Recently a very nice man named Don got in touch with me, wanting to send me some of his Bhaji Man recipe-in-a-box spice kits. He has all kinds of spice kits for many different Asian-inspired meals. His goal is to get families cooking together and making meals from scratch as opposed to ordering so many takeaways.
I figured this would be good for me as I’m about as useful in the kitchen as a sponge after a tsunami. However, when my box of goodies arrived home it was quickly squirreled away by my kitchen loving husband. He’s never attempted cooking Indian food before and he wanted to try. So I let him have the first go, figuring that I’d make the next one. He chose the chicken tikka masala and he took to the task with gusto. He went shopping for all the extra ingredients and took about 500 photos of his Indian cooking journey.
Unfortunately, though Mark loves cooking and learning about new cuisines, he is not such a fan of following directions. Recipes aren’t his thing. This made for a rather entertaining tikka masala.
Basically, the Bhaji Man box comes with three spice sachets inside:
On the back of your box you find the cooking instructions, and on the side is your shopping list with all the other ingredients you need to buy to make your meal. This is where Mark started getting creative.
- 250g natural full fat yoghurt (Mark wasn’t down with this. He used a minimal amount of milk instead)
- 2 medium sized green chillies (Nope. Mark bought one GIANT red chilli. Biggest chilli I ever saw. Seriously. Boys)
- 2 tsp salt
- 700g chicken breasts
- 5 tablespoons of flavourless cooking oil
- 2 medium onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2.5cm piece of root ginger (Not on Mark’s watch. He found some ground ginger in the cupboard)
- 2 medium tomatoes (Or, in Mark’s case, lots of little ones)
- 2 tbsp tomato purée (Nah, just use more mashed up tomato from a can)
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves (Apparently the House of Mark is at war with coriander. He doesn’t like it. He won’t be dealing with it)
So you can see how things were getting a little bit interesting even from this early stage. He’s also not terribly careful in measuring out specific amounts of food – like cloves or tablespoons or 700g of chicken. Mark likes to run free in the wind.
Clearly the ingredients of a free spirit. What more wacky changes would he make? Well, preparation called for the chicken to be but into large chunks. Mark didn’t like the sound of that so he went with small chunks. Chopping and crushing onions and garlic was fine, the ginger was already ground, and he just chopped up the tomatoes and chillies anyway he saw fit.
Firstly he was supposed to mix sachet 1 with the yoghurt, salt and chillies in a bowl, coating the chicken with this paste. I don’t think this really happened. He did cook it all in a pan, added the ingredients as he saw fit and then even added new ingredients that he had lying around, including rice that had peas and corn in it. For some reason he kept the tomatoes quite separate from everything else and made sure he cooked each section for twice as long as it said on the box. Other than that, I can’t really tell you what happened. This is what he presented me with:
Is it tikka masala? No. Absolutely not. Was it delicious? Absolutely yes. I’m not sure how he does this, but somehow it worked out. Did I mention that he never ate any of it? Nope, he made it all for me. He went to all the trouble of leaving out ingredients he dislikes just to give it to me. The box says it’s supposed to serve 4! I guess he really played around with portion size. At least it tasted good.
I promise I will actually follow directions and do as I’m supposed to when I make one of these. We shall possibly end up with the meal we intended to make. I say possibly, but really, anything could happen.
If you would like delicious, home cooked Indian food and you’re not sure what to do then the Bhaji Man Spice Kits are a great place to start. Even if you decided to go completely renegade and are utterly unable to follow directions you will still end up with something delicious. It’s virtually impossible not to.