Curry in a hurry!
By Ashima Sethi
Let’s face it, there are few things in this world better than a big, aromatic, ﬂavourful spread of Indian food (contrary to what Gene Weingarten from The Washington Post had to say in that terrible, recently-viral op-ed!) but the truth is not all of us are as talented as our mums or didis in the kitchen, and simply can’t whip up a seven-course Indian feast whenever we feel like it. So we’ve decided to heat things up (in the microwave) with this dining review and sample some of the most tempting Indian frozen meals available.
SPICE R US’ YELLOW DAAL (THB 115)
I love all kinds of daal but yellow daal has a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my grandma’s comfort food that she used to cook for us. With so many complex spices, a bowl of daal and some rice makes for such a well-balanced and hearty meal. A generous portion, Spice R Us’ yellow daal has a wonderful aroma, but as someone who is very particular about consistency, I felt that it was a bit more on the watery side compared to what I usually prefer. However, I have to say that the lentils were well-spiced and the dish had that overall warming ﬂavour you’d expect from this kind of daal dish, an impressive feat considering all we had to do was heat it up and enjoy. Facebook: @SpiceRUs
BRITISH INDIAN RESTAURANT’S CHICKEN MADRAS (THB 255)
A typical madras curry is defined by its dark red sauce and smoky flavour profile. Not for the faint hearted, it’s made with lots of whole chillies and chilli powder. Other ingredients that give it its unique taste include star anise, ginger, and tamarind, which introduces a subtle sweetness that cuts through the punchiness of the spices. BIR‘s version is definitely flavourful and has that smokiness one would want from this type of curry. My only qualm is that chicken is a difficult protein to cook and have it remain juicy. As this is a microwavable curry, the marinated chunks were a tad on the tougher side as they’ve been frozen, but something I’m sure can be overlooked by most as the curry is moreish overall. www.bigfoodbazar.com
BIKANO’S KADHI PAKODA (THB 120)
Kadhi pakoda is a ‘comfort dish’ that originates from the North of India. Kadhi refers to a slow-cooked curry, whereas pakoda references the gram flour or chickpea ﬂour fritters cooked in the dish. Unlike most Northern dishes I’m familiar with like butter paneer or tandoori chicken, this curry is on the tangier side because of its yoghurt base. Refreshing on the palate, I quite enjoyed Bikano’s quick-to-whip-up version. The little ﬂour balls were a welcome change from the usual proteins I order in Indian food and they added some fun texture to the curry. I would imagine this is a lighter option for those who want to indulge in Indian cuisine but aren’t hungry enough for an entire Punjabi spread! bikano.com
SPICE R US’ PUNJABI CHOLE (THB 115)
A humble dish but brilliant when done right, Punjabi cuisine doesn’t get more comforting than a big bowl of chole. A dish of white chickpeas, fresh powdered spices and herbs, and a tomato and onion base, it’s simple but packs a punch and is best enjoyed with a side of hot bhatura or puri. The ﬁrst thing I noticed about this minute-meal style chole was its aroma, which travelled all around the room when we were heating it up. The consistency was also pretty standard and the chickpeas were cooked well, which is a sign that the curry had simmered for long enough to have all those lovely spices infuse into the gravy. Overall, pretty good.
A unanimous favourite, we finished the entire bowl of Haldiram‘s paneer makhani (THB 120) during our tasting with absolutely no shame. One of the world’s favourite Indian dishes, paneer makhani comprises of cottage cheese cubes slow cooked in a tomato and cashew-based curry made with a wide-array of spices and then thickened with cream. The first thing that stood out from Haldiram’s ‘minute khana‘ version is that the consistency looked great for a ready meal. Paneer makhani is loved for its velvety consistency, and this dish looked like it offered that creaminess one would want. The flavour delivered too, the chunks of the paneer were soft and well-seasoned while the gravy was so moreish we couldn’t stop dipping our naans into the bowl. For its affordable price point, it would be difficult to find better!