x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

UAE delivery service DinnerTime provides ingredients for your homemade meal

We try DinnerTime a company that will deliver a box of mostly organic ingredients and recipes - everything you need to make your meal without leaving your house.

DinnerTime also offers gluten-free food and recipes. Courtesy Helen Shippey
DinnerTime also offers gluten-free food and recipes. Courtesy Helen Shippey

Cooking for yourself can be – let’s face it – a boring chore. If you’re not careful you could end up making the same few dishes over and over, or eating takeaway every night. This is where DinnerTime offers to improve your life. Order by Thursday and on Sunday the company will deliver a box of mostly organic ingredients to your home or office, enough for four meals for either two or four people. Currently DinnerTime is targeting its service at women who might be about to leave for part or all of the summer and are worried that their menfolk, left to fend for themselves, will end up eating beans from the tin.

The ingredients

My delivery was a little delayed but the company clearly communicated the problem and made a contingency plan if the driver couldn’t get to my Abu Dhabi office in time. The perishables were in a cool bag with ice packs, while the dry goods were all in a reasonably small box. Some of the quantities seemed a bit odd: I got enough bulghur wheat to feed an army, for instance; and I thought the inclusion of a stick of butter and a sachet of tomato purée was maybe unnecessary as these should be among the staples in any kitchen. But the amounts of fresh herbs and vegetables were just right – no shortage and no wastage. There was one lonely stalk of celery in there, but it turned out to be just enough for the dish in question.

The recipes

Each week’s supply promises a meat, a fish, a chicken and a vegetarian dish. The week I ordered, I got Italian beef stew, white fish casserole with sun-dried tomatoes and sweet potato and broccoli, a whole chicken for stuffing and roasting, and Indian vegetarian burgers (plus, as a bonus that week, the makings of chocolate crunch bars). Each dish comes with a pretty clear recipe and nothing requires cordon bleu skills. This is simple and straightforward cooking. If I had one quibble, it would be with the suggested order of the cooking of the fish dish – had I added the fish as early as the recipe seemed to suggest, it would perhaps have been overdone.

The cooking

The company says the meals are designed to be prepared from scratch in 30 minutes. I found this assumption to be not too heroic – the chicken was obviously going to take a lot longer, but not even the most clueless culinary neophyte would expect otherwise. Moreover, unlike the beef and fish, the chicken was specifically not suitable for home freezing. Only one of the other dishes took significantly longer than 30 minutes to prepare: the veg burgers. These also, despite my best efforts, never became remotely burger-ish. Delicious, yes, but never in a million years would they make a patty that cohered on a bun. The chicken did take only about 20 minutes to prepare and about 75 minutes to roast – and, if time were really tight, it would not have been difficult to prepare the tarragon butter and chickpea stuffing in advance.

The verdict

I was extremely satisfied with the results – four new, tasty and wholesome dishes that didn’t take all evening to make. There were enough leftovers for a good lunch the next day, although you may want to eat Sunday’s leftovers on Tuesday, and Monday’s on Wednesday and so on, for the sake of variety. I’ll certainly use the service again, especially during these hot months when the prospect of hefting groceries isn’t very attractive.

• DinnerTime is available in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The two-person service costs Dh300 for four meals. For more information, visit www.dinnertime.me or call 055 790 8733