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Not your average take away: The Cook Curry Club

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Rather than our usual Indian take away a couple of weekends ago me and Mr P tried The Cook Curry Club, and the food was so delicious I just had to share. Such a giver me.

So the idea is simple. Having left her job in sales and marketing for a large pharmaceutical firm in search of a better work life balance (we hear you sister!) Kran Sondh now prepares home-cooked healthy Indian dishes from her kitchen in Knowl Hill. The curries are cooked on the day of delivery using locally sourced ingredients and are then available from six collection points across East Berkshire: Henley, Twyford, Knowl Hill, Wokingham, Binfield Heath and Wargrave.

You order your meal via Kran’s website (currently every other Friday) choose a collection point and off you trot to collect it within a half hour time slot. There are two menus to choose from: a meat menu and a vegetarian menu and both are £20. That’s it. Told you it was simple.

We chose the meat menu which the week we ordered included a main chicken dish called Tariwala Chicken, a veggie side dish of aloo gobi (the classic cauliflower and potato dish but done properly with an onion, garlic, ginger and tomato masala), chapattis, basmati rice infused with garlic and turmeric and a really delicious pickle.

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This is how the food looked out of the bag, sorry not sure why half the rice is missing – I think Mr P had put some in the micro already?!

I sent Mr P off to collect which he did via the pub for a swift half, while I uncorked the wine and got into my Jim-Jams in preparation for Operation-Curry-Night-with-Back-to-Back-Gogglebox-and-No-Kids, so it was win-win all round frankly.

Kran was there exactly on time waiting with our food order, nicely packaged in little tubs (biodegradable. Rock on.) and in the bag was a set of instructions explaining exactly how to heat up each dish. There are gluten free, veggie, vegan options and you can also ‘go large’ for an extra £5, but we found the food was just right for two with no leftovers.

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Here’s a close up of the dishes (l to r) chicken, aloo and pickle

Kran’s recipes and menus stay uncompromisingly true to the food most Indians eat at home. The menus are based on the makings of a typical meal (usually a dhal or a meat dish, a side dish, rice and/or bread) and the food we had that evening was absolutely delicious.

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Here it is dished up on the plate. This is one portion and there was enough for a small second serving

It really was a world away from a restaurant takeaway. Light, fresh, fragrant – and each dish had a really distinct flavour completely different to the next. It was beautifully spiced – not screaming hot – just warm and spicy with chilli heat gently coming through in waves. Having grown up in Singapore as an expat brat, and then later worked in Dubai in my twenties, I have eaten my fair share of ‘proper’ curry dishes and this reminded me of those – authentic, wholesome and delicious.

Kran can’t remember a time when she didn’t cook. Apart from always cooking at home growing up, she also used to help out at the temple on weekends (she is Sikh) so is used to cooking in bulk too. Kran’s family are from India’s northern state of Punjab, known as the agricultural capital of the country. The land is well irrigated so the area is much richer in ingredients – lots of tomatoes, onions, chillies and spices and this is reflected in her cooking.

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Kran also caters for dinner parties – uh, yes please!

A mother to two teenagers, Kran approaches her business with healthy eating in mind, mostly because of her children. ‘I cook in rapeseed oil, I’ve never really used ghee or butter as I’m dairy intolerant. I use minimum oil, quality lean meat, loads of vegetables. Despite what people think curries, if done right, are really healthy.’

So why would you choose Kran’s option over your usual take away? Well me and Mr P discussed this in length actually and concluded that it has a lot to do with the taste, the dishes were better than our local take away, simple as. Kran explains that often when she eats at Indian restaurants she can’t make out the different regions of the dishes and imagines they use a generic base sauce with meat pre-boiled and added to the sauce just before serving. Whereas Kran prides herself on doing everything correctly with her food slow cooked as she would do for her family’s meals.

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Plus you’re supporting a local business, that in turn uses local producers and businesses itself. Quality of ingredients is excellent, it’s certainly the healthiest curry we’ve ever eaten – no pools of oil or thick creamy red-orange sauces here. It’s cooked to order and the collection was actually no different to driving out to collect from a restaurant – except you get to meet the chef herself!

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As if she wasn’t busy enough spinning several plates, Kran also sells jars of her Turka Sauce so you can recreate her curries at home (£6 a jar – no need to tell your friends you didn’t slave over the oven for 8 hours making it from scratch) plus she also does dinner parties with prices per head starting from a very reasonable £11 for two courses plus rice, bread and pickle) a new business lunch venture with a friend and the odd pop-up restaurant too. This woman is a machine I tell you!

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Kran’s cooking definitely gets the Muddy stamp of approval, and I would really urge you to try it for yourself – you still have time to place an order for her next take away which is this Friday 18 March. Following that the next dates are 8 April and 22 April. They are fortnightly at the moment with a plan to possibly make them weekly.

Tel: 07411 151276. www.thecookcurryclub.com

Twitter: @CookCurryClub

Facebook: TheCookCurryClub

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