Island Cuisine is a new range of curry-style cooking sauces (£1.99) inspired by from Asian, African and French cuisine. They've already proved popular with consumers in the North West and Midlands, where they are stocked in over 165 Tesco outlets, and now the range is set to be available in over 50 Sainsbury’s stores across the UK.
Island Cuisine sauces are available in four different varieties – Yellow Creole Curry, Green Creole Curry, Red Creole Curry and Sweet & Spicy Creole. All four are suitable for vegetarians and free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
I must admit that my expectations weren't particularly high as I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to cooking sauces, and tend to believe that you can't beat a truly home-made curry made entirely from scratch. It's safe to say that I was fairly sceptical of the idea that Island Cuisine sauces offer busy families a 'quick and effective way to add some Seychellois seasoning to their meal times'.
So far we've tried the Yellow Creole Curry sauce, which is the milder of the sauces and is blended with coconut milk, ginger, garlic and aromatic spices. This didn't particularly wow me when I first opened the jar and had a whiff of the sauce, but that soon changed once things started heating up.
I followed the instructions on the label (cook 250g of chicken or fish in a little hot oil for 4-5 minutes then throw in the curry sauce, stir and simmer until fully cooked) but without any further timing guidelines I found it difficult to tell when it was cooked, particularly because there was quite a lot of sauce so I couldn't go by the colour of the meat. The sauce started out quite thick but thinned out as it cooked.
Once the chicken began to cook, the sauce smelled amazing. My husband even came into the kitchen and commented on the smell because I had 'warned' him that I was using a jar for dinner. Maybe I'm entering into the realms of snobbery now but I wouldn't say cooking sauces from a jar usually elicit that reaction.
The taste completely took me by surprise - lots of flavours going on and none of the blandness that you get with some jarred sauces. No nasty after taste or synthetic taste or texture - I have to admit that this was as good as any home-made curry sauce I've rustled up from scratch.
One thing though - there was a definite 'kick' to this curry-style sauce so much so that I wouldn't personally describe this as a 'mild' sauce. I love a bit of heat in a curry so I welcomed the unmistakable presence of green habanero chillies (as well as chilli powder, according to the ingredients) but those with a palate more sensitive than mine might find the green chillies a bit much for a mild sauce. The heat definitely lingers but in a pleasant way.
My husband's verdict was that this was delicious, and he reached for the jar to find out more.
To my surprise I would definitely buy Island Cuisine cooking sauces in future - they're definitely worth keeping in the kitchen cupboard for when you need a quick but tasty supper.
There are several recipes on the Island Cuisine website too, and I'm particularly looking forward to trying out the chicken wraps with creole mango salsa using the yellow sauce in future.
The Green Creole Curry is infused with fresh green pepper, coconut milk, green chillies and coriander, while the Red Creole Curry blends fresh tomatoes, chillies and onions, and has been created using a specially-blended mix of herbs and spices to offer a medium-hot dish.
Pros Affordable, versatile (check out the recipes for a twist on using cooking sauces) and surprisingly scrumptious. Also suitable for veggies and free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
Cons The cooking instructions are a tiny bit vague so you'll want to keep a close eye on it whilst cooking.
Overall Verdict 10/10