Thanks to the Spice Pioneer kits, ‘The International Dining Club’, which Kerry used to be an honorary member of, got its second lease of life, after a demise of six years.
The grandly named ‘International Dining Club’, consisted of myself and two mums, Jill and Silvia, who were keen to spark their two daughters, Maddie and Ameena’s interest in different cultures.
It was a simple and fun concept. Every two months, the mothers would pick the girls up from school, whisk them off to the library, where they would research a country of their choice, including its customs, food, and flags, writing everything down in their beautifully scribed project books. I would then join them at a city centre restaurant of the country they had studied. Over the years, we took in Greece, Italy and The Lebanon, which are the nights I remember fondly.
As tends to happen with busy lives, work and Silvia and Ameena moving away, the International Club fizzled out. However, a chance meeting with Maddie and her mum, and a request from Jill to come and ‘hang out’ with Maddie while her parents went out, presented a great opportunity to rekindle our club.
At 13 years old, Maddie is far too old and sophisticated to need a babysitter but probably not confident enough to be left on her own. But how would I keep a 13 year old entertained all evening? I then had a brainwave and remembered the Spice Pioneer kits I had used and written about before. Why not reinvent our dining club in another form and cook at home instead.
The Spice Pioneer
The Spice Pioneer 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 spices 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.
I ran the idea by Maddie who was ‘super excited’ and gave her the choice of box. We finally settled on Goa.
The boxes contain 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.
Our Goan box consisted of the spices (Goan xacuti curry powder, tamarind paste, panch poran, Sri Lankan curry powder, pilau spice blend) needed to make a Lamb Goan xacuti, (although we substituted the lamb with chicken, which worked really well and needed less cooking time); a dhal curry; panch phoran cauliflower with spinach; and pilau rice.
The chicken Goan xacuti curry was beautifully spicy but not hot enough to put off a 13 year old and the flavours of each dish were beautifully balanced.
It amply provided enough for four servings and I was even able to plate up some for my lunches during the week.
The boxes are beautifully presented, with easy to follow recipes. The recipe and information cards are well thought through to give a good culinary experience with great results. And although I’m a confident cook, Maddie doesn’t quite have my years of experience, but was still able to get involved with chopping, measuring, stirring, and of course, sampling! We loved the playlist on Spotify too, which had us dancing round the kitchen, Bollywood style, as we cooked.
Maddie was also excellent at ‘Mrs Hinching‘ the kitchen after we had finished cooking, as I’m not known as the tidiest of cook.
So if you’re looking to spice up your life and explore different cultures and cuisines, the Spice Pioneer boxes are a great starting place and are a fun way to spend an evening hanging out with a teenager, doing something a little different.
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