Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Indian Without the Effort

I just love Indian food. Hell, I went vegetarian in 1994 after my first exposure to Hindu culture and Indian food. But I rarely ever make it at home. So many spices, so much effort. But a local Germantown woman, Sharon Fernandes, has taken the hard work out of Indian cooking with her new line of Indian meal starters, Stonehouse 27.

My editor Susan Ellis wrote a great article in our paper, the Memphis Flyer, about Fernandes' line. You can read that here. Plus, Susan sent me home with a jar of Stonehouse 27 Cilantro & Coconut Sauce to try for myself.

Four of the six flavors are vegan, and all are made with agave nectar rather than refined sugar. They're gluten-free, low-sodium, and all-natural. And even though Fernandes lives in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis, her sauces are now available in 1,400 stores in six states. In Memphis, it's sold at Whole Foods, Miss Cordelia's, and Fresh Market.

I decided to try my Cilantro & Coconut Sauce mixed with Fried Tofu, Cauliflower, and English Peas:

The jar is labeled "mild," and it's not lying. I like a lot of spice in my Indian food (well, in my every food), so I quickly beefed this up with a generous amount of crushed red pepper and sriracha. The low-sodium part also wasn't lying. But that was easily remedied with a couple of teaspoons of sea salt.

Once the sauce was seasoned to my liking, it was quite delicious. Mixed with the tofu and veggies, it tasted as though I'd been simmering my own sauce for hours. It's no wonder considering the ingredients — real onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, coconut milk, GMO-free canola oil, green chilies, ginger, and Fernandes' secret blend of 27 spices (hence the name).

Would I buy it? Probably, if I felt like splurging. It rings up at $5.49 a jar, which is a bit out of my price range for one item. The price would be better off at, say, $3.99. I could deal with that. But I am itching to try the other vegan flavors — Tamarind & Garlic, Tomato & Chilies, and, Dates & Tamarind — so I may have to shell out the big bucks.


Anonymous said...

Looking good! I love curry, probably not helped by visiting India twice. But you're definitely right, making it from scratch is a chore!! I don't know if it's available in the US but I use a brand called Pataks, they make curry pastes in loads of flavours so it's really easy to add to chopped tomatoes & onions for a very quick meal.
Elise x

Sheridanna said...

This looks GOOOOOOD! I would love to try some of it. I have not ventured into the world of Indian cooking and I think a pre-made sauce like this would help for sure! Maybe I'll pick some up next time I'm in Memphis!

Liz said...

I kind of like the idea of a pre-made sauce that is low sodium, because I hate pre-made sauces that are overly ridiculously salty. Haven't liked most of the pre-made indian sauces I've tried, but you def. made a good argument for trying these

Get Skinny, Go Vegan. said...

Girl!! Sauce looks great but yeah, pricey for a normal buy. You have to get the Indian Slow Cooker book!! A vegan recession wet dream :)

princessile said...

Wow, your blog is fantastic!!!! Here in Italy is only late in the afternoon but your photos made me angry! I'm not fully vegan, but I'd like to..... I love everything concerning about US and australia. said...

I can only do mild when it comes to spice so it sounds perfect for me, I'll keep an eye out for it next time I'm in the US.

Lauren said...

I used to be like you as well -- LOVED indian food and would always love going to places, but was too intimidated by the LONG list of spices to make it myself. That passed, and i just made malai kofta the other night! :) Anyway -- that ssauce sounds like such an easy fix for a weeknight!
I'll have to see if they sell it up here in PA!

and_i_say said...

In response to the first comment, Pataks is available in the US. Aarti on Food Network has an ad for Pataks that I've seen recently. A quick Google search results in Pataks in the US.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

OK, I'll try NOT to sound like a spam-ish advertisement, but if you like Indian food and don't want to hassle with all those spices you ABSOLUTELY need to get this Indian Spice Box thingy, called a "Spice Tiffin" from this awesome vegan chef and cookbook author, Anupy Singla Gupta. It's TOTALLY cool, it's a multi-compartmentalized box filled with different spices - all the spices are labelled and arranged and easy to use - and I can do indian food super easy now with all the right stuff!!! (OK, I AM sounding like an advertisement, sorry!) Anyway, here's the link for the spice box:
Seriously the only way I will cook Indian food now!!