We’re so pleased to present Pestle Curry Pastes, a brand new brand that uses Mellow Yellow Rapeseed Oil as a key ingredient! We chatted to Neha, the founder of Pestle, about this exciting new venture…
First up, introduce yourself and your products!
Hi, I’m Neha Hampton, I’m a chef based in Sussex and I’m excited to share my new brand, Pestle. Pestle is a range of hand crafted curry pastes blended to capture the flavours of some our favourite dishes. This brand is not just about great food, it’s a journey of exploration fuelled by curiosity to look beyond what we know to uncover the stories of history, people and places with the aim to promote cultural unity.
How did Pestle start?
This year has presented us with many challenges and changed everything we know and love. Motivated by my desire to connect with people and share my love for food, I decided to turn a hobby of making fresh curry pastes into a small business. It all started in my local community and with a outpouring of support I decided to make it official and that’s how Pestle was born.
We’re so pleased to be used in your curry pastes. How did you first hear of Mellow Yellow and why did you choose to include us in your pastes?
I’ve been a fan and have used Mellow Yellow in my home for many years now – I love the slightly nutty flavour and the versatility with so many different cuisines. A lot of Indian curries involve slowly caramelising onions, garlic and ginger as a base and an oil with a high smoke point works best for this… Mellow Yellow is perfect and the colour reminds me of the mustard oil that my mum used to cook with. To say I was delighted to find out that it was available in larger quantities for businesses like mine is an understatement!
Your first range of curry pastes is called ‘Behind the British Curry’, can you tell us about the history of a curry in the range?
The love for curry weaves through many generations and Indian cuisine has firmly made it into the hearts and onto the plates of Britain.
The ‘Behind the British Curry’ range shares stories & flavours of the ancestral heritage of some of our favourite dishes. Vindaloo for example, is Goa’s most famous export… its origins however trace back to Portuguese traders in the 15th century who carried with them a dish called carne vinha d’alhos, pork marinaded in garlic and vinegar for their long journeys. The dish was adapted in Goa to local conditions and with no vinegar, they used palm wine and added local ingredients like tamarind, pepper & cinnamon. Chillies in fact arrived with Vasco De Gama in 1498 and eventually replaced or complimented black pepper as a source of heat in Goan cuisine.
How are your pastes made?
There’s essentially 3 stages – the first is caramelising onions, garlic and ginger in Farrington’s Mellow Yellow Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, the second is roasting and grinding my unique blend of spices and the third is bringing these together to form a paste. The aim is to make the cooking process for the customer simple and easy – you just add in a few ingredients, cook and voila, a super tasty meal.
We know the quality ingredients are important to you, other than our oil, can you tell us about any other special ingredients used?
Spices are a real foundation to my pastes and are an important part of the culinary heritage that we share all over the world. When developing my recipes I reflect on my travels & my own experiences of these dishes and I am looking to create as near to those moments as possible. This means creating the perfect balance and blend of spices and when developing recipes, literally adjusting each peppercorn up and down to get them perfect.
We love the packaging of your products, what inspired these beautiful designs?
One of the pillars of the brand is the idea of ‘handmade’ so when it came to packaging I wanted to follow that theme. I wanted this to feel like something you could grow, like a packet of seeds and hence the envelope. The hand drawn illustrations are by a friend Mel @smithandwonder and we worked together to capture the essence of the Pestle and ingredients that go into each paste.
What is your favourite dish to cook (not including your own curry pastes)?
Wow, what a big question. As a fully obsessive foodie, I love cooking is every shape or form, from baking to making an omelette to elaborate fine dining. One of my favourite dishes to cook and eat is Bebek Betutu – a Balinese duck dish, which is covered in a spice paste and roasted for 4-6 hours at a low heat. I recently added in Farrington’s Mellow Yellow Oak Smoked Rapeseed Oil which adds the flavour and memory of the duck being slow cooked over a wood fire in Bali.
Where can we find your products and where can we follow you on social media?
You’ll find me on the socials @pestleltd – here you’ll see my journey of food and stories of people, places and history.
I recently launched with my first online retailer, The Ethical Butcher – you can buy pastes and meal kits where the pastes have been paired with incredible meats to give you a simple, easy and tasty meals at home. More retailers announcing very soon!
What’s coming next for Pestle?
This is my chapter 1 and so today I am focussed on expanding the brand and retailers. As the journey unfolds, I will be looking to expand production in my new studio kitchen and I’ve even started research and development for the next range of products. Watch this space 🙂
To buy Pestle curry pastes, visit The Ethical Butcher here.