Review: Chiman's Spice Blends

Chimans are a company from Exeter that provide dry spice blends that contain only premium quality spices which means they are all free of artificial flavourings, preservatives and colourings and they're also gluten free. They also have a range of organic spice blends.  All of the packs contain an easy recipe to follow to create wonderful Indian dishes in your own home that give your local Indian takeaway a run for their money! Chiman's have been selling spice blends for over 20 years, so all of their recipes have been tried and tested to give you the perfect blend.  They have spice packs for vegetarian, meat, poultry, and fish dishes, as well as their organic range or colonel's curry. They have a range of recipe books, spice gift boxes and other great gift ideas.

I was sent a chicken balti, dal, bombay potatoes and a colonel's curry. Each spice pack serves around 4-6 people, but I decided to go all out and create a feast for 4 of us with popadoms, naan breads and thanks to Nick's mum, Izzy, some delicious chutneys, pickles and dips!

This is the feast that I created! Not too bad if I say so myself!  I started of by making the dal.  This is a vegetarian lentil based, medium spiced curry favourite with lots of flavour.  The instructions were easy to follow and took around 35 mins from start to finish.  The spices are fried off at the start and create a wonderful aroma.  I then just added the lentils and water and brought to the boil until the lentils were soft.

I have never eaten or cooked a dal before, and it turned out great.  It was just the right amount of spice and even Nick, who said that red lentils were disgusting, enjoyed it! The sauce thickened nicely and the lentils were full of the spice flavour.

The Balti is chicken in a mildly spicy tomato sauce.  Again the recipe was easy to follow and turned out great.  The spices are added with the chicken at the start of the process which means the chicken absorbs all of the wonderful flavours.  It took around 35 minutes to make, but I left it on a really low heat so that the chicken stayed nice and tender.  I really liked this one a lot and it had a beautiful flavour, so another success!

The Colonel's Curry is a blend of spices and is a new addition to Chiman's line-up, introduced this autumn. To celebrate Chiman’s 20th anniversary they dug through the history books and uncovered this spice blend which was first published in 1878! It is a mild curry with that quintessential curry taste.  It is also available in a spicier blend if you are looking for an extra kick. This curry can be used with any meat or vegetables, so I had a bit more free reign with this one and used chicken and mixed vegetables. This curry was delicious and uses redcurrant/cranberry jelly and natural yogurt.  I didn't have any redcurrant or cranberry jelly so I improvised with some orange, cranberry and wine fruit paste.  The curry came out very watery so I had to use a bit of initiative and my own cooking skills to thicken it up with a bit of cornflour. This curry was deliciously creamy and similar to a korma in taste and texture. It was enjoyed by all!

Bombay Potatoes- Now these were a bit of a failure. I followed the instructions to the T, but in doing so, the potatoes weren't cooked for long enough to start with.  Then when I tried to fry them with the mix, the spices just seemed to burn a little!  The smaller potatoes did taste nice though! These are medium spiced and contain asafoetida which gives a strong aroma while cooking and a delicious oniony taste.  I think I will give these another go, but do it properly next time!

All in all we had a wonderfully delicious feast and the results were great.  These spices are an excellent first step away from using pre-made curry sauces, but the instructions should be used as a guideline.  I would definitely use these spice blends again and can't wait to try out some more of their varieties. You can have a look at all of their scrummy varieties online or like them on their facebook page

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