ilumi Review

28 Jul

I must admit I don’t really like to review national brands on this blog.  I generally think there are plenty of others out there that are doing a fine job at it, and try and keep Gluten Free by the Sea locally focused in the main.  There have been a lot of reviews of the ilumi World products within the gluten free blogging network recently, so I nearly didn’t write this post.  Nearly.  But then I looked at my kitchen cupboard which can barely close as it is now stuffed so full with ilumi goodies and I felt how could I not write about them?

keralaI first heard of ilumi and their gluten, dairy and nut free products through the Coeliac UK Crossed Grain Magazine, where members were invited to register for a free sample.  Well I love curry so I wasn’t going to say no to a free one!  My sample of Kerala Chicken Curry duly arrived, and before trying it there were mixed first impressions.  A product containing meat that comes in a pouch, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, can be microwaved in two minutes and has a shelf life of a year.  It’s fair to say I was skeptical.  On the plus side though I really liked the product branding and the fact the ingredients list was there big and bold on the front as clear as it could be.  I quickly noted that the ingredients list was all natural with no weird nasties in.

So on to the taste test.  I heated my curry up in the microware, and served with my favourite microware Tilda rice (also labelled gluten free).  I have to say I was really impressed.  The thing that stood out for me was the tenderness of the chicken.  Reading the ilumi FAQ page it’s good to see that all meat used is British, with the exception being pancetta which is sourced from it’s native Italy.  The chicken used is also free range.  Regarding my concern of lack over refrigeration, ilumi have this to say “We combine the recipe ingredients in individual pouches or trays, seal them and then gently heat them using high pressure and steam until they are cooked. This keeps all of the flavours, aromas and goodness inside and protects them from any contamination by spoilage bacteria.”  The Kerala sauce was tasty rather than spicy, it was really nice, though from a personal point of view a bit more spice wouldn’t have done any harm.

samplesA further free sample came at the Allergy Show in the form of delicious Spanish Rice and Vegetables and I was then fortunate enough to be offered some blogger samples.  The samples were all of equally great quality and my initial skepticism was now long gone.  Being more or less flat and without the need to refrigerate the pouches are really easy to store.  Then the offers started, my addiction had begun.  The fine folk at ilmui were offering an introductory offer of £10 off a £20 order with free shipping last month.  I ended up ordering twice.

cupboardStill at least that would see me stocked up for ages wouldn’t it, I wouldn’t have to order for a long time?  They then ran another offer.  Two free packs of Thai Red Curry, two packs of rice and two bottles of (my favourite) Celia Lager when you spend over £25?  OK just one more order then.  That’s how my cupboards got to look like this.

For those of you after an offer yourselves, their current offer (until 30th July) is: Spend £20, get £5 off, plus: 2x free cooking sauces, 1x free CELIA Lager, free summer recipe booklet & free UK delivery.  My cupboards simply can’t take anymore though!  You can see a full list of products, which are only available online, here.

So far I’ve tried a whole range of products, and I would probably bore you all to death by reviewing each one, so here are a few of my top picks:

meatballsBeef Meatballs in Tomato Sauce: One thing I’ve really struggled to easily find since being diagnosed with coeliac disease is meatballs.  I served these with some gluten free spaghetti and topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.  Delicious!

Slow-Cooked Lamb Casserole: As well as the pouches, ilumi also have a range of complete meals that come in a tray.  This lamb casserole was really tasty.  I love the way the juices of the meat are retained in the tray/pouch due to the cooking method, I really think it keeps all the flavour in.  Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was a very hearty meal with the potatoes and veg.


Lamb Rogan Josh: As I say I love a curry and this one was even tastier than the Chicken Kerala for me.  Again not too spicy but great flavour and lovely tender meat as before.  Serve with rice and a great meal in a couple of minutes.

Pea, Pancetta & Mint Soup: ilumi also do a range of soups and I’ve always been a fan of pea and ham soup so this one immediately appealed.  I wasn’t disappointed, as this had a great depth of flavour and lovely tender pieces of pancetta.  I served with a few slices of crusty bread that I got from St Maurice Bakery which was a perfect accompanyment.

chicken_CacciatoraChicken Cacciatora: Another flavourful dish with juicy tender pieces of meat.  A hit with me again and this dish had a nice hint of garlic which is always good with me.  I served with rice.

In addition to the meal pouches, soups and trays meals ilumi also sell cooking sauces and rice packs.  I’ve tried a few of the cooking sauces and whist they’ve been tasty, I think this is something I’m less likely to buy online.  The rice packs were perfectly fine but I must admit I preferred the Tilda ones as they were a bit more flavourful and a little bigger.  Tilda are also frequently on offer at my local Sainsburys so I often stock up when they are.

Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce put to good use

Sweet Chilli Stir Fry Sauce put to good use

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup)

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Soup)

In conclusion, I think that ilumi is a great addition to the free from market.  I think pricing is pretty reasonable based on the quality of the product, and if you take advantage of the stream of offers they have been running then they become very good value indeed.  The products use naturally gluten free ingredients so no need for any weird and wonderful ingredients, but with a confidence that all dishes are gluten, dairy and nut free.  With no need to refrigerate these can be great for taking to friends houses, away on holiday or to work for a nice hot lunch come the winter.  Also a great quick option when you’re cooking for one as I often am.

Thai Red Curry served with Tilda sweet chilli rice

Thai Red Curry served with Tilda sweet chilli rice

Will see fellow addicts at an ilumi anonymous meeting soon.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea


6 Responses to “ilumi Review”

  1. Ruth July 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Going to try these – I particularly like how they could be handy for hols etc. One thought – are the serving sizes decent? I have a hearty appetite and there doesn’t seem to be a lot (allbeit probably hard to judge from the photos, so forgive me if I’m barking up the wrong tree).

    • Kevin Gollop July 28, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

      I think the tray meals may not satisfy you, maybe they are more lunch size. I think the currys etc are perfectly good sizes when combined with a nice pack of Tilda rice

      • Ruth July 28, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

        Ah great, thanks for your reply! I guess the best way is to try them myself and see but sounds promising with the pouches and rice etc – with the tray meals maybe just steaming a few extra veg would do the trick so maybe worth a try still. With so much of a buzz in the GF community around these ilumi meals I think I need to try them as, whilst I enjoy cooking, those moments when it’s all too much etc…well you know…they sound like they do the trick. Tilda rice is our favourite in this house. My 5 year old’s favourite is the wholegrain pilau (which we call spicy rice). He just loves it! Thanks for your review and additional advice. Will let you know how I get on.


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