If any home cooks who like curry are interested, I have posted my favourite curry recipe below.
After trying many different curry sauces and pastes including Patak’s, Sharwood’s, Passage to India, and others, as well as making curries from scratch, I came across Taste of India curry sauces at our local Supa IGA and I bough the 4 packets of Madras Curry Sauce they had in stock.
I used them to make 2 batches of duck curry. Each curry consisted of a whole Luv A Duck cut into portions with 2 packs of sauce. I browned the meat, cooked the whole spices in oil, returned the meat to the pressure cooker and added the contents of the 2 sauce packs, then cooked it on high pressure for 20 minutes after it came up to pressure. I removed the meat, reduced the sauce, then returned the meat. I didn’t use the enclosed optional ground chili sachets.
It was the best curry I have ever eaten this side of Hong Kong.
My wife’s brother-in-law also bought some and cooked a Madras Curry using a boned-out leg of lamb, and he was delighted with it.
The products are made in Fiji which isn’t surprising as around 37.5% of the population are of Indian descent.
When our local Supa IGA had not restocked the Madras Curry, I called the importer, SSM International in Brisbane, to ask where else I could buy it and they said that a local butcher shop was stocking the full range so my wife’s brother-in-law and I bought some from them.
Whilst you won’t see much about the sauces on Australian websites, there are rave reviews on Kiwi websites.
If any home cooks who like curry are interested, I have posted my favourite curry recipe below.
I don’t see the point in all this to-ing and fro-ing. Curry is an example of exchange cooking, the meat and the spices exchange flavours over time. This means it benefits from taking time. Time to simmer the meat in the sauce and (where possible) time for it to rest in it too. Curry is better the next day. Pressure cooking is quite counter productive in regard to flavour development.
If you want good curry grind (and in some cases roast) your own spices freshly and take your time. This does not apply to foods that cannot stand long cooking like seafood and some vegetables. But you wouldn’t pressure cook them either - I hope. If you keep a library of whole spices you can make a huge variety in flavours and styles of dishes from many nations, if you use packet/bottle sauce you are stuck with their formulation. If you buy ground spices they will often not be fresh when you get them and will always lose freshness on the shelf.
The only benefit is see in the packet sauce and pressure cooker combination is time. Even if you are very busy you still have options such as making curry on slower days that can be eaten then or on busy days when you don’t have much time to cook. If you cannot make time to cook you have my sympathy 'cause you will miss out on some good food experiences. Exchange cooking does not require much technique, anybody can learn to do it well. If you enjoy curry and spicy food DIY.
Enough theory, the practical side of it is all the spices you need will be found at a good Asian grocer. These are often run by ethnic Chinese who may or may not know anything about curry spices so you will need to know the names of the stuff you want. Take care that some recipes are westernised and substitute or omit ingredients, this doesn’t mean the food will be bad but it is worth trying these things as they are traditionally made before deciding if you like them that way or if you don’t need to go to that much trouble.
Without getting into an argument about what constitutes authentic regional cooking I offer two reliable sources of data. The online encyclopedia of Gernot Katzer here and the work of Charmaine Solomon, an Aussie author and journalist born in Ceylon, after 40 years her books are still in print and include recipes and details of the properties and uses of the ingredients. There ought be more OAMs given to cooks!
Wow. What an incredible talent it must be to be able to judge a recipe without even sighting, sniffing or sampling it. Perhaps you could score a stint on the judging panel at MasterChef or MKR.
The purpose of my post was to share a delicious recipe with others who enjoy curries but have not been very successful in cooking them or who were daunted by the thought of even attempting to try to do so who might appreciate a simple, failsafe recipe, but not to generate reviews by experts.
In regard to Charmaine Solomon, I actually have her Encyclopedia of Asian Food and her Complete Asian Cookbook as well as many other cookbooks including “the food of india” by Murdock Press.
As I stated, I have tried many commercial curry pastes and sauces as well as cooking curries from scratch, but none of them could hold a candle to the duck curry I cooked.
The best curry I have ever eaten was at a restaurant in Stanley in Hong Kong. It was a Chicken Tikka Curry which used bone-in chicken thigh cutlets. Despite many attempts to recreate it, I have never come close, but the next attempt will be with Taste of India Tikka Masala Sauce.
In regard to curries tasting better the next day, I certainly concur with that, as do casseroles, stews, Osso Bucco, bolognaise sauce, ox tail and other wet meat dishes.
I cooked a beef stew in the pressure cooker a couple of weeks ago and it was the richest, most flavourful stew my wife and I have ever eaten and it tasted even better on the next few nights. She is looking forward to the next batch.
Perhaps you should try the Taste of India sauce, with or without a pressure cooker. You may be surprised.
That isn’t what I did. I am sorry if my effort to consider time, freshness and variety made you uncomfortable.
Thanks for sharing your recipe @Fred123!
I must admit, I’m definitely a packet sauce chef most of the time when it comes to curries, and by the sounds of it you’re onto a serious winner. I do enjoy visitng some of my local Indian restaurants as well, so it’s something to look forward to when you want an authentic meal from scratch I suppose. Perhaps I need to give the ground spice method a whirl too the next time I have some spare time for kitchen hijinks. Maybe one day CHOICE can do a blind taste test too…
Would love to hear from other Community members about their curry adventures (whether it’s packet, from scratch or some new type of fusion or technique that I’ve never heard about ) .
Likewise - I enjoy pre-packaged starters of Asian and sub-continent delights, almost always with minimal kitchen interaction due to time constraints. Weekends are the time for cutting loose in the kitchen but weekdays there is a need for something better than bangers and mash in quick time.
Are ‘Supa IGA’ more Woolies/Coles sized? I only ever see small ones that charge like wounded bulls …
I’ve used Pataks and some others … they are ‘ok’ but always looking to try something more interesting. Both the duck and the lamb versions sound great !
I googled ’ “taste of india” +site:woolworths.com.au ’ and similar for Coles. Woolies had three sauces that were ‘temporarily unavailable’ which might be code for ‘we no longer stock it’ as it didn’t turn up in a site search, but that might be by design too …
There seems to be quite a variance of opinion on pressure cooking. Theory is good in theory - but the proof does appear to be in the eating, as they say … For the curries and sauces I’ve put together I wouldn’t trade my pressure cooker for my old methods even if they were as quick - due to the flavours … Some things don’t translate well though - I don’t tend to cook steak on it’s own in the pressure cooker
… blind tests don’t work? - at least that’s what the people selling the expensive option usually say especially with wine, but it would be very amusing to see some so-called experts given foods prepared in different ways and from different starting points as a blind test.
The 2 Supa IGA stores in the Cairns area are operated by the Piccone family within the shopping complexes they own at Manoora and Edmonton and they are similar in size to the average Coles and Woollies stores. They carry a similar range of products and both have their own inhouse butchers.
They also carry some of the products we buy which Coles chose to delete including Paul’s Physical milk, Leggo’s Traditional Pickles (chunky), extra thick foam sponges and Pea Beu fly spray, just to name a few.
Their prices on average are competitive with Coles. Some items are more and some items are less whilst many are the same price. Their weekly catalogue and instore specials are also similar to Coles specials.
Their premium beef range is as good as Coles and generally cheaper and some of their recent meat specials have been unbelievably cheap such as whole pork fillets, $11.99 Kg; rolled pork loin roasts, $6.99 Kg; pork leg roasts, $3.49 Kg; rolled pork leg roasts, $5.99; premium beef eye fillet, $19.99 Kg; whole economy rib fillets, $7.99 Kg and so on. Great for struggling consumers but I feel sorry for the producers.
Their fruit & veggies are good, the dairy, deli and fresh seafood sections are well stocked and they have a variety of hot takeaway foods in additional to the usual BBQ chickens.
One thing they have not picked up on as yet is Coles’ practise of displaying fresh produce such as broccoli, asparagus, leafy greens and other perishables on a bed of crushed ice so as to prolong their freshness in the airconditioned atmosphere.
The Edmonton store is open from 5:00 AM to Midnight, 364 days a year. I have quite often been into the store when there have been more staff visible that customers. You never have to play “find the employee” to ask a question and everyone generally seem to know where every product is located.
One downside is that as the IGA stores are all independent, they do not have their range of products or prices online so apart from the weekly catalogue, there is no way of knowing what they stock and their pricing without visiting the store.
I initially started shopping there several years ago to buy the items I could no longer get at Coles. I do around 50% of our supermarket shopping there, thus spending less at Coles and nothing at Wollies.
The former small footprint IGA stores around Cairns have been rebadged as Your Friendly Grocer and they are not able to be price competitive with the supermarkets.
I would be interested to know if this presentation really does improve the freshness significantly or if it is mainly marketing.
This presentation is part of the supermarket game of funnelling shoppers through the fresh produce section as they enter, which is intended (along with slogans like “fresh food people”) to have us believe that we are entering a realm of fresh, healthy produce when much of the food sold is none of those things. The fixtures that present these images to us are frequently timber, or at least clad with timber, where everything else is metal, glass or plastic. Its all about equating wood with natural and as we know ‘natural’ (whatever that means) is well embedded in the food and health industry marketing shtick.
This observation also leads me to ponder why fruit and veg is not all presented in chilled display cabinets like meat. It is stored and transported in chilled spaces why not sell it that way? Vendors may argue that the turnover is such that chilling veges isn’t warranted. Why then is the display in the most prominent place iced?
Perhaps the answer is that the image of ice beds on a timber fixture as you enter is enough to prime shoppers with the feeling of health and freshness and so the vendor can save on the cost of fixtures and electricity for the rest. Those shoppers who are making a bee-line for the frozen pizza cabinet may never buy that iced broccoli but it still makes them feel better as they hurry past. There are times I cannot decide which is stranger, the marketeers or the human frailties that they prey on.
The placing of perishables on ice definitely does work.
Our local Supa IGA stock their broccoli, asparagus and other perishable veggies on their refrigerated vertical display and I seldom buy these products as the broccoli is usually soft and the asparagus is wrinkled.
They do have special boxes with hinged Perspex lids for the snow peas, sugar snap peas and brussels sprouts on the refrigerated vertical displays which helps to preserve them which Coles does not use. As a result, Coles loose snow peas, sugar snap peas and brussels sprouts are often soft and not worth buying, a problem which does not occur with their prepacked equivalents.
I once asked a Coles employee if they had any fresh snow peas and he produced a black plastic carton liner bag from behind the display box. Unlike the limp contents of the display box, the remaining snow peas in the bag were still perfect.
I suspect that the ice not only keeps the products cool but the resultant moisture offsets the problem with the air-conditioning drying the products. The broccoli and brussels sprouts are delivered to the stores packed on crushed ice.
The same applies in the stone fruit season when the supermarkets have anywhere up to 12 open boxes of cherries on display in the open or on the refrigerated vertical displays. Unless you can arrive shortly after they have opened the boxes, or you manage to get them to bring out a fresh box, you will find they are no longer firm and not worth buying. I suspect that they probably throw out around half of their stock.
In general I agree that refrigeration does improve the shelf life of perishables, the whole concept of the supermarket is based on the benefits of refrigeration. In this case you have observed that the iced product looks better than the non iced product, no doubt icing helps but it is an assumption that is the only thing that is happening here.
It is possible that the staff are required to ensure that the poster child always looks good and so they rotate it faster. Another possibility is that the shoppers respond to having that product pushed and buy more so the apparent freshness may be due to turnover as well as ice.
Without comparative study we cannot be sure that the ice is the critical or only factor. If it is so effective why not treat all produce that way? Why use a chilling method that is so cumbersome?
The benefit is that the ice is around 0 to 1 degree Celsius so doesn’t cause freezer type burning yet is cold enough to retain the “fresh picked” state and is moist, so not too cold and the moisture content of the packaging does not start dehydrating the produce before arrival. Snow Peas are sometimes treated the same way.
But if you look at the packing the ice is on the top and throughout the product not just the bottom, cold air is denser than hot so falls rather than rises. This is why you should pour the ice over goods in the esky rather than sit the ice on the bottom. If you cool the bottom of a bottle it takes a very very long time before the top part comes to a temperature anywhere near that of the bottom.
In the display cabinets it does a great job of keeping the product cold where it touches the ice but fails to keep the top parts cool unless they too are covered in ice which of course defeats the display element, air is a also a great insulator (why jumpers and similar work they trap heated air close to the body and stop the colder air displacing the warmth) and will greatly inhibit the transfer of cold into a product if it is not surrounded in the cold air. So I agree with you @syncretic that it really is mostly a marketing ploy to entice a transaction from the customers.
Being less of a chef and more of a food warmer, try Spice Tailor. I find their product to be a bit above the Passage to [name your location] and similar, as well as all those sold in jars.
I had planned to cook another Duck Madras curry in our pressure cooker this week, but after reminiscing about the Chicken Tikka I ate in Hong Kong some years ago, I decided to put the duck on the backburner and do the Chicken Tikka instead.
I bought a tray of 6 bone-in skin-on chicken cutlets from the Supa IGA which weighted just under 1.2 Kg and 2 packets of Taste of India Tikka Masala sauce from the butcher. After browning the cutlets, I added the sauce and spices and once the pressure cooker had reached high pressure, I cooked it for 20 minutes.
It may not have been quite as good as the meal in Hong Kong but it was completely satisfactory to me. I had it for dinner the past 2 nights and plan to eat the remaining 2 cutlets tonight.
Rather than have rice as the accompaniment, I also cooked my favourite Cous Cous dish with toasted pine nuts, cooked finely diced onions and chopped spring onions blended through the Cous Cous.
The chicken cutlets, the 2 packets of sauce, the Cous Cous, and the other ingredients cost around $20 total for 3 delicious meals.
Thanks for that. Who doesn’t feel like a curry in winter. I used to make my own from scratch when young but have resorted to ‘jars’ in recent decades!. Ayam’s are ok. I used Patak’s this past week and it was awful. No flavour except an undercurrent of vinegar. Will definitely give your recommended brand a try next time the craving for curry comes
Thanks Fred! I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for the “Taste of India” products on my next shop. Cooking a curry sauce from scratch is all very well, but probably more expensive and certainly more time-consuming! Cheerio, Gail
Where is the “everything must be natural” and “down with pre-prepared food” brigade when you need them?
It looks like none of them eat curry which would be excluded because it has more than 5 ingredients and it includes things grandmother wouldn’t consider food. Poison!
As I mentioned in my original post above, if you cannot find a stockist in your area, try calling the importer and distributor, SSM International, in Brisbane to enquire about stockists where you live. Their phone number is 07 3299 2477.
Their website also shows an online store but clicking on it does not seem to do much.
The Taste of India products are made in Fiji where around 37.5% of the population are of Indian descent.
It is not made in China or some other Asian country with a questionable reputation for food quality.
Why not actually try it yourself instead of just being a sceptic?
In times when I had no time I tried some bottled sauces, some were cromulent but many were poor. I am not saying the one you like is bad but for reasons below I have no reason now to find out. You keep assuming I am pre-judging this particular sauce, not at all, these remarks would apply to any.
I routinely keep all the ingredients that I need, many of them find other uses aside from curry and learning to use them has taught me much. I am not short of time and prefer to have the variety that making my own provides and some techniques cannot be done with bottled sauce anyway. The smells that fill the house, that vary according to the ingredients and stage of cooking, delight me. Joy is taking time to cook for family and friends and whatever the quality of my offerings may be they are mine. Sitting and taking time over simple pleasures is important and that doesn’t come out of a bottle. The process, purpose and intent can be as important, or more, than the outcome. While I am not a paid up member of the group the Slow Food philosophy suits me much more than quick food, industrial food or packaged food.