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I bought this after attending a cookery course which recommended using curry pastes. I'm not sure how long the Pataks curry pastes have been on the market, however I don't believe they are a particularly new product. Pataks is a trusted curry brand and having bought many of the Pataks sauces I felt confident that the Pataks pastes would taste just as delicious.
We bought our paste from Morrisons, there were a number of different pastes available including Tikka masala, Madras, Jalfrezi and Rogan Josh. We chose the Balti paste as we don't often choose a Balti curry and fancied a change. The jar cost us £1.99, I feel this is great value for money as a jar makes numerous servings, unlike a curry sauce which can only be used for one curry. The jar of paste states that it makes 8 servings and i would agree with this, we use a quarter of a jar each time we make a curry and that serves 2 of us.
To use the balti paste (based on a serving for 2 people) you fry onions, add a quarter of the jar of paste, add your meat of choice and cook, once cooked you add 200g of tinned tomatoes and 100ml of water, you then leave to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. It is very easy and straightforward to make although admittedly it doesn't provide you with the convenience of the one jar does all experience that a normal curry sauce does. Personally I don't find it too difficult to chuck in some chopped tomatoes and water therefore I have no issues with using the paste over a jar of sauce.
The taste of the balti paste is rich tangy and tomato-ey, definitely one to use if you don't fancy a creamy curry. I would describe it as a mild spice and by that I mean not too hot, but with a little bit of kick. My favourite thing about using curry paste is that it is less calorific than a creamy jar of curry sauce - a great option when watching the waist line.
I would definitely recommend the curry pastes, having used one I can't see myself going back to using curry sauces. Not only is the curry paste more economical but it can also be stored for 6 weeks giving you plenty of time to use up the rest of the jar. I am planning to try every one of these curry pastes.
Surprising really that Pataks have such a stranglehold on the curry paste market. Its decent gear, but frankly, NOT that good.
AVAILABILITY. Their pastes are ubiquitous. If a supermarket stocks a curry paste, its probably Pataks.
HISTORY. I don't know how long the stuff has been around, but its a long time. As a curry fan that always used to make up his own curries from (up to a dozen) individual spices, I was introduced to Pataks by a Ugandan Asian pal (booted out of Uganda by the dictator Idi Amin...ask your Mum or Dad if you don't remember him). I first used it in about 1977 - and have done since the present day.
CONVENIENCE. Yes its convenient. Spice flavours start to diminish the moment they are ground, so it is not a good idea to have years-old spices on the shelf. This paste allows easy access to reasonably preserved mix of spice.
OIL??? A previous commenter mentioned the oil in the paste. Oil is essential when using such spices - they must be fried to bring out their full taste (the 'bhoon' - think 'lamb bhuna'). So oil and (light) frying is essential.
TASTE. Quite good, but I agree completely with the previous reviewer> MONSTROUSLY ACID (vinegar).
CONCLUSION. Good as a standby, or for those that rarely make curries who would have 'ancient' spices on their shelves. You should have a strong constitution, because the amount of vinegar is, (In my opinion) - way over the top).
For really good curries, make them yourself, from a recipe book, using (reasonably) fresh spices.
FINAL WORD. Quite passable. It is the easy equivalent for curries as 'Smash' is an equivalent for mashed potato. OK, but not the real thing. At least 'Smash' isn't overloaded with vinegar!
In general I am a huge fan of curries. I make a lot of curries, especially vegetable ones, from scratch but I also use sauces such as those by Pataks and Sharwoods for those times when I just do not have the capacity to do this - often trying to vary the ingredients so they contain pulses and veg and not just meat.
Previously I had been put off using paste instead of sauce because I was concerned that I would not be able to use it all between opening it and it going off, as the nature of it means that it goes for several meals rather than just one or two like a sauce would. However, I was encouraged to try this product when I saw that this jar when opened would last for 6 months, giving scope for lots of varying meals.
The 283g jar costs £1.83 in Tesco but is often on special offer and available in other supermarkets.
My favourite curry being a Balti, I thought I would start my experimentation with this variety.
On opening the glass jar, you will notice an amount of oil just floating on the surface. I believe that this is to help keep it fresher for longer, so have tried to mix it in more when spooning stuff out rather than just get a spoonful of oil.
The overwhelming smell that you get from it is of tomato, which is unsurprising given that it is a balti! However, it is much more noticeable than in the sauce version. Given that it is a concentrated curry flavouring, the texture is quite thick, almost chutney like.
I have used this paste in a number of different ways. The jar itself recommends that you can marinate meat with it either by itself or with plain yoghurt which can then me baked, barbequed or grilled. However, the regular way descibed is to add meat/veg, tomatoes and water and then simmer. I have bulked it up sometimes with spinach and chickpeas which works very well, but you have to remember when experimenting that being a paste it will require extra liquid if being cooked as a straightforward curries.
I have added small amounts to soups that I am preparing when I have added that stock if I want to add some spiciness to it. Be warned however, that a little will go a long way in this instance.
And so onto the taste. First and foremost, it is quite distinctively a balti flavour, and heat wise definitely on the hotter side of medium. However, and I noticed this more the more concentrated it was within the dish, it is very vinegary which can be quite offputting. This is a real shame because it can mask and distort the otherwise great flavours that are already in it. I assume that it is so strong because of the preservation element.
In conclusion, I am really impressed with the versatillity of this product - to get a variety of meals out a jar costing less than £2 is very economical in my view and also helps to reduce food wastage as it can be added to a wide number of ingredients that you may need to use up. However, the bitterness is a shame. I will probably continue to buy this product as a store cupboard stand-by, but will try other brands as well to see if I can get the same value without the aftertaste!