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A kit to help you cook

New venture 42 Spices delivers meal kits at your doorstep. Anu Prabhakar cooks two dishes by watching their WhatsApp cookery videos, and finds it deliciously simple

Eating out is passé — cooking gourmet food at home has been trending for a while now. Ventures such as iChef.in and hautechef.in, which deliver meal kits complete with meticulously measured and packaged ingredients to your doorstep, aim to serve you with rare, carefully procured, fresh ingredients, such as feta cheese and kaffir lime leaves. They aim to make the whole concept of 'gourmet' more relatable, by breaking down dishes with intimidating names into easy recipes.

42 Spices delivers packed and measured food ingredients to you
42 Spices delivers packed and measured food ingredients to you 

The latest to join the bandwagon is the two-month-old 42 Spices, started by two Mumbai-based youngsters, Abhishek Bahadur and Nihar Sawant. Besides including recipes in the meal kits, 42 Spices (the name comes from the two's shared love for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) shares videos via WhatsApp, on how to cook your food order.

We log into the venture's website www.42spices.com and call the number mentioned there. We place an order for meal kits to make a Navratna Korma with Laccha Paratha (R299) and Veg Thai Green Curry with Jasmine Rice (R299). We ask them to deliver the kits to our office between 1 pm and 6 pm and sure enough, the medium-sized cartons containing the ingredients and recipes arrive at the dot of 6 pm. Full marks for punctuality.

Once home, we begin the experiment by watching the two-minute long videos. We, then, rip open the cartons and start cooking the Navratna Korma. The meal kit includes an assortment of ingredients such as cashew paste, onion (thankfully, sliced), garam masala, oil, beaten curd, vegetables such as carrot and beans, cottage cheese, vegetable stock powder and dried fruits and nuts as toppings.

The Thai Green Curry looks and tastes authentic. Pic/Anu Prabhakar
The Thai Green Curry looks and tastes authentic. Pic/Anu Prabhakar 

It is ridiculously easy to follow — the recipes are clear and elaborate. All ingredients are measured out and chopped, so the only bit of extra work that you need to do is grind the onions and chillies to make the onion paste for the korma. The rest of the time, it is as easy as throwing ingredients into the pan.

We are not fans of cashew paste, so we keep it to a minimum in the dish and yet, the final product is satisfactory — the korma strikes the right balance between sweet and spicy. But what really leaves us impressed is the Thai Green Curry and Jasmine Rice, which is as authentic as any other we have had at Thai restuarants. The kaffir lime leaves, Thai green curry paste, coconut milk and palm sugar conspire to bring out a marvellous dish.

However, there are hiccups, like the discrepancies in the recipes and cooking videos. For instance, while the video shows when you have to take out the garam masala potli from the Navratna Korma, the recipe makes no mention of that crucial point.

In the Thai Green Curry recipe, there is no mention of how to use the bird's eye chilli and while the video instructs you to add the palm sugar before the vegetables, the recipe asks you to do so later. Still, 42 Spices, like similar ventures before it, is a good reason to eat at home more often. And besides, how often is it that your kitchen smells of jasmine rice?

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