Apricot tastings and potato curry

While visiting Auckland to spend time with my grandson Beau, I took the opportunity to promote my son’s preserved apricots by carrying out tastings at the Farro Fresh stores around the city.  Farros is to a foodie what a sweet shop is to a child.

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Each time the Farros staff gave me a hot coffee to enjoy and it’s so true they do support New Zealand’s food artisans.

With so many tempting products to choose from it is essential that Gus has regular tastings to get customers to remember Augustines of Central preserved apricots.

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I was usually lucky being placed by the cheese and deli section of the stores so I could entertain myself thinking of what piece of cheese I would buy once my tasting was over.

I got lots of positive feedback about the fresh and delicious flavour of the apricots.

A tasting lasts for 3 hours so when a spicy aroma drifted over from another area of the store I had to see what was being offered. I discovered a warming curry paste simply cooked up with potatoes and a little tomato.

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There are hotter pastes available but I went for the medium spiced curry paste.

Naaz authentic Indian curry paste came about when one partner was out of work.  This product was born by creating the paste in a friend’s commercial kitchen and selling at a local market as many New Zealand food producers have done. Naaz now offers other pastes and are stocked in a number of North Island stores.  I like that this product has no preservatives and because of once opened it has to be used within 3 weeks. No problem – it’s so delicious and tastes real and I found it easy to use up in  that timeframe.

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The potato harvest I think would be about 25 kg. Plenty of potato curry nights ahead thanks to Gemma who planted them for us.

It takes a lot of time and spices to make such curry pastes and this instant option I decided would be excellent to take home south to create quick and warming meals from the masses of potatoes I had harvested from my garden. It’s always good to have something easy when you first arrive home from a trip away. Going to a supermarket after getting off a plane is no fun when you just want to get home and most of us have one or two potatoes, kumera or a pumpkin in the pantry that could be used as the vegetable base for this curry.

Naaz Potato Curry

(serves 2)

Cut up 3 or 4 potatoes diced into 2cm cubes

1 finely chopped onion (optional)

2-3 Tbsp of Naaz curry paste (to taste)

1-2 chopped tomatoes (use canned when out of season)

1 small can coconut cream or yoghurt

Chopped coriander, mint or parsley

Gently fry onion in a little oil.  I used coconut oil but would have used ghee if I had it. Once transparent, add 2-3 Tbsp of Naaz authentic Indian paste and fry a little to release the oils from the spices before adding the potatoes.

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Stir to cover the potatoes with the paste and then add enough water to just cover potatoes and simmer.  Chop up one or two tomatoes and add to the mix.  The tomatoes thicken up and add flavour to the sauce.

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Just before serving add one of those small tins of coconut cream.  Alternatively add a couple of dollops of yoghurt.

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The coconut cream I let cook for a while, but yoghurt you add at the end of cooking. At this stage with the addition of a creamy taste double check that there is enough curry paste in your dish.

At this stage check to see if you need to add a little more curry paste. If it’s at the right level of spiciness, and the vegetables are cooked then its ready to go.  Serve with Indian flatbread, dosas, or poppadoms. I had none of these options in the pantry but I did have some Lebanese flatbreads that I fried in a cast iron pan with a little oil, both sides and that worked perfectly well.

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Ideally Indian breads would be served with this, but I found flatbreads worked fine.

As a side dish I sauted coloured silver beet or chard from the garden to add colour and another texture to the meal.  I sliced the stems and sauted them first with garlic in a little oil as they take longer to soften, then added wet sliced green tops and cooked until wilted down and soft. The stalks add colour although it is said the plain silver beet white stems are tastier than the coloured ones.

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An easy and delicious curry that tastes authentic.

Peter told me he could eat vegetarian every night if it was like this curry which is very encouraging so I will need to order another jar or two of Naaz curry paste. But it needn’t just be used in a vegetarian curry, it works well with chicken, lamb or fish.

At the Epsom store I met the sister of Wild Wheat baker Andrew and heard how their sourdough loaves take over 48 hours to create from start to finish and do not have additives or preservatives.Their bread was really good and quickly disappeared at our house.

The charming Massimiliano from Il Casaro cheese (Italian for cheese maker) I knew from the Sunday Grey Lynn market. He was tasting a new product line next to my table – truffle cream made from butter cream. I tried his recipe handout for a mushroom pasta made with the truffle cream. It was a delightfully delicious way to taste the exotic flavour of truffle.

The other tasters I met were sampling fermented black garlic, cocoa pops and muesli, and cold pressed organic juices. Look into their stories and like Gus these producers have taken years of trial and error to produce the products that now sit on the Farro Fresh shelves. Often those people serving up the tastings, like me, are family or the producer themselves.