Curry in favour
Curry in favour

Curry in favour

Curry-cooking and van life do not sit happily together. Who wants their bedding reeking of curry, when all be said and done. Mr Snail however requires a regular infusion of curry. At home he cooks our curries from scratch and we have a vast collection of spices in our arsenal. Obviously there is no room in the van to carry everything we might need and we are normally parked somewhere far from the kind of shops that offer esoteric foodie ingredients.

There are other aspects of curry-eating that do not work well in a van. Boiling rice, for instance. At home we use the absorption method, which keeps the steam down but in the van we have been trying out various ready-cooked and microwaveable solutions (when on hookup).

We have tried various “cook-in” sauces and have in the past favoured those that come with some dry spices in the lid. Nothing really came up to scratch and we had come to terms with ready meals from the supermarket, though they are by and large disappointing.

Recently I spotted a new product in the shops. New-to-me at least, are the multi-part curry sauce kits now available. They consist of spices and sauces in pouches that need no special storage,but have a long shelf life without additives or preservatives. They have a small pack size and, best of all, produce a meal that closely resembles a fresh-as-a-daisy made-it-myself version.

The Spice Tailor

We have been using the Spice Tailor product, which we buy at Tesco. They cost a whopping £2.89 each but this is also something that we have happily come to terms with. We believe that, in our itinerant tiny-kitchen situation, this is the best way to a decent curry at home. (Waitrose are doing them for £2.00 at the moment and if I had ever seen a Waitrose I’d be in there like a shot to stock up)

Of the ten sauces currently available, we have so far tried three. Previously we have used the Punjabi Tomato and the Souther Pepper variants; tonight it was the turn of the Fiery Goan Curry. All three have been thoroughly delicious and produced curries that tasted as fresh as a made-from-scratch dish. They are a product light years ahead of the standard sauce jar.

The kit comes in a cardboard sleeve that houses two or three plastic pouches. One small pouch has the whole dry spices, including an optional additional chilli, for those who desire some extra heat. A medium sized pouch of “base sauce” may be included (depends on the variety chosen) and this can be used to marinate your chosen ingredient(s) or just cooked in the second stage if you are short on time. The largest pouch contains the “main sauce”.

Open the cardboard sleeve carefully as it bears  the simple three-step instructions. Additionally it suggest variations to the recipe and ways to make it your own.

For the basic dish you will need to add your choice of protein or vegetables.

And it really is simple:

  1. Heat oil in pan and cook the whole spices for 20 seconds
  2. Add the meat (prawns/Veg/Tofu/whatever floats your curry boat but if using fish hold it back for now) and brown lightly before adding the base sauce (unless you used it as a marinade) and simmer for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the main sauce (add fish here if using instead of meat) and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until your protein is cooked through.

That’s all that there is to it. Unless you want to complicate it. Confident curry cooks will do their own thing, the nervous cook can take confidence from the suggestions for tailoring the curry that are printed on the packet.

Want to go a step further? The Spice Tailor website has a cookbook using the sauce kits to make up a wide range of dishes –  use the Tikka Masala sauce to make a Pizza, perhaps? Why not – have Remoska, can Pizza!

Our Fiery Goan Curry

Tonight I made a meal with the Fiery Curry Goan kit.

(Standard saucepan on the induction hob)

I used all the whole spices, including the extra chilli and fried them lightly before I added Chicken Thigh Meat, which I had first marinated in the Base Sauce. After frying the meat to seal it, I added some chunky slices of Mushroom before adding the main sauce. Once the chicken was cooked and tender I added thawed Frozen Leaf Spinach and simmered the whole for another couple of minutes whilst I nuked a pouch of Tilda Basmati Rice Aromatic Spices. (Yes, that is a very expensive way to buy rice but once again, it has a small pack size, a long life and takes just two minutes to heat in the microwave and does not add to condensation issues in the van.)

Dinner done. It was delicious. Fiery Goan Chicken with Saag and Mushroom. Better than any ready meal and better than most takeaways and many restaurants. Dare I say it… perhaps even better than some of our homemade efforts too.

No photos, sorry – entirely due to my lack of discipline and the undone washing up filling my tiny worktop. Everything was too disordered.

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