Anjum Anand, author of many Indian cookbooks, chef at numerous Indian restuarants and probably most famously presenter of Indian Food Made Easy for the BBC, has created a range of curry sauces with a company I had previously never heard of called The Spice Tailor.
I have mixed feelings about Anjum and her attempts to bring real Indian dishes to our homes. In Indian Food Made Easy, I would say she was pretty successful, she did make things look easy, but at the same time she required that you buy about 17 different spices for each curry. By the time you had stocked up on all the ingredients you’d have spent £50, taken hours to cook them all and wished you’d just gone to default setting by calling up Gaylord Spice Tavern, ordering a lamb bhuna and a pilau rice and saving yourself time and money. Maybe that’s just me.
Then along comes a range of sauces that Anjum created. At first I thought perhaps Anjum had betrayed her own ethos – I mean if it really is that easy to make Indian food at home and she really is keen to get us to do so, then why is she making them for us in a plastic pouch? Then I decided I couldn’t care less if that was true or not as sauce in a pouch is convenient.
What I do like about the range is that whilst it does include boring curry staples of korma, tikka masala, rogan josh etc it is outnumbered by more unusual and regional dishes such as Keralan coconut curry, Punjabi tomato curry and the one I chose the Mangalore herb curry.
Opening up the very nicely designed packaging I find that this isn’t just a sauce in a pouch, it is some seeds and spices in a packet AND some sauce in a pouch. In one deft move Anjum has bridged the gap between home cooking and ready made sauce. The idea is (like when making a real curry) that you toast the spices in oil for 20 seconds before adding the meat. This is exactly what I did. The seeds and spices fizz and pop releasing a lovely aroma, then I added some chunks of turkey. I wouldn’t normally have turkey but I had some steaks in a splendid gourmet meat box I bought for half price, and a curry seemed as good a way as any to use them. Once the meat browned I added the sauce, cooked for 10 mins and served with rice.
Well Anjum, your sauce is a triumph! Despite being prepacked, with a best before date 10 months away it had a real freshness to it. It was not your ususal thick, gloopy consistency, but thin with a dark green colour. The sauce was delicate yet complex, there was a good whack of coriander, a hint of chilli and a combination of other spices that my jaded palate struggles to pick out individually. Other premade curry sauces tend to be a one dimensional nod towards our idea of what a curry is, Anjum’s tastes like the real thing – albeit a cheats version.
Anjum Anand Mangalore Herb Curry£2.89 for 225g