After a very long hiatus (real life got in the way…), Ferret Food and Wines is BACK! YAY!
And not without good reason. The kind folks at Bis Bas generously sent us their three Arabian cooking sauces to try, which are inspired by their childhoods in Yemen. The sauces can also be used as relishes and dips, and should be good for everyone, as they’re suitable for vegetarians, vegans, coeliacs, and those following gluten-free, nut-free, and wheat-free diets. They’re also free of artificial flavours and colourings, and come in three varieties – Fozia (tomato and coriander), Safia (aromatic spices) and Saba (spinach and coriander), so go well with just about any dish or occasion. SCORE.
It’s this latter sauce which Ferret Food And Wines taster Gemma has first tested. Packed full of tasty ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, garlic and pomegranate juice (yum!), it’s billed as a mild sauce. “I totally agree with this,” Gemma says, “although maybe it’s even a little too mild, as it contains green chillies but in undetectable amounts (perhaps more there for flavour rather than heat, as this is not spicy at all). That said, it is a very beautiful, flavoursome sauce. I usually steer clear of processed, pre-made sauces as I often find they taste very artificial and contain all sorts of horrendous additives and way too much salt. This is not the case here; it’s got completely natural ingredients, is low in saturated fats, sugar and salt, and tastes absolutely delicious.”
Gemma found that the entire jar, when made with meat or vegetables, serves 2-3, but that you could makee 4 very generous portions easily, by adding more vegetables and water. In light of this, the Bis Bas website price of £5 a jar (£15 for the three, including postage and packaging) seems very reasonable. Gemma used the sauce in two ways:
1) Vegetarian: with aubergine, chickpeas, fresh spinach and pomegranate seeds. She adds: “I fried off the aubergine, added half of the sauce with water, added some tinned chickpeas, simmered for 6 minutes and stirred in the additional spinach at the end. I served it with couscous and garnished with pomegranate seeds and lime juice.”
2) Lamb ‘tagine’: “Similarly, I fried off some red onions, aubergine and mushrooms, then added the sauce with water and simmered. In the meantime I fried a lamb steak on a griddle pan, for 3 minutes on each side. I added chickpeas and fresh spinach to the sauce, then served the sauce with couscous and the lamb steak. This could easily be done all-in-one with lamb pieces, or fish/meat/quorn/halloumi etc, fried off with the sauce.”
Bis Bas also recommend heating the sauce on its own to use with fish fillets, or serving with boiled potatoes tossed with paprika and cumin.
Gemma loved the flexibility of this sauce – “the spinach in the sauce is finely chopped,” she says, “and is complemented well by fresh spinach should you choose to add it. It’s easy to alter the consistency of the sauce, making it very easy to cook with. The pomegranate juice really adds a depth of flavour, which again pairs well with fresh pomegranate seeds. Because the sauce is so fresh and fragrant overall, it really stands up well to kitchen experimentation if you want to throw in any more natural flavours. Alternatively, you could just add grilled meat and it would still taste excellent. It doesn’t taste pre-made and as someone who loves to cook from scratch, I am more than happy to use it for dinners when I’m a bit pressed for time. I can’t wait to try the others.”
As Gemma is a doctor by day, this probably says something about her busy lifestyle and the weird hours that she sometimes keeps. As she is also a passionate foodie, it’s a ringing endorsement that this sauce ticks so many of the boxes. The fact that you can also buy it at Harrods perhaps also attests to the high quality of the ingredients used – and, at around £5 a jar, it’s an affordable mealtime luxury too, and definitely cheaper and nicer than a takeaway too – especially if you can make one jar serve 4 as Gemma did. BRAVO, Bis Bas. We salute you