“ Brand: Ainsley Harriott / Type: Other Ready Meals „
I bought the Ainsley Harriott Bengali Style Keema Masala kit in B & M bargins for £1 a I thought it would make a quick and easy meal and would be a nice change for us. I think it's usually around £3 in the supermarket though.
The box it comes in is rather large, its black and shows an example of the finished meal as well as a cheesy picture of Ainsley. It looks like a quality product from the packaging but I think that the reason I was drawn to it was that it boasts that it is ready in 20 minutes and serves 2. It says that I just need to add 150ml of natural yoghurt and 250g of minced lamb and thats all I need. It also says that it is mild which is great for me as I don't like anything too spicy.
I cooked it this week as I had forgot about it and the best before date was December so I thought I had better use it up soon.
I opened the box and was gretted with 5 numbered sachets. They were all made of the foil coated paper that you get -foil on the inside! All of the instructions are on the back of the box.
Right so I'm ready to go..... Step one is easy - you add sachet number 1 to 150mls of natural yoghurt. This sachet contains your raita seasoning, made up of dried mint and black pepper. I stirred it in to the yoghurt and put in the fridge.
Next, brown your mince for 2 minutes with a bit of vegetable oil. If it was very fatty or watery, I would drain it off. It doesn't say this on the packet but I don't like my stuff swimming in grease or water! Add sachet 2 -The spice mix - it contains lots of different spices and smells lovely. Spices include, corriander and garam masala which is a belend of loads of spices - all spice, cumin, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, tumeric, ginger, bay, cloves, cassia and chilli powder. It's a good job its all included here as I'd never have all these on my spice rack -well I might do but they would probably be several years old and possibly past their best!
Useless but interesting info - Garam Masala literally means 'hot spice' It's blend of spices is popular throughout India and Asia where it is beleived to create a sense of happiness and wellbeing
Anyway, back to the dinner, add sachet 3 it just says vegetables on it! It contains dried peas (40,000 hectares of peas grown in the UK each year -another useless bit of info!) and onions and looks most unappetising! but I just follow the instructions and chuck it in with 300mls of water, give it a good mix and bring to the boil - then simmer for 15 minutes. Mmmm smells delicious!
The next thing to do is add 350mls of water to a pan, add sachet 3, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 12 mins. Make sure that you do this immediately after you have brought your meat mixture to the boil to ensure they are all ready at the same time! Forgot to add sachet 3 contains your basmati rice with spice. The spices consist of mustard seed, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seed and black onion seeds. As it's cooking it smells very nice. Basmati actually means 'the fragrant one' and for those of you with a thirst for statistics at 18mm after cooking it is the worlds longest rice grain.
Sachet number 5 brings us to the last step - this is your roti bread mix. Roti is a traditional Indian flatbread frequently eaten with curries or vegetables. Just add 150ml of warm water with it in a large bowl stir into a dough. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and knead until soft and pliable. divide into 4 balls and roll out into 4 thin circles. This is easy and because you have added the oil it doesn't all stick to the work surface. Simply dry fry them in a pan on each side until golden brown. It recommends brushing with melted butter and keep warm until you serve.
By now all of your stuff should be cooked - my rice and meat had been on a bit longer a sthe breads had taken a little longer than I had expected but it didn't really make any difference to it I dont think.
The keema meat miture looked really jut like a brown slop but as htey say the proof is in the tasting... the rice had absorbed all the water and wa lovely and fluffy - just as it should be and the breads were cooked. I took the raita out of the fridge and voila! Dinner is served.
The keema tasted lovely and although mild I found it rather spicy as I am a bit of a wuss with stuff like that. Saying that it wasn't unbearable and was quite pleasant. My husband who likes it hot said it was lovely and even he admitted it did have a bit of a kick to it. The vegetables which looked awful when I put them in had rehydrated and were fine. To take some of the heat off I put a dollop of the raita I had made earlier on mine and to my amazement it was very nice. Didn't tastel like I had used dried herbs in it at all. The rice was as it should be, nice and fluffy with a mild fragrant taste and the roti bread was nice although quite bland but it was handy for scooping up the meat. I have no idea as to whether this is anywhere near authentic or not but both my husband and I enjoyed it. he even said it rivalled the takeaway - I'm not too sure though as I do lovemy korma but this is a fraction of the cost so I'd be willing to sacrifice.
We used value mince and yoghurt so the whole meal cost about £2 which I thought excellent value. I would definately consider buying one of these kits again, maybe even at full price (not something I say often!)
The box says this is suitable for vegetarians - obviously you would need to use vegetarian mince! Per 1/2 pack this will provide you with 632 calories, 3.5g of fat and 3.9g of salt. I won't list the whole list as I don't think it's necessary. If you want any other info check out www.ainsley-harrott.com its all on there.
So would I recommend this product -definately for a quick easy and cheap meal. The portion servings were just about right and very filling.
I normally cook things from scratch but, with it being on offer in Sainsburys for £1.50 at half price I thought I'd get it to use when I couldn't be bothered to cook. Yesterday was such a day.
Firstly I don't really eat lamb as I think it is a rather fatty meat so I substituted turkey mince for the suggested lamb mince. The only other ingredient you need to make the kit (other than water) is natural yogurt, I used Sainsburys basics natural low fat yogurt. As I got my meat when it was reduced and froze it the entire meal cost less than £4 for two of us.
The concept behind the kit is simple; the kit contains five sachets which need to be mixed with the above ingredients according to the instructions.
The first step and by far the quickest and easiest is to mix sachet 1 with the natural yogurt. This creates Raita, the herbs look horrible so I was at this stage expecting a trip down to the local takeaway. I did this stage in the morning, went to work and left the mixture to infuse through the course of the day, I think this actually improved the end product no end.
When I got home I browned the mince and, although not mentioned in the instructions drained the excess fat. You then have to mix the mince with the contents of sachets two and three. These are the spices and vegetables. It tells you to cook for a couple of minutes but I just ensured everything had a coating of spices. The vegetables which come out of the sachet are a mixture of peas and onion and look dry and revolting. The instructions tell you to simmer. You then add water to the mix and the instructions tell you to simmer for fifteen minutes. Like everybody else seems to have I actually simmered for more like twenty five until I felt the consistency was right.
Meanwhile while you're doing the curry you also have to do the rice, this is simple enough just empty sachet 4 (the spiced basmati rice) into a pan with 350ml water cover and simmer for 12 minutes. The rice came out perfectly cooked and fluffy by following these instructions.
The final stage is to make the Roti breads, according to the instructions this should also be quite simple, empty sachet 5 into a mixing bowl and mix with 150ml warm water. I did this and created a dough, I then spent a good five minutes kneading the dough to make it pliable. I then ran out of time as all the other stages were almost cooked so added the oil as directed and created four balls of dough which I then rolled flat. The dough was very good and did not stick to the work surface. I dry fried it as directed but instead of golden brown parts went black while other bits were barely cooked. I persevered and the bread came out ok, the middle was not as well cooked as I would have liked. I suspect I may not have flattened the dough as much as I should have and the mixture was too fat. The breads were still edible and were dare I say quite nice when served with the Raita.
The kit was actually fun to make and made preparing the meal a sociable affair.
The meal finished cooking at about the same time, and dished up it looked very appealing. Even the vegetables which gave me my initial reservations came out well and my partner and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The kit made two large portions and was tasty and very filling.
As I got the kit on offer it was good value for money but I would not pay full price for it.
My family loves a good curry, but usually when I try to make one from scratch, it ends in complete disaster, either because it is too spicy for the children or too bland for my husband. I find it difficult to get the combination of spices balanced, so when I saw this new Ainsley Harriott dinner kit, I thought I would give it a try, particularly as it was on special promotion at Asda priced competitively at just £1 a box.
The Bengali Keema Masala Kit is attractively packaged boasting that a delicious meal can be achieved in four easy steps and ready in 20 minutes. The kit suggests adding 250g of lean minced lamb and 150ml yoghurt. As my husband is vegetarian, I substituted Quorn mince for the lamb and followed the simple instructions on the box.
Upon opening the box I found 5 clearly labelled sachets of ingredients.
Step one in the preparation was very simple - I just had to add the contents of sachet 1, which was the raita seasoning to 150mls of natural yoghurt, mix and put in the fridge. Easy. Even I couldn't mess that up.
To begin step two, I heated 1-2 tsp of vegetable oil in a saucepan and browned the mince for approximately 2 minutes. As I said earlier, I used Quorn and at this stage I also added a few chopped peppers. I then reduced the heat and added the contents of sachet 2 which contained the spice mix followed by the contents of sachet 3, the vegetables. This was cooked gently for a couple of minutes before I added 300ml of water to the pan. The instructions then say to bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes - I left mine for 15 minutes until the consistency looked right, probably due to the excess moisture from the peppers I added.
While the mince was cooking, I put 350mls of water in a separate saucepan and added the contents of sachet 4 which contained the spices and basmati rice. I brought this to the boil and simmered it for 12 minutes until the rice was lovely and fluffy. Stage 3 completed with no fuss.
Stage four of the meal preparation was to make the roti bread. The instructions said to empty the contents of sachet 5, the bread mix, into a bowl and add 150ml of warm water and stir into a dough. When this was ready, I added 1 tbsp of olive oil as directed and kneaded the dough until it was soft and pliable. The instructions then say to divide the dough into 4 balls and roll out into thin circles ready for frying.
It was at this point, things started to go wrong because the rolled out dough seemed too sticky and became fused to the worktop. I eventually managed to roll the dough into circles but only by lightly flouring the worktop first - it didn't say to do this in the directions. I then dry fried the roti breads in a hot frying pan until each side was brown as directed.
I served the masala with the rice, raita and warm roti breads and the general consensus was everything smelled and tasted delicious except the bread which had the texture of cardboard. This was probably due to me introducing the flour but I couldn't see any other way of rolling the dough out without it sticking. Maybe a more accomplished cook will have a better idea what to do in this sticky situation without compromising the end product.
On balance, I felt the kit was good value for money, the instructions were easy to follow, and the pre-measured blends of spices took the guesswork out of the cooking - it was just a shame about the bread.
Dinner kits have been increasingly common lately, they give people the chance to create their own meal using a mixture of fresh ingredients and adding them to the kit. I love a good curry and kept looking at the Ainsley Harriott kits when I was in the supermarket but the £3 price tag put me off. One day the Bengali Keema Masala with roti bread kit was on special offer for £2 so I decided to give it a try.
To use the kit you need to buy other ingredients namely 300g of minced lamb and a tub of natural yoghurt. My lamb cost me £2.60 for 500g and was organic and my yoghurt cost me 21p making the total cost of the meal around £5 for two.
Once you get the kit home, you use the various sachets to assemble the meal.
Step one was the easiest, tip the contents of a sachet into the yoghurt to make raita. I thought the herbs looked disgusting and would never make the yoghurt taste good but this ened up being the tastiest part of the meal.
Step two has you making the curry by adding the spice and vegetable sachets to the browned mince. The curry was very mildly spiced and even the addition of chilli flakes didn't really pep it up at all. The vegetables were a mix of peas and onions. The box told me to simmer for 15 minutes but I cooked it for a lot longer but even the extended cooking time left the vegetables with the chewy texture that you would expect to find in a pot noodle.
Step three had me making the rice. This was simple enough, just simmer for 12 minutes and the rice was delicious, delicately spiced and plentiful.
Step four had me making the roti bread. I followed the instructions to the letter by mixing, kneading and rolling it out. The bread was a total utter disaster. It was impossible to roll the dough out thinly enough without it breaking into little bits. When I tried to fry it as instructed then it jut ended up doughy and almost inedible.
I'm really disapointed with this kit. I was expecting to be able to knock up a decent curry with accompaniments but what I got was an unappetising mess of bland curry, inedible bread and nice rice. The kit means a lot of faffing around, I needed three pans and a bowl to cook the kit and my kitchen ended up in a right mess trying to make the bread. Next time I think I'll just head for the takeaway, for the same price I can get a decent curry and rice and although it's loaded with fat at least I will enjoy eating it and not have a mess to clean up afterwards.