People are seeking a more authentic experience in the food industry, consumer culture, and every aspect of life. This quest for realness is mirrored in our changing relationship with Indian food. Despite some reports to the contrary, our insatiable appetite shows no sign of waning. Rather, the way in which we eat it is changing. We want a meaningful experience, not just a meal – preferably without incurring the cost of a return ticket to New Delhi.
Luckily, we live in the golden age of supermarket curries, and can frequently enjoy both the glorious boldness and marvellous subtleties of Indian cuisine in the comfort of our own homes. At this time of year, as the evenings draw in and the falling leaves take on the colour of a Bombay sunset, nothing says ‘cosy night in’ quite like a curry.
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But how to replicate the atmosphere, warmth, and authenticity of an Indian meal at home? Here are our top tips to transform your supermarket curry experience from “off the shelf” to “out of this world”.
Share and share alike
Indian food is all about the experience – not just the taste, but the visual delights, delicious aromas, and how it makes us feel. It’s also about sharing that experience, and bringing people together: to chat, celebrate, commiserate, and, well…eat. Research confirms what many Asian cultures have known for centuries: sharing food is great for our sense of well-being. Our selection of Indian sides – from light, fluffy and delectably moreish chicken pakoras to aromatic and crisp vegetable samosas – are perfect for sharing the curry love around.
It’s all in the presentation
When serving a supermarket curry, we’re often so eager to dig in we simply plate up straight from the container. In Indian cuisine – where every meal is a ceremony – presentation is everything. It is the sight of food which sets our tastebuds alight, building anticipation and adding to the overall experience. A garnish of fragrant, freshly chopped coriander, a sprinkle of flaked almonds, or a quick and easy homemade cucumber and mint raita will give you that authentic feeling with little effort.
Pump up (or tone down) the heat
Supermarket curries are crowd pleasers – tried and tested favourites the public knows and loves. For those who like it hotter than hot, sometimes this means sacrificing kick. This is very easily rectified by thinly slicing some fresh chillies and allowing everybody to load up according to their preferred taste/tolerance level.
Let the supporting cast shine
Indian food is not a “Starter, Mains, Pudding” kind of cuisine. It’s an “I’ll have a bit of that with some of that and lots of that on the side” kind of cuisine. Thinking of it as a meal is doing it a disservice: it should be a feast. Offering a selection of dishes complemented with plenty of authentic sides – like our classic onion bhaji – are a great way to give your supermarket curry the feast factor.
Take to the floor
For a truly authentic home curry experience, why not ditch the dining table all together and have an indoor picnic. Place all the dishes in the middle, banquet (bhoj) style, lay out some cushions for seating, and let everyone take a little of what they fancy.
Dispense with the cutlery
According to ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, Indian food is eaten with the hands – using flatbreads such as roti, naan, or chapati to scoop up pieces of curry and vegetables. In India it is believed having this physical relationship with our food promotes gratitude, so put down the knife and fork and give it a try.
Set the scene
It’s hard to imagine dining out at an Indian restaurant without the atmospheric tones of a sitar playing in the background, or the candlelight flickering over a shared platter of poppadoms. Lighting candles, burning incense, and playing traditional music are all important parts of Indian culture – Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim alike – and will make your supermarket curry experience feel more like a date night in Rajasthan.
Feeling inspired to get the family together for an Indian banquet at home? Our range of Indian snacks and sides are fresh, authentic, and perfect for sharing.