Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Curry in a hurry

When I was a boy (here we go...) there was a thing called a Vesta Curry. It came in a box. You cooked it. There was (and is) also a thing called the Swan Vesta. This was a match, made of wood. It had almost the same flavour and nutritional value as the curry.

Things have changed, I'm happy to say, and now that we're in to the holiday season I've been testing a few DIY curries. It's not that I'm bad at curry making or cooking in general but there's never the time, particularly when the kids are off, and if they go to bed before you do it's good to be able to whip something up quickly. So I thought I'd road test a few ready mixes.

And what's really changed since I was a kid is the quality. First I tried a few bits from Kent's Kitchen. These come in three parts; some spice, some oil and some garnish. The list of the rest of the ingredients you need is on the back of the packet. We had the Thai Green Curry, the Chow Mein, Korma and also a mushroom risotto to which you only need to add the fresh mushrooms. My favourite was the Thai; careful not to put too much water in it (measure and try not to be tired when you do it, I wrecked the Chow Mein by doing this) but the fact that the spices are properly measured out rather than made for the lowest common demominator shows. There isn't a substitute for fresh ingredients but for something that took half an hour these were distinctly above average.

As indeed was the red curry sauce from Thai Taste. There's a package of these available with coconut milk and fresh basil which makes Thai curry for three people in about 15 minutes. I can vouch for the flavour - we used to live near one of the best Thai restaurants in London by our reckoning and OK, this doesn't match up to their standards but it's as good as the new owners cook. And they're not bad at it.

It's quick and it doesn't taste as if it's out of a packet. I was hoping to write something a little more balanced and critical but for the money and the speed these items really are very good indeed. The Thai New Year runs from tomorrow until Friday; have a good one, and you might want to consider celebrating with one of these convenience meals.

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