Another tuesday, time for another spicy review.
This week I bring you Mr Vikki’s Banana Habanero pickle. An old favourite that I’ve only just got another jar of. It won’t last long.
But before it disappears, let’s get a good look at it.
The name takes centre stage in bold black all-caps against a rather flat yellow background. To the sides we see some teardrop shaped patterns in the style of traditional indian henna. They rise up from the fires that trail off round the back, the one part of the packaging that tells us (in a small descriptive quote) that this is a pickle.
Above and below the whole thing are two red bars, framing the piece and merging with the flames.
The cutouts from the top bar do a great job in giving the impression of a mosque or indian palace but, in general, the label does little to tells us what the product is past the style of cooking and the two key ingredients. Certain parts like “Made in Cumbria with passion” (their emphasis, not mine) actively mislead the customer and I swear the pickle was anything but “medium to hot” last time I tried it.
The bold, three colour design, or four if you count the tiny bit of green on the chilli beneath the company name, certainly attracts attention but I feel it might not be of the desired sort. It looks tacky and, to someone raised by a professional graphics designer, just reeks of penny pinching on the printing costs.
But, as I’ve said before and will surely say again, first impressions aren’t everything and it’s what’s inside the jar that counts.
On the spoon you can instantly see how thick, seedy and chunky it is. The sort of texture you get from a real home-made chutney or pickle, instead of the almost jelly-like supermarket sort.
What you don’t see, however, is that those chunks are curried banana. They’re not solid, crunchy or tough at all and only the tiniest bit chewy. Despite its somewhat “rustic” appearance, this pickle is spreadable and soft.
Not that it’s perfectly smooth, though, as there are still whole fenugreek, turmeric and mustard seeds, the first two contributing a great deal of indian-style flavour to the sweet and fruity cooked banana.
Further rounding it out is the addition of fresh ginger, while vinegar acts as a preservative and turns it into a pickle instead of just a delicious curry spread.
Finally and rather subtly, there is a definite undertone of Habanero to the flavour.
And then there’s the burn. Not as delayed as many superhot products but still towards the end of the mouthful, warming me from the upper back of my mouth and forward along the roof. I find it has very little tongue burn and it hasn’t touched my lips at all but it’s certainly grown well. I’m going to have to call its
despite coming into this review practically knowing I would be giving it a one or below.
I don’t know if my past experience was with a bad batch or if they’ve changed the recipe but the pickle I knew was one of the best extra mild products around, not the medium to hot they put on the jar and now actually live up to.
It’s still perfect for sandwiches but, unless you’re used to really hot stuff, I doubt you could just slather it on any more. It’s still an excellent aside to a dry or savoury curry but won’t be the cool break in a hot meal it may have been previously been.
Ultimately, I’m going to have to reconsider how I approach this pickle but it’s still the taste I know and love. I would still thoroughly recommend it. If you’ve ever had curried banana, you know what makes this pickle great. If not, you should really find out.
*While this rating was accurate at the time of writing, it seems that this particular batch was an anomaly. Every jar I have had since has had a slightly lower, two and a half heat.
And, as for why it’s not the one I was expecting, you’ll have to read up on the pancakes I made with it for that explanation.