Last night I was invited to an event hosted at Food at 52 for a new company called Tastesmiths, run by a fab mother and daughter duo from Birmingham, Sally and Stef.
The message behind Tastesmiths is simple: you should always try and cook with fresh ingredients! And in order to do this, they sell clever ‘kits’ of such fresh ingredients for a wide variety of recipes, giving you the exact quantities you’ll need. No more buying countless bottles of herbs and spices that end up sitting in the back of the cupboard, rarely being used. Sally commented that when researching some of their curry recipes, if they had bought all ingredients from scratch, the bill would have racked up to around £25+, without even taking the meat into consideration. This is something I’ve experienced myself – our herb and spice box is overflowing and we seem to have some form of ‘cinnamon amnesia’, as we have about 5 different bottles of the stuff in various forms. So these kits are such a brilliant idea!
Tastesmiths have a wide range of curry kits (which this event focused on), offering a Rogan Josh, Goan Fish/Prawn Curry, Makhani, Persian Khoresh, Korma Masala, Balti Masala and a Madras. On this occasion, we were given the opportunity to try out the Korma or the Madras. I was teamed up with the lovely Liz O’Keefe and we decided to go for the Madras… and we wanted it spicy!!
Sally and Stef talked us through the stages of how to cook the curry using the ingredients, but it is also helpfully printed on the back of the packaging, in a step by step guide:
It explains how much chilli you should add, depending on what spice level you’re looking for. This was something that was really important to Sally and Stef from the beginning. They found that some families were put off cooking curries from scratch because the various family members liked differing degrees of spice. Sally suggests using the kits to create the recipe at a low spice level, dish up portions for whoever likes their curry mild (such as the children of the family, understandably), and then ramp up the chilli for everyone else. She suggests testing the chilli’s spice level by chopping it in half and touching it with your tongue.
The kits contain most of the ingredients you’ll need, the only things you’ll need to add are a chopped onion, tomatoes and meat (if required), which most people will have at home anyway. You can also add more vegetables if you’d like to bulk it up. We added chicken, carrots, sweet potato, courgette and chickpeas. You can see our progress here:
Despite adding all of the chilli included in the kit (we really went for it!), the final result wasn’t too spicy – unlike some curries that you get from a takeaway, you could really taste all of the flavours and levels of heat coming through. It was delicious!
Although the event focused on curry, Tastesmiths also offer other types of cuisines. I asked if they would ever consider Mexican ingredients – after being introduced to the wonders of ‘proper’ Mexican cooking from my trips to LA and San Francisco with my last job, nothing in the UK can cut it. I learned that they do currently have some Mexican ingredients on the site; a Fajita Marinade and a Tex Mex Chilli Con Carne.
And in addition to this, they’re keen to expand their range to other world cuisines. While chatting with Sally, she told us how she would often hang around in her local supermarket, checking out what other mums from other cultural backgrounds would buy, to get handy hints and tips. She said she often gets invited back to their houses for dinner, especially to some Chinese families’ homes to learn how they cook, which I thought was lovely!
I was given a Korma kit to take home, so this weekend I’m going to be trying this out, and will post again early next week with the recipe (and the results!)
The Tastesmiths kits retail for £3.99 each (serving 2-3 people) on the website’s online shop, and they have an offer of four kits for £12.00. A few of the kits are also currently being sold on Ocado for £2.99.
I was invited to this event by Tastesmiths and Cow PR, and was given the kit to test out for review purposes, but did not receive any payment. All views are my own.