Stepping into the Mr Vikki’s shop at High Heskett, Carlisle….on a rainy, cold Lake District day was like stepping into another, much, warmer world. Every product here is packed full of spices and flavour and to varying degrees the ….heat of chillies.
These Indian fusion pickles and chilli products blend only fresh natural ingredients and freshly milled spices. They range from the spicy and fragrant Mango chutney and Lime pickle, to the hotter Coriander sauce, the very hot Fiery Lemon Harissa to the inexplicably hot…. Queen Naga.
Adam Mark, the owner, is a proper ‘chilli head’. He began dabbling in making spicy sauces and was catapulted onto the national stage winning 56 Great Taste awards, including, in 2013 with his Banana Habanero. Adam makes everything himself, in small batches, with great care and attention to detail. I spoke to Claudia (No 2 daughter) in the shop who admitted “Now and again he has a ‘cheffy’ tantrum and will throw away a whole batch of chutney or jams if they are not absolutely perfect- but we are getting used to this” and she is justifiably, very proud, of her dad.
I use many as a cooking ingredient -adding for example, a tablespoon mango chutney in a homemade curry or stir fry to instantly give it extra ‘oomph’ One of my favourites is the Tomato and Nigella chutney a fragrant mix of tomatoes, garlic, nigella seeds and fresh ginger. The TV celebrity chef Nigella Lawson said she loved it after she was given it as a birthday present! Fame indeed!
Don’t forget to try their curries at the Keswick market every Thursday and Saturday- be prepared to queue as they sell out quickly. There is a wide selection of the pickles and chutneys here and you can taste them as well, a clever strategy as I didn’t see anyone who went away without buying.
And the name?…. When Adam worked as a chef in a Lakeland country house hotel he met ‘Mr Vikki’ one of the hotel’s Asian porters and named the company in his name.