If you’re partial to a good curry, then keep reading … Meet Rayles, the brains behind curry packs “Off the Rayles” … She shares with FOCUS her love of food and just how easy it is to whip up a delicious curry with miminal effort.
You’re an avid foodie and a lover of Indian cuisine in particular. Tell us about your venture, “Off the Rayles”; what inspired you to take your passion for cooking to the next level and make it your bread and butter?
My love of Indian food began with a trip to India with a friend some 30 years ago; the house cook taught me how to make a basic curry paste, which I have been tweaking ever since.
When I moved to Port Macquarie approx. eight years ago, I was bringing spices from Sydney by the kilo and packing them into meal sized portions for freshness and convenience.
After 30 years in QANTAS corporate, I took a redundancy package and found myself three years later with time on my hands and needing an income. Friends suggested I should sell my curry packs, and it just grew from there … offtherayles@hotmail has been my email for over 20 years, and it often got a giggle when I gave it, so I always thought it would be a cool business name. I just didn’t know what the biz would be …
Give us the back story of your spice blends. How did you come up with the recipes, and what names have you aptly called your creations?
The “rogue n spice” was the original blend that I learnt from Pradeeb in a tiny kitchen all these years ago. It is most like Rogan Josh, so I wanted people to make that connection; it is a really easily adaptable blend, very easy to tweak to different meats and tastes …
The “butter me up” iseasily recognised as butter chicken flavour and knowing how popular it is in Australia with families, I was determined to show that it has its place as an authentic curry (without chilli). So many people have it from a jar, which of course doesn’t have the therapeutic qualities of fresh spice, not to mention the nasty additives …
Dahl Darl? Just comes naturally off the tongue; I’ve always made Dahl for friends and of course, the question has always been …”Dahl Darl?” Cute and catchy …
Findaloo – do I need to explain? Ok, I will – usually when there is a discussion around curry, a toilet reference will come up (especially from a male – never too old for a poo joke, right); with Vindaloo being a very spicy blend, it just seemed appropriate …
How did you perfect your blends? It must have been a lengthy process.
Trial and error – the “rogue n spice” and “Dahl Darl?” were long time hits with family and friends, so no tweaking required there …
Butter me up – I did some reseach online and found what the key flavours were and basically added them to the mix – took the chiili out and whilst talking to my Indian spice wholesaler, Les, I asked him in his humble opinion what makes a butter chicken taste like butter chicken. He said, “There is one very special and secret ingredient that only restaurants know – not even Pete Evans knows of it!” I bribed him to tell me! It’s in the pack; I gave some packs to a few friends with kids to sample, and with just a minor tweak or two it was declared a success!
Findaloo – I knew that our local barber, Jimbo, was a fan of spicy food, so when I was looking for a sampler, I went to him. My first batch was declared “mild”, so after another couple of heaped spoons of very hot chilli powder, it had the desired effect … A thumbs up from Jimbo and his team!
How easy is it to make one of your curries?
My curries are super easy to make. I get a lot of feedback from men saying they wouldn’t usually cook a curry, but mine are as easy as and authentic tasting.
I have done the hard part for you by portioning out the spices; it is curry in a hurry – frying of the onion, garlic, ginger at a high temp, adding the whole spices, cooking them through, then adding the tomatoes and ground spices and cooking them through – that’s it! No grinding; that’s your paste made. At that point you decide whether to marinate your meat, pan cook or use a slow cooker or pressure cooker.
The point of difference of Off the Rayles curry is that it’s quick and easy, but there’s enough interaction for you to feel proud that you have created an authentic, super tasty and healthy meal …
What have you planned for the next 12 months with Off the Rayles?
I’m on a steep learning curve at the moment and plan on getting the curries out there as much as I can … We are working on a website currently, and people will be able to buy online.
I am currently in five shops in Port Mac and would like to expand that, and I would love to get my curry on a restaurant menu or two!
I would like to create different blends going forward, and the chutneys and Indian sides are also an option.
Working with other locals excites me; I am currently talking to Cameron Mynott from Australian Pasture Fresh regarding possible collaborations and also the boys from Latin Loafer regarding a possible Bollywood event … So stay tuned.
Where can we sample and purchase?
Samples of the Dahl Darl? are available at the local markets when I have a stall.
You can purchase by contacting me directly on FB or my phone, and following businesses are stocking, Blackfish Café – Port Mac and Crescent Head, The Hollow store, Waniora Local Butchery, Luigi’s Deli and Country Interiors.