Tesco is trying to challenge the perception that ready meals are intrinsically unhealthy with the launch of a new premium range of chilled dishes.

The retailer is trialling a six-strong range of upmarket ethnic meals under a new tertiary brand, City Kitchen, which it trademarked in May.

The range, which is made by Irish chilled food supplier Kerry Foods, comprises King Prawn Linguine, Moroccan Spiced Giant Cous-Cous, Chorizo Paella, Spaghetti Carbonara, Six-Mushroom Stroganoff and Chicken Tandoori Sizzler. Prices range from £3.12 to £4.16 for the 385g tubs.

Tesco is targeting City Kitchen at on-the-go professionals and the trial is being rolled out across 17 Tesco Express stores located in affluent areas of London, such as St John’s Wood, Belsize Park and Fulham Palace.

A Tesco spokesman said the range would be rolled out across other Express stores if the trial was a success.

The meals are free of artificial ingredients and additives. There was a gap in the market for a new range of chilled, convenient ready meals made with quality ingredients, said the spokesman.

“This launch is not about the packaging. It’s very simple: it’s all about the food,” he said. “The current range of ready meals in Tesco is so vast – you can get something from unhealthy to extremely healthy. If you went over to someone in the street and asked what they think of ready meals, many have a perception that they are unhealthy and processed. What we are trying to do is just to get rid of this myth. The City Kitchen range is convenient, healthy and fresh.”

Meanwhile, Asda has confirmed it is working on a new range of ready meals, called Little Lunches. The retailer said it was too early to provide details but that the “concept was planned for launch next year”.

Asda boss Andy Bond told The Grocer two months ago that the retailer was considering launching children’s meals in the next 12 months.