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.