Gluten free curries in 15 minutes

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If you’re anything like me and really struggle with finding a curry house that you can guarantee won’t serve you a meal that sends you home feeling ill by the end of the night then read on, as I have found and tasted the best ‘make your own’ curry packs that are of restaurant standard.

After making a special trip to a food market whilst on holiday in North Devon, I was about to call it a day and head off due to the fact that there was next to nothing that I could get my nashers into. Thankfully for me, I came across a Curry Now stand selling ready-made curry packs containing dehydrated spices to allow them to be cooked in just 15 minutes at home. Following a severe grilling of the chef and seller to make sure they were ‘allergy friendly,’ I settled on the Tikka Masala and Bhuna packs after strong recommendations from my Dad, who commented on how they tasted just like a curry you’d get at a good restaurant on the Balti Triangle.

Containing a spice mix, marinade packet and the dehydrated curry base sauce which takes just five minutes to cook, the instructions on the packet recommend that the meat or vegetables being used should be marinated for at least 45 minutes, or a whole 24 hours if you really want to bring out all the bursting flavours of the dish. I have to admit, being the forgetful soul that I am, I managed to fend off my hunger for a whole hour on the first attempt before I decided that the curry mix just needed to be thrown into a saucepan and whipped up. Obviously being dairy free, I couldn’t use the double cream recommended, instead settling on a splash of the single soya cream just to add extra creaminess to both the Tikka Masala and Bhuna.

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The pack states that the mix can serve 4 people, which is perfect for a quick meal for friends on a weekend. I however was just cooking for myself and managed to get four meals out of the two packs to freeze, as well as spices left over to use again in my homemade curries at later dates which of course I remembered to marinate at an earlier stage.

All of the packs are labelled as being suitable for coeliacs, vegetarians, vegans, and those with a lactose intolerance, provided that ingredients such as the creams used in some of the dishes are replaced with non-dairy alternatives.

The real selling point with the Curry Now packs is that anyone can whip up a delicious dish in just a few minutes to their own liking, whether that be extremely spicy, nice and mild or of a medium heat with a creamy consistency.

The website provides more information on how to order the packs, where they can be purchased from across the country, as well as giving buyers the opportunity to buy in bulk for charity events,  church fetes, conferences or just to have in the cupboard for rainy days – the great thing being that the packs can be stored for up to a year.

I have tried a fair few selections of ‘free from’ curries over the years, but I can honestly rate the Curry Now packs a ten out of ten for flavour, freshness and easiness of cooking. I will certainly be ordering again from the company, as will my Dad who tested other mixtures and was just as equally impressed.

BBC Good Food Show Winter

This week I went along to the NEC for my first ever BBC Good Food Show visit. I had wanted to go for a few years, so when I found out that my favourite free range sausage company Pig and Co were going to be exhibiting there, I purchased tickets just so I could go and buy some more of their delicious food.

I first came across Pig and Co during the summer when I visited the Ludlow Food Festival. To be honest I was quite fed up as I had gone round hoping to find at least one thing that I could eat but to no avail. I was about to call it a day when I came across a sausage stand and was greeted by a friendly chap offering tasters. I told him I had multiple allergies and was surprised when he informed me that Pig and Co sausages were gluten free and did not contain milk, with the exception of the ones containing cheese.  I took home the Hawaiian Hoggies which contain pineapple, and the Mango Masala flavoured sausages which consist of garam masala and mango chutney. This time around I purchased the Hey Pesto, containing feta, pine nuts, basil and sundried tomatoes, more of the Hawaiian Hoggies and the Blackden Puddies for a friend who had requested the black pudding and mustard flavoured sausages.

Pig and Co have been my free from find of the year, not only because of the 24 different varieties on offer, but also because I trust that they are free range and not the sort of rubbish you often find in supermarkets. I think in  modern times it is hard to know exactly where your food was made and exactly what is in it, but with Pig and Co I know that I am paying that little bit extra for good quality and tasty sausages. The fact that the company has won awards for their produce is a testament to how good they really are and I would highly recommend to anyone who appreciates proper sausages.

Another free from food brand to be exhibiting was Panjaban Curry. I first came across this company at the Allergy and Free From Show and liked their curry sauces so much that this time around I brought myself one of the gift pack boxes for £20 which contained an authentic curry base, Bombay potato, butter chicken and the limited edition turkey curry base which I shall most definitely be using with all of the leftover Christmas turkey this year.

Curry is one cuisine that I often struggle with as I find that the supermarket free from versions are often very high in sugar which I really struggle to digest, but luckily for me all of the Panjaban sauces are wheat, gluten and dairy free as well as containing no added sugar. The only criticism I have of them though is that they included a chapati in my gift box which contained wheat, which given the fact that they specialise in selling gluten and wheat free sauces I was disappointed to find.

After cooking with several of their sauces at home however, I have found them to be great for a Saturday night quick meal to satisfy my curry cravings when everyone is ordering an Indian takeaway. Below are some pictures of how I have used the curry sauces at home.

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A completely new find for me was Yum Yum Tree Fudge. The show guide had listed them in the free from category and so I hunted them down, I’m glad I did. As many with a milk allergy know, dairy free fudge is not easily available nor is it simple to make at home as one tiny misjudgement can result in a liquefied mess, believe me I know. So you can only imagine how happy I was to walk away with two packs each of the original and chocolate fudge which I was told were also gluten free. The nice guy at the stall even threw in a bag for free and who was I to argue.

A variety of cheeses were being sold at the show and I made it my mission to hunt down some really nice goats cheese. I came across a company called Capricorn who gave me a sample of their soft, creamy cheese that reminded me of brie. At just £1.50 I took home a small batch which came from a goat named Flo, she is even pictured gazing happily in to the camera on the packaging. I was surprised to learn that Waitrose, Tesco and Asda stock Capricorn cheeses and at such a low price, I will definitely be purchasing more in the future.

My favourite stall of the day goes to a Slovakian company named Kozi Vrsok, meaning Goat Hill in English. They offered a variety of goat, cow and sheep cheeses that had been matured for up to 6 months and I have to say that the sample I tasted was absolutely delicious. I ended up purchasing some of the ripe goats cheese which had been maturing for three months and as someone who used to love the stronger cheeses such as stilton, it was a real treat to be eating a more flavoursome cheese once again. I am already planning on using some of it to stuff in chicken fillets as I find that more mature cheeses make a great accompaniment to white meat.

Overall, I did quite well finding free from foods at such a mainstream food show, but of course I could not even contemplate tasting 98% of the food on offer.  I enjoyed my day and came back with some great purchases, but I think the show still has a long way to go before it becomes a place safe for free fromers to venture to. For now, I do recommend we stick to the Allergy and Free From Show to avoid playing Russian Roulette with our food.