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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Nicely Spicy

Take an Indian from London with a love of spices and cooking, transplant him to the Ballymaloe Cookery School, add an Irish girl and what do you get?

Green Saffron Spices of Midleton County Cork.

Arun Kapil combined his loves to produce some of the finest and freshest spices and blends available. As Arun says “We specialise in the highest grade, farm-fresh whole spices and proprietary blends of exceptional quality for home and professional kitchens alike”.

Arun uses members of his family who still live in India to comb the country to locate the finest spices available and oversees the grinding and blending to ensure authentic taste and great quality.

This means that Green Saffron spices are fresh! There is a massive difference between their vanilla pods and those from proprietary or own brands bought in supermarkets. Basically the freshness is the difference, supermarket spices have probably been warehoused for up to 3 years before you get them and have a shelf life of up to 18 months, Arun recommends that his are kept for no more than 3 months!!

I first came across Arun at Ballymaloe Cookery School where he came in to do a demo on spices, and to give us a detailed insight to the production process. Aruns infectious joy at working with and explaining spices came over - which was just as well as he set and marked art of the final exams! He also cooked a wonderful Gingerbread – the best I have ever tasted – with a delicate flavour and an awesome stickiness. I had to buy some of the blend at Midleton Farmers Market where he has a stall every Saturday. Green Saffron give the recipe for really fragrant and tasty food with every pack of spice bought, including the Gingerbread and Mulled Wine!

Arun also sells curries made from his spice blends and I soon swapped my usual market breakfast of an organic bacon roll for a fresh curry and rice!

Green Saffron Spices are used by some of the top chefs in both Ireland and London and Arun guested on Richard Corrigan’s “Cookery School” on Channel 4 where he taught the semi-finalists as well as being an RTE regular.

Last December Arun came to the Abergavenny Christmas Food Festival where he was an instant success and has been invited back to this September’s food Festival to give a tutored tasting. Saturday at 3 in Trinity Hall is the place to be – if there are any tickets left!  If not you will just have to visit the Green Saffron Stall to buy the amazing fresh spices and blends and maybe indulge in one (or more) of the puddings, Christmas and otherwise, that he has on offer.

If you can’t wait that long visit the website and use the mail order. 

But don’t just take my word for it, these chefs have all said great things about Arun Kapil and Green Saffron Spices

“The best, freshest spices I’ve ever used. Fantastic”. Richard Corrigan

“Your green cardamoms and saffron are simply superb” Joel Robouchon

“Green Saffron’s spices have such an incredible flavour; they give food a whole new dimension” Rachel Allen

Here are a couple of typical recipes, go online to buy the spice blends then amaze family and friends with the resultant curries.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Two Step Wonder Curry
Serves 6-8 people



6 large cloves of garlic, crushed or blitzed

90g/3oz or 3 fat inches of ginger, grated or blitzed with skin on

300ml/½ pint (or 2 small pots) natural, plain yoghurt

1 Packet of GREEN SAFFRON Tikka Masala SACHET 1 Marinade Mix

½ lemon, zest and juice

2tblsp sunflower oil (any type of general cooking oil really, - not sesame!)

1kg/2lb of chicken meat (white, brown or a mix of both), diced

How to start making your meal:

1. Combine all the above ingredients, mix well, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for a least two hours (or over-night in the fridge)



60g/2oz ghee, butter, clarified butter, or 3 tbsp. vegetable oil

450g/1lb onions, chopped

6 large cloves of garlic, crushed or blitzed

30g/1oz or 1 fat inch of ginger, grated or blitzed with skin on

1 Packet of GREEN SAFFRON Tikka Masala SACHET 2 Tomato mix

2 tins of tomatoes

2tsp sugar (this helps bring out the spices)

How to finish making your meal:

2. Heat the ghee, butter (or clarified butter, oil) in a large casserole dish or saucepan on medium heat.
3. Next, add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger and sweat until soft.
4. Then add the Tikka Masala SACHET 2 Tomato Mix and toast for a couple of minutes (don't worry if  the mix looks a little dry at this stage, it will all come good)
5. Add the tomatoes and sugar, turn down the heat to a medium simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.
6. Then, remove from the heat and whizz this spicy tomato sauce in a processor, liquidiser or with a hand blender until smooth (or as smooth as you like)
7. Put the pan back on the heat, set to medium, add the whizzed up tomato sauce also add the chicken and all its Marinade Mix from STEP 1, stir well to combine the two.
8. Turn the heat down to low, cook for about 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the chicken is just cooked (turn the heat down further if the sauce starts to spit mad, or feels like it may burn)....Simple!

Serving Suggestion:
Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and serve with Indian Basmati rice.

Alternative Suggestions:
As a vegetarian option try using potatoes and cauliflower to make up the same weight as the meat, then add peas just at the end and cook enough to heat then through.

Try replacing the chicken with 2 lbs. of stewing lamb, but cook the dish for about 1 hour (in part 8) or just until the meat is good and tender.

Dahl Makhani

One Pot Wonder Curry
Serves 4 - 6 people


1lb/450g white (Spanish) onions, peeled and finely chopped

5oz/150g ghee, butter or clarified butter

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or blitzed

2 red chillies, deseeded, finely chopped (alter according to your heat tolerance!)

3 fat inches ginger, grated or blitzed with skin on

1 packet of GREEN SAFFRON Dahl Makhani Spice Mix

8oz Puy lentils

24floz/700ml vegetable stock (or water)

1 can cooked kidney beans (approx. 10oz), drained and rinsed

4tblsp pouring, single cream

Coriander, finely chopped

How to make your meal:

1. In a thick bottomed casserole dish or saucepan, sweat the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies in the ghee along with your packet of GREEN SAFFRON Dahl Makhani Spice Mix for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft.
2. Add the Puy lentils to the dish or saucepan and stir around over a gentle heat for a couple of mins, as if you’re making a risotto.
3. Next, add the stock (or water) and stir again to combine all the flavours and ingredients.
4. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn the heat down and simmer over a gentle heat with the lid on the pan for about 40mins or until the lentils are the texture and have the ‘bite’ that you want.

Don’t forget to stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking. Also add more stock (or water) if you’re worried the meal is getting too dry...
5. Add the kidney beans and cream, stir and simmer on a gentle heat for about 5 mins.
6. Finally, sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve immediately …simple!

Serving suggestion:
Serve with Indian Basmati rice, Indian breads and riata.

Biryani - medium
Two Step Wonder Curry
Serves 4-6 people


1kg/2lb of stewing lamb, diced

5 large cloves of garlic, crushed or blitzed

2 fat inches (60g) of ginger, grated or blitzed with skin on

¼pt/125ml (or 1 small pot) natural, plain yoghurt

1 green chilli, finely chopped (or use a red chilli if a green one isn't available)

2 medium sized onions, chopped

1 packet of GREEN SAFFRON Biryani SACHET 1 Marinade Mix

½ lemon, zest and juice

Nice handful of mint leaves, chopped

How to start making your meal:
1. Combine all the above ingredients, mix well, cover with a damp tea towel and set aside for at least four hours (or overnight in the fridge)



1 tbsp. ghee, oil, clarified butter or butter

2 pints of water

1 packet of GREEN SAFFRON Biryani SACHET 2 Rice Mix

300g/11oz Indian Basmati rice, washed thoroughly and drained

How to finish making your meal:

2. Heat the ghee, oil (clarified butter or butter) in a large pan or casserole (so long as the one you choose has a tight fitting lid), add all the meat and marinade from Step 1 and cook on medium for about 25 minutes. Then set aside - it's not needed until later (see part 5 below)
3. Meanwhile, put the water into a large saucepan, add the Biryani SACHET 2 Rice Mix and the rice bring to the boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
4. Strain the remaining water from the rice into the meat mixture and stir thoroughly.
5. Spread the rice in an even layer over the meat.
6. Put the lid on the pan or casserole and place on a high heat for 5 minutes.
7. Then turn the heat to its lowest setting and cook gently for 30 minutes, keeping the lid on and not stirring at all!
8. Remove from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before taking to the table, lifting off the lid and allowing everyone to get the full, fragrant Eastern aroma......simple!

Serving Suggestion:
Sprinkle with a little freshly chopped mint and serve with GREEN SAFFRON Riata.

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