“I think that India is home to the most incredible food on the planet,” says chef Aktar Islam on the website for his Michelin starred restaurant Opheem in Birmingham.
Once you’ve tried his food, you may well be inclined to agree.
And thanks to a selection of meal kits with nationwide delivery, everyone can try this exceptional home cooking by a Michelin starred chef in the comfort of their own home.
Aktar at Home’s curry box, priced at £70, gives you a selection of 10 traditional dishes including rice and breads, with a vegan option available.
Each week Aktar develops a unique menu, depending on the produce available. The template stays the same, with a selection of curries from across all of India, and menus are published weekly.
A curry box is enough for a very generous banquet for four, several meals for two, or a whole week of dinners for one – which makes it incredible value for money.
The portions are ample, with each curry between 400g and 600g, providing multiple meals designed to be eaten over several sittings.
There’s no effort required when it comes to preparing the curries, as all the hard work has been done in advance – all you need to do is reheat them.
There are also generous portions of breads and rice, which can be spread over several meals and just need warming through in the oven or microwave (or hob for the rice, if you prefer).
All the dishes keep in the fridge for three days, plus everything is designed to be frozen, too, so you can enjoy them at your leisure and ensure there’s no waste.
And there won’t be any waste, because the dishes are simply exceptional.
We start with slow braised mutton simmered in a fragrant yoghurt based sauce spiced with cloves, mace and floral kewda essence, plus a vegetable dish of January King cabbage, shallots and carrot sautéed in a spiced oil scented with Bengali pickling spices.
The meat is fall-apart tender, the sauce complex and rich and comforting, and the cabbage adds texture and a slight sharpness to cut through the delicious fattiness of the mutton.
The portions are plenty for two greedy people, especially with a helping of fragrant pulao rice or fluffy warm bread to dip and mop.
For a lighter lunch we share a classic Indo-chinese street food curry: paneer cooked in a chilli sauce with peppers and onions.
The soft pillowy cubes of fresh, mild cheese go perfectly with the robust sauce, seductively sweet and spicy with a heat that’s bold but never pushy.
Next we try a Malabar fish curry, the marinated cod requiring a gentle pan-fry before being simmered in an aromatic coconut milk sauce tempered with mustard seed, curry leaves, chilli and tamarind.
It’s beautifully balanced, creamy and subtle, while an equally delightful daal dish sees a blend of lentils tempered with sun dried chilli and garlic and finished with fresh dill.
Chicken keema provides another great meal, the tender mince cooked with caramelised shallots and peppers and spiced with toasted sun dried chilli, cracked cumin and fragrant coriander.
For the final feast we go for brisket of beef, the huge meaty chunks cooked with fenugreek, mustard greens and spinach with garlic and green chilli.
It’s a belter, as is a veggie curry of new potatoes simmered in a rich onion sauce finished with dried fenugreek.
We spread the dishes over five large meals for two people, lasting us three days, but the generous portions could easily go further than that.
It’s flexible, too, so you can mix and match the dishes as you like depending on how many you’re feeding and how hungry you are.
However you portion it out, you’re looking at Michelin quality food, prepared with skill and love, for less than the price of most takeaways. We’re already eyeing up our next box.
You can find out more and order here.