Last Updated on March 18, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Exploring the world from my kitchen with Feast Box.
Ad: I was provided with a free sample and paid a small fee to review Feast Box. All content is editorially given.
I have long been curious about home delivery recipe box schemes so was delighted to be invited to review one of the meals from Feast Box. Getting my meals delivered to my door means not having to do the shopping. That is a real treat in my book. Simply scroll through the genuinely tempting weekly dishes – plenty for vegans too – and select what you would like to eat in the week ahead. Spontaneity in the kitchen is a little overrated when you have a busy working day and still need to put dinner on the table in the evening. You can order as many meals as you like, from a range that includes unusual dishes like this Afghan Lubia, either for two or four people.
Feast Box describes itself as ‘ambitious cooking made simple’. It will take your cooking to a higher level. Yes, you still have to do the cooking, it is not just a heat and eat scheme. Skills are there to be learnt, recipes are provided, and each ingredient measured and portioned out. The recipes are not your common or garden weekly meals either, well at least not in my household. They are based on bringing the street food you loved while travelling right onto your dining table. Ingredients are sourced abroad, and no substitutes are used so you are assured of getting the taste just right.
I am an experienced and confident home cook, but I have never prepared most of the exotic dishes on offer, so it was hard to choose just one option off the list. Having recently embraced flexitarianism with a vegan orientation, I was drawn to the vegan dishes and was surprised to find so many! Don’t worry though, there is plenty of meat and fish too.
I chose Afghan Lubia because it is made with kidney beans which are the one member of the legume family that generally does not get much of a look-in when I cook. I was hoping to have my culinary repertoire challenged and was curious to see how these humble legumes are cooked and eaten in Afghanistan, not a country I am likely to be visiting in my lifetime, sadly. An added bonus – post-Christmas – is that the dish is low calorie and low fat.
My delivery was booked for a Tuesday. On Monday I received a chirpy email informing me that my box had been packed and I would get another email to give me an estimated time of delivery. So helpful. Who wants to wait in all day? On Tuesday the delivery arrived at the appointed time. I carried the cardboard box into my kitchen, everything looks compostable – there were a few plastic containers for the spices and I put these into my recycling box.
Opening the box – emblazoned with an attractive Feast Box sticker, I found a recipe card with a photo of the completed dish on the one side which is always a help. It’s good to know what one is aiming for particularly when trying a new recipe. On the other side were detailed instructions that even a child could follow. All I needed from my own kitchen was oil for frying onions, a grater, knife and tin opener. I ground the spices in my mortar and pestle, but the recipe notes indicated that I could simply bash them with the back of a saucepan should I wish.
I couldn’t wait to get cooking. I thought about the convenience once again while I diced onions, cucumber and tomatoes, chopped coriander and mint, and grated a carrot. In no time I had the spices toasting in a pan and my kitchen became aromatic with coriander, cumin and cinnamon amongst other intriguing spices. Afghan cooking tends to be aromatic rather than spicy so there is more black pepper than chilli, for example. That gives the food a gentle heat rather than an intense kick.
A bit of light chopping, frying of onions, boiling of rice and opening a tin. This was a really easy recipe. Just as well that the recipe is printed on good-quality card – I managed to spill kidney bean liquid all over the recipe. If I was cooking from a book, the page would have been ruined. With the Feast Box recipe, I simply wiped the card clean and carried on.
The recipe notes describe Afghan Lubia with Salata and Jewelled Rice as a dish that would be eaten in Afghanistan on a summer night when temperatures can drop. The summer vegetables – carrot, cucumber mixed with red onion – plus basmati rice perfumed with saffron are popular sides to the Lubia, meaning kidney bean stew. While it might be eaten traditionally in the warmer season, it was a joy to return home on a grey winter’s day to eat a vibrantly coloured and comfortingly flavoured dish. The saffron basmati – the best rice in my opinion – was sunflower yellow and flecked with orange from the grated carrot and studded with plump raisins. The salata added a fresh and crunchy side dish – diced cucumbers, red onion, grated carrot, chopped coriander, lemon juice and toasted, ground coriander and cumin. The bean stew had a base of sautéed onions with a melange of spices, pureed garlic, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Once this had cooked down a little, the red beans were added and chopped mint added at the end.
I have big appetites in my household and was pleased to find that the portions were generous. In fact, we each had a sizeable bowl of rice, beans and salad. It looked cheerful on the plate, so many colours and there was a good portion or two of our five a day – tomatoes, cucumber, tomato, carrot.
We all enjoyed the tastes and textures – the stew was mildly spicy, just enough heat for those who don’t like their food too hot. The mix of spices had everyone guessing what might be in the aromatic spice mix and other little pots. We could taste coriander, cinnamon and cardamom. The fresh salad was a great foil to the rice and stew, adding a welcome crunch and lightness to the whole. I especially liked the no-fat dressing which is basically a squeezed lemon. What I thought was very clever – and a tip I will continue to use – was the addition of toasted, ground coriander seeds sprinkled over the salad. What flavour it imparted!
Aside from the ease of cooking and the luxury of getting the ingredients delivered to my door, Feast Box sources its ingredients in an eco-conscious and sustainable way, the packaging is recyclable and insulation is refrigeration free. Each week there are new meat, seafood, vegan and vegetarian dishes to choose from. Some meal options are more familiar while others – like Afghan Lubia – are lesser-known. This is a very user-friendly scheme. Happy feasting!
Red kidney bean stew with saffron-scented basmati rice and side salad
- 1 onion
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 small bunch fresh mint
- 1 carrot
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander
- 1 tsp Dhana Jeeru a blend of coriander and cumin
- 1 lemon
- 2 tsp crackle and sizzle tarka blend 1g cumin seeds, 2 cardamom pods, 1 inch cassia stick (Indian cinnamon)
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 pinch saffron strands
- 2 tsp garlic crushed
- 1 tsp aromatic spice blend 1g Kashmiri chilli powder, 1g tumeric powder, 1.5g ground coriander, 1.5g ground cumin
- 200g passata
- 1 400g can kidney beans
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 3 tbsp oil
Peel and dice the onion and the tomatoes into 1cm chunks and remove the mint leaves from the stalks then roughly chop them. Peel and grate the carrot.
Dice the red onion and cucumber into small cubes and roughly chop the coriander. Combine all three in a mixing bowl along with half of the grated carrot.
Heat a saucepan on a medium heat and add in the dhana jeeru. Toast the spices for 1 minute then tip out into a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind. Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin or crush with the back of a saucepan. Add the crushed seeds to the chopped salad and squeeze over the juice of the lemon with a pinch of salt. Toss together then leave aside for later.
Fill and boil your kettle. Place the now-empty saucepan back onto a medium heat and pour in 3 tbsp oil. Tip in the crackle and sizzle spice blend and the coriander seeds and fry for 30 seconds.
Once sizzling, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Fry the onions with the spices for 4-5 minutes or until softened
Meanwhile, place the basmati rice and saffron in a saucepan and pour in 400ml of boiling water. bring the rice up to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Add the crushed garlic to the onions and stir together for 1 minute, then add the aromatic spice blend and fry for another 30 seconds.
Next, add in the tomato paste and the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Fry for 3-4 minutes to allow the tomatoes to soften. Pour in 200ml of boiling water. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the red kidney beans.
Once the fresh tomatoes have begun to melt into the sauce, add the red kidney beans. Stir well then simmer for 5-6 minutes on a medium heat.
By now, the rice should have absorbed the majority of the water. Add the remaining grated carrot and the raisins to the rice and stir in gently. Cover the pan with a lid and take off the heat. Let the rice rest in the residual steam of the pan.
Add the chopped mint to the beans and leave simmering for one more minute.
Divide the stew between plates or bowls and serve with the jewelled rice and salad alongside.
You can order a whole range of dishes from Feast Box and explore the world from your kitchen.
Thinking of making this at home or ordering your own choice from FeastBox? Why not pin this post for later
Looking for something different? We have plenty of other vegetarian recipes on London-Unattached like this delicious Aubergine and Puy Lentil Stew , a comforting Leek and Potato Gratin, or classic Pasta alla Norma