Whatís new in the world of curry? Armed with my notebook and camera I have just been to this
yearís Ethnic Foods trade show in Birmingham to find out. Ethnic Foods is a showcase for
companies selling all manner of spicy foods - curries, sauces, pickles, breads, snacks, you
name it. It was noticeable this year that the innovative companies were concentrating on
freshness and flavour and I found some quality new products which are about to hit the shops.
With a name like Maaji & Baajiís you would expect something a little different and this
home-made chutney and pickle maker didnít disappoint. The company was born out of the
frustration of its creator, Wasel Shahid. He was serving quality food in his restaurant but the
factory-made pickles he was buying were not at all authentic and too harsh to complement his
fine dishes. So, in the manner of the best entrepreneurs, he decided to make his own and Maaji
& Baajiís is the result. I tasted a sample of a new addition to their range - a chilli and
ginger chutney. It was excellent. Nicely balanced between sweet and sour, not too hot and full
of fresh gingery flavour. They also make "aam gulab" - a mango chutney with rose
essence (which sounds odd but the flowery aroma goes really well with the sweet mango), an
incredibly hot but very tasty chilli pickle and the traditional lime, mango and vegetable
pickles. You should be able to find Maaji &Baajiís pickles and chutneys at delicatessens
and specialist food halls in the not too distant future.
It was inevitable that there would be a host of ready made curry sauces at the Ethnic Food
Show and sure enough you could almost drown in them (if you were so inclined)! The new curry
sauces on the market were mainly of the fresh/chilled variety rather than the familiar bottled
sort. Two up and coming players in the "food service" market (thatís pubs and
restaurants to you and me) are The Curry Sauce Co. and Viceroy. Both sell a complete range of
Indian restaurant style sauces to add to chicken, meat or vegetables. Look out for a tasting session
of their products soon on The Curry House. The Curry Sauce Co. have finally broken into the
year and you will be able to find their tikka masala and jalfrezi sauces in 50
branches of Budgens.
What about something for the younger curry fan? After all, you canít start early enough can
you? So I was delighted to see a selection of baby foods in spicy flavours. They are made by
Mother Nature Baby Foods and are all GM free and Halal certified. Thereís chicken korma, lamb
korma and a variety of lentil meals. Sounds yummy although I didnít actually try them myself
you understand! Mother Nature products are available in selected branches of Asda, Somerfield
and Lloyds chemists.
If you fancy a change from nan breads then what about my favourite - parathas? I found a
delicious range of frozen parathas at the Shana stand. They come in plain, onion and stuffed
with mixed vegetables or aloo palak (potato and spinach). My favourite was the plain
paratha which was light and flaky just like it should be. You use them straight from the
freezer and heat for a few minutes on a dry griddle or frying pan. They will be available in
Asian grocers and specialist food stores.
My prize for the top ready made curry has to go to another frozen product. The frozen curries
made by "Ready2" were miles better than any supermarket chilled meals you can buy.
You would be hard pushed to tell their chicken tikka masala apart from a restaurant curry.
Ansuruz Zaman, the head of Raj Authentic Indian Cuisine who make Ready2 meals, explained to me
that the reason the curries taste so fresh and smooth is that they donít need all the food
acids that chilled meals use to extend their shelf life. The freezing preserves the curries
instead. Ready2 curries will be available in convenience stores so have a look in the freezer
cabinet next time you visit your local corner shop.
Ansuruz Zaman of
Raj Authentic Indian Cuisine
Thatís it for this yearís show except for the "well, I never" slot. If you are a
long-standing curry fan and remember Vesta curries then you may shudder at this but .... dried
curries are back!!!!!! An Indian company called "Curry in a Hurry" have brought out
a range of 10 authentic Indian vegetarian curries. Just add water, heat and serve. Well, I
Copyright David W Smith, 2000
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