Kottayam Fish Curry

The international or global reach of food happened in the last 2 decades and today, most of us want to cook and enjoy all kinds of cuisines – Middle Eastern, Meditteranean, Asian, Indian, Italian, Mexican etc. to name a few. But there was a time when food was rather a ‘traditional affair’ and people ate specific ingredients or dishes pertaining to the region and remained largely unaware of other types of preparations.

Kerala is quite divided when it comes to food; the style of cooking and ingredients varies widely between the different regions. My dad and mom came from different regions within the state and so I grew up hearing stories from my mom about the difficulties she had to go through after marriage getting adjusted to the eating styles and dishes in my dad’s household. And the main dish that kept cropping up was this fish curry, which she needed a long time to get used to.

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This spicy fish curry has become the culinary trademark of the Travancore region of Kerala though it is proudly referred to as Kottayam fish curry to the outside world. There are 2 main differences that makes this dish stand out from all other seafood preparations of Kerala – use of black kokum as the souring agent instead of tamarind and absence of coconut (no one needs an explanation about Kerala’s fixation with coconut). There are some households which add coconut to this dish but mostly as a garnish and not as an actual ingredient in making the curry.

This is a staple dish of every household in Kottayam and neighboring districts; I don’t think a day goes by without this dish. Traditionally, this fish curry is either eaten with steamed root vegetables like tapioca, taro and yam or paired with native red rice and a buttermilk curry.

When it comes to describing the flavours of this fish curry, let me just say that it is unapologetically fiery with really bold flavours. Which is why, there is always going to be a divided opinion about this one – you either love it or hate it. No middle ground…..

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As for me, you would have figured how much I love it which is of course why it gets featured here……
Well, I could go on and on about this dish, but let’s get to cooking Kottayam fish curry.

Ingredients:

1. 1kg barracuda, medium sized pieces
2. 7-8 shallots/small onion, finely sliced
3. 1 inch ginger, finely chopped

Find the full recipe here.

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafoods.

Chicken Tinga Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa

Any time is taco time!

Yes, I can eat tacos at any given time of the day, right from breakfast to dinner. I find these little parcels an explosion of flavour and texture. Keep it simple or get creative and gourmet, but tacos are delightfully delicious, full of oomph and a food that makes me smile from within.

Today, we have Chicken Tinga Tacos with a Roasted Poblano Salsa.

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Tinga comes from the Mexican state of Puebla and is a simple dish that is famous and common across the country. I have used chicken today but this works well with pork and beef. Tinga is generally prepared as a filling for tacos, empanadas, tlacoyos and also as a topping for tostadas.

The signature ingredient responsible for the flavour profile of the tinga is the chipotle peppers. I used chipotle in adobo sauce but you can use just the peppers too. Chipotle adds not just heat but a complex and rich smoky depth to this chicken tinga.

Extremely simple to make, the tinga is an extremely versatile dish that you could use in so many ways. I even made a lunch box subway with this topped with some pickled jalapenos and mayo…..deliciousness!

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And of course, no taco is complete without a salsa. Couldn’t go past the poblanos at the local market without grabbing a bunch, and these found a way into my salsa. Again, I wanted to add a hint of smokiness along with the heat so roasted the poblanos to complement the freshness of the other ingredients.

So there you have it – my Mexican fiesta with chicken tinga tacos topped with a roasted Poblano salsa, deliciously cocooned in mini corn tortillas.

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Ingredients:

For the chicken tinga:

1. 500 gms chicken; cooked and shredded
2. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
3. 1 medium onion, finely sliced
4. 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
6. 3 large red tomato, finely chopped
7. 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (adjust to your heat preferences); chopped
8. Salt, to season
9. Black pepper, to season

Note – Leftover rotisserie chicken works well for a tinga.

For the salsa:

10. 2 poblano peppers
11. 1 large red onion, finely chopped
12. 2 ripe red tomatoes, finely chopped
13. 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
14. 1 lemon
15. Salt, to season

Others:

16. 1 packet of mini corn tortillas
17. Lemon wedges

Note – If you can’t find Poblano peppers, use any other type of peppers. Bell peppers/capsicum also work great though this wont’ give any heat.

Method:


For the tinga:

• Cook the chicken with a bit of salt, shred and keep aside.
• In a large pan, heat oil and add the sliced onions. Soften for about 2 minutes and then add the garlic.
• Cook for about 2 minutes or till fragrant and then add the tomatoes and parsley. Lower heat and cook till the tomatoes have begun to release their juices and turn slightly mushy.
• If the tomatoes you use do not release enough juice, add a few tbsps of water.
• Next add the chicken and chipotle peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes till the sauce has reduced and the mixture comes together.

For the salsa:

• Roast the Poblano peppers till the outside skin has charred well; I did this on a stovetop but you can use the oven too. Cool lightly and remove the skin, pith and seeds. Chop the flesh and add to a bowl.
• To the same bowl, add chopped onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander; mix well to combine.
• Squeeze lemon juice and season with salt.

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Tacos are meant to be a communal meal. Individual plates have no place here; so bring out all the components of the meal to the table and get your family around. Let each one create their own tacos and enjoy amidst plenty of fun and laughter!

Spiga Bar (Melbourne CBD) – a Review

I have been to Melbourne Central plenty of times but had never noticed the Spiga Bar before. Most often, I would take the Metro to Central, alight and roam around the shops and explore the eateries inside and return home back by the Metro which made me largely unaware of the few restaurants that dotted the alleyways surrounding the Central. But during one visit, I stepped outside for some vague reason and the Spiga caught my eye.

What struck me first was the quaintness of the location. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD, Spiga is truly a place you can escape into for a quiet drink or rest those tired shopping legs. We were doing the latter!

There is both an inside dining area and an al fresco space; we chose the inside because of the weather but I would have loved to sit outside and watch the shoppers go by.

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The interiors were done tastefully with a lot of artistic touches. It’s a small space but the design gives you a feeling of space and light which makes the place feel very welcoming. I later got to know that the place was designed by Chris Connell, a renowned restaurant designer.

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Spiga is an Italian joint with a good wine and beverages list. I would have loved to sample the wines at another time but at that point, I wanted something refreshing and went for the fresh tomato juice. And my hubby got a James Boag’s lager. I was very happy that I got the tomato juice; the balance was perfect and would totally recommend it especially on a warm day or if you are just looking for something hydrating.

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The pizza menu looked quite interesting and for mains, we got a Pizza Mexicana with hot salami, olives, onions, capsicum, in house Napoli sauce and loads of mozzarella. The pizza was really good, loved the thin crust and the toppings were fresh and done to perfection.

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The second mains we got was the lamb salad with couscous, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach and peas. It was fresh and the lamb was really good but I would have preferred more seasoning.

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Overall, a good experience! The staff were friendly and service was quick. I am not sure if I will go to Spiga just for the food again but if I am in the vicinity, I will definitely drop in for a bite. It’s so much better than eating at the Central’s food courts.

Rating – 7/10

Spiga Bar

2 Menzies Alley, Melbourne CBD
Enter via 360 Elizabeth Street
Tel. 8676 7515
Website: http://www.spiga.com.au/

Timings:

Monday to Friday : 7am to late
Saturday; 10am to late
Sunday: 9am to 5pm

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me.

Spiga Bar on Urbanspoon

Mutton Roganjosh

The best thing about having friends from different regions of the world is that you do not need to rely on Google or random cookbooks especially if you are interested in learning and cooking traditional dishes.

It’s not just about the recipe of a traditional dish, for me….the history is as important as the dish itself. Understanding the reasoning behind a dish, the culture, the practices, the importance of ingredients that go into the dish, the way it is consumed; all of this is what completes the experience of cooking a traditional dish for me.

And that is exactly what I achieved with today’s dish – Mutton Roganjosh.

Roganjosh is a dish that originated in Kashmir, India but it has become a curry that has spread like wildfire across the world. It was also one of the dishes that surprised and disappointed me when I sampled Indian food in Australia.

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I really don’t mind tweaking a recipe to suit individual tastes or incorporate local ingredients but taking away from the real character of a dish and its inherent flavours is not something I approve of especially if it’s a traditional one like mutton roganjosh.

So what do you do? Find yourself a Kashmiri foodie friend who will hunt down the most authentic mutton roganjosh recipe, straight from the roots. A big thanks to you dear, you know who you are.

Now let me come to the ‘disappointed’ bit I was talking about….the variations of roganjosh that I have eaten in the Indian restaurants here are nothing like the real thing. It is as far removed from the original in terms of ingredients, textures and flavours.

Mutton roganjosh is one of the main dishes that forms a part of the Wazwan which is the name given for a traditional multi course meal in Muslim Kashmiri cuisine. This is a meal which is taken very seriously and is a source of pride especially for the waz or the cook (you train for years to become a waz and is most often an occupation that is handed down generations, father to son). It represents the ultimate banquet in the Kashmiri Muslim society and no important occasion is complete without it. And my dear friend has got me this recipe from a waz, himself.

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Kashmiri mutton roganjosh is not a very spicy dish; in fact it has very less heat but plenty of flavour from the clever use of spices and aromatics. Kashmiri chilli powder is used in this and for those who don’t know….the kashmiri chilli powder adds a deep red colour to the dish without much heat when compared to the regular Indian red chilli powder which is less on colour and more on heat. It also has smoky undertones, a bit like paprika.

So if you are a curry fanatic and would like to taste the real roganjosh, let’s get cracking…….

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Ingredients:

1. 1 kg mutton (with bones)
2. 2 cinnamon stick

Read the full recipe here……

Recipe developed, styled and photographed for Supreme Seafoods.

Baba Ghanouj with Minced Lamb and Pine Nuts

As I have always said, food can be a glorious medium to break barriers and make friends from around the globe.

Such is my friendship with Feda Queen (isn’t it a beautiful name!). I have never met Feda or know much about her except that she hails from Lebanon and lives in Sydney. I also know that she is an amazing cook, willing to share her wealth of knowledge about Lebanese cooking to all those who wish to learn.

I ‘virtually’ met Feda on Facebook and was instantly drawn to her honest, down-to-earth, style of cooking. Soon, she became my window into the world of everyday Lebanese cooking. It was an eye-opener, really – my experience of the cuisine so far was based on memories of childhood tastes and a bunch of cookbooks.

Feda enjoys cooking for her family and she takes great pride in it in spite of having a full time banking career. She runs a small Facebook group, just a bunch of us who really want to learn Lebanese cuisine. No marketing, no unnecessary chit chats; just food in all its honesty for a bunch of us hungry souls.

Most of us would have heard of Baba Ghanouj – the eggplant and sesame seed dip which comes a close second to hummus in terms of popularity. This dip which is often a part of the mezze platter originated in the regions of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

I have made Baba Ghanouj plenty of times. In spite of being a ‘non-eggplant’ lover, I love the smoky, charred flavours that the eggplants lend to this creamy, slightly tangy dip. But Feda introduced me to a different version of eating Baba Ghanouj – topped with spiced minced lamb and toasted pine nuts.

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My instant reaction on seeing this dish was WOW! That’s a complete dinner….some freshly baked pita and a fresh salad would make a great weekday dinner. This dish hardly takes much time and is a great way of bringing the family together. Don’t bother with individual plates; you have to eat it the Middle Eastern way. A big platter of Baba Ghanouj with the lamb and nuts, a bowl of salad and pitas on the side – all the family members coming together and sharing from a single plate, amidst plenty of talking, giggling and smiles. It’s such an enriching and happy experience.

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Now this is a dish for both the vegetarians and non vegetarians. If you eat lamb, you can enjoy the whole dish but if you don’t, then you still have the Baba Ghanouj – a deliriously flavoursome dip with the smokiness of the roasted eggplants married with the creamy nuttiness of the tahina (sesame seed paste), some tanginess from the yoghurt and a good drizzle of olive oil and lemon. And top it off with some gently spiced lamb mince and toasted pine nuts.

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Ingredients:

To make Baba ghanouj:

1. 2 large eggplant/aubergine/brinjal (purple variety)
2. 1 big lemon
3. ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
4. 2 garlic cloves
5. Salt, to season
6. 1-2 tbsp natural yoghurt
7. ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

To make the minced lamb topping:

8. 500 gms of minced lamb
9. 2 medium onions, finely chopped
10. 1 hot red chilli, finely chopped
11. 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
12. 1 tbsp tomato paste
13. 1 tbsp chilli paste/sauce
14. Salt, to season
15. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
16. 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
17. 2-3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Method:

To make the Baba ghanouj:

• Grill the eggplant till the outsides are really charred and the flesh inside has become soft. (I do it on the stove top but you can use an oven or a charcoal fire). Cover with a cloth and keep aside for 2 minutes.
• Peel the skin off while still warm; cut and chop the flesh roughly.
• Place in a mortar and pestle, food processor or grinder and add garlic, tahini, yoghurt and half of the lemon juice. Blend for a minute or two.
• Season with salt and check the taste. Add more tahini or lemon juice if necessary.
• Transfer to a large serving plate and drizzle the olive oil on top. If you prefer a creamier consistency, add the olive oil and blend again.
Note – Some households add parsley too though I didn’t.


To make the minced lamb topping:

• In a large pan, heat ghee and add the minced lamb; fry for a couple of minutes till it has browned lightly.
• Add the diced onions, followed by the rest of the ingredients except pine nuts. Fry till the tomatoes have broken down and the moisture absorbed.
• Toast the pine nuts taking care not to burn.
• Cool slightly and spoon over the baba ghanouj.
• Garnish with the toasted pine nuts.

Though a tabbouleh would have been a good accompaniment to the meal, I made an avocado salsa along with Lebanese pita breads to complete the meal.

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D’Elephant Thai Restaurant, Chadstone – a Review

If you read my restaurant reviews, you would have figured out by now that Chadstone is one of my fave shopping destinations in Melbourne. Yes, it is pricey….not that I have a lot of moolah or spend it either (a considerable amount is spent window shopping)! But, there are shops/brands/boutiques that fit right into your budget; it’s just a matter of figuring out the right ones. And no; this is not a sponsored post for Chadstone shopping centre.

This introduction is just to give you an idea how I end up eating at the many food joints/restaurants in Chadstone in comparison to other places. And last week, it was the D’Elephant Thai Restaurant that I walked into after a rather satisfying shopping experience.

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Situated in the vicinity of Pappa Rich and Oriental Town, D’Elephant has a distinct feel to its décor and ambience. It is modern Australian with a touch of Asian interspersed. There is a beautiful al fresco dining space; make sure you get seated there if the weather permits. It’s really a great spot.

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There isn’t a great beverages list but there is a good one especially with some Thai favourites which go really well with the food. We chose from the cold pressed juices selection; Pina Colada and Berry Thai. Delicious, refreshing and matched well with the food.

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I wasn’t coming away without having a taste of their Tom Yum, so got a single serve seafood tom yum. Delicious! Everything that I hoped it will be – a medley of all kinds of flavours with a good kick of heat. I would go back and eat just this again. Truly recommended.

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I wasn’t coming away without having a taste of their Tom Yum, so got a single serve seafood tom yum. Delicious! Everything that I hoped it will be – a medley of all kinds of flavours with a good kick of heat. I would go back and eat just this again. Truly recommended.

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The deep fried barramundi sounded delicious so we ordered a Pla Sam Sa Hai (deep fried barramundi fillet with lemongrass, chilli and garlic). The barramundi was cooked to perfection and I loved the tangy, sweet and sour flavours with just the right amount of chilli to boot. Again, totally recommended.

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And to satisfy the carbs craving, we also got the Thai chicken fried rice. Again, quite delicious and flavourful; especially recommend it for children as it is a complete meal with the meat and veggies.

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A thoroughly delicious and satisfying experience that left us hardly any room for dessert. The D’ Elephant is definitely worth a visit; it might not be the most authentic Thai experience but it is pocket friendly and delicious with good customer service. What more could you ask!

Rating – 8/10

D’Elephant Thai Restaurant

Chadstone Shopping Centre
1341 Dandenong Rd Chadstone,
VIC 3148

Phone no: 03 9568 6600
Website: http://delephant.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/delephantthai

Opening Hours:

Monday – Wednesday: 10.30am to 9.00pm
Thursday – Saturday: 10.30am to 10.00pm
Sunday: 10.30am to 9.00pm

D'Elephant Thai on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer – This is not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me.

Q & A with Emma Macey-Storch, Director and Producer of Meet + Eat Documentary Series

Food can be much more than a basic survival tool for mankind. It can be a medium to show love, say welcome, spread joy, build friendships and above all…..bridge cultural, geographical and religious differences.

What makes Australia the ‘culinary destination’ of the world? It is the multiculturalism; the diverse way of life here. It is the sense of community that we have in spite of having come from around the globe; it is our ability to intermingle and live together harmoniously that makes Australia one of the happiest and most liveable places on Earth.

Yet, this country faces a serious threat today from divided communities, misguided anger, religious and cultural differences. The same things we celebrated as a nation and was our real strength stand threatened today.

So can food really make a social change? Yes, it can….says Emma Macey-Storch with her latest documentary series, Meet + Eat!

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Emma is the Creative Director (VIC) of the not for profit organization, Curious Works. She is the Director/Producer of the Meet + Eat online documentary series which explores the charming and compelling stories of people from two of Australia’s most culturally rich and diverse regions of Australia: Hume in Victoria and South Western Sydney – where you can walk down the street and meet the world.

Sit down, share a meal and have a yarn – that’s what this documentary is all about. But at its heart, Meet+Eat is about celebrating diversity. Meet the truck drivers, musicians, comedians, teachers and grandmothers of these places. Over the series, you hear their stories of immigration, identity, personal challenges and personal victories.

Here are the excerpts from my interview with Emma Macey-Storch and the wonderful work that she and her team have been doing through this documentary;

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Could you tell us a bit about your background, education, family, your work with Curious works etc…?

I grew up in Melbourne to a British father and an Australian mother who always had an interest in travelling and photography. It’s no shock that eventually after doing a couple of degrees and further studies in teaching, jewellery, music, fashion and fine art that eventually I found my love for filmmaking.

I have now been a Director/Producer of documentary, animation and fiction projects in the UK and Australia for 16 years. In a previous incarnation I headed up an organisation called FILM 15 Productions in Wales in the UK where I specialised in skills development and the production of 73 short films with the local community. The project I ran developed the talent of many young people aged between 8-28 who previously were unemployed or struggled at school. Many now work in the industry on everything from TV soaps to major feature films at Pinewood Studios.

I have done a lot of different types of filmmaking – everything from a national animation project called Animation Tank in Wales (that taught literacy skills to primary school children through the making of animations) to a ‘short’ Bollywood inspired film called Dream Girl that involved 165 people from a local community in Wales working with veteran Bollywood actor Mayur Raj Verma (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Love in Goa).

Since returning to Australia I have been working as the Creative Producer for CuriousWorks and have been responsible for working with the community in Hume and a great team of budding filmmakers to create the beautiful content for the Meet+Eat (VIC) series.

How did the idea of Meet + Eat come about? What was the main motivation/inspiration?

The concept of Meet + Eat is the brainchild of award-winning media arts organisation CuriousWorks, who have made it their mission to share the rarely-told stories of multicultural Australia. Using the slogan ‘Visit another Australia’, they develop long-term relationships with these communities, encouraging them to celebrate their diversity and share it with the wider nation.
Meet + Eat is a really good way to open the doors to these kinds of stories. Not only do the Meet + Eat films give us a deeper understanding of diversity in Australia and what culture really means to everyday people, but also a quite surprising and inspiring insight into what happens behind closed doors in the Hume neighbourhood.

The series covers stories of immigration, displacement, identity, inter-cultural exchange, personal history, dance, cooking, music, human rights, youth violence, neighbourhood memories and is often a catalyst for the creation of great friendships.

And why food as a medium to bring communities together?

Often when we think about sitting down and having a meal we think of our family and our friends. There is no doubt that food is a great ice breaker and is the one thing all cultures have in common. In Meet + Eat the meal each family cooks for each other comes from their cultural background or has some personal significance to them, so this we believe that this immediately encourages a deeper and more personal conversation with the other party.

One of my favourite moments in the entire Meet+ Eat series is when Helen from Greece reveals a huge lamb spit roast and 20 members of her extended family to Maria (from Samoa) Until that point Maria had never been invited to dinner by another family in Australia in the 12 years since she had arrived. Maria was so moved by the experience. When people from her workplace watched the film she suddenly had so many invites she couldn’t keep up. What this episode (Princess and the Bird) illustrates is how easy it is to forget simple acts of kindness to new arrivals, work colleagues or our neighbours. Food is a very meaningful way to connect to other people.

But not every episode uses food as the main connecting factor. In Fields of Dreams, what unites Dhammika and Nayana is their passion for dance. The food was incredible at their dinner but it was the dance that connected them to each other in a very joyful way. They danced for hours – and they talked as they danced and learnt about each other’s cultures through presenting their dances to each other.

Is there any particular reason for focusing or basing these documentaries in Hume?

Hume is considered one of the most diverse communities of Melbourne with over 100 different known cultural groups now living in Hume. This made the perfect demographic for our project and provided us with a way to promote the benefits of cultural diversity to a wider audience through sharing their stories.

One of the most interesting aspects for me personally is also around the way the area has been portrayed negatively in the mainstream media for decades. I really liked the idea of creating good news stories for Hume and showcasing the amazing talent and exceptional lives of these residents. There are definitely some stereotype breakers in Meet + Eat.

Every documentary has two families of two different communities coming together. Was this a random choice or were each pair chosen with a purpose?

The selection of families wasn’t random at all. For me as a Director/Producer I was looking for some meaningful connection between the two families that meet and some theme or lesson we could take from their shared experience. There is a lot of gut feeling that goes into the selection process. At first I just try and join in community activities and meet people. Once I have some ideas I tend to try and get to know the families as individuals before I decide what story I want to tell. For example one of the other episodes this year, Wild at Heart, saw three elderly farmers who are running the last dairy farm of Craigieburn meet with a family from Pakistan who are living in the suburban part of Craigieburn. Traditionally the rural communities and the people living in the new developments don’t mix and there is a little bit of tension around the impact the new suburban sprawl is having on the rural community. What I knew about the Pakistani family is that they had a very heartbreaking experience that caused them to feel displaced and promoted their move to Australia and the old Farmers are feeling displaced from their way of life because of progress. I felt this offered an incredible opportunity for us to look at the idea of displacement from several angles and challenge the perception that displacement is a refugee issue. It is about touching that common human experience in the films and offering up a narrative that enables us to see our neighbours in a different light and feel positive about cross cultural connections.

With Dhammika and Nayana, I really admired how pro active they both are in their community and how they both use dance to bring people together. It’s totally infectious what they do and brings a great deal of happiness to those who take part! In many ways, I believe our society is becoming more isolated despite people living more and more in the big cities. You don’t see kids out that much and the days of street parties are far and few between. I think the story of Giddah in Indian society and Dhammika and Nayana’s drive to reconnect people through their cultural dances is absolutely inspiring!

What was your personal experience and has it changed anything for you doing this documentary series?

I think the entire crew would agree with me when I say that we were as much on a journey of discovery as our subjects. During filming we very much had our own Meet + Eats with the subjects. In lunch breaks there would be lots of conversations and especially with Nayana and Dhammika we were invited to stay on for dinner after filming for a 5 course meal. It’s been a gorgeous experience I don’t think you can go into making a documentary series like this and not expect to form a deep connection with the subjects involved or learn something about yourself.

We of course also have a big responsibility to our subjects as well because they are sharing very personal and private experiences with us and trusting us to put it together into something that truly represents them and the story they wanted to share. About 65% of the footage we film with the subjects doesn’t make the final cut, so effectively we get to take away our own secret long cut version of the film in our memories.

What do you aim to achieve or what do you think has been achieved with this documentary?

There are very different types of outcomes that are achieved by making these films with the Hume community.

On a grass-roots level, I think people are a bit scared to get to know other people – be it at work or people that live around them. I think all the Meet + Eat films attempt to inspire openness to cultural diversity in Australian society and encourage people to maybe take that first step to reach out to somebody new. At public screenings it is very common for people to say to me afterwards that the films made them realise that they don’t know their neighbours and maybe they should make more of an effort.

Also for the subjects the act of making the documentary is what actually brings them together and in turn becomes the catalyst for their families and their extended networks to connect to each other. This is community building on a basic level and one of the aims we had as an organisation.

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Sharing stories, sharing food, sharing your interests and sharing your culture is very powerful and I think as a global community there should be much, much more of it.

To watch the online versions of the films you can visit http://www.meeteat.com.au or click on the documentary titles below;

1. Fields of Dreams
2. On the Line
3. Wild at Heart
4. Symphony for Two Rivers
5. Princess and the Bird
6. Deer and the Fawn

Tandoori Salmon Skewers

Mondayitis! And I seem to be suffering from copious doses of it. I wonder if there will ever be one Monday when I will wake up ready to embrace it instead of diving right back underneath the sheets.

In a long day ahead, the only silver lining seems to be this blog post…..because that’s how excited I am to bring you today’s dish, ‘Tandoori salmon skewers.’

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For the longest time, I have wanted to try out an Indian inspired salmon dish, especially after seeing and reading a lot of similar dishes on Masterchef, Jamie Oliver’s YouTube channel and also several restaurant menus.

Salmon is a very meaty fish with a distinct flavour and texture; it can be the most amazing experience if cooked properly. But if you overcook it, then you completely kill the flavour and believe me, it’s not something that you want to do especially after spending a whole lot of bucks buying it.

I have eaten salmon plenty of times and have cooked with it too but never an Indian inspired one. Today we have a delicious tandoori dish using the salmon fillets. Smothered in the fragrant, flavourful and rich marinade resplendent with spices, the tandoori salmon skewers make the perfect party starter.

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Was a tad bit hesitant with this one wondering if the tandoori spice blend which is rather strong and packs a punch would overpower the actual flavour of the fish. But it didn’t at all…..there is a sudden explosion of flavour in the first bite from the spicy, tangy notes of the tandoori marinade followed by the succulent sweetness of the salmon itself.

Do make sure not to overcook the fish!

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Ingredients:

1. 700 gm, Atlantic Salmon fillet; cut into large cubes
2. 1 cup thick curd

Click here to read full recipe……

And here is the recipe for the mint coriander chutney.

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Recipe developed, shot and styled for Supreme Seafoods.

Punjabi style Green Beans Fry

Today, I am going to take you all on a short trip to my childhood….

I have never been a fussy eater at all but I am a slow eater…..a terribly slow eater! And I can only eat very less quantities at a given time. This has been the case since childhood which has irritated and frustrated my poor mom as long as I can remember.

Coupled with the irritation of having to deal with the ranting from others, ‘Oh this child is so thin, doesn’t she eat anything?’ and the frustration of getting me to finish my meal, she decided that feeding me herself was the only solution.

And thus began the saga of getting fed by hand – every meal from morning to night except my school break would be fed by my mom. And I relished it! To the extent that the practice continued till I was in Grade 9. Then we made the shift from Dubai to India, and all hell broke loose.

Shocking! A teenage girl who had to be fed by her mom’s hand everyday…..I was mercilessly teased and made fun of. But I couldn’t bother a bit…I continued to enjoy getting fed. And believe me…in her hands, even the most basic dish would taste delicious. But don’t worry, it didn’t last even for a month. India has a strange way of knocking sense into you and teaching you the facts of life. I learnt to feed myself…..quite well actually though, I am still a bit slow. But now that I am a food blogger….I would call it relishing the flavours in each mouthful!

Now the reason for oversharing this rather embarrassing part of my childhood is this; even when I used to be fed by my mom, if there was anything that I was particularly fond of on the plate, I wouldn’t wait for her to give it. I will eat that on my own. And green beans always used to be one of the veggies…..

I love green beans, all varieties and in all forms. Stir fried with spices and grated coconut, steamed with garlic and butter, sautéed with spices and caramelized onions, blanched..there are a million ways to cook with beans and I love all of them.

Today’s style was a new one I learnt from the book, ‘The Vegetarian Table’ by renowned food writer, Yamuna Devi.

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This Punjabi style green beans fry is simple, robust but so moreish and full of flavours. A thick batter of chickpea flour is also added to the dish and cooked in such a way that it forms nuggets of goodness to be mixed through the dish. Makes it high on the protein quotient too.

These beans are just perfect to be combined with an enriching yet comforting meal of steamed rice and dal. Simple yet nourishing….just as food is meant to be.

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Ingredients:

1. 600 gms fresh green beans (I used French beans); cut into one inch pieces
2. ½ cup chickpea flour/besan
3. 2 tsp Punjabi garam masala
4. 2 tbs ghee/clarified butter
5. ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
6. ¼ tsp ajwain/carrom seeds
7. ½ tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to heat preferences)
8. 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
9. Salt, to season

To make Punjabi garam masala:

1. ¼ cup cumin seeds
2. 1/3 cup coriander seeds
3. ½ tbsp green cardamom seeds
4. ½ tbsp black peppercorns
5. 15 cloves
6. 2 inch cinnamon

Method:

To make the garam masala:

• Dry roast all the spices over low heat till fragrant. Cool well and powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make the dish:

1. Heat ghee in a pan; crackle mustard seeds and add the carrom seeds and red chilli flakes. Mix and add the green beans and fry on low to medium heat. Season with salt.
2. In a bowl, add the chickpea flour, garam masala and a pinch of salt. Add a few spoonfuls of water to make a thick batter; you must be able to pour it but still thick.
3. When the beans are half done, turn to high heat and move the beans to the centre of the pan using the ladle and pour the chickpea batter along the edges in a single motion around the pan. Do not mix.
4. Lower the heat and cook undisturbed for two minutes.
5. Using the ladle, break up the batter lightly; it would have firmed up a bit so break it up into little nuggets.
6. Continue to cook on low heat for another 2 minutes and then mix the beans into these. Season with salt, if necessary and cook till the nuggets are browned well and the beans are done.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves

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Zhen Hong Restaurant, Melbourne CBD – a Review

It goes without saying that one would be overwhelmed when it comes to the number of Asian themed restaurants that are peppered all across the Melbourne CBD.

I have had my fair share of good and bad experiences when it comes to dining at Asian restaurants (and I am not talking just Chinese, but the whole of Asia). But I have to admit that these are the best when you want to have a quick meal if shopping or strolling in the vicinity.

And it is one such shopping trip that landed me at Zhen Hong Restaurant on Russell St. Most of the Asian restaurants in the CBD have the menu card stuck on the outside window; helps when you are on the lookout to eat something in particular or within a fixed budget range or even to get an idea of the kind of dishes to expect inside.

I couldn’t be bothered to scan the menu but I did peep inside to find out if there were empty seats and also to check out the ambience. I wanted a quick meal yet; I did not want to eat in one of the crowded, dingy, noisy places too.

Zhen Hong was pleasant in that way; there were customers but not crowded enough to make the atmosphere noisy. I liked the setting; calm, peaceful with a distinct feel of the Orient. Sorry there aren’t any pictures; I wasn’t thinking with my ‘food blogger’ cap on!

All that we had time for was a quick meal and so this is a quick review too!

The menu was quite elaborate and there’s plenty to choose from. There are also quite a few combos and discount offers especially at lunch time.

From the dumpling list, we picked up chicken and prawn steamed dumplings. It was a rather average dumpling; enjoyable but lacking the flavour punch.

2; chicken and minced pork dumpling with soy sauce and chilli oil

There was a lemon chicken on the menu which caught our attention. While taking down the order, the waitress asked us if we wanted lemon chicken or and I promptly said lemon fish. So, I am not sure if this is on the menu but if it is, do try it out by all means. In a word, delicious! The best lemon fish I have ever had. The lemony tang was so obvious but without overtaking the fish which was just cooked to perfection.

4; lemon fish

We then ordered chicken fried rice with pineapple but asked them to ditch the pineapple. So it was a regular chicken fried rice; again an average dish.

1; chicken and fried rice

And the last main we ordered was the Schezuan spicy fish which was served with steamed rice. It was a good dish but far from spicy (at least for me!). Really couldn’t pick up any heat from the peppercorns but it was a flavourful dish though not true to the name.

3; spicy sichuan fish and rice

So that ends our meal at Zhen Hong. It was a mixed experience and I might need to try out more dishes to reach a final conclusion. I don’t think I am going to actively seek out the place but if I am in the vicinity, I am definitely hopping in…at least for the lemon fish.

Rating: 6.5/10

Zhen Hong Restaurant

191 Russell Street
Melbourne CBD
Victoria 3000

Phone no: 03 9650 8815

https://www.facebook.com/ZhenHongRestaurant

Timings:

Sun – Thurs: 11am to 11pm
Fri – Sat: 11am to 2am

Zhen Hong Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Disclaimer – This is not a sponsored post.

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