Sunday, 7 December 2014

Product Review & 5 Questions - Scotia Spice

Indian food is now amongst one of the most popular cuisines in the UK and it looks as though that's going to be the case for years to come. However, when it comes to trying to recreate classic and authentic tasting Indian dishes at home, most people come unstuck. The supermarkets offer a huge range of curry sauces in easy to cook jars but they rarely tasty like your favourite dish from the takeaway, whilst the majority of those who try to cook a dish from scratch are often out of their depth when it comes to matching and mixing the various spice required to make a truely authentic curry.
On my visit to The BBC Good Food Show at the SECC back in October, I met Yasmin McDonagh who runs Scotia Spice, a cookery school on the outskirts of Glasgow. With family ancestory steeped in the Pakistani Punjab, Yasmin puts keen home cooks through their paces and passes on some of the knowledge that she herself has had passed down from her Mum & Dad and grandparents before them. More recently, Yasmin has put together Punjabi Cookery Kits in an effort to make it even easier for home cooks to serve up traditional Indian food that they can be proud of.
Yasmin was attending the show as a result of Scotia Spice being granted one of the BBC Good Food Show Producer Bursery Awards. The awards are hotly contested amongst producers but Katy Truss of Fabulous Food Finds decided that the "Your Guide to True Punjabi Cooking" was a great idea and as a result of winning her award, Yasmin was invited to exhibit at the BBC Good Food Show Scotland free of charge.
'Your Guide to Punjabi Cooking' is a fantastic idea. Yasmin has put together boxes for chicken, lamb and vegetable curry dishes. Each box includes a number of easy to follow recipe cards plus plenty of foil packed spices and other goodies to help you cook a huge range of authentic Indian meals.
I was very kindly sent a box to sample and last week I made an attempt at the traditional chicken curry. The recipe was so easy to follow, packed with real flavour and made a great change from the generic curry sauce jars that I've been guilty of using in the past. I can't wait to try some of the other recipes from the box.
It made perfect sense that I put my 5 Questions to Scotia Spice and Yasmin was more than happy to take time out to answer them.
Here's Yasmin's story;
How did you get started?
In 2006 I opened the doors to my kitchen and started the Scotia Spice Cookery School. I enjoy dishes and flavours from all over the world but I’ve always taught authentic Punjabi food the way I learnt from my Mum and Dad, the way they learnt from their parents in Pakistan.
This year we introduced ‘Your guide to true Punjabi cooking’. Our kits come packed with a selection of recipes, a cook’s larder of aromatic spices and a range of tips and techniques. It’s everything you need to bring Punjabi cooking into your own home.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
​Whatever your business idea make sure it’s something that you’re really passionate about and believe in. I’ve always wanted to show people just how easy it is to create my family food in their own kitchen from scratch. That’s at the heart of everything we do at Scotia Spice from every single dish I teach on my courses through to the design of our boxes,
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
‘Your guide to true Punjabi cooking’ in the kitchen of every enthusiastic cook in the UK, of course !
We have so much we want to do over the next few years. Something I’m very excited about is the opportunity to learn traditional Sri Lankan home cooking from the Mum of a good friend. We should be starting in April and I can’t wait as it’s a region that I’ve never cooked from before and the flavours and techniques are quite different to those in the Punjab. I’m then hoping to produce a range of Sri Lankan kits. We’re also very keen to produce our very own Scotia Spice spice blends.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
I think it would have to be my family’s chicken curry. It’s an absolute classic, full of flavour and very straight forward to make. In our house, as a treat, we choose what we want for our birthday meal. My husband and kids ask for chicken curry every time without fail!
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
That’s a tough one! I think I’d invite Ammi-ji, my Granny. She lived in Pakistan so I didn’t see a lot of her and memories are precious and yet her influence is there in every aspect of my Punjabi cooking. She was an instinctive cook with a natural feel for which spices work with ingredients.
I’d love to chat to her about so many things and hope she’d be proud of what we’re doing with Scotia Spice. We‘d eat lamb curry because red meat was a rare treat when she was bringing up her family. My last meal would just have to include a classic masoor dhal and a little bit of indulgence wouldn’t go amiss so my sweet potato and red pepper pakora, which is a recipe I’m very proud of. It’s a variation on Ammi-ji’s recipe and I’d love to see what she thinks of it.
I really enjoyed meeting and chatting with Yasmin at the show and would like to thank her for taking the time to answer the questions for Gerry's Kitchen. I would also like to thank her for sending one of her 'Your Guide to Punjabi Cooking' kits for me to try out.
So if you fancy turning your hand to traditional Indian cooking, why not order your own kit and give it a go?
Keep up to date with Scotia Spice on Facebook and Twitter.



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