Photo: Alix Martichoux
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Of all of Ayesha Curry’s myriad business ventures (cookbooks, restaurants, home decor — the list goes on), she’s kept her meal kit pretty quiet. After trying it out for myself, I think I see why.
In 2017, Curry launched a Blue Apron-esque delivery meal kit under the name Homemade. But not long after, the company quietly stopped the delivery part. Since May, they’ve just been available in two Whole Foods, both located in the Bay Area (Cupertino and Oakland), where you’ll find the Homemade meal kits in a cooler at the store.
Naturally, due to the mysterious nature of this meal kit, I felt that I needed to try it out for myself.
Part 1: Shopping
The meal kits are tucked away toward the back of the store at the Whole Foods location near Lake Merritt. But once you find them, there’s no mistaking the Curry connection: her face is on a big sign next to the refrigerated case.
The menu choices don’t rotate. There are always (only) four meal options: baked penne pasta with three cheeses, honey lime chicken with mashed potatoes and kale, pomegranate steak with roasted vegetables, and chickpea coconut curry. Homemade says the options “will change as the seasons change.” The prices range from $18 to $22 and each box claims to serve two people.
Obviously, I went with Curry’s curry option. It also happened to be the cheapest.
But at $17.99, I would not call it cheap. It was the single most expensive item in my cart that day, so it would have to be extra good to justify the splurge.
Part 2: Cooking
When you’re ready to channel your inner Chef Curry, open up the meal kit box carefully; the instructions are printed on the inside of the packaging. Speaking of packaging, there’s a lot of it. As is pretty typical for meal kits, every ingredient is individually packaged. In this case, that meant lots of plastic baggies — one for the rice, one for the curry powder, one for the broccoli, and so on.
That’s the other thing that struck me: the ingredients are pretty basic. A carrot, a small sweet potato, a handful of broccoli florets, a baggie of white rice. Even the seasoning was just yellow curry powder, not a proprietary blend of special spices. If you were to buy all the ingredients at Whole Foods (and have it delivered by Prime Now), it would cost you $11 — and you’d have extra ingredients left over to make the meal again.
Preparing the vegetables was really easy. Just a few things needed to be chopped before it was time to start combining ingredients into the pot. Cooking the rice went as expected, requiring just a rinse before being thrown into a pot with some water added — pretty standard fare.
After the onion, sweet potato, and carrots cooked down with the curry powder, it was time to add the liquid. Every other time I’ve made yellow curry, there’s normally some coconut milk involved. In this recipe, it’s just two cups of water and a splash of coconut cream, which makes for — you guessed it — watery curry.
After 15 minutes of boiling, the liquid was somewhat reduced, but the end result was still a little thin.
I tasted the curry while it simmered and noticed the sweetness of the carrots was dominating the flavors, so I added another couple shakes of salt.
The box boasts two promises: “makes 2 servings” and “ready in 30 minutes.” Both ended up being false.
There was definitely more than enough (watery) curry for two people, even if you’re really hungry. It lasted about five servings in our household.
As for the second claim, the meal took about 50 minutes to make — and that was with two cooks in the kitchen working simultaneously. But to be fair, I’ve ordered more Blue Apron and HelloFresh boxes than I care to admit and their cook time estimates are also generally inaccurate. So this seems pretty par for the course.
Part 3: Eating
I had to admit — the finished curry looked thin, but it smelled pretty good.
I poured a generous amount over the finished rice and took a bite. It tasted like … curry powder. There wasn’t a rich coconut milk flavor nor a kick from any fresh chili peppers. I topped my bowl with a dose of sriracha from my pantry to spice things up.
To be clear, it wasn’t bad. It was a perfectly acceptable weeknight meal: easy to make, big enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day. But will I pick up another box next time I’m in Whole Foods? No.
My main complaint is the cost. The Homemade meal kits’ prices are on par with competitors like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, but without the convenience of delivery. On top of that, when I’ve ordered meal kits in the past, I like when I receive something unique that I never would have thought to cook otherwise, like chicken fried steaks with gravy or Korean beef bulgogi bowls. In my opinion, this was a super simple recipe that didn’t merit the price tag.
Next time I’m craving curry, I’ll do the ingredients shopping myself (with coconut milk, thank you very much) or pick up a to-go order from my favorite Thai restaurant down the street — even that would be cheaper.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/ayesha-curry-meal-kit-review-recipe-whole-foods-14117639.php.