Scrambled Fish with Mustard

Learning the ropes of a new cuisine can be a slightly daunting task!

It is not enough to try and follow a recipe to the exact but it is highly important that you try and have a brief understanding of the ingredients, flavour combinations and food culture of the region in general. This is how you will learn the building blocks of the cuisine and once you do that, the recipe becomes a canvas for your final painting.

And that was my approach towards learning Bengali cuisine; which till two years ago was a totally foreign thing for me. I read a lot about the general food culture and the key ingredients that make the base of this vast cuisine. And just like any traditional regional cuisine of India, food of West Bengal was as varied and colourful as its history. But if you look closely, there are always some key flavours that shine through which makes their food unique.

For me, the one ingredient that stood out was mustard. Now mustard is used in different ways along the length and breadth of India. But perhaps, no other cuisine celebrates it or glorifies it as much as the Bengali cuisine. And I very recently realized that Bengalis can get rather touchy on the subject and talk about this one ingredient for hours. For me, that spells passion!

1

Today’s dish celebrates mustard in two different forms – in the seed and oil form. Mustard is often associated with a pungent aroma and flavour which puts it off for so many people. But when used in the right amount and combined with the right flavours, it is an ingredient that can work wonders in your kitchen.

blog1

This scrambled fish with mustard is also a celebration of my understanding of the basic flavours of Bengali cuisine combined with my knowledge and love for South Indian style of cooking. This is not a traditional recipe (so don’t go looking for authenticity) but rather an inspired one.

Inspired by the fish podimas of South India, today we have a scrambled fish recipe which has been deliciously flavoured by mustard and with just a hint of chilli through. This dish can be made with any white fish that can be flaked easily and is best paired as a side dish with steamed rice and dal.

2

blog3

Ingredients:

1. 2 basa (pink) fillets, around 350gm; cut into large pieces
2. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
3. 1 ½ tbsp mustard seeds

Read the full recipe here..

blog2

Recipe developed, styled and photographed for Supreme Seafood.

Tengri Tag, Dandenong – a Review

Have you heard of Uyghur cuisine?

Uyghurs refer to an ethnic community who live mainly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region in China and also a few other parts of Eastern and Central Asia. The cuisine of this region is referred to collectively as Xinjiang cuisine as there are many ethnic groups but the predominant one is the Uyghurs. With time, the specific cuisine of the Uyghurs has come to be known as Uyghur cuisine.

I first heard of this cuisine through a food travelogue on SBS Food. It would be apt to say that the people, food and culture of this land was an eye-opener. It is one of the lesser known cuisines of the world but slowly and surely making its way known in Melbourne as there are migrants from the region settled here. Must add that it is a joy that I can experience food from all around the world here, in Australia.

There are only a handful of Uyghur restaurants here, mostly frequented by those from that region but a few others who have discovered the unique flavours of this cuisine. Ever since I spotted one in Oakleigh, I have been wanting to try the food since it all sounded so delicious and flavoursome.

As luck would have it, Tengri Tag which originally was situated in Camberwell moved recently to Dandenong which made it all so convenient and easy for me.

1

The most important aspect that you must be aware of Uyghur cuisine is that it is unique and perhaps, nothing like you have ever tasted before. And this is because it is a delicious combination that draws inspiration from the Chinese style of cooking (as we know it) and the Central Asian cuisine especially Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Most Uyghurs are Muslims (with exceptions) and so the cuisine also heavily borrows from the Muslim style of cooking of these regions.

Handmade noodles is heavily used in Uyghur cuisine and is a staple everyday food. There are historic claims that pasta could have originated from this during Marco Polo’s times but this is a much debated topic.

When you are dining out at a Uyghur restaurant, you will be pleasantly surprised to find kebabs, noodles, curries and stir fries, all sharing the same table.

Now to get on to my experience at Tengri Tag;

Located on Lonsdale Street, Tengri Tag is a huge space. Clearly designed to work as a restaurant and a community reception centre for weddings and events, the layout and ambience is more of a wedding reception space than a restaurant.

4

3

We walked in expecting to be seated (there was a small counter upfront suggesting the same) but no one bothered with us till we caught the eye of a waiter. He guided us to a table and bought over the menu cards. Language can be an issue here with most of the waiters speaking only bits of English. The head waiter is perhaps the only person who has a good command over the language and since he is the one who will be taking the orders, it is best to address your menu related queries to him.
The menus arrived and we decided on a selection of dishes based on the little knowledge I have of the cuisine. One of the first things that struck me is the almost utter lack of customer service. The head waiter behaved as if he couldn’t be bothered and when I asked him to leave one copy of the menu card at our table, he was really hesitant. I explained that I would like to take another look at it as I was new to the cuisine but he was so reluctant to do so. A lot of request had to be done for him to hand over the menu to me. A reaction that surprises me!

No one was placing any water or Chinese tea or cutlery on our table but it all seemed to be there on other tables. Almost 20 minutes later, we figured that it is self-service. There is a table set up in front laden with all the cutlery, glassware, teapots etc…and we eventually figured out that you were supposed to get it yourself. It would have been nice if we were informed of this!

Now that you guys know what needs to be done, let’s get on to the food.

We started our meal with Uyghur oven buns. If you ever eat at this place, make sure you give this a go. Absolutely delicious; oven baked buns with a flaky exterior and a delicious soft meat filling. A cross between the English pies and the Chinese buns but much better, at least I think so.

Uyghur oven buns

Uyghur oven buns

Then came out the kebabs seasoned with chilli powder, salt and cumin. The Afghan-Turk influence to the cuisine can be clearly seen with these kebabs. You wouldn’t believe you are sitting in a Chinese restaurant and eating it. Really flavourful kebabs especially with the cumin coming through, we really enjoyed it. But I felt the meat could have been a bit more tender.

Kebabs seasoned with chilli powder, salt and cumin

Kebabs seasoned with chilli powder, salt and cumin

The next dish was the fried chilli with egg. Oh my…..hot and spicy but delicious. Strongly remniscent of the Sichuan style of cooking, I would totally recommend the dish if you can stand heat and actually enjoy it. I am definitely going back for this…

Fried chilli with egg

Fried chilli with egg

Fried chilli with egg

Fried chilli with egg

For mains, we got spicy chicken with special sauce. This dish simply astounded me….handmade flat noodles dunked in a rich, spicy Indian style chicken curry topped with fried dry red chillies. If someone had told me about this dish before I ever ate it, my foodie brain would have never accepted the flavours wondering how will it work. But believe me, the dish was a revelation. And I thoroughly enjoyed every spoonful of it. Again highly recommended for the heat lovers.

Spicy chicken with special sauce

Spicy chicken with special sauce

We got one more mains (not because we didn’t have enough food, just wanted to sample more of the cuisine) and that was handmade noodles with lamb and onion. This one leans more towards the familiar Chinese flavours , not very spicy but very flavourful especially with the onions. More of a wet style noodles with a bit of sauce than a dry one.

Handmade noodles with lamb and onion

Handmade noodles with lamb and onion

By the end of this, we were so stuffed that dessert was the last thing on our minds. And there really wasn’t much in terms of dessert except for a few staples. None really stood out to me.

So in a nutshell, visit Tengri Tag to experience traditional Uyghur cuisine and a delicious experience. But forget customer service and ambience when you walk in. I am being partial to the former!

My rating – 7/10 (All for the food!)

Tengri Tag

151 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 0481 235 468 / 9791 7216

Timings:

All days of the week – 5.00pm to 10.00pm

Click to add a blog post for Tengri Tag on Zomato

Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by me.

Tempered Cauliflower Rice

I have finally jumped on the ‘cauliflower rice’ bandwagon!

The rise of the ‘raw food’ trend has been momentous in the recent times, especially given the current focus on health and natural living.

Cauliflower, perhaps, is one of the first ingredients that began to be used in its raw form as a substitute for grains. If you haven’t got the concept, cauliflower florets are blitzed to a finely grated form to mimic rice. A couple of brilliant cooks and chefs began to come up with delicious and unique ideas of using cauliflower beyond its traditional form. And today, it has a cult following around the globe.

1

Though I have come across quite a few recipes using cauliflower in this new avatar, I really didn’t intend to make it. And I almost certainly wouldn’t have if not for the editor of the community magazine where I freelance. ‘R’ has been asking me for an Indian inspired cauliflower rice for months now and I kept putting her off. But finally, here I am with the simplest ‘cauliflower rice’ dish.

So this tempered cauliflower rice is a simple, non fussy dish drawing inspiration from the rice dishes of South India.

A no-brainer really! All that I did is borrow the idea of ‘cauliflower rice’ and the South Indian style of tempering rice and merged it together. Easy peasy, just as Adi would say.

2

5

There are so many ways you can use this tempered cauliflower rice. Have it as the main dish (like I did) with a side of pickle, pappads and salad or you could make a Buddha bowl with chickpeas and an assortment of veggies. It is great as a filling for burritos replacing the lime rice or a nice accompaniment to your steaks (hugely cuts down the guilt factor!).

Before we get down to the recipe, if the idea of ‘cauliflower rice’ has tickled your fancy, here’s another delicious dish I would totally recommend. Sneh is a brilliant cook and she has come up with the perfect pot of cauliflower rice biryani salad!!

4

Ingredients:

Note – Make sure that you only buy really fresh and good quality cauliflower, especially when you are using it as a raw food.

1. 1 whole cauliflower; separated into large florets
2. 2 tsp ghee/clarified butter
3. 1 tbsp sesame oil
4. 1 tbsp raw cashewnuts
5. 1 tbsp raw peanuts
6. 1 tsp mustard seeds
7. 2 sprigs curry leaves
8. 3 dry red chilli
9. 1 green chilli, slit in half
10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
11. Asafoetida/hing, a pinch
12. Juice of 1 lemon
13. Salt, to season

Method:

• Wash the florets well and dry completely.
• In a food processor, blitz the florets to get the grainy, rice like texture. If you do not have a processor, then finely great the cauliflower.
• Heat ghee and oil in a large deep pan; roast the cashewnuts and peanuts separately and keep aside.
• In the same oil, crackle mustard seeds and then add curry leaves and dry red chilli.
• Reduce heat and add green chilli, turmeric powder, asafoetida and the blitzed cauliflower.
• Season with salt and add juice of ½ lemon. Mix well and toss on high heat for a minute or two and then remove from heat.
• Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
• Serve warm with a dollop of love!

3

6

‘GunPowder’ Prawns

Only for a South Indian can ‘gunpowder’ mean something delicious!

Gunpowder is a fiery spice blend that often graces the breakfast tables of many South Indian regions. It is usually mixed with ghee/clarified butter or sometimes just vegetable oil and used as a condiment to dosas and idlis (both breakfast staples of the region).

1

Now with a name like gunpowder, it’s rather obvious that this blend is indeed a spicy and fiery one. The ghee is usually added to tone down the heat but let’s not kid ourselves; this one is still hot and for those with stronger palates.

But today, we are shaking things up a bit. Since I am clearly not a morning person (as most of you know), I am taking this breakfast favourite to spice up my favourite ingredient – seafood!

Gunpowder prawns. Yes, that’s what I am calling today’s dish.

2

Get your hands on the juiciest tiger prawns you can, nothing less would do to make this lip smacking delicacy that is definitely a conversation starter.

It’s a pretty simple and straightforward recipe; even making gunpowder is no rocket science. The ingredients are few and the process simple. I have incorporated familiar South Indian flavours which are all present to complement the heat of the gunpowder. And you will see that the prawns can absorb a lot of the heat so that the final dish is actually not very spicy unless you add loads of the spice blend which I do not recommend anyway.

Since I wanted more prawny flavours (for lack of a better word!), I sautéed the shells first with butter and shallots and then added the prawns. But if you cannot stand the smell or if you are not comfortable with the step, just sauté the onions without the shells and toss in the prawns.

5

Ingredients:

1. 600 gms tiger prawns (with shells)
2. 3-4 tsp gunpowder
3. Salt, to season
4. 2 tbsp butter
5. 1 sprig curry leaves; finely sliced

For full recipe, click here….

4

3

Recipe developed, styled and photographed for Supreme Seafoods.

Urban Fox Café, Melbourne Central – a Review

Since we are on the topic of coffee this week, let me tell you about this cafe experience I had last week in the CBD.

Urban Fox is a modern, quirky cafe nestled in Melbourne Central. Being a coffee enthusiast and always on the hunt for a good caffeine experience, I was invited by Di Bella Coffee to try out their range stocked at Urban Fox.

13

What I liked about Urban Fox is its location; situated at the corner of Swanston and La Trobe street, it is easy to approach this cafe from the Emporium too. That works for me because I always combine a shopping trip to the Central with a trip to the Emporium too given its close proximity.

I also liked the fact that apart from awesome takeaway coffees (to fuel my shopping!), Urban Fox also has takeaway soups. Now that’s a winner combo in my eyes, espcially given the weather.

6

2

I have always complained about the lack of takeaway soups in the cafes here. I mean, what can be more comforting than a good hearty warm soup on a cold way or a quick working lunch. So my eyes fell straightaway on the soup pots at the counter which indeed put a huge smile on my face. The waitress informed me that there were 2 choices, one vegetarian and one non vegetarian; she also asked if I would like to have a taste to help me decide. That’s great especially if you cannot decide which one you want to have so make sure you ask for a taste even if you are not promptly offered the same.

The two choices for the day was Veggie Lentil Soup and Lamb with Winter Vegetables. To be honest, I liked both and found it really hard to decide but finally, I opted for the lamb just because of that extra rich flavour and the chunks of potato in it. I would totally recommend to try out the soup because it was really delicious and flavourful. Complete value for the buck!

1

Lamb with Winter Vegetables

Lamb with Winter Vegetables

The menu at Urban Fox changes everyday so you will need to ask about the dishes available, most of which are anyway kept for display in the glass cabinet. It is a small space and is clearly meant for people on the go but there are a few seats for those who want to put up the tired, shopping feet.

5

After the soup, it was time for the main bites. I chose the Cajun chicken rice with chickpeas, roasted veggies, peas and a soy and chili sauce. Didn’t quite like the rice; it was cooked perfectly but there was no real Cajun flavour which was a bit of a let down.

Cajun chicken rice with chickpeas, roasted veggies, peas and a soy and chili sauce

Cajun chicken rice with chickpeas, roasted veggies, peas and a soy and chili sauce

The hubby and son chose the Falafel roti with spinach, hummus, avocado, sundried tomatoes and mint. I managed to sneak in some bites and it was quite nice. The falafels were really good and overall a great filling sandwich.

Falafel roti with spinach, hummus, avocado, sundried tomatoes and mint

Falafel roti with spinach, hummus, avocado, sundried tomatoes and mint

The little fella chose to end his meal with a Belgian chocolate macaron. It was everything that you want from a chocolate macaron; crunchy, chewy, gooey, all in one bite!

Belgian chocolate macaron

Belgian chocolate macaron

While the hubby opted for the hot chocolate, I was of course going to sample the coffee. The hot chocolate was really good but not too rich which I actually liked….it had that perfect dose of chocolate to warm your insides.

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

The cappuccino was really good; strong and full bodied which is exactly how I like my coffee. Most often, I need to ask for an extra shot of espresso to get the richness I prefer but with Di Bella, it was spot on. There were sacks of coffee beans kept at the counter where I sat, I kept scooping the beans into my palms and smelling the roast beans. Ah! the aroma……(I am sure the staff thought I was crazy).

Di Bella Cappuccino

Di Bella Cappuccino

A quick look at their website tells me that Di Bella sources the coffee beans from around the globe and includes both roasted single origin coffees and signature blends. Freshly roasted at their Brisbane headquarters ensures that the customer gets to enjoy maximum flavour and one of the finest coffee experiences in Australia.

If you are a beginner, Di Bella coffee can be a one stop shopping experience as they also sell capsule machines, milk forthers etc…in addition to premium coffee beans and blends. Remember how I told you I am planning on a Nespresso later this year; the good news is that Di Bella makes coffee capsules that are Nespresso compatible; you can read all of that information here. So if you already own a Nespresso, there’s nothing stopping you from a Di Bella experience!

Overall, the trip to Urban Fox was a delightful one. Standouts were the soup and coffee but the falafel roti came close.

My rating – 7.5/10

Urban Fox Cafe

Ground floor
Melbourne Central
Corner of Swanston St and La Trobe St
(or entrance from Little Lonsdale St)
Melbourne CBD

Timings:

Monday: 7am to 6.30pm
Tuesday: 7am to 6.30pm
Wednesday: 7am to 6.30pm
Thursday: 7am to 6.30pm
Friday: 7am to 6.30pm
Saturday: 8am to 6.30pm
Sunday: 8am to 6.30pm

Click to add a blog post for Urban Fox on Zomato

Disclaimer – This post was sponsored by Di Bella but the opinions are entirely my own.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks with Coffee Spice Rub

I have an obsessive and passionate relationship with coffee.

Though our love affair began only in my mid-20s, it has been a whirlwind one right from the start. I fell hook, line and sinker for this rich, dark beverage without which my day just cannot start.

My first ever sip of coffee was at my college café; and the only reason I began to drink it was to keep my eyes open during the long lectures on DNAs, RNAs, cloning, viruses and the like…..But somewhere along the way, the relationship deepened and soon I realized that this affair was going to be a lifelong one.

I have tried different kinds of coffee since, but it’s the cappucino style that I enjoy most. My coffee has to be strong, sweet (the ‘three sugar please’ line always gets me stares here), rich and full bodied. The caffeine has to hit my senses and awaken it!

Unlike many coffee afficinados, I admit that I like my instant coffee granules. While in India, I was the Nescafe gal but now loyalties have shifted to the Moccona camp. But it is also true that the flavour and aroma of freshly ground coffee beans is like none other…..Next, on my shopping list is a French press and I am slowly but surely inching towards my first Nespresso.

So when my husband’s colleague gifted him a packet of Grata Espresso (Farmhouse Artisan Coffee), I was over the moon – yet another coffee to savour. Yes, friends have started gifting us anything and everything pertaining to food – ingredients to homewares to props!

My blogger brain wanted to do something more with this pack of amazing ground espresso strength coffee. That’s when I remembered the coffee spice rubs so famous in barbecue country. So out came my mortar and pestle, the little pots of spices while I set out to create my own version of a coffee spice rub.

with title

You don’t really have to be a coffee lover to enjoy this spice rub, but you need to be a lover of intense, aromatic, dark and full on spice marinades to enjoy this one. And this one is for the meats; so you can slather it on chicken, ribs, steaks, cutlets…..just about anything meaty and can absorb intense flavour.

I had initially prepared grilled lamb cutlets with this coffee spice rub but then my computer decided it had enough of me and crashed last week and I ended up losing all the photographs I shot. So this week, I made it again with chicken drumsticks which just proved how delicious this spice rub can indeed be.

1

3

There isn’t much to this recipe except for making the coffee spice rub. Make it in bulk and store it away in an airtight container for upto 6 months. And just as I said, there is so much you can do with this one. Next, I am thinking of marinating some boneless chicken pieces to make lunch box wraps for the week. Get the idea?

So let’s get on to this grilled chicken drumsticks flavoured with this intense, rich, sweet and aromatic coffee spice rub.

Ingredients:

1. 7 chicken drumsticks (with skin)
2. 4 ½ tsp coffee spice rub
3. Salt, to season
4. Vegetable oil
5. Lemon wedges, to serve
6. Pickled cucumbers, to serve
7. Alfalfa sprouts, to serve
8. Yoghurt; beaten and spiced mildly with roasted cumin powder

Coffee Spice Rub:

1. 4 tsp ground coffee (espresso strength)
2. 3 tsp salt
3. 3 tsp brown sugar
4. 4 tsp red chilli powder
5. 1 tsp black pepper
6. 1 tsp onion powder
7. 1 tsp garlic powder
8. 1 star anise, powdered
9. ½ tsp cayenne powder
10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
11. 1 tsp coriander powder
12. 1 tsp roasted cumin powder

Method:

1. To prepare the coffee spice rub, mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
2. Place the chicken drumsticks in a non reactive bowl or ziplock bag, add the spice rub and drizzle with vegetable oil (approx 2 -3 tbsp). Season with salt (remember the spice rub already has salt) and rub it all together and ensure the chicken has been coated well. Marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight is recommended.
3. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before grilling.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan forced.
5. Place the drumsticks on the grill and cook for 10 minutes at 200°C; then lower the heat to 180°C and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn once and cook for another 5 minutes or till done.
6. Serve hot with lemon wedges, yoghurt, pickled cucumber and sprouts.

Note – Pickled cucumber and the yoghurt lends a tangy flavour which goes beautifully with the rich intense flavour of the chicken.

5

4

Lahori Fish Fry

India and Pakistan – two countries infamous for their political differences. But I can’t help wonder how two nations that are so similar in food, culture and traditions can end up being such bitter foes.

Till my early teens, I wasn’t even aware of the political issues that plagued these two nations. In spite of the history lessons, I grew up blissfully unaware of these tensions. And this was not just because I grew up in Dubai, but because we had neighbours who hailed from Pakistan. My earliest friends were the children of that household and our fathers were colleagues who always went to office together.

I have memories of a childhood playing dress ups with the little girls of that household, memories of building sandcastles on the terrace from the materials salvaged from construction workers, memories of gazing at the beautiful aunty next door whenever she let her guard down and removed her burqa.

I also have memories of food, glorious food. The smell wafting from their kitchens during Ramzan and Eid, eagerly looking forward to the lamb dishes and little presents they would bring us after a holiday to Pakistan. I have memories of watching how both our moms would discuss and exchange recipes and dishes without speaking a word of each other’s language but understanding every word.

It pains me that nations can fight over nothing. And the only thing I can really do about it is practice tolerance within me and also teach my son the same….in the hope that a day will come when we will truly celebrate each other’s differences.

With these thoughts running through my head, I had to prepare a dish that originated in the region that is today called Pakistan…..the Lahori fish fry!

blog 4

In spite of its name, the Lahori fish fry is common in India too especially in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab.

There are two ways of preparing this dish; one is the traditional version and the other is the restaurant version. In the former, the fish is coated with the spice marinade and deep fried while in the latter, the fish is coated in a spiced batter and then deep fried. I am using a marinade today because I want just a nice layer of spices without any thick exterior but if you wish to make the restaurant version, then all that you need to do is prepare a batter instead of a marinade.

9

blog 1

I have used Japanese thread fin breams, bones and all. But if you prefer a boneless version, then use fillets of any white fish. There’s much that you can do with this recipe. You can either go the route I took, fried whole fish to serve as an accompaniment to rice, vegetables and lentils. Or use fillets to serve with a side of salad as a starter. The fried fillets make interesting fish tacos too! And if you make the batter version, then add a side of chips to have your own spicy fish and chips.

Enjoy!!

5

6

blog 3

Ingredients:

1. 1 kg Japanese sea bream; head and guts removed, cleaned well
2. 2 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
3. 1 tbsp ajwain/carrom seeds
4. 1 tsp black salt/kala namak

For full recipe, visit here.

blog 2

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood Pvt Ltd.

Bonfire Cafe (Springvale) – a Review

A visit to this restaurant has been on the cards for a long time as one of our friends had been there and suggested it’s a good place to try North Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

The Bonfire Restaurant (the café in the title is a misnomer!) is located in Springvale and is a rather small place nestled among many other Indian, Asian and fast food joints. The place is more famous for takeaways rather than dine-in due to the small space and not so appealing service. The food leans more heavily towards Pakistani style of cooking which is rather similar to the cuisine of old Delhi and parts of Punjab and North Frontier.

1

We arrived there around 8.00pm on a Saturday evening and the place was only half full. Since it’s mostly a takeaway joint, you are likely to find place even on weekends but if you are part of a large group, I totally recommend calling ahead of time as the place can get really cramped, even with a few diners.

Though I have read mixed reviews about this place on Zomato, I kept an open mind and not get influenced by what I have read. The menu was refreshingly different and did not offer the same kind of dishes that are offered by most Indian restaurants. Like I said, this was because the menu leaned towards the Pakistani style of cooking; so that expectations were really high as I know that Pakistani cuisine is an incredibly delicious one, rich and packed with flavour.

2

Since there were very few diners, we got seated fairly quickly and the menus were bought out. There was a good variety of dishes across all categories and I liked the fact that each dish carries a little note about the origin or history of the dish along with a description of the actual dish. This can be really helpful for those who do not understand the traditional names and can get confused on what to order.

For starters, we got the Chapli Kebabs which is a specialty of the region; lamb mince kebabs flavoured with coriander and dry pomegranate seeds. The kebabs were served with a mint raita and sliced cucumbers. Absolutely delicious and a must try…unanimously voted as the best dish of the day by all of us. There is a strong coriander flavour just as the description mentioned but it was beautiful and not too hot.

Chapli Kebabs

Chapli Kebabs

Mint raita and cucumber salad

Mint raita and cucumber salad

We also got a piece of Chicken tikka for the non-lamb eater in the group. Unlike many other restaurants where tikka is served as skewers, here you get a quarter piece of chicken marinated with a flavourful tikka sauce and a generous squeeze of lemon. Well cooked, not too dry with good flavours.

Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka

Next, we ordered some flatbreads/Naan along with a vegetarian and non-vegetarian side. For vegetarian, we chose the Paneer Jalfarezi and Beef Nihari for the non-vegetarian option. The flatbreads were a bit dry to my liking but not too hard. A bit of butter would have helped. The Paneer Jalfarezi was delicious and mopped up in no time at all. It is an excellent choice for vegetarians and also for anyone who is looking for a less spicy dish.

Flatbreads

Flatbreads

Paneer Jalfarezi

Paneer Jalfarezi

Though I have heard plenty about Nihari (a traditional dish dating from the 18th century Mughal cuisine and now considered to be the national dish of Pakistan), this is my first time actually experiencing the dish. Since I have no prior experience, I won’t claim it to be authentic etc…simply because I do not know. But what I do know is that it was delicious with the most tender and succulent pieces of beef I have ever eaten. The only complaint was that there were very few beef pieces and plenty of gravy. But nevertheless, a good dish.

Beef Nihari

Beef Nihari

The final dish was the lamb biryani. Of course you have to sample the biryani when out at an Indian restaurant and this one didn’t disappoint. The Pakistani style of biryani is much lighter than the typical Indian version; it is more flavourful but less spicy. And this makes it perfect as it does not fill you up completely allowing room for other dishes to be sampled. I wouldn’t say this was a great biryani; average but not disappointing.

Lamb Biryani

Lamb Biryani

If there’s anything to fault with this place, it’s the service. There’s none to speak of……

My rating – 7.5/10 (just because the food is good). So if you live nearby, a takeaway would be ideal if you do not wish to experience the non-existent service. For others, if a good meal counts over the service, then you will want to give it a go.

Bonfire Cafe

Shop 1
27-31 Springvale Road,
Springvale
Victoria

Phone no: (03) 9546 8445
http://www.bonfirecafe.com.au

Timings:

Open 7 days – 12.00pm to 12.00am
Breakfast available – Saturday and Sunday (8.00am to 1.00pm)

Click to add a blog post for BonFire Cafe on Zomato

Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by me!

Southern Fried Chicken with Paprika Wedges

Fried chicken – The ultimate global comfort food!

I remember vividly of a childhood eating my fair share of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken, is there anyone who doesn’t know it!). It was the only form of fast food that was welcome in our house simply for the fact that fried chicken was the only thing that my dad would eat outside South Indian cuisine.

Without going into the debate of health and junk food, I did enjoy the flavours of KFC, at least till I learnt to make a decent version of fried chicken myself. What can get more comforting than biting into a crispy chicken leg that eventually melts in your mouth. And accompany it with fries and ketchup…..greasy but good for the soul!

As my cooking skills strengthened and so did my knowledge of oven cooking, I learnt of ways to achieve a similar texture and flavour of fried chicken without actually deep frying. The fries got replaced with wedges and the store bought mayo slowly gave way to homemade aioli.

And of all the different varieties and styles of fried chicken, this Southern version staunchly remains my favourite just because it has liberal amounts of my favourite ingredient in it….spices.

3

Southern fried chicken is another comfort food offering that originated in the US. The chicken pieces are tenderized by marinating in buttermilk and then coated with flour mixed with spices like cayenne pepper. But today, I am adding more crunch to the coating in the form of crushed cornflakes and Panko breadcrumbs. And we have not just cayenne for the chilli kick, but smoked paprika and Indian red chilli powder because I like it hot!

If you have an oven, then ditch the fryers and skillets; spray some oil and oven bake at high temperatures to get the same crispy exterior and your stomach will thank you for it. We also have paprika wedges instead of classic fries to accompany this Southern fried chicken. Homemade mayo and barbeque sauce complete this comfort food package making my weekend a delicious affair.

1

4

Why don’t you make yours delicious too?

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

1. 1 kg chicken; broken into 6 pieces
2. 2 cups buttermilk
3. 3 tbsp barbeque sauce
4. 2 cups crushed cornflakes
5. 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (use ordinary crumbs if you do not have Panko)
6. 3 tbsp wheat flour
7. 1 tbsp smoked paprika
8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
9. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
10. 2 tsp onion powder
11. ½ tsp garlic powder
12. Salt, to season
13. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
14. Vegetable oil

Note – Adjust the spices to suit your heat preference.

For the wedges:

1. 4 medium potatoes
2. ½ tsp paprika
3. ¼ tsp Italian herbs
4. Salt, to season
5. 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

To prepare the chicken:

• Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, pour the buttermilk and barbeque sauce on top. Season with salt and pepper; keep aside for at least 2 hours or overnight as time permits.
• Preheat the oven to 250°C. Line a tray with baking paper and lightly brush or spray with vegetable oil.
• In a bowl, mix the cornflakes, Panko crumbs, flour, cayenne, red chilli, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
• Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk and coat with the cornflakes mixture. Press gently so that the crumb adheres to the chicken and place it on the baking tray. Repeat for all pieces. Make sure that you do not crowd the tray; if necessary, prepare in batches or on 2 trays.
• Lightly spray or drizzle the chicken pieces with oil and bake for 10-12 minutes at 250°C. Then decrease the heat to 200°C and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken and take care it does not burn.
• Flip the chicken pieces over gently, lightly spray or brush with oil and bake again at 200°C for another 15-20 minutes or till done. Check after 10 minutes to see if any pieces are done (the wings may cook faster than the breast pieces) and remove if necessary.

To prepare the wedges:

• Peel the potatoes, cut into wedges (leave the skin on if you wish to) and parboil in salted boiling water for 8 minutes.
• Drain and allow to air dry.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced). Line a tray with baking paper.
• In a bowl, mix the potato wedges with paprika, herbs and lightly season with salt (remember you cooked it in salted water). Drizzle a bit of oil and line the wedges on the tray without crowding too much.
• Roast in the oven for 15 minutes turning once in between or till golden brown and done.

2

3

Fish Ambotik

Do you believe in the ‘13th unlucky day’ concept?

I do, at some genetic level……though I haven’t become a freak yet!

I grew up with a mom who totally freaks over the number 13. She simply wouldn’t let us do so many things on that day, especially if involves travel, hosting an event, or even lodging an application…..If there was a way, she would simply bring life to a standstill and keep her family close by on the 13th.

My attitude, initially, was ridicule. It was plain crazy to attribute a day or number to be bad. And though I have read up a lot trying to figure out the scientific relevance of all this, the only answer I could come up with is that it has a lot to do with what you really believe in. As life went, the ridicule turned to frustration as mom wouldn’t let me do many things on the 13th, and it is not always possible in a practical, busy world. But I began to tolerate it much more because I began to understand the reasons behind her fears. Every undesirable or bad experience of her life has always been on the 13th and that fear has formed over many many years of such experiences.

And now, though I haven’t become like my mom yet, 13th has become a conscious date in my mind. Though I don’t prevent or impose on my family with my beliefs, there is an extra prayer in the mornings before everyone heads out, small prayers through the day worrying about the safety of my family till they are back in the nest and yes, sometimes consciously putting away doing things simply because I don’t feel great on that day.

Yesterday was one such 13th…..nothing has happened that stopped my life in any manner. But a couple of unpleasant and undesirable experiences peppered through the day that I just couldn’t wait for the day to come to a close. I went to bed with a heavy heart praying that I don’t want to believe that a date or number can have a hold on me.

Today’s dawn couldn’t have felt much better…a new day to start afresh with a better frame of mind. And all I wanted to do was fall back into routine and get cooking something to fire up my taste buds.

And that something happened to be this deliciously spicy and warm fish curry.

blog1

Fish Ambotik curry is a famous sour and spicy seafood preparation commonly found in Goa and along the Konkan belt of Maharashtra (a state along the south west coast of India).

The unique sour flavour of the dish comes from the tamarind and fenugreek seeds while the heat is added from the kashmiri chillies and garlic. Ambotik curry can be prepared using a wide variety of fish but I have used Indian mackerel today.

1

blog2

A bowl of steamed rice with this simple, no fuss, deliciously spicy fish curry can make the world feel a much better place……

Ingredients:

1. 1 kg Indian mackerel; gutted and cleaned
2. 1 ½ red onion; 1 finely chopped and ½ for making spice paste
3. 6 dry kashmiri chillies

Find the full recipe here….

blog3

And if you love fish heads just as much as I do, here is special click for you;

blog4

Recipe developed, styled and photographed for Supreme Seafood.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,288 other followers

%d bloggers like this: