How have I STILL not written a meal plan? I pretty much wing it most weeks, and with a family of four to feed, each with different taste preferences, it’s often safe to say, ONE of them doesn’t enjoy their evening meal as much as the rest of us.
With the exception of curry. We all love a curry. And a really clever idea that we now keep in the cupboard for inspiration, are these little curry kits from Spice Trove.
I had a go at making their Pakistani Chickpea Karahi. The kit comes with all the spices you need for the recipe, and a short list of ingredients you need to add to the party.
The recipe was super easy to follow and the meal absolutely delicious – BIG eaters in our family so following the recipe, it was enough to feed three hungry adults. Adding more chickpeas and tomatoes, and some flatbreads on the side would probably make it work for four. And the meat-eaters in the family want to have a go with prawns next time. Definitely one to add to Meal Plan ideas, curry in a bag – keep these little kits in your kitchen cupboard.
I was curious to find out more about the idea behind the brand, so was lucky enough to track down Saskia Snioch, the founder of Spice Trove:
What is Spice Trove?
Spice Trove is a North-West based foodie business, selling beautiful sustainable curry kits. They’re not your average curry kit though. Each curry kit comes in a gorgeous, up-cycled sari bag.
The curry kits themselves make some special and unusual regional dishes from around Southern Asia.
What’s the story?
Saskia: I am a foodie, seamstress and keen environmentalist. Teacher and mum by day, spice fanatic by night! I love food in general, but over the last 15 years I’ve become somewhat obsessed with curry!
You’re from Manchester Saskia, famous for the ‘Curry Mile’ – what’s your favourite restaurant, and dish
Favourite restaurants are indeed Manchester based: Bondobust, Lily’s Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, Indian Tiffin Rooms and Dishoom. I’m a big fan of vegan and vegetarian dishes and absolutely love Indian street food. There is such a variety of flavours and textures. The crunchiness of pani puri, filled with spiced potatoes, drizzled with a variety of sweet and spicy chutneys, crispy sev on top and washed down with an ice-cold beer. Absolute heaven! My favourite eateries are all of the casual dining kind of experience for this very reason.
How did Spice Trove go from an obsession to a small business?
I’ll spend hours pawing over Southern Asian recipes, cooking them for family and friends on a weekly basis. It’s not just the cooking that I love though, it’s the whole process: the history and geography attached to each recipe.
I love learning about how the land and its natural resources dictate each regions’ curries.
Any favourite cook books spring to mind?
I adore the classic Meera Sodha, and Maunika Gowardhan in particular, and draw lots of inspiration from them. However, these days, with the wonder of the internet, there are so many unknown chefs, forums and social media groups where recipes and tips are exchanged. These are invaluable to me too.
Not a cook book as such, but I love ‘The science of spice’ by Dr Stuart Farrimond.
The book looks at the chemistry of spices and how to knowingly combine them. I love the historical, cultural and geographical discussion of each spice and there are a few excellent regional recipes in there too.
Possibly my favourite cook-book through is an old Indian cookbook from the 1980s. My dad, who is no longer alive, did the whole hippie trail in India in the late 60s. He was an eccentric guy and whilst most people in the 80s had dinner parties involving cheese fondues and Black forest gateaux, my dad was cooking up Indian feasts.
Despite growing up in Lincolnshire, an area which primarily white British, my family has always been culturally diverse. My maternal grandmother was Dutch but grew up in Indonesia and my paternal grandfather was Polish. My sister in law is Thai (my brother and her have a few restaurants/bars over there) and I have cousins in Holland who are part Chinese.
So, food wise, I have always been lucky enough to experience a wide variety of cuisines. My Gran’s Indonesian cooking was the best. She made the most amazing pork ribs and Nasi goreng.
And tell us about the sweet little sari bags the kit comes in
Ah, my love of sewing and up-cycling. Sourcing preloved material and transforming it into something completely different is just a delight. I appreciate all kinds of material, but there is something really special about Southern Asian sari material.
Working with such a cornucopia of colours, prints and patterns can’t help but inspire. When my passions for food and fabric met, my little sari bag curry kits were born!
How are the kits sustainable?
Unlike the majority of curry-kits on the market, my kits are completely plastic free and don’t incorporate endless amounts of pointless packaging.
The inner spice bags are compostable and the recipe cards and postage materials are recycled and fully recyclable. The little reusable sari bags are made from beautiful pre-loved sari material. When I first started the business, I made all the bags myself, but now the business has grown, I employ a couple of local seamsters to help me.
I’ve spent a lot of time considering how I can make the spices more sustainable too. I hope to be linking in with third-generation spice trader and personal chef, Kumar Menon to improve Spice Trove’s sustainability offering. Kumar is originally from Kerala India, moving to the Isle of Man in 2003 and going on to open Leela’s Kitchen in 2011.
Many of the curries in my range are also low-energy recipes, meaning that they are ready in less than 30 minutes. 2023 will see Spice Trove developing this low-energy cooking idea further, tailoring recipes for slow-cookers, air-fryers and even the wonderful Wonder Bag!
What kind of recipes are on offer?
I now offer 16 different kits. I have tried to do Southern Asian food justice, offering a variety of regional recipes. Goan Vindaloo, Bengali prawn malai, Kashmiri Khatte Baingan, New Delhi Murgh (butter chicken) and Amritsari Tandoori to name but a few – great for your weekly meal plan.
There’s something for everyone and I have more exciting recipes in the pipeline too, including Indian style loaded potatoes. Bombay potato slices smothered with a mint and pomegranate raita and topped with crunchy, spiced chickpeas. Trust me, this Indian-inspired indulgent banquet is really quite special!
My curry kits are a fusion of curry house dishes, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi recipes that I have picked up through my travels and tireless research. Each recipe card tries to pay homage to the geography, history and culture associated with the specific curry.