Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne)

Kerala cuisine in a modern Australian pub!

Surprised? I am…..

I constantly crib about how poorly Indian cuisine is represented in Melbourne with just a handful of restaurants that serve decent fare. And also none when it comes to South Indian food except for plenty of dosa serving restos that are often a disappointment.

So the new South Indian menu at The Rochey came as a huge surprise.

The Rochey has been an iconic part of Fitzroy for many years now but recently went through a whole revamp in terms of food and drink, both of which has been taken up several notches. Mischa Tropp from ‘WeareKerala’ has designed the new menu which showcases regional Kerala cuisine at its best, with some snippets from the Goan cuisine too.

The ambience at Rochey is typical Fitzroy (the architecture is so unique there), retro with contemporary influences but also with the industrial touch that the suburb does so well. While the front portion is the dedicated pub space, there is a cozy dining area towards the back. There is also a beer garden and a party space if you are looking to hold events.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The new drinks menu at Rochey deserves mention too. There are the classics given that it’s a pub, but there are also some interesting cocktails and new wines, beers etc…. on the list, some of which are specifically included keeping in mind the flavours of the new menu.

I was fortunate to try out a couple of wines that were exceptional and paired extremely well with the flavour profiles of the new South Indian menu.

(I have outlined the specifics of each wine beneath the photographs)

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Harvest Pinot Gris (2017 / Adelaide Hills SA / Organic) – Produced by a Grower’s Cooperative with a strong sense of giving back to the community, this Pinot Gris is easy on the palate, luscious with generous guava, lemongrass and white tea aromatics.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Some Young Punks ‘Monsters, Monsters Attack!’ Riesling (2015 / Clare Valley, SA) – Highly recommended if you are going to try out the fiery fish curry on the menu. A really sweet Riesling with racing acidity and brilliant florals, it is a treat after your tastebuds have been attacked from all the spices.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yangarra Estate PF Shiraz (2017 / McLaren Vale, SA / biodynamic / preservative free) – Made without additives of any kind, this Shiraz is a treat for the palate. Fresh, medium bodied yet vibrant, it’s an easy one that can be enjoyed young.

The food menu, as I mentioned, is largely based on the cuisine of Kerala. But there are also dishes from the Goan cuisine. And it’s a classic example of old meets new. While some dishes are traditional, staying true to the roots, others are a modern interpretation of the flavours of Kerala and Goa.

(As with the drinks, all the details of the dish will be outlined under each photograph)

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Egg Bonda (boiled egg & onion masala fried in a sourdough batter) – a classic tea time snack from Kerala. Traditionally a chickpea based batter is used but here, a sourdough batter has been used. The flavour was good especially from the caramelized onion masala used in the stuffing. But I would have preferred some sort of chutney or dip to go alongside the bondas. And if you have children with you, they are gonna love it.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Hearts ( Chargrilled with Recheado and a sweet and sour spicy sauce) – One of the highlight dishes of the day for me. Absolutely loved the flavours, that perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy; absolutely divine. And highly recommended.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Choris (Goan Chorizo with Onion Masala) – A twist on the Goan classic. A great snack if you are dropping in just for a drink or an excellent starter to start your meal. Another one the kids are gonna love.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Confit Parsnips (with Kashmiri Chilli Crumb and Shiso) – perhaps the dish that intrigued me the most on the menu which is why I had to try it. It’s unlike anything I have eaten before yet feels so familiar. For those who are familiar with the classic combination of tapioca and spicy dry coconut powder that is a staple in Kerala might be able to draw references to this one. And I totally loved the ingenuity of this one.

For the mains, it’s best to get an assortment of dishes and share which is the best way to enjoy regional Indian cuisine. We ordered a selection of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes; also got rice, flaky bread and pappadoms to accompany. Quite chuffed the traditional red rice (Rose Mata) was served instead of the regular white rice; has a different texture and so much healthier than the white. The flaky bread or parotta as called in Kerala is a delightfully flaky creation that’s perfect to mop up the curries.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Girija’s Cabbage Thoran (Stir fried cabbage, coconut and curry leaves) – a classic vegetarian dish from Kerala. If you have looked at my blog before, you would know how much I love thoran and all the incredible dishes that can be made from the basic style. The cabbage thoran is perhaps the most common rendition and in my opinion, the most delicious way to eat cabbage. A must try!

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Kadala (Brown chickpeas with roasted spices and coconut) – Another classic (you are going to hear that word a lot!). This curry that is just resplendent with spices and coconut makes it extremely loved in Kerala and beyond. Again done to perfection and as authentic as it can get. I would have loved to have some appams on the menu which pairs best but the flat breads are equally good too.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Roast Beef (Slow cooked beef neck in a rich Kerala style gravy) – Now where do I even start with how much this dish means to me. I was ready to be super critical of this one, but all that I can say is that Mischa and his team has done a fabulous job with this. Absolutely tender beef cooked in that classic aromatic spicy gravy that’s so unique to Kerala cuisine.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Fish Nadan (Freakin Spicy Keralan fish curry) – Yes guys, this is freaking spicy and not for the faint hearted. Even with the hardcore spice eating Indians, this dish stands out for its heat. But don’t let that prevent you for trying it out because it’s sensational and unlike any other fish curry you have ever eaten before. And pair it with the Monsters Attack Riesling that I mentioned above; it’s a match made in heaven.

To summarize, it’s the best Keralan food that I have eaten at a restaurant in Melbourne. Enough said!

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’

202 Johnston St
Fitzroy, Vic, 3065

Phone no: 03 9419 0166
Website: http://rochey.com.au/

Timings:

Mon-Thu: 2pm– late
Fri-Sat: 12pm–3am
Sun: 12pm–11pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest at The Rochey, but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

Rochester Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie

I have been getting a lot of requests to re-start the everyday smoothie series which used to be quite popular on my Facebook page last year.

It’s not that I have not been drinking any smoothies lately. And smoothies are not a fad or trend I follow; in fact I have been having smoothies’ way before it became ‘popular’. It’s just that I generally stick to a few recipes or rather combinations for my everyday breakfast, all of which are already documented on the FB page so there was nothing different I was making.

I love using oats in smoothies, in the natural raw form. Not a big fan of oats porridges but I really enjoy using oats in smoothies because it adds the necessary carbs yet the smoothie has a light texture which is very important for me.

One of my favourite combinations using oats is this ‘Breakfast Smoothie’. But this time at the market, there were some absolutely fresh berries for sale and I couldn’t resist picking up some blackberries and raspberries. And inspired by the colourful smoothie bowls that I have been seeing on Instagram, I was tempted to try out an oats smoothie using the berries.

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

I like to add nuts to my everyday smoothies so there’s always a selection in my pantry and for this one, I used whole almonds. Chia seeds are another favourite that finds its way to most of the smoothies I make. I don’t add any sort of sugar but if I absolutely must, it’s always honey as a sweetener. Also I tend to use milk in my smoothies instead of yoghurt simply because I like the taste of milk better.

And also I don’t like my smoothies super thick so I do add some water to get it to the drinkable consistency.

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

Are you a fan of smoothies? I would like to know which are your favourite combinations…so do drop a line below so that I can try it out too.

Ingredients:

  1. ½ cup oats
  2. A handful of blackberries
  3. A handful of raspberries
  4. 1 tsp chia seeds
  5. 1 tbsp almonds
  6. 1 cup milk
  7. Water (as needed)

Method:

  1. Blend all the ingredients together with water (if needed).
  2. Enjoy.

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne)

Another example of a top notch Melbourne café situated in the beautiful suburb of Ripponlea.

Tucked away on a side street yet located in the heart of the suburb, right next to the railway station, Turning Point is a great place to hang out with friends and family.

Subscribing perfectly to the word ‘Modern Australian’ is both the ambience and menu. There is a large seating area inside and a small outdoor space too for the sunnier days. The décor is bright and cheerful with contemporary touches.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu, as I mentioned is Modern Australian; all the classics but plenty of twists and fusions accommodating all kinds of foodies. Also it is divided into two, as the café is open for dinner also from Thursday to Sunday. The drinks menu is also extensive during the dinner timings.

We visited the café for brunch, a good time to enjoy both the breakfast and lunch dishes.

For drinks, I chose a glass of Lambrook Rosè (Adelaide Hills) while the hubby chose the ‘Citrus Squeeze’ cold pressed juice spiked with gin. A very interesting drink which had the goodness of orange, carrot, grapefruit, lemon and mint; the gin took it to another level creating a rather refreshing cocktail of sorts.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The little fellow opted for the eggs and bacon on toast, but we also added a side of chorizo. (The photograph was taken before the bacon arrived). A classic that ticks all the right boxes. There are plenty of options to customize this and make it simple or as gourmet as you wish to.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

I chose one of the café specials, Three Point Turn – poached eggs, bacon, house made beans, mushroom, wilted spinach, potato rosti, roasted tomato and relish. Served with toast but I omitted it. Now this is what I call a gourmet breakfast. Absolutely delicious and so full of flavour; especially loved the beans and rosti. Highly recommended!

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The hubby likes his protein fix so he opted for the Flank Steak – overnight marinated and grilled steak with caper and smoked paprika butter, jumbo tempura onion rings, a fried egg and thick cut fries. Now this one is for the big eater; generous portions with each component done to perfection. Just the kind of brunch for weekends.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, the Turning Point is an amazing café to hang out for coffee, drinks or a delicious meal. Definitely going back soon.

Turning Point

8 – 10 Glen Eira Ave
Ripponlea, 3185

Phone no: (03) 9528 2719
Website: https://www.turningpointripponlea.com/

Timings:

Monday – Wednesday: 7am – 4pm
Thursday – Friday: 7am – 9pm
Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 9pm

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

Turning Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baked Brie (with Sundried Tomatoes, Parsley, Dukkah)

I am a total cheese platter freak.

And that’s ironic coming from someone who absolutely hated cheese till about ten years ago. I remember my mom used to force me to eat cheese when I was a little girl. I was rather thin and scrawny (still am!) so she thought that she can get some more meat on my bones by feeding me all the high calorie stuff. And I used to detest it so much.

I started enjoying the taste of cheese around the time I was doing Masters. There was a local sandwich shop which sold cheese toasties of all kinds, and the cheese and chilli one really bowled me over. The sharp pungent heat of the chopped green chillies against the gooey creaminess of the cheese somehow won my tastebuds over.

There’s no way you can avoid cheese platters if you live in Australia. It is ‘quintessential’ at almost every kind of party and my world suddenly opened up to the world of cheese.

Slowly, I began to learn more about cheese, the different varieties, textures, and the right way of using each cheese. And that’s when the love affair with the cheese platter began…..

This time, I wanted to try out a baked cheese recipe for the platter, especially after coming across absolutely delicious images on Pinterest. In fact, I have a whole board dedicated to just cheese on my Pinterest page, so if you are a fellow cheese lover, do check it out.

Baked Brie (with Sundried Tomatoes, Parsley, Dukkah) - thespiceadventuress.com

A recipe from ‘Taste and Tell’ really stood out to me; and my version today is simply an adaptation of that.

What I really loved about this recipe is the intense savoury notes from the sun dried tomatoes, parsley and that generous sprinkle of Egyptian dukkah. Think of an extremely creamy cheese topped with a hint of tangy sweetness from the tomatoes, freshness from the parsley and that hint of spice from the dukkah.

Perfect when paired with crackers or toasted sourdough as I did.

Baked Brie (with Sundried Tomatoes, Parsley, Dukkah) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 wheel Brie (choose a good quality brand, makes all the difference)
  2. ½ cup sundried tomatoes (with oil); chopped into smaller bits
  3. ½ cup flat leaf parsley; finely chopped
  4. 1 ½ tbsp Egyptian dukkah

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven (fan forced) to 170°C
  2. Line baking/parchment paper in an oven proof dish.
  3. Top the brie with the sundried tomatoes, parsley and half of the dukkah. Drizzle with some of the oil from the tomatoes.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes (in most cases, the cheese will start to ooze out from the sides but not necessary as it depends on the rind).
  5. Remove and sprinkle with more dukkah
  6. Serve warm with crackers or crusty/toasted bread.

Baked Brie (with Sundried Tomatoes, Parsley, Dukkah) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne)

Located along the St Kilda Esplanade, opposite Luna Park and Palais Theatre, Phamish is a food and wine bar serving modern Australian cuisine.

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And with Mother’s Day right around the corner, Phamish has collaborated with Bonne Maman to create two special dishes using some of Bonne Maman’s signature conserves. This special event runs exclusively for a week from Monday 7th May to Sunday 13th May.

As I already mentioned, the menu at Phamish is largely modern Australian with some Middle Eastern and Meditteranean influences. Given its location, the space is divided into two; a café style ambience at the front end and a more formal dining space at the back end. Also slightly on the expensive side, but that’s a given with most places situated on The Esplanade.

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s the perfect spot to catch up with a friend for a lazy brunch and that’s exactly what I was doing. But it’s also a great spot to visit with family after some thrilling rides at the Luna Ride or for a more formal dinner before heading over to the Palais theatre.

We began our meal with drinks; while my friend chose the cappuccino, I went for a sparkling (not a surprise for those who know me).

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

For starters, we ordered the Semolina Crusted Calamari, served with orange and chilli aioli, rocket and braised leek. The calamari was cooked to perfection, crispy outside but sweet and tender inside. The aioli had loads of flavour and paired well with the calamari. Perfect start to any meal.

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And for mains, we got the Mushroom Risotto. It was not the best risotto I have had but still a good and comforting one. A bit more flavour in the broth would have made it a great one. But still a hearty dish especially when the days are chilly.

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Finally for dessert, we chose the Bonne Maman Mother’s Day special. There were two signature desserts to choose from and we had the French Crepes filled with Bonne Maman apricot marmalade infused custard, black forest cream, fresh strawberries and pistachio crumb.

Loved the flavour of the marmalade infused custard; never thought of using the Bonne Maman jams this way. The crepes were slightly thicker at the centre so the texture was not the most perfect which we did inform the staff who said they would rectify it at the earliest. The fresh strawberries and pistachio crumb added a lovely texture and overall made the dish a really good one.

Phamish Food and Wine Bar (St Kilda, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

(Bonne Maman has also collaborated with many other cafes and bakeries across Melbourne, so do check out their website for more details. A great way to spend some time and treat your Mom on her special day)

Phamish Food and Wine Bar
30 The Esplanade
St Kilda
Opposite Palais Theatre & Luna Park)

Phone no: (03) 9534 3800
http://phamish.com.au/

Timings:

Monday: 7am-3pm
Tuesday: 7am-2:30pm & 5:30pm-10pm
Wednesday: 7am-2:30pm & 5:30pm-10pm
Thursday: 7am-2:30pm & 5:30pm-10pm
Friday: 7am-2:30pm & 5:30pm-10pm
Saturday: 7am-10pm
Sunday: 7am-10pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of Bonne Maman, but the opinions are entirely mine. 

Phamish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs)

It’s ironic that close on the heels of a khichdi, I write about a risotto.

Not that there’s much of a similarity in origin or technique of preparation, but the fact that both are grain based with that unique consistency somehow puts it in the same category for me.

For those who thought Italian cuisine is all about pizzas and pastas, risotto can come as a bit of a surprise. Even at a fancy restaurant, the risotto still remains a rustic, comforting dish; quite true to its origins.

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

A risotto is best kept simple. In fact it would be a sin to crowd it with many ingredients. A single hero ingredient, a flavourful broth and the right kind of rice is what a risotto is all about. Of course cheese, if you must!

While Arborio is the variety of rice that most of us are familiar with, it is actually other varieties like Carnaroli, Vialone Nano etc… that are more popular in Italy. I have had risotto made with Carnaroli rice before and the texture is much better when compared to Arborio.

Even though Carnaroli is available in selected stores in Australia, I still went with Arborio as that’s the variety that’s easily and more economically available for most.

Dried mushrooms, simply because of its intense umami hit. It has that really earthy flavour that makes you want to keep eating. I soaked the dried mushrooms in the chicken stock to soften it again and the resulting broth was just mind blowing….

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

The bacon crumbs was really an afterthought, perhaps because I love bacon so much and somehow finds a way into many of the dishes I make at home. Not really a main ingredient in this risotto, but rather a garnish just to add another dimension of flavour…..more of that salty, delicious umami hit that makes this risotto the most ideal dish to huddle with on a cold night.

While a great risotto might require practice and experience, I believe a good risotto is achievable by most. As I mentioned, the stock is really important and a homemade stock is the most ideal. Use a store bought one only if you are truly busy yet crave a generous helping of this risotto.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-7)

  1. 2 cups Arborio Rice
  2. 150gms dried mushrooms
  3. 2 litre homemade chicken stock
  4. 2 ½ tbsp unsalted butter
  5. 2 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 small white onion; finely chopped
  7. 1 cup dry white wine
  8. 200 gms bacon ( I used streaky bacon); finely chopped
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  11. 2 tbsp parsley leaves; finely chopped
  12. Grated parmesan; for garnish

Method:

  1. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms by soaking in the chicken stock for 15 minutes. Remove from the liquid and chop into small pieces.
  2. Finely chop the bacon by hand or using a food processor. In a small pan, add the bacon pieces and cook on low heat (no oil required as the bacon has plenty of fat) till the bacon has browned well but not burnt. Drain the fat using a strainer to get crispy bacon crumbs.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat half of the butter and olive oil; add the onions and sauté till soft.
  4. Then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Next add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. When the rice gets a little toasty and begins to make a crackling sound, reduce the heat and add the white wine.
  6. Cook, while stirring continuously till almost all the wine has been absorbed.
  7. Next add one cup of broth and cook (stirring continuously) till the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add another 2 cups of broth and continue to cook. Repeat, adding 1-2 cups of broth and cooking till the rice has reached the al-dente stage.
  8. Then add the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  9. Serve warm with grated parmesan, bacon crumbs and parsley

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

April Favourites

What a wonderful month it has been.

A happy month as I would like to call it because there were lots of great moments with family and friends. It was also the month of birthday parties which is always a nice occasion to catch up with friends.

It was school holidays at the beginning of the month so it was all about spending time with Adi, planning playdates and taking him for workshops and activities. One of our favourite places for creative workshops is at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. This time, Adi enrolled in the stop motion/animation class which was quite an exciting one for him. And after the workshop, we always make it a point to visit the ongoing exhibitions at the museum.

The museum has an extensive open space which is absolutely stunning and the perfect place to plan a picnic. But I equally love the café too, the food is just brilliant.

The best thing at the gallery is that they have interactive activities for the parent and child in relation to the ongoing exhibition which is a great way to engage a young child to appreciate the finer arts.

Heide museum of modern art - thespiceadventuress.com

When Adi was away, I relaxed inside this beautiful hut with a coffee and my favourite book. The best kind of relaxation!

The other highlight of the month was the Michael Jackson tribute show, The Legacy Tour by William Hall and his live band. We had gifted Adi the tickets to this show as his birthday gift. Though he had to wait for more than a month to enjoy his gift, he was absolutely ecstatic being a crazy MJ fan.

He even got the opportunity to go on stage and dance to one of MJ’s songs which I think he did full justice too. Many of you even wrote to me about his ‘moves’ after watching the video on my Instagram page.

Michael Jackson 'The Legacy Tour' - thespiceadventuress.com

Getting back to food, I finally have the recipe for this chickpea dish (Sundal) on my Facebook page. Lots of friends have been asking for it and since it’s a pretty common one, I decided to post the recipe on my page than dedicate a full blog post to it.

Sundal (Chickpeas with Spices and Coconut) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Sunday chicken curry used to be a very memorable tradition in most Indian households. And even though the novelty has worn off these days, I still try and continue with my version. Find the recipe on my Facebook page.

Sunday chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Also in love with these plates I picked up while I was on holiday in India; totally digging the wildlife theme. The salad spoons are from Nigeria that I bought on Ebay eons ago.

Animal print props - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Other favourites:

I love savoury breakfasts, especially if it involves egg and bacon!

Homemade extracts! Now this is very informative….

This ravioli looks too pretty to eat.

This chicken tagine and this chicken piccata.

Pork stir fry and green beans. Not a combination I would generally try but this looks so yumm.

Mexican frozen hot chocolate……this is chocolate heaven, guys.

Mother’s day is almost here, so how about some interesting gift ideas?

Can’t beat this rather unique ‘sausage bouquet’! Definitely for a foodie mom….

If a quiet tea time is her thing, then this exquisite tea set collection is a must buy.

But I have been throwing hints about this one. Beautiful, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens

Khichdi – the comfort food of one half of the Indian population!

I say this specifically because khichdi is not a dish that is popular in my hometown, Kerala. And hence I was not aware of its existence for a very long time.

My first tryst with khichdi happened somewhere along the Pune-Mahabaleshwar route. We were living in Pune at that time and were visiting the hill station when we stopped at a roadside dhaba for a quick meal. Sam suggested that I try the khichdi (he had already developed a taste for it, thanks to his office mates) and hesitatingly I did. But oh boy, it was a revelation.

The rich, spicy, almost creamy consistency of rice and lentils with that generous drizzle of ghee made my tastebuds sing with joy.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

And while I consumed many plates of khichdi during my stay in Pune, I never ventured to cook it in my kitchen till about 2 years ago.

I think it’s the memory of that taste that encouraged me to make a khichdi at home. It’s no rocket science, but often we need a motivation or purpose to try out something new.

At its heart, a khichdi is nothing but rice and lentils cooked together, mashed and then tempered with spices. But that tempering is what makes all the difference. It can be as simple or as complex as you want and in my opinion, the whole flavour profile of the khichdi depends on it.

My version of the khichdi is not the most traditional but neither a fusion. It is perhaps an amalgamation of various styles based on flavours and spices that I like best.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi is an extremely healthy dish because of its powerful combination of carbs and proteins. Usually prepared with just one type of lentils, but my version has a mixture of lentils and pulses along with some sort of greens like spinach, fenugreek or even carrot greens, as I have done today.

You can either make a mix of the lentils from what you have at home or pick up a packet of the soup mix like I do. Or use just one type of lentil; it’s totally your wish. When using a soup mix, it’s best to soak it overnight so that the cooking process is much faster.

How many of you use carrot greens as an ingredient? It has gained a lot of attention with the raw food movement and is often found as an ingredient in salads, pesto etc…. But I also love to use it in my dal (lentil) preparations just the way I would use spinach. Beetroot leaves can also be used this way but needs to be cooked more than the carrot greens.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I pressure cook the lentils and rice for time constraints, I always slow cook for a good 15-20 minutes after adding the tempering. A bit of extra time only helps intensify the flavours which I really want from my plate of khichdi. And a final drizzle of hot ghee is an absolute must!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup mixed lentils; washed and soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup medium grain white rice
  3. Carrot greens (I used the greens from 4 small carrots); chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Ghee/clarified butter; for serving
  6. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. For tempering:
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway/shahi jeera seeds
  • 2 dry red chilli
  • 3 large shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 large ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ inch piece of jaggery or ½ tsp raw sugar

Method:

  1. Wash the soaked lentils and rice together. Add to a pressure cooker or deep bottom pan and cook well with enough water (remember to season with a pinch of salt). The lentils and rice must be cooked enough to be able to mash well.
  2. In another pan, heat ghee and oil; add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  3. Then add the cumin and caraway seeds; as it begins to crackle, add the dry chillies and shallots and sauté till softened.
  4. Then add the garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have turned light brown.
  5. Next add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes have softened and turned mushy.
  6. Then add all the spice powders and jaggery; sauté till the whole masala comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides.
  7. Meanwhile mash the lentils and rice using the back end of a ladle or potato masher.
  8. Add the chopped greens along with the masala to the lentils and mix well; season with salt if necessary.
  9. Add more water if necessary and cook on the low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish off with the chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve warm with a drizzle of ghee on top.
  12. Tuck in!

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese

Is there something called ‘too many’ pasta recipes?

Well, not in our household. Pasta recipes are often like that almost one-pot meal that is so quick to put together which is what most of us are looking for on a daily basis. And the non-saucy ones make the perfect leftovers for the next day lunch boxes.

In fact, I make the heavy, sauce based pasta dishes only occasionally. I tend to make pesto a lot, several variations of it, depending on what the herb garden is producing in abundance. I also enjoy roasting tomatoes and bell peppers for a thick sauce which is used along with pasta and other veggies. I use cold cuts, sausages and prawns a lot too as these need much less time to cook when compared to other meats.

While I prefer most of my everyday pasta dishes to go easy on cheese, today’s dish intrigued me as I had never paired goat’s cheese with pasta before. I have had it plenty on a cheese board but never with pasta. And when I came across some delicious Yarra Valley goat’s cheese, I knew I just had to try this dish out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a fairly simple pasta dish with very few ingredients and hence the flavour depends on the quality of spinach and goat’s cheese used. I added some red chilli too, to add another dimension to the overall flavours.

The best type of pasta for a dish like this is the thin noodle like ones, usually referred to as spaghettini. Its light and the perfect shape and texture to absorb flavours especially when there is no sauce or too many ingredients vying for attention.

Let’s get on to the recipe then…and do share your feedback with me if you happen to try it out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gm dried spaghettini
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves; crushed and finely chopped
  4. 1-2 long red chilli (less heat variety; use less or omit depending on heat preferences)
  5. 150gm baby spinach leaves
  6. ¼ cup basil; torn
  7. 150gm goat’s cheese
  8. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions; drain (reserving ½ cup water) and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and chillies; sauté on low heat for a minute.
  3. Then add the spinach leaves and cook on medium heat till just wilted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with half of the reserved pasta water. Toss on high heat for about a minute.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in the basil and goat’s cheese
  6. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew

There is so much ‘noise’ in our lives these days.

An avalanche of incessant chatter that creeps into our everyday lives in the form of social media, Whatsapp groups, gimmicky news channels and tabloids. And it requires a conscious effort to stay amidst all this noise, yet be able to hear your ‘voice’ loud and clear!

My life revolves around the digital world and social media is one of the most effective tools I use on a daily basis for work. So it requires all the more effort to stay quiet, yet make sure my work gets seen and heard without adding to the noise.

I have no tips and strategies because I struggle with it too. And the only way I steer clear is by using the digital medium responsibly. Consume only what is relevant and speak only when I really have something to say. Not when others think I must speak…..

And of course, mute and log out are my favourite buttons.

On that note, let’s get to today’s recipe – a warm, comforting bowl of Indonesian style spicy braised fish stew.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Adapted from ‘smor ikang’, an Indonesian style fish stew, this dish is a hearty and comforting one. A one pot meal with succulent barramundi cubes in a flavourful broth and rice noodles to accompany. The key spice in this stew is mace, which lends a pungent yet sweet flavour that pairs well with the fish. You may also add a mix of seafood like squid, prawns etc….

The cooking time is considerably less as it is a seafood stew unlike the meat ones which take a fair bit of time. This fish stew almost feels like an Asian noodle soup and makes a great one pot meal for the whole family. Its light yet so flavourful…a huge pot of this on a cold, wintry night would be just amazing.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 3 barramundi fillets; cut into cubes
  2. 2 medium potatoes; cut into small cubes
  3. 5-6 Asian shallots/small onion; finely chopped

Find the full recipe here.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

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