Ben’s blog: Meet our new kitchen cupboard favourites: Captain’s masala curry paste, beer mustard, tomato ketchup & herby harissa
As a keen, but not particularly good, cook I’m always looking for ways to make things easy.
Ready-mixed seasonings seemed like the way to go, but everything I bought was either unpleasantly bland and salty or sweet and vinegary – the flavour was controlled by the method of preservation. Caught between that, and unidentified half-used packets of spices losing their flavour in the back of the cupboard, I started making my own ‘compound’ sauces to keep in the fridge.
I’ve always had a weakness for an English pub curry (like my mother used to make), so the Captain’s masala paste was my first foray into a homemade version. Lo and behold, it also made great kedgeree and coronation chicken (and even turkey at Christmas). A bit of Moroccan/Maghreb heat is always good but every harissa paste I bought was red hot. I wanted the mint, caraway and cumin with a milder heat, so I started making my own and, again, I couldn’t believe how versatile it was. Soups, tagines, meatballs, salads and marinades – all were improved by a judicious tablespoon of herby harissa. You can add it to virtually anything but I like it best with chicken in this recipe: Chicken, Chorizo, Chickpea And Butternut Squash. It just won’t go wrong.
Our sweet chilli sauce has been around for ages. It’s a great dip, marinade and ingredient. Mix a couple of tablespoons with soy sauce, miso and stock and you’ve got a broth for soups, – meaning dinner is five minutes away; just add noodles, julienne vegetables and meat. It’s the sort of thing you actually want to find in the back of the cupboard.
Our new Riverford pastes & spices are all a good, easy way to jazz up your supper – even the ketchup has a bit of spice as well as the obligatory tomato, sugar and vinegar. The ketchup is as good an ingredient in cottage pie as well as on a burger. The beer mustard works as well in a beef carbonnade as a ham sandwich – if you do decide to try one we’d love to hear what you think, either comment here or send us an email, we always like to hear what you have to say.