Review – Patak Chicken Tikka Masala

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In a hurry?  No time to cook from scratch? Need a quick and tasty dinner cooked straight from the freezer?  Yes, sometimes we all do!

Although I’m not normally one to buy ready meals, sometimes we all have to make sure dinner is on the table quickly if we’re in a rush, and the other night was no exception. As I was late in from work, and rushing to get out the door again, it called for me to have a ‘quick on draw’ dinner.  Luckily, Patak’s had sent me one of their new range of frozen Chicken Tikka Masala ready meals to review so I could get this out of the freezer, into the microwave and on the table in a matter of only 10 minutes, which was hardly time to get changed and ready to go out again!

Patak's Chicken Tikka Masala ready meal

The packaging says it’s medium strength, however I personally think it was quite mild. The chicken was lean and stayed succulent in a generous portion of sauce and the pilau rice stayed in individual grains and not a gloopy lump of stodge. The smell was so tantalising that my husband appeared and miraculously managed to have a fork in his hand to dig in and share my dinner; the cheeky boy!

Patak's Chicken Tikka Masala ready meal

As the mother of a son at Uni, I think this would also make a perfect freezer filler for him during study time when the books are calling and there is less time for him to cook his own curry from scratch.

At 550 Calories per pack, it’s possibly a little higher than I would normally eat, however the saturated fat at 3.4g made it a less of a guilt and more of a pleasure and much more of reasonable calorific intake than a take away curry would.  I’d certainly buy a couple of these as quick stand by dinners for my freezer.

Patak's Chicken Tikka Masala ready meal

Thanks to Patak’s PR company for arranging to send me a sample to review.

 

Saffron Bakewell Tart

Saffron is a spice from the Crocus genus of flower.  The flowers grow 20-30cm and each bear up to four flowers.  Each flower has three vivid crimson stigmas (strands).  These ‘strands’ are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and a colouring in foods.  Saffron is generally sold by weight, which as you can clearly imagine, it takes an awful lot of those stigma strands to produce a single gramme of the saffron we use in the culinary world. This makes it the most expensive spice in the world. Currently Iran produces approximately 90% of the world’s production of the saffron that is in use today.  It takes approximately 80,000 saffron flowers to produce just 500 grammes of finished saffron.

Saffron has a hay like fragrance and contains a pigment which gives a golden yellow colour to dishes.  It has also been used to dye fabrics and textiles as far back as the 7th Century and has been traded and used for over 4,000 years.

I was recently sent a sample of saffron to try from the Premier Saffron company who import their hand picked saffron from Iran.

Pairing perfectly with almonds, I re-created the traditional Bakewell Tart to include some saffron, thereby adding a slightly different, but subtly delicious tasted.  Here’s how I did it:

Pastry
225g Plain flour
50g Lard
50g Butter
25g Caster sugar
30ml (approx.) cold water

Filling
5-6 strands Saffron
15ml Milk
125g Butter
125g Caster sugar
150g Ground almonds
75g Ground Rice
2 Eggs
2.5ml Almond essence
45ml Raspberry jam
Flaked almonds to decorate

1. To make the pastry, cut the lard and butter into small cubes and add them to a large bowl containing the flour and sugar.  (I use half lard and half butter to give a ‘short’ crisp pastry, as taught to me by my nan and my mum).
2. Rub them together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs (it helps to keep the pastry cool and the butter and lard not to melt if you only use your finger tips).
3. Add the cold water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together to form a dough.
4. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
5. Heat the oven to 190℃, and place an upturned rectangular baking tin in to heat up (this will help prevent your tart from getting a ‘soggy bottom’.
6. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to an even thickness to line a 20cm square tin.
7. Retain the pastry trimmings for decoration.
8. Return the pastry lined tin to the fridge to chill whilst you prepare the filling.
9. Place the saffron strands onto an oven proof plate and heat in the oven for 4-5 minutes until warmed (this helps the flavour and colour release from the strands).
10. Warm the milk gently then add the warm saffron strands.  Stir and leave to infuse for a few minutes. The milk will turn a summery pale yellow colour.
11. In a large bowl, place the butter, caster sugar, ground almonds, ground rice, eggs and almond essence.
12. Add the milk and saffron mixture and beat until well incorporated.
13. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and spread the jam evenly over the base.
14. Pour the filling mixture into the pastry case, over the top of the jam.
15. Re-roll the pastry trimmings and use to decorate the top of the Bakewell Tart.
16. Sprinkle with flaked almonds to decorate.

17. Place in the oven on top of the upturned baking tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the pastry is cooked.
18. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove the tart from the tin on to a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

19. Slice and serve with custard or simply on its own with a cup of tea.

The saffron adds a very subtle flavour to the Bakewell Tart and marries perfectly with the almonds.

I was sent a pack of the saffron strands from Premier Saffron to try.  I was under no obligation to create a recipe or to link to their website as a result of receiving the sample.

Rosewater meringues

Having recently been sent a bottle of Nielsen Massey Rosewater to try and loving the simplicity of a good meringue, I was keen to develop my basic meringue recipe to make this light and delicate dessert.
4 Egg whites (8tbs egg white)
225g (8oz) Caster sugar
5ml (1tsp) Cornflour
5ml (1tsp) White vinegar
5ml (1tsp) Nielsen Massey Rosewater
Pink gel paste food colouring (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 130C.

2. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.

3. Making sure your mixing bowl is very clean and grease free (or your egg whites won’t whisk up), whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

4. Gradually add the caster sugar, a spoon at a time, whilst continuing to whisk.  Your mixture will become thick and very glossy.

5. Mix the cornflour, vinegar and Rosewater together then fold into the meringue mix (add any paste colouring at this point too, if desired).

6. Spoon the meringue mixture into a piping bag (I use disposable ones, to save on the washing up!) Snip off the bottom of the bag horizontally to give you a 1cm cut.

7. Pipe even sized circles onto the parchment, approx 3cm in diameter.

8. Place in your preheated oven for 60 minutes, until dry.

9. Remove from the oven. If you gently remove one from the baking parchment and tap the base, you’ll know it’s cooked because it’ll give you a hollow sound.

10. Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

I’ve sandwiched mine together with some double cream which I’ve whipped up with some icing sugar and 5ml of the Nielsen Massey Rosewater to make a decadent, deliciously light and summery dessert.

You can see in my photos that I’ve created a ‘striped’ effect on my meringues.  This is incredibly simple, but effective to do. Using a disposable piping bag, pinch the bottom point between your thumb, fore and middle fingers.  Turn the bag inside out, over your hand and arm.  Keeping your hand inside and the point pinched to hold it still, use a clean cocktail stick to smear stripes of your chosen gel colour down the inside of your bag. Gently turn the bag back the correct way and fill with your meringue mixture.  The first couple of piped meringues will be more subtle in colour and the stripes less defined than subsequent ones.

I was sent a bottle of the Nielsen Massey Rosewater free of charge. I was under no obligation to develop or publish a recipe using the product.