I’d call off the search and stick with the more ubiquitous Thai curry. I’ll certainly keep hunting until I can find the remaining 2 dishes and hope that this one was just a blip in the Scratch cannon.
Michel Roux Sr Cook from Scratch Makhani Chicken Tikka Masala £3.95 for 470g (For the sake of transparency I should say that the lovely folk at Scratch sent me a voucher to pick up this meal)