Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Product Review: Taj Mahal Tandoori Paste

Available from the SMH Good Living Growers Markets, this tandoori paste was snapped up with the idea of an easy and not too complicated weeknight dinner. It’s made locally in Rockdale, south of Sydney, and is a member of a suite of products from the same producers that include meat and vegetarian samosas, curry pastes and pickles. I’ve tried their samosas and they’re a great stand-by if people drop in for nibbles – straight out of the freezer and into the oven or frypan.

I usually prefer to make my own tandoori paste, primarily because I’ve never found a commercial one that tastes any good. They're either too 'raw', with a predominant tannic uncooked spice flavour, too salty, tasteless etc etc. However this product is pleasantly surprising.

Apart from the fact they must have been up all night thinking of the name, the lurid orangey-red paste mixed with a few tablespoons of yoghurt produces a very acceptable tandoori – notice I don’t say ‘authentic’ as I don’t want to cause consternation among Indian cooks with more finely tuned sensibilities and taste buds than I.

For 1kg of thigh fillets I used about ¼ of the 250g jar and 3 tablespoons of yoghurt, and marinated for 6 hours. I may possess a bench-top pizza oven, but I have not yet graduated to a home tandoor (not through lack of desire to do so, but because of inner city fire regulations) so I grilled these succulent little morsels to get the blackened crusty bits so reminiscent of the real thing. My regular market expedition buddy Jannet, who put me onto this product, advises that it works a treat on the BBQ as well.

I used the ‘hot’ paste (it also comes in ‘medium’) and the resulting juicy tandoori was intensely flavoured with a good well rounded chilli kick. There were no lingering metallic salty residues or front-of the- palate uncooked spice bitterness so typical of commercial products.

Served with a cucumber, mint and garlic raita, plus a side dish of puppodums it was a great and convenient weeknight dinner that didn’t compromise on taste or flavour. Leftovers are also yummy wrapped in pita bread with salad and yoghurt. Well done to the Tah Mahal team.

Taj Mahal Tandoori Paste in medium or hot, $7.00 per jar.
Manufactured by Humpty Dumpty Pies P/L
50 Frederick St., Rockdale, NSW 2216.

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