As if SM doesn’t already have enough goods in its supermarket, it recently augmented its already abundantly filled shelves with products from Tesco, the much loved brand from the United Kingdom.
I must admit that I wasn’t aware of this British brand until now. Oh, maybe I’d heard of it from some vague references, but it’s only now, with its very visible presence at SM supermarket, that I’ve come to know more about Tesco.
I already started buying Tesco products a few days before its recent formal launch at SM Aura, having been drawn to its attractive display at SM’s Makati store (see my story on Tesco, July 9, 2015 issue of the Inquirer, or visit www.normachikiamco.com).
What a pleasant surprise to see that Tesco has bottles of plain Dijon mustard, which I’ve had trouble finding (most of those sold in the market have white wine). Moreover, it costs only P129.50 a bottle for the plain and P137.50 for the “finest.”
That’s a reasonable price for a product with numerous uses. Dijon mustard is great for salad dressings, for tuna and chicken sandwiches, for honey mustard sauce, and—live it up a little—for slathering on hotdogs in place of the more prosaic yellow mustard.
Then there are the herbs and spices from A (allspice) to C (cardamoms, chili powder) to V (vanilla pod). How delightful to see so many of them packaged in neat bottles. What’s more, even their caps are labeled, so it’s easy to identify them from the top, especially if you’ve stored them on the lower drawers of your kitchen.
Because I take pride in making my own cranberry sauce (from frozen cranberries which I badger my daughters to buy for me overseas), I resisted buying Tesco’s bottled cranberry sauce, though it really looked quite tempting. However curiosity getting the better of me, I soon reached for a bottle, which I lost no time in tasting at home.
Suffice it to say that I will no longer be badgering my daughters for those frozen cranberries. Light, fluid, with occasional whole cranberries and a carefully calculated amount of sweetness, Tesco’s bottled cranberry sauce is just as good and maybe even better (I have to concede) than my own homemade one.
Perhaps the SM-Tesco partnership was inevitable. According to Luke Elliott, Tesco’s commercial manager for Group Food, Tesco is like the SM of the UK.
“We share the same business principles and the same business operating model,” he said.
Here I’ve tested one of the recipes handed out during the Tesco launch at SM Aura: Moroccan Chicken and Lentil Soup.
This is a very thick, hearty soup, perfect for rainy days. With cinnamon, cumin and coriander as seasonings, and dried apricots, eggplants, chicken, beans and carrots in the mixture, it has a rich, complex flavor and bountiful textures. Serve it with warm, crusty bread and you’ll have a complete meal.
Tesco’s Moroccan Chicken and Lentil Soup
1 tbsp Tesco olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp Tesco ground cinnamon
1 tsp Tesco ground cumin
1 tsp Tesco ground coriander
3 tbsp tomato purée or Tesco passata
5 c hot vegetable stock or vegetable broth (or water or chicken broth)
2 carrots, diced
1 400-gram can chopped tomatoes
1 390-gram can Tesco green lentils, drained
¾ c dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 small eggplant, diced into medium pieces
250 g (1/4 kilo) boneless chicken breast, shredded and skin removed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Small handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
In a large pan or casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for two to three minutes, or until softened, stirring constantly so onions and garlic don’t burn.
Stir in the cinnamon, cumin, coriander and tomato purée or passata and cook for a further two to three minutes.
Pour in the vegetable stock or broth and the carrots. Let simmer over low heat, for about six to seven minutes or until the carrots are tender. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, lentils and apricots and continue simmering for 12 to 15 more minutes.
Add the eggplant and shredded chicken and cook for five minutes or until eggplants are tender and chicken is fully cooked. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the lemon zest and fresh mint leaves. Makes four to six servings.
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Before juicing the lemon, remove the zest first so the lemon is still firm. (It’s difficult to zest a lemon that has softened.)
Passata is the equivalent of tomato purée and is available in small boxes under the Tesco brand in some SM supermarkets and hypermarkets.
This is a very thick, hearty soup. Be sure to serve it piping hot.