I’ve been taken on a culinary adventure to Sri Lanka this week, without having to have left my kitchen. It all started with my New Year trip to Dubai.
Dubai’s spice souk
The vendor in the Spike Souk must have seen me coming.
My 2017 Hogmaney was spent in Dubai and my visit to the famous spice and gold souks, a must for any tourist ended up with me being ripped off, paying far too much and buying far bigger quantities of spices that will last me a life-time. Next time I’ll have my wits about me or take someone who’s a far better haggler than me!
It’s fair to say that I paid as much for my spices and tea as my friend paid for a fake Gucci bag and I only came away with about 10 different spices! I think that’s something you put down to experience!
Returning to the UK, it spurred me on to having a long overdue, spring clean of my spice cupboard and I’m embarrassed to say that I had jars lurking in there dating back to December 2002! These have now been replaced with supermarket selections.
So it was somewhat ironic and rather unfortunate timing that I received two surprise boxes of spices from Seasoned Pioneers, with a new concept to try, the Spice Pioneer. If only I had been sent these earlier, I would have been replacing them with these perfectly packaged, resealable foil pouches, designed to retain freshness from this Wirral based company.
The Spice Pioneer
The Spice Pioneer, a new concept and only two months old, is an extension of Seasoned Pioneers, a 20-year-old UK based company with an established reputation for discovering, sourcing and blending fine authentic and specialist spieces from around the world.
The Spice Pioneer’s mission is to take people on a journey around the world, introducing them to spices and recipes with a food flavour box – delivered to the door (monthly) – to which you can subscribe or give as a three, six or twelve month gift subscription for any foodie friend. The boxes are conveniently sized to fit through your letter box.
The box contains recipes for a meal for four consisting of several dishes along with all the spices and seasonings, weighed out with just the right quantity. The recipes have been crafted to ensure that the main ingredients (fish, meat, vegetables etc) are easy to source from local shops and supermarkets.
In addition to the recipes, The Spice Pioneer, will help to create an experience, to evoke special memories or help people travel to dreamt-of destinations without having to leave the comfort of your own kitchen.
As well as the flavourings the Spice Pioneer sends a postcard about his adventures to conjure up the spirit and atmosphere of fascinating places and there’s also a music playlist, inspired by the locations where the spices come from, that you can stream through Spotify to help create the scene.
My Sri Lankan Adventure
Being mid-week, I was struggling to get any of my busy friends round so I decided to bite the bullet and just make up the recipes for myself.
The Galle, Sri Lankan kit comes beautifully packed with all the spices to make Sri Lanka monkfish curry with basmati rice, beetroot curry and spicy green beans with black mustard seeds. The box contained Season Pioneers pre-mixed Sri Lankan Curry powder, Malay curry powder, tamarind paste, black mustard seeds, ground cinnamon, curry leaves, fenugreek seeks and ground coriander, all conveniently weighed out for me.
A helpful shopping list is provided, which I photographed with my I-phone, before I went to the supermarket. They also helpfully let you know what cooking equipment in terms of pans and bowls are required.
I slightly fell at the first hurdle though as despite trying three shops, I couldn’t find the fresh beetroot anywhere so gave up on the idea of having this as an accompaniment. Also, being allergic to fish, I substituted the monkfish with diced chicken breast, which worked perfectly well and used long-grain rice, as that’s all I had in the cupboard, rather than basmati rice.
Embracing the whole experience, I even streamed the music playlist as I cooked. Whilst it might not necessarily have been to my music tastes, it did however transport you to far off places.
I have to say this was one of the nicest curries I have ever made. The Sri Lankan curry was beautifully spiced, with just the right amount of heat and despite me substituting the monkfish for chicken, it worked perfectly well. In fact I was rather pleased that I hadn’t managed to muster any friends as the leftovers have done perfectly for my lunches all week.
Whilst I’m unlikely to be subscribing to the kits myself, (as I’ve already got all the spices I’m likely to need for quite some time!), the Spice Pioneer is a really cool concept and would make a novel present for any foodie friends who love to travel but maybe can’t spare the time to get away. Instead you can transport them on a culinary adventure in the comfort of their own kitchen, for a fraction of the cost.
The Spice Pioneer c/o Seasoned Pioneers Ltd
Unit 8 Stadium Court,
Plantation Business Park,
UK FREEPHONE 0800 068 2348
Non-UK +44 (0)151 343 1122