Review: Archy Cooks Delivery Meal Boxes
Who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal, especially when it’s delivered straight to your door? Unsure – but let’s face it, Paul Kelly probably wouldn’t be opposed to the idea. If you have a busy week ahead and don’t have enough time to cook or you are simply looking to try something new – delivery service Archy Cooks should be next on your to-eat bucket list.
Inside an Archy Cooks delivery box you will find mostly traditional Indian meals with a hint of fusion, all of which are made with love by Archy – a full-time employee and mother to her three year old son, with a passion for cooking and straight up good food.
The council approved vegetarian/vegan food business was established in 2018, initially hosting cooking classes and market stalls at various locations around Adelaide. Due to Covid-19 these two elements of the business have been halted, and delivery meal boxes and private catering are all the go.
“We love vegan-ising popular street food from around the world with an Indian twist, for example – curried arancini, kebab tacos and vindaloo pies, to name a few,” Archy shares.
“Most of the food we cook is ‘naturally’ vegan – we do not use TVP (textured vegetable protein) or processed faux meat, with the only exception being vegan cheese and tofu that we use in our cooking which comes out of a packet.
“The idea of plant to plate is totally our food philosophy. Personally I feel that we give way too much importance to meat substitutes in the vegan food scene. There are heaps of cooking methods and flavour combinations we provide with our menu which eliminate the cravings to eat meat or meat-like textural food.
“With the ingredients we cram into our cooking, we create the right nutritional balance and flavour balance that a hungry palate and healthy gut needs,” Archy states.
Now that you’ve got the general gist of things, read on to find out what we received in our delivery box and what the meals were like!
Dahi Vada Chaat
Upon appearance, I must admit I had no idea what to expect from this dish. My friend best described it to look like a deconstructed lasagna, while the smell was somewhat sweet. Without any prior knowledge of what dahi vada chaat is, I dove straight in – my taste buds were definitely confused, but in the sense that I had never tasted anything quite like it before. Was this a savory dish? Was this a dessert? I couldn’t tell, but I certainly wasn’t mad about it.
This dahi vada chaat contained three lentil dumpling balls, which were spherical in shape and resembled something of the looks and taste of a dense bread ball. The balls were topped with sweetened coconut yoghurt, pomegranate seeds, mint/coriander/chili chutney, date/tamarind/jaggery chutney, and ‘crispies’ which tasted like a vegan cheese. The best way I can describe this dish is like a palate cleanser – the sweet yoghurt masked any residual spice from the other food, the lentil balls themselves were plain (not in a bad way), and the chutneys on top were the star flavouring. This dish was a new sensory experience to say the least, which I wouldn’t hesitate to eat as a dessert or appetiser – definitely worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous.
Big thumbs up to these samosas. They were roughly the circumfrence of my average size palm – standard large samosas, I’d say. They were packaged in a cardboard box which was wrapped in foil with holes in the sides, this ensured the pastry didn’t go soggy upon arrival. In turn, the hand-rolled pastry was indeed lightly crisp on the outside and softer on the inner-most parts – the perfect balance.
As for the filling, the potatoes were mashed, which meant no chunks of veggies were falling out all over the place – the peas, cashews, herbs and mild spices were all bound together into a somewhat smooth consistence. The main flavour was derived from the whole cumin seeds, which also added texture to the filling. The chili used was extremely minimal which I personally prefer, as the other herbs and spices had an opportunity to shine through in all their glory.
I’ve gotta say, these were some of the best samosas I’ve ever had, and boy have I had a few in my time.
Once again, I was rather blown away by these momos – they were…sensational. The only problem was that there were only three and I could easily eat an infinite amount of these delicious dumplings. The origin of momos is debatable like many other foods, but Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal and North-East India all take credit for the holy momo.
Archy’s steamed momos were filled with tofu, carrot, peas, cabbage and veeeery mild spice, packaged with the essential momo condiment – spiced tomato and sesame chutney which was lovely and tangy. The dumpling dough was thicker than your standard gyoza wrapper, but thinner and denser than your average steamed bun.
A word of warning – Archy’s momos are highly addictive and will leave an electrifying taste in your mouth that you will want to linger. They were the highlight of the box for me, and I wish I could order these non-stop.
Uber, uber tasty. This chickpea curry reminded me of a humble chana masala, but made to flaunt more of a brown coloured gravy, rather than red. The sauce was made from mildly spiced caramelised onions and tomatoes, and was not a thick consistency – great for dispersing over rice with ease. Residual oil was not noticeable on the palate and only minimal can be seen accumulated on top of the dish which made for grease-free mouthfuls.
The chili flavours were secondary to the other herbs and spices – I believe these to mainly be cumin and ginger. Archy shared with us that she makes all the curry pastes and spice powders from scratch, and it really shows. I would definitely eat this again.
Mixed Vegetable Masala
Seasonal vegetables in a rich cashew gravy – what’s there not to love? The vegetables used in this curry were broccoli, cauliflower, both green and red capsicum, carrot, peas and green beans – standard, yet they made for a variety of textures and hold flavours within themselves, making every bite different from the next. The thick cashew gravy smothered each and every vegetable, which spread the smooth nuttiness evenly throughout the dish.
Again, this masala was mild and didn’t overpower the other flavours of the red curry. If you do like your food on the spicer side of things, you can always add more spice if need be or add one of the chutneys which come with the delivery box. One would definitely have a harder time trying to take the spice away, if it were there, thus making the curries friendly for all to enjoy.
Unlike the other curries, this dahl tadka was presented with a whole red chili on top – a good indicator of some heat coming your way. This dish consisted of slow-cooked lentils in a ‘special spice blend’, tempered onions, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and red chili.
Yellow was the colour scheme with this dish, indicating some trusty turmeric was in the works. Along with cinnamon, judging by the whole stick amongst the lentils. This was a good sign however, signifying that the aromatics have been prepared from scratch instead of using a pre-made blend.
This curry did have a slightly bitter aftertaste, which potentially may have come from the mustard seeds or excess oil, but when mixed with rice the bitter taste dissipated. My sinuses were certainly cleared after a bowl of this dahl – which is where the appetiser, dahi vada chaat came in handy to cleanse my palate with the sweetened yoghurt.
Enjoyable and protein packed.
I was over the moon when I unpacked my delivery box and found gulab jamun. I grew up eating these scrumptious balls of goodness, so the nostalgia was real. Gulab Jamun are deep fried dumplings, soaked in saffron, rose and cardamom infused sugar syrup.
Think of these like a dense, extra sweet, complexly flavoured, moist donut ball. Despite being deep fried, the dumplings aren’t oily or crispy at all, allowing them to soak up the exquisite bath of sugar syrup. TBH (to be honest), I’m feeling slightly lost now that I don’t know where to buy vegan gulab jamuns from as I please – they’re that good.
The serving size of this dessert suggests that the delivery box is designed to feed two people, or three in the hope that the third person doesn’t like sweets. I do think it’s slightly peculiar that there were three momos and three lentil dumplings which are relatively the same size as the gulab jamun, however two balls were provided in the dessert.
We asked Archy how many people the box is designed to feed, she shared –
“It really depends on ones appetite. The box is designed for two people, hence there are two pieces in the entrées. However, I’ve had customers tell me that it was suitable for their family of four – two adults and two kids over ten years of age.
“It should not last long if two people are sharing really, however people do tend to freeze the leftovers for consumption later.
“As we don’t add any preservatives in the cooking process, we don’t recommend people save the food in the fridge for long. It’s a box that’s delivered with freshly prepared meals for same day consumption. Although the curries stay good in the fridge for up to a week, while the entrées should only be kept for two or three days.”
The box also comes with with; one container of steamed rice, a small salad made up of tomato, cucumber, carrot, coriander and mint, two chutneys, four large papadums and a few pickles. The box lasted across four lunches and two dinners for me – a 25 year old woman with a fairly average appetite.
With all these different meals, you may be wondering about the packaging used. Many delivery services can be off-putting due to the amount of plastic containers utilised. Archy Cooks currently do not offer biodegradable packaging, however a switch is being considered to the BioPak range in April, which will incur a small increase in the delivery box price.
At the moment, the vegan box is $60 and delivered to anywhere in Adelaide – although Archy tries to stay within an hours drive from her base in Sturt due to food safety guidelines.
The boxes are delivered once a month over one selected weekend which is posted on Archy Cooks Instagram and Facebook page in advance. These pages are where you can find out what’s in the next box – they’re also the platform for box ordering, by simply sending Archy a message, or calling or texting her on 0410090045.
With each month comes a different box, but crowd favourites pop up here and there due to positive feedback. If you’re unsure about a certain item advertised for the upcoming box, Archy says, “customers can choose to swap the items for something they might like more.”
“The food we curate gives vegan food a new identity in a world where most vegan food is made to sound and taste like meat. Trust me, there are so many incredible ways of making a dish vegan,” Archy affirms.