Jazz up bottled sauces

This is a case of adding some dried spices and fresh herbs to liven up sauces from a jar. Even I who love to cook am still tempted to use sauces out of jars.

I don’t know why (it might be the packaging which lures me in) but I see bottled sauces and I find it hard to resist, especially if they’re made my Sharwoods…. I’ve always had a penchant for their Mango chutney.

Anyway, I bought a Balti sauce and decided to jazz it up for dinner. And by jazzing up, I mean make it sing and dance with fresh herbs and spices and a bit of this and that.


The basic recipe calls for cooking some chicken and adding the sauce and letting them simmer for 20 minutes or so but I am a complicated chic.

Ingredients for jazzing up

I start by heating up some ghee (oil would do to) in a medium sized sauce-pan. When it is melted, I add a tablespoon of cumin seeds and let them cook a bit. As soon as I hear crackling and my nostrils are warmed with the fragrance of the Middle East, I get the pan off the heat and tip the contents into my little mortar where I gently crush the seeds with my pestle.

Ghee Cumin seedsFried cumin Crushed cumin oil

The I put the oil back into the pan and add half a chopped onion. When that has cooked for a few minutes, some chopped chicken joins the fray. Then for the part I love the most, a cube of ‘fresh’ frozen coriander gets tossed in and the heady scents take over… while the chicken absorbs the flavours. Keep stirring. Don’t stop.  

Cumin and Onions Chicken and onionsChicken and frozen coriander cube Chicken with onions and coriander

Then tip in the sauce when the chicken has whitened.

Add sauce

Rinse out the jar with a little water to ensure you get all the sauce out of the jar and into the pot. I did all this and found the sauce a bit too tart for my liking and so I added a 1/4 cup of raisins to sweeten it up a bit. And because I like heat in my cooking, I add some chopped up yellow chilli – just a bit.

Raisins Stewing BaltiYellow chilli Chilli in sauce

Then I let it simmer for 15-20 minutes and dinner is ready. I am well aware that I could make a sauce from scratch in about the same time but…. life is all about change. Serve with some plain white rice and all the Chapatis and Naan you can make or buy. Don’t forget a dollop of yoghurt and maybe some Mango chutney – the Indian Palace is in your home. Celebrate it.

Ready to eat

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