Britain loves curry. There’s no doubting it. But I could only list maybe two one excellent Indian meals I’ve had in the 5 years since I’ve been here; granted I do live outside of London, but that only further illustrates my point. I will however, sing the praises of my friend who makes onion bhajis when I visit that are out of this world, and who can whip up a most excellent dhal or curry in her tiny little kitchen right here in Maidenhead. When I asked her to recommend a good Indian restaurant she comes up short. Why go out for Indian when you can make the real deal at home right? Matt Griffiths, the developer of the food delivery service Tyga.com must have thought the same thing and as a keen cook and lover of curry, he wanted to be able to create the food he’d enjoyed on a trip to India many years ago. Take-away is never as good or rewarding as a home-cooked feast and if you’ve ever tried your hand at Indian cuisine, you’ll know there’s a lot of hassle not only sourcing but preparing the right spices and ingredients.
From the moment the Tyga box arrived I was sold. It looked beautiful and while style might not be as important as substance, it certainly goes a long way to establish first impressions. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe some fresh produce, but when I realised it was only a tray of spices and a few ‘wet’ ingredients, I was a tiny bit disappointed, but that only lasted a moment. Once I’d bought my chicken and a packet of mushrooms I realised that I had everything else on hand to make my Chicken Dopiaza, Mushroom Bhaji and Cumin Potato feast.
Aside from the finesse and quality of the printed material that accompanies the ingredients box, the actual product itself is also rather wonderful. Matt Griffiths and Shahin Ahmed from Cheltnham partnered up to create Tyga boxes for people who want to cook authentic Indian cuisine at home but who might not have the time or resources to make it happen. Griffiths came up with the idea of flavour/spice pods inspired from his marketing days at Kenco coffee, wondering if you could apply coffee technology to spices. It turns out you can and with Ahmed providing the recipes it’s a winning idea because it takes the guess work out of cooking Indian at home and the results are nothing short of incredible.
At £10.99 per box, you are paying over the odds for the ingredients; but the beauty of Tyga is that it delivers something greater than the sum of its parts. You get much more than some pretty spice pots; what you’re paying for is a guarantee. Even the most novice cook will be able to produce two mains and two sides of authentic Indian food that tastes better than anything you’ll get at the local curry house. The recipe cards that are very easy to follow, and you also get a little bit of history about the dishes you’re making, along with the stylish brown box of spice pots that looks rather nice on the bench.
The further you move away from London, the more noticeable the lack of authentic multi-cultural offerings becomes. You can get cheap and cheerful curries in any town and sure, there’s usually a greasy Chinese restaurant nearby and yes, I know there’s a ‘world cuisine’ aisle in most supermarkets. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ability to source high quality, imported ingredients and food.
I’m amazed at how difficult it is to find good quality Italian deli produce considering the country itself is only a short plane ride away. Back in Sydney, almost every town has a good deli where you can buy various imported ingredients along with cold cuts and cheeses. A friend of mine asked if I would be interested in looking at an app that a fellow journalist has developed, it’s called Made in Italy. It’s basically an app that allows you to order high quality, imported Italian ingredients from your phone and truthfully, I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea. But when I had a proper look at it, I realised it was so much more than a shopping portal. This app hinges on story-telling that introduces you to Italian regions, producers and ingredients, showing you how it came to be and why you should care that it exists. It’s the way Made in Italy shares this information about food that got me really excited. Beautiful photography, videos and high quality journalism takes this app beyond a simple food-ordering service; it makes you excited about Italian food. It makes you want to try it. And best of all for the developers, it makes you want to buy it. The items are not cheap, this is not a substitute for grocery shopping. Made in Italy is for curious gourmands who don’t have a deli nearby and who want to know more, and enjoy better Italian ingredients.
“Producers have recipes, techniques and traditions that’ve been passed down for generations and, guaranteed, there’s a quirky tale behind how they came to be. I want people to explore, taste and discover Italy’s beauty, unconventional tales, producers and its gastronomy through the Made in Italy App.” Marco Colombo