“ Type: Meat „
Marks and Spencer Chicken Jalfrezi
New chargrilled tandoori style chicken.
Hubby and I were out shopping yesterday afternoon in our local town, he had been given a Marks and Spencers voucher card at Christmas and he decided that it was now time to spend it. He chose 3 pairs of jeans and popped into the changing rooms to try them on.
While he was doing that I wondered into the food hall and while there thought about getting something nice for dinner that night, something nice and easy to cook after a heavy shopping day !
Anyway being Brummies we just love our spices and I really fancied a curry that night but didn't fancy forking out more cash on a take away, so I picked up an M & S curry instead. I chose the chicken jalfrezi, as that is what we usually have when eating out, and it just looked so delicious on the pack.
The curry comes in a little black plastic dish with a clear cellophane cover and that in turn comes in an outer card sleeve that slides over the dish and contains all the information you could need about the product. On the front of the cover sleeve it states that its a chicken jalfrezi " A fiery tomato curry made with pieces of marinated chargrilled chicken breasts, coriander leaf & chilli, garnished with flame seared red peppers" It shows a dish of the curry and at the base of the pack says that this 350g serving is enough for 2 .......... 2 what, MICE ??
That night when we came to have our dinner I prepared the curries as per the instructions on the back:- to cook in the oven, preheat oven, remove sleeve, pierce film lid, place on a baking tray and insert in the oven for 20 minutes on gas mark 4 or 180 degrees C normal oven or 160 degrees C for a fan assisted. Or alternatively microwave on full power for 4 minutes for a 750w oven or 3.5 minutes for a 850w oven. For speed I chose the latter and while they were cooking through I grilled our Naan breads.
The smell from these curries while they were being cooked was just lovely, it was just like sitting in an Indian restaurant and I really looked forward to eating this. When we sat down to eat I took a nice chunk of my naan bread and a forkful of the curry and I was totally blown away by the taste. You could distinguish all the flavours of the coriander, the cumin and the chilies. The peppers were nice and sweet and the onions and chillies were large enough to spot and taste...... and the chicken was to die for, it was so succulent and soft and as it had been chargrilled it tasted just wonderful. The chicken was real and not processed and were in bite sized pieces and there was so much chicken it really left you feeling very full, although the pack was supposed to be for 2 people, you really didn't need to be searching through the sauce for your bits of meat. The curry stated on the front of the pack that this is 3 chillies hot and I do think they have achieved this nicely, though we would have preferred a little more heat, but then that's just our taste.
For the nutritional information half of this pack provides :
Calories = 230
Sugar = 7.0g
Fat = 10.9g
Saturated Fat = 2.6g
Salt = 2.03g
The curry contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
Allergy Information : Contains cow's milk.
All in all this is a really lovely dish that is excellent value for money at £3.29 per pack of 350g. It is way cheaper than a restaurant meal, and believe me we have had much worse food in some restaurants, and is even cheaper than a take away. When added to some Pilau rice or a tasty naan bread you really can't go wrong with this as a quick and very tasty, cheap meal.
To summarise: An excellent shop bought curry and deffinatley the best we have ever had.
So what's a person who normally reviews Value and special offer food doing reviewing Marks and Spencer food? I like all foods from all price bands, but did this Premium brand live up to the price tag? This cost £3.49 for a 350g tub. Since I can get an acceptable Curry from another Supermarket for about £1 and it has Rice included, this better had been amazing!
You don't get any Rice with this dish, so you have to spend even more money to make this into a proper meal, so add on another £1.50. Wow, for that price I could get a Takeaway delivered to my door and it would be a larger portion!
The Curry is in a black plastic tray with a cardboard sleeve covering the Curry. There is a pull off plastic covering on the tray as well. The Cardboard sleeve is alright. It is a medium purple colour which has a picture of the Curry on a plate, a little blurb about the Curry and the Marks & Spencer branding. On the front it says this is a Hot Curry, which normally means it has a bit spice to it, but I don't normally find these Curries overly Hot.
This is Microwavable in 4 minutes for a 750watt Microwave, but if anning some Rice you can put the whole lot together and cook for 5 minutes and it is nice and hot.
So now to the taste of this. It has a good amount of Chicken to it, and the Chicken is little pieces of Chicken Breast, kind of like little knobbly Chicken Strips. The Curry is a medium orange colour and you can see bits of green dotted through the sauce. There is Chilli and Garlic mixed in with this, but I can't say I tasted the Garlic. You can taste the slight hint of Red Chillies, but I would say you taste Tomato more than anything. The Sauce wasn't overly thick, and I found it was pretty runny and slighty greasy in places.
This was alright, but I wouldn't buy this again. It was too expensive for what it was. I could get a good enough Curry for a third of the price.
For those of you that read my previous ready curry review a while back, again I have to blame my mum for warming this up for me. I wouldn't personally pick a ready made curry for a ready meal often, but I seem to have been served them rather a lot. In this case, rather than a whole meal, it's just the meat part of it, and so it's interesting to see if this improves or otherwise the product. I must say though, from an early age I have been thoroughly indoctrinated into the M&S food hall; from being dragged around Warrington town centre as a kiddie on a Saturday afternoon, through to shopping myself in Guildford town centre. I don't remember ready meals so much as a kid, but I do know I have always been convinced of the quality of their produce, no matter what product.
And so we come to this chicken dish from another food hall further South, the family indoctrination continuing into the credit crunch. Being from a Sri Lankan family, our curry tastes are a bit milder than say, Indians, and our knowledge slightly different, and so perhaps this helps our tolerance of such unauthentic dishes. Still, if it's good enough for my mum, who am I to argue?
PACKAGING AND RECYCLING
A purple cardboard sleeve also has a picture of the curry prominently on the top. It doesn't really look much like it in reality if truth be told, although this isn't actually a bad thing as the picture makes the concoction look rather dry and sparse. The sleeve contains a black plastic tray which houses the curry, the tray sealed by a transparent plastic film.
The curry is "hot" according to the label. We shall test that claim shortly! It's described as "marinated chargrilled chicken breast in a tangy tomato curry spiced with coriander & chlli ".The sleeve, tray and film can all be recycled.
One serving cost £3.49 from my local M&S in Guildford.
Cooked marinated chicken makes up 40% of the dish.. This is followed by onions and tomatoes, weighing in at 12%. Other notable ingredients are garlic and ginger puree, salted butter, red and yellow peppers, red chilli puree, double cream, cider vinegar, coriander, ground cumin, fresh green chilis, garam masala, tumeric, cumin seeds and fenugreek.
The chicken marinade is made up of low fat yoghurt, vegetable oil, single cream, garlic and ginger puree, lemon juice, cornflour, salt, tomato puree, coriander, Punjabi garam masala and ground tumeric.
The curry weighs 350g.
The curry contains cow's milk.
A summary of the nutrition per half pack:
Energy kcal - 1120kJ
Protein - 21.7g
Carbohydrate - 8.6g
Of which sugars - 5.6g
Fat - 16.3g
Of which saturates - 3.5g
Fibre - 3.9g
This can be cooked either in the oven or microwave.
Microwave - 4 minutes at 750w
Oven - 180 degrees centigrade / 450 degrees Fahrenheit / gas mark 4 for 20 minutes.
After cooking, the first thing of note is the thick, dark gravy, flecked with tomato. It looks perhaps a tad oily, with little pools dotted around. There are plenty of spots of green chilli and coriander. Large pieces of onion and some chunks of tomato can be clearly seen as you mix through. When you dip a spoon in and drop the mixture off it, it's so thick that it drops off the spoon in large blobs, which personally I really like as I'm no fan of runny gravies. Had I not read the ingredients that show 40% of the meal consisting of chicken, I would have actually said it was 50:50, so the impression is rather favourable with regards to the meat content.
Even before cooking there is a deeply fragrant smell to the dish; spicy and aromatic. It is a very spicy smell, reminiscent of a takeaway reception and extremely appetising. Interesting to note that the curries I make from scratch don't have quite the same depth of smells; I'm really not sure what that tells you about my cooking skills.
For something labelled as "hot" this is in fact mild to medium - at least to my taste anyway, which, to be fair, is fairly hot but I'm no fan of a phal. A very pleasing level of heat is augmented by a very tasty sauce that has a very tomatoey tang. I like think gravy and the consistency of this, along with the tomato, gives it a rich flavour. You can taste the chilli in a very pleasant but not overwhelming manner. The chicken is lean and also has an excellent taste to it thanks in part also to the marinade.
I would say this tastes more tomatoey than anything, and this isn't a bad thing. There is some heat there but nothing overwhelming, just enough to make it interesting. To me, the "hot" label is a bit misleading, but I think this is a subjective judgement.
As an aside, I was served this with some with Marks & Spencer Pilau Rice, which made an excellent accompaniment. On taste alone I would recommend it, on fat content I would err on the side of caution.
Marks and Spencer plc,
PO Box 3339,