Q Has to be asked what goes on in your Poly tunnel, it all sounds very mysterious?
A When we moved to our house one of the things that attracted us was this marvellous 70ft poly tunnel. I say us, actually it’s my husband Simon who’s the gardener. Let’s just say that gardening is not one of my skills! Simon grows it & I cook it.
Much of the produce for my chutney comes from here. This year we’ve had a bumper crop of tomatoes, probably about 50 kilos, also onions, wonderful cucumbers, basil & currently harvesting chillies.
Every year we try to find different things to grow in our tunnel & we also try to utilise it year round. For instance you can plant up potatoes for Christmas & can even grow lettuce through the winter.
Q ‘Kingston Firecracker’ that sounds like it’s got a kick. Tell us more !
A Yes, it definitely has a kick though I have recently had a customer who said that he thought it was very mild!
I’d been trying to develop a chilli relish that had a real kick but that also had some flavour behind it. People often equate chillies purely with heat but they each have different flavours & also a lovely fruitiness, & when cooked with spices that flavour can develop. That was what I was trying to capture when I made my Firecracker & I think that I have managed to do that. I’ve been selling it for about 4 months & it’s one of the most popular of my “Asian Inspired” range.
Q. You’ve developed an enticing and interesting range of Preserves, Jams, Chutneys and flavoured Oils. Where do you get your inspiration from?
A Gosh, difficult to pin down as I get inspiration from so many different places. I love cookery books so I spend a lot of time reading & buying them! Wherever we go I find myself in bookshop be it second hand or charity, I’ve found some little gems. On holiday I have been known to photograph (and taste) local preserves so that when I get home I can see if I can replicate that combination.
I love the fact that you can take 3 or 4 ingredients & turn them into something delicious
The inspiration for my most recent range “Asian Inspired” has come from my background. I’m an Anglo Indian & have grown up with pickles & chutneys as accompaniments. Lightbulb moment came about a year ago & I started with a Mango Chutney which is now my best seller. I wanted to show that there are so many different flavours & that spicy did not always equate to hot, there are different levels of flavour, for instance the fruitiness in Firecracker. I also wanted to let people see that you can use this range with things other than curry with just a little imagination it can be used in so many ways:
Firecracker – Whizz it in a processor & it can be used like Harissa, mix it with yogurt as a dip, put a little into the base of a Chilli Con Carne & of course just as a relish.
Mango Chutney – Great with cheese & cold meats. Mix it with mayo for a very quick Coronation Chicken.
Kashmiri Garlic Chutney – Again a good one mixed with yogurt or a spoonful in the base of a casserole or stew gives a lovely depth of flavour.
Sweet Thai Chilli Paste – A great base for a beef stir fry, use it as a marinade on chicken & it makes a great salad dressing just use a teaspoonful for the base & make as normal.
I like people to experiment with what they buy from me & then come back & have a chat about it. Yes, it doesn’t work every time but 9 times out of 10 it does so just give it a go!