James and Rose and a fine pickle

Cherished family recipes are now being shared, making our breakfasts, lunches and dinners taste so much better.

Family recipes from India passed down through generations have found their way onto the plates of Hunter residents and it seems we just can’t get enough. James and Rose is a family-run business making traditional, small-batch sauces and condiments, inspired by long-held recipes from Rose (Roseanne) Reid’s past. While Rose and husband James live with their children in Newcastle, it’s through the Indian heritage on Rose’s side that we are all able to be whisked away to the flavours and spices of the subcontinent and to Rose’s greatgrandparent’s kitchen.

It all began for James and Rose in 2006 when Rose’s grandmother asked her to help with making curry paste, but the story actually begins a long time before that.

Getting through tough times

Rose’s great-grandparents – Elliot and Esther Bolst – hit tough times during the Great Depression like so many others, so they put on their thinking caps and set about making curry and rice takeaway lunches to sell. Through sheer determination and ingenuity, their small endeavour grew into Bolst’s Indian Condiments – a company which still thrives today.

While Elliot and Esther sold the business and moved away years ago, their recipes endured and were passed down through the generations, reaching Rose via her grandmother in 2006. Initially just for family and friends, word of the delicious curry paste grew, as well as demand, and James and Rose found themselves hiring a commercial kitchen and their business was born.

“Originally our products were word of mouth and we had great fun selling them to our friends and making small batches in our family kitchen,” Rose said.

“That started to take off a bit and our first retail stockist was Pegs Café in Whitebridge years ago.” The James and Rose range is now available in around 40 cafes and stores across NSW, Victoria and the ACT, and while their popularity is still growing, they have no intention of seeing their products on supermarket shelves, preferring to keep it small and traditional.

“It was actually quite nerve-racking to ask someone else to stand by our products and sell them for us, but at the same time it’s great fun and we really enjoy the relationship with cafés and retail stores.

“We love working with cafés who are willing to put our range on their menu as well. This really helps people try what our products taste like and creates a great fan base for them and us.”

The current range can now be found in pantries all across the Hunter, and includes the original Indian curry paste, the slightly bitey Brinjal (eggplant) pickle, the zingy tomato kussoundi and a sweet beetroot relish. Their plan is to introduce a few new products to the stable; the first being James’ grandmother’s tomato chutney sometime later this year. In spite of the popularity, James and Rose still only make small batches of their range each week to ensure quality and keep that incredible taste we’ve come to love.

Sourcing the best fresh ingredients

“Our ingredients come from a variety of local and imported Indian sources,” James said.

“Our spices are mainly from our supplier in Sydney who we have dealt with for a few years now. Fresh ingredients like our eggplants have had to be sourced from farmers now instead of retailers as we are buying in the hundreds of kilos when they are seasonally available.”

All condiments are dairy free, vegan friendly and have a great shelf life, meaning you can keep stock in the pantry, ready to scoop onto all sorts of meals. The Brinjal pickle goes perfectly with eggs, meats and curries; the kussoundi (a spicy answer to tomato sauce) is perfect on toasted cheese sandwiches or to bring life to snags. The curry paste can make your Indian dishes as mild or as hot as you’d like, while the award-wining relish is heaven on burgers or cheese platters.

You’re only limited by your imagination. While James and Rose are the current custodians of the family tradition, it looks like the next generation could carry on the torch with their three children already keen to help out in the kitchen and fans of all the flavours. These recipes have certainly stood the test of time.”

You can buy online at jamesandrose.com.au or check out their location list for a stockist near you.

Story Judith Whitfield, photos courtesy of James and Rose

Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.