The lovely Bipin (he of "Curry Pot" fame), recently very kindly sent me a sachet of Machi Masala to review.
Now I expect you've gathered how we are all fans of a good curry and I had heard on the grapevine that Bipin's Curry Pots were very definitely the origin of a good curry, so I was very excited about testing the Masala.
I had exchanged an email or two with Bipin prior to receiving the Masala, so he was able to fine-tune our requirements (i.e. very little or no ginger - hubby seems to be sensitive to it). The Machi Masala originates from Gujarat and although specifically crafted for white fish and seafood, worked incredibly well with my meat of choice - chicken.
The ingredients for all the Bipin's Curry Pots are interestingly gluten free and low carbohydrate, which fits perfectly into the anti-inflammatory diet I'm trying to adhere to. The recipes are handed down through generations of Bipin's family and friends, giving a tried and tested, highly aromatic, deeply flavoursome and authentic results. The Masala blends use no additives, preservatives, colourings or synthetic flavourings, so can be 100% trusted. Most conveniently, they can also be frozen - with no need to defrost before use. Simply put the block into your frying pan and the spices will defrost as they cook!
The sachet arrived with a little card which gave cooking instructions. Now I have to admit to not sticking to those cooking instructions, but going a bit freestyle with the Masala. Well, I understand the use of "masala" in general - and as I wasn't using fish, thought a freestyle approach would be do-able. Of course, that didn't stop me from crossing my fingers a bit!
I was after a rich, saucy curry, so started by frying off two sliced curry onions (have you seen them in the supermarkets? Fabulous pink onions!) and a clove of garlic (there was garlic in the Masala, but nobody ever died from too much garlic - I think) until the onions were golden brown (with a hint of pink, lol). Then, in went the Masala and a tablespoonful of tomato puree - and my nose started twitching. Oh, the smell was just DIVINE! Instantly, it gave me confidence in the mix of the masala, as it just smelled so good.
I let the masala cook for a while - until the oil was beginning to separate - and included the chicken, cooking it until it had all changed from translucent to opaque white and was well covered in the masala. Then, I added some 300ml of water and stirred it through, bringing to the boil.
Thereafter, I just let the sauce reduce for around 20 minutes - stirring occasionally - and threw in a few handfuls of chopped Okra with around 10 minutes to go. Ultimately, the sauce reduced until I had a gorgeously thick, rich and unctuous coating for the meat and vegetables. The onion had all but disappeared and just added to the glorious spicing of the dish. The last flourish was a handful of fresh coriander just to brighten up the colours and liven up the flavours with a fresh taste, prior to serving.
I served the curry with plain boiled Basmati rice and a lovely raita made with greek yoghurt, grated cucumber, a teaspoon or two of mint sauce and a dab of honey for sweetening. Fabulous!
Do, please, go and have a look at the Bipin's Curry Pots website. The Masalas are available in varying combinations and you'd be looking at investing around £10 for three. Now, I know that a pot of Patak's Curry Paste is around £2 for 250g, and we used to be able to get three or four curries out of one pot of paste, which on the face of it seems to render Bipin's Masala pastes uneconomical. However, what you have to remember here is that each Masala has been crafted by hand, authentically, by Bipin himself who has a scientific background and a passion for his product that is second to none. The flavours are out of this world and if you're in the market for easy, authentic and fabulous curries - then you just have to give them a try. They truly are a cut above any other curry paste.
Many thanks for the opportunity, Bipin!