Bis-Bas Arabian Cooking Sauces

I’m generally not keen on cooking sauces having tried lots of them when I was first learning to cook many moons ago. They are usually bland and have a shop-bought consistency to them, and a kind of appearance that makes them look like they’ve come from a jar. However I was pleasantly surprised when I used these. First of all I’ve never come across ‘Arabian’ or ‘Middle Eastern’ sauces before in this form so I was eager to give them a try. Bis-Bas sauces are the brainchild of two sisters in Kent, from Middle Eastern backgrounds, who wanted to create authentic Middle Eastern sauces.
Bis-Bas sauces come in three flavours all named after Arabian girls names (slightly strange but it works!) . Here is what my family and I thought of them:

1) Fozia – Sweet Tomato and Coriander. This is a lovely deep, rich, tangy sauce infused with Nigella/Onion seeds (kalonji). I cooked it with fresh fish, and it was really something. My family agreed that the dish didn’t taste like something from a jar at all. I really enjoyed this dish with steamed rice, the subtle flavours really complimented the fish so well.

Fozia with cod

Tip: Add 1tsp salt and some chilli as this is not a spicy dish but has the consistency of a saucy tomato curry which you would expect some heat from.

2) Saba – Spinach and Coriander. This sauce is green in colour and the end result is very similar to cooking a spinach chicken curry (paalak chicken/saag chicken). The coriander flavour is strong but not over powering. This was the favourite of the night. We had a last minute guest over who I fed some too and she thought it was spinach curry and thought it was delicious, even asking me for recipe. Ahem.
Tip – Add salt and chilli to taste.

Saba with chicken

3) Safia – Aromatically spiced cooking sauce. A bit of a vague description on the jar but this is your basic tomato sauce which can be used for a curry, pasta sauce or as a dip. This was the jar that left little impression on me. Nothing great but good if you don’t have time to make anything. I used this sauce with meatballs and spaghetti which actually went down a treat, but I put this down to the meatballs more than the sauce. The sauce is ok but the other two, Saba and Fozia are far more unique and tasty.

Overall I was really impressed with these sauces. They are so much better than the standard Sharwood, Uncle Ben sauces you get. These sauces taste so much fresher than other cooking sauces — this could be because they are gluten free and don’t contain all that starchy stuff that you usually find in cooking sauces. I won’t lie I do keep a couple of jars of Dolmio etc in the cupboard, but I would quite happily buy Bis-Bas sauces instead to keep for emergencies.

Bis-Bas sauces are available online, in Harrods and in independent retailers. They retail at £3.50 for a 350g jar which is sufficient for half a kilo of meat/fish/vegetables.

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