EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji

‘Introducing EatClub, a world-first platform that wants to help you eat out, more often (at Melbourne’s top restaurants no less!)’.

Now that tagline is definitely something that would make us foodies sit up and take notice.

Launched in September, EatClub is a first-of-its-kind mobile platform founded by Pan Koutlakis (CEO, and ex Melbourne CEO of Foodora), Matt Cantelo (co-founder of a huge travel business called CTM), Ben Tyler and last but not the least, the culinary powerhouse Marco Pierre White.

We have dozens of restaurant and food delivery apps in the market today but EatClub offers something really unique to customers and restaurants alike.

And this interesting concept was the reason I decided to collaborate with EatClub and check it out for myself. Of course I get to dine out is an added bonus.

Speaking to Ben, he said that the idea for EatClub came about when the founders were looking at building a platform to help restaurants fill empty tables, but it gained momentum after collating feedback from countless restaurateurs. It was discovered that the best method of assisting them was to offer them a platform where they could instantly attract customers at different times of day and under their own terms.

To quote, ‘EatClub incentivises restaurants to offer deals to customers for dining at off-peak or slower times during the day. With EatClub, restaurants with spare tables can push out live deals from their smartphone in only two seconds. Customers can then redeem those deals, in real-time, and eat out at a substantial discount. All deals are off the whole bill (including drinks)’.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

Marco was approached during the concept stage and he jumped on board instantly, seeing how valuable the app can be for restaurateurs. And his wealth of knowledge in the field was extremely important in the design of the app as he knew exactly the features that a restaurant would desire to have.

And for the customers, it’s even better news as they can find deals at some of the best restaurants in town. Definitely a great one for the pocket, especially if you love to dine out and don’t need to wait and save up to eat at your favorite place. I did check out the list of restaurants in Melbourne (230+) and have to agree that the list was pretty impressive and had some of my favourite spots.

The app can be downloaded free, compatible with both Apple and Android phones and pretty simple to use. You can either scroll through the entire list of restaurants offering the discounts or you can choose the location filter to narrow down the results. The discount % or offer is mentioned right next to the restaurant which can then be redeemed and used within the specified time.

And for a limited time (until January 30, 2018), EatClub is offering all my readers an extra 5% in addition to the discount offered by the restaurant. So if a restaurant is offering 30% discount, then using the promo code ‘SPICE’ will fetch you another 5% discount and that’s a grand total of 35%. Isn’t that great, especially during the party season?

So all that you need to do (outlined in the infograph below) is book your restaurant deal and then add the promo code ‘SPICE’. Show this when you arrive at the restaurant to claim the full discount off your total bill.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned, there are so many amazing restaurants to choose from. And to test out the app, I decided to pay a visit to Babu Ji (St Kilda) – one of my top favourites when it comes to Indian restaurants in Melbourne.

I have visited Babu Ji plenty of times but the exciting thing is that their menu is changed seasonally so there’s always something new to try out.

We also like to choose the banquet as it is the best way to enjoy most of the starters on the menu. And it is the starters at Babu Ji that makes the restaurant so interesting for me. The contemporary twist on many Indian classics is quite admirable and very inspiring for me as a food blogger.

Now I will not get into a complete review of each dish but I will pick out a couple of the highlight experiences.

The Pani Puri vodka shots are highly recommended to start off the meal with. I am absolutely crazy about pani puri; it’s my all time favourite from Indian street snacks. These were so delicious and those vodka shots add a bit more zing and flavour. Highly recommended.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

Another highlight from the appetizer menu was the Peshawari Prawns – Tandoor cooked prawns marinated with coconut and curry leaf, served on Peshawari Naans. OMG….the flavours were simply amazing, tiny morsels of deliciousness. Another must try from the menu.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

The other speciality at Babu Ji that I have always enjoyed is the Tulsi Fish Tikka – Atlantic salmon, marinated with basil, kefir lime and tangy spices and cooked in a clay oven. The fish is juicy, perfectly cooked with just the right amount of spices to lift the flavour to another level.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

There are plenty of vegetarian options too and one of our favourites from the evening was the Paneer Tokri – Potato nest filled with spiced cottage cheese, crisp celery and poached apple. A fine example of a classic Indian dish with a contemporary edge.

EatClub App – a Review + a Delicious Dining Experience at Babu Ji - thespiceadventuress.com

From the mains, my absolute favourite was the Macher Jhol – Bengali style Blue Grenadier fish cooked in mustard oil with turmeric. The Babu Ji version is much creamier and richer than the traditional one but I enjoyed the flavours with both the rice and naans alike.

And from the vegetarian curries, my favourite was the Adraki Palak Paneer- Homemade cheese dipped in spinach curry infused with dried ginger. I am usually not a big fan of Palak Paneer but I totally loved their version. The spinach base was lush and creamy without being overpowering and that dried ginger really helped lift the flavours.

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If you haven’t dined at Babu Ji before, then do check out their daily deals for a delicious yet affordable dinner experience. And make sure you use the promo code ‘SPICE’ for that extra 5% discount.

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post bought to you in collaboration with EatClub; all the opinions and thoughts are entirely mine.

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Pan Fried Snapper (with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus)

How have all of you been?

(Do let me know in the comments guys, because this is the only place where I interact with so many of you. So keep the conversations going….)

I am currently in a ‘season deadline’ zone, a zillion things to do before I fly off to India for our vacation. Yes folks, we are visiting home after a long long gap of almost five years. And no, we didn’t plan on being away for so long, just that a lot of stuff happened on the personal and work front after migrating to Australia that we were not able to take a proper vacation until now.

There is a lot of pending work, and I have no clue how I am going to manage it all. This season’s always a little crazy and it is also a fact that I didn’t plan and organize my work effectively. And honestly, I do find it a bit stressful and overwhelming at times when I see such amazing content from other bloggers. The feeling lasts me a couple of hours. But I don’t let it affect me more than that; a few deep breaths and telling myself repeatedly that I am not a part of any ‘rat race’ is my therapy.

That feeling of ‘not doing enough’ used to plague me much more earlier on. But over years, I have perfected the art of dealing with it effectively. I have learnt to say ‘NO’ and I have learnt to stop comparing myself with anyone else. Believe me; it’s so important in the chaotic times we live in.

So no festive recipes from me this year, just food that I have enjoyed with my family and some that I have created for clients. Hope you guys don’t mind.

The title for today’s recipe might read a mile long, but it’s a super easy one. It’s one of those seafood dishes that can easily come together on a weeknight or sit just as perfectly on your weekend entertaining menu.

Pan Fried Snapper (with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus)

I have used Red Snapper today; it is a beautiful and versatile fish that can be cooked in so many different ways. The steaks can be used for traditional style curries or fried preparations, the whole fish for grilling or the fillets can be used in so many interesting contemporary dishes like we have today.

It is the accompanying combination of salsa verde and caponata that makes this dish really fresh and perfect for summer. I have added a bit of Kashmiri chilli powder (you could use paprika too) to the fish; I think that hint of spice adds loads more flavour than just salt and pepper.

Really fresh herbs are the key to a good salsa verde; the pickled capers and mustard add a whole dimension of flavour and really jazzes up the herb flavour. The caponata is again so fresh and adds real vibrancy to the dish; make sure that the veggies are tossed on high heat or it will go soggy, which we definitely don’t want. And grilled asparagus ofcourse, for that crunchy textural element.

So let’s dig in – Pan fried Snapper with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus

Ingredients:

Snapper:

  1. 3 large snapper fillets; deboned and cut into large steaks
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Find the full recipe here.

Pan Fried Snapper (with Salsa Verde, Caponata and Asparagus)

 

Disclaimer – Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood

 

November Favourites (and a Spice Tailor Street Food Kit Giveaway)

What a fabulous month it has been!

It’s been crazy hectic as my parents were leaving back to India which meant a lot of travelling amidst other things. And that’s why you have not seen me here for quite a while now.

Since I have not been working much the whole of last month, everything has piled up on the work front, so pardon me if I am going to bombard your inbox with posts on most days. There are lots of recipes, brand collaborations, product reviews etc…. in the pipeline and I assure that you guys are going to enjoy it all.

Let’s start this month’s favourites with a giveaway (which I know is exciting for all of you!)

Spice Tailor recently launched their Street Food Kits, which are a take on the famous kathi rolls that are a street food delight across the length and breadth of India.

The kathi rolls (originally invented in Kolkata/Calcutta) became an instant hit across the country as it was delicious and so easy to customize it for each one’s liking. Basically, it’s like a wrap that is filled with all sorts of deliciousness and can be either vegetarian or non vegetarian.

The Spice Tailor kits come in three different flavours – Tangy Punjabi, Classic Tandoori and Spicy Chettinad. I tried out the Tangy Punjabi and Spicy Chettinad…..and it was difficult to pick out a favourite. Each kit comes with six whole meal wraps, a stir fry sauce or marinade to cook the protein, chutney and a spice blend.

For the vegetarian version, I used paneer (Indian cottage cheese) with the Tangy Punjabi kit and for the nonvegetarian version, I used chicken with the Spicy Chettinad kit. Super easy to make and on the table in 15 minutes, these kits were a lifesaver while we were travelling. The flavours were distinctly Indian which was great when travelling with parents who are not too experimentative with all cuisines. And kits like these are way cheaper when travelling as it greatly reduces the need to eat out at restaurants.

Spice Tailor Street Food Kit - thespiceadventuress.com

(A little disclaimer though….. I do not endorse any sort of meal kits as an alternative to everyday home cooking using fresh, in season produce. These are meant to be a help during those crazy busy days, when your health is not the best or while you are travelling).

Now, let’s get onto the giveaway part! I know we are all super busy this season so this giveaway is the perfect one for you during the holiday/travelling season. The Spice Tailor has kindly agreed to give away 14 meal kits to 2 lucky subscribers (i.e. 7 kits each per winner). Isn’t that really generous?

To enter the giveaway;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id.
  2. Comment below what protein/vegetable will you use for this meal kit

Competition open only to Australia residents (It’s Christmas guys, so if you live overseas, you can enter it on behalf of any of your friends/family living in Australia).

The last day for entry is 8th December, 2017 and the winners will be notified through my social media channels and private message on 9th December, 2017. So make sure you are following my social media handles if you aren’t already.

Getting on to the other favourites from last month:

Gratitude! That’s my word for this month of joy, sharing and thanksgiving.

People who are always late are more successful! Now I have the perfect excuse too….

Lusting after this bar cart from Pottery Barn.

I am obsessed over DIY table settings for any kind of party. Do check out my Pinterest page for loads of inspiration.

My favourite store to shop for Christmas decorations.

The Negroni has become so popular during the summer months, so it’s time we had an Aussie version.

I thought I had tried out all sorts of hummus recipes by now. Apparently I was wrong.

These potato skin egg boats would be perfect for entertaining.

Isn’t this the most gorgeous nachos in town?

Shireen’s Mangalorean plated series are back, and it’s as delicious as ever.

Edible gifts for Christmas are a great idea. How about these delicious simple syrups?

Totally digging this Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake for easy entertaining.

A ‘white’ hot chocolate! Isn’t this gorgeous?

 

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review

Bear Brass is located on the banks of the Yarra River at Southbank. Needless to say, the restaurant offers spectacular views of the river and our beautiful city.

We visited the restaurant while showing around the city to my parents and Bear Brass was the perfect place to unwind and relax.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

If it’s a sunny day, make sure you get a spot outside for the best view though you need to make a booking or get plain lucky especially during the warmer months. Bear Brass has plenty of space indoors and a nice ambience too.

The food is mostly modern Australian pub food with lots of twists and fusion drawing from the multicultural vibes of the city. Being a riverside bar, the drinks menu is pretty extensive too.

For drinks, I ordered a glass of the RedBank Prosecco (King Valley); the perfect drink for a hot summer day. And a chilled glass of Heineken too.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The cocktail menu looked really interesting so we tried out two – ‘A Cocktail named Alice’ (with 42 Below Vodka, Midori and Muddled Kiwi) and ‘Gucci Martini’ (Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka, Grey Goose Vodka, Paraiso Lychee Liqueur). Both were really delicious and refreshing…

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To start with, we ordered the Grilled Chicken and Grain Salad, with pomegranate, mint and cumin yoghurt. The chicken felt a bit dry and underseasoned but the grain salad was outstanding with a delicious medley of flavours and textures.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We decided to try out the pizzas as it really stood out to us on the menu. The first one we tried was an Asian inspired one with prawns, chilli, crispy shallots and nam jim. The wood fired thin crusty pizza base was excellent and so were the toppings. A really delicious Asian inspired pizza that had an excellent balance of flavours.

The second one was the chicken, chipotle and chorizo; yet another fusion done to perfection. The chorizo was of excellent quality and the pizza was cooked to perfection.

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining (South Bank, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Definitely impressed by the quality of pizzas; so highly recommended.

We also ordered the Fish n’ Chips served with homemade aioli. Unfortunately no photographs; we were busy gobbling it up.

So to summarize, Bear Brass is a great spot to stop by for food or drinks and enjoy it with beautiful views of the city…

Bear Brass Riverside Bar and Dining

Shop G3A  On the River
Southgate Restaurant & Shopping Precinct
Southbank , Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9682 3799
Website: http://www.bearbrass.com.au/

Timings:

Open Every Day
Monday to Friday 7.30am to late
Saturday & Sunday 8am to late

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

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

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review

Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel is an iconic landmark building that opened its doors in 1888.

We decided to drop by for lunch at the in house restaurant and bar while on our recent trip to the Yarra Valley. Apart from the regular restaurant, the hotel also houses Herb’s backyard that serves gourmet pizzas and drinks. The hotel is also a hot spot for weddings and special events with special areas dedicated for the same.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Apart from the dining options, the Yarra Valley Grand is also a great place to stay over. The 4 star fully appointed rooms have still retained the old world charm yet equipped with the most modern facilities.

Stepping inside the Yarra Valley Grand transports you to a different era. In spite of all the hustle and bustle (the restaurant is packed especially on weekends), the space feels warm and inviting. The ambience is definitely old world charm yet with a contemporary touch.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant space is huge and spread across different areas. There’s plenty of seating yet it’s advisable to make a prior booking. Fortunately we were able to get a table within 10 minutes of walking in.

The menu at Yarra Valley Grand is modern Australian pub food. The menu is not extensive but you are likely to find something for everybody; also there are specials everyday which are based on seasonal produce.

We bought a selection of drinks including a single malt whisky, sparkling white, beer and lemon lime bitters. Nothing much to write about but there’s a good range of drinks including some great Yarra Valley wines.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned the restaurant was extremely busy and we were informed by the staff that there would be a bit of a delay for the food to arrive. But we decided to wait anyway. I think that was not a very wise decision as we had to wait 45 minutes. No complaints though as they did inform us the same.

We didn’t order any starters instead we opted for a salad – the crunchy Thai salad with crispy noodles, Thai chicken, carrot, cucumber, sprouts, herbs, cashews and nahm jim dressing. Perfectly well balanced flavours and textures and it was a delicious start to the meal.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had the Saltibocca – half roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, sage, potato gratin and sautéed spinach. The chicken was cooked perfectly and all the accompaniments complemented the chicken perfectly. Definitely recommended.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second main we ordered was the Twice cooked pork belly – with son in law egg, chilli jam, creamy mash and tendrils. An absolute stunner of a dish; the pork was just melt in the mouth with a crispy layer and every single element on that plate was perfect. Definitely dish of the day!

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The third main we chose was from the special of the day – Grilled trout with Schezwan pepper and salad. The flavours were good, the fish was cooked well but not an outstanding dish in terms of flavour.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish we ordered was the Porterhouse with chips, salad and a red wine jus. The only dish that disappointed us; the steak was a bit tough and chewy. It wasn’t a bad dish but not good either especially after we have had such amazing steak experiences at other places in Melbourne. So by comparison, we weren’t too happy with this one.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to stop by for food or to stay over while visiting Yarra Valley. I am sure, we will definitely be going back…

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel

19 Bell Street,
Yarra Glen 3775

Phone: (03) 9730 1230
Website: http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/

Timings:
Monday – Sunday ~ 11.30am till late

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous)

‘Busy’ would be too small a word to describe the frenzied state of activity in my life these days.

As many of you would be aware, my parents are here visiting us for a few months. It’s the last couple of weeks so most days seem like an extended holiday. Lots of short trips coupled with shopping expeditions mean I hardly get time to sit down for a blog post though my folders are overflowing with tons of delicious recipes.

So without much talking, I am gonna jump straight to the recipe today – Tandoori Chicken Thighs served with Grilled Veggies and Couscous.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my absolute favourite things to do at the moment is introduce my parents to cuisines from different parts of the world. They are in awe at the kind of food that’s available in Melbourne, the beautiful produce and ingredients from around the globe.

I came up with this dish just to showcase how a simple Indian marinade can be used in a slightly contemporary way but still appealing to their Indian tastebuds.

Tandoori needs no introduction at all; it is a global favourite and has staunchly become the face of Indian cuisine in most countries apart from the curry ofcourse.

Even though most of us might not have a traditional tandoor at home, it’s quite easy to prepare it on a barbecue grill, oven or even on a stove top grill depending on the kind of protein or vegetable that is being cooked.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

I always make the tandoori marinade from scratch. Not a big fan of store bought masalas and moreover, the marinade is super easy to make. Many versions call for the addition of gram flour but I use only yoghurt which I feel imparts more flavour without that doughy taste to the coating.

For this dish, I have used the tandoori marinade for both the chicken thighs as well as the vegetables. While I cooked the thighs on a barbecue grill, I used a regular stove top grill for the veggies. Couscous pairs beautifully with a dish like this; it’s light and fluffy texture is a perfect accompaniment to the chicken and veggies. And a drizzle of the tangy mint coriander chutney completes the dish perfectly.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

(Recipe for the mint coriander chutney can be found here.)

Recipe:

Tandoori marinade:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup thick curd
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • ¼ tsp black salt/kala namak
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • ¼ tsp dry ginger powder
  • Salt, to season
  • 2 garlic cloves; grated
  • 1 inch ginger; grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped

Method:

In a bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk well to get a smooth consistency.

For the chicken:

Ingredients:

  1. 5 chicken Maryland/thighs; score lengthwise
  2. 1 cup tandoori marinade
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Vegetable oil, for barbecue

Method:

  • In a bowl, add the required tandoori marinade to the chicken thighs. Season with salt (remember the marinade has salt) and rub the marinade well into the chicken. Keep refrigerated for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • Fire up the barbecue and grill the chicken pieces till done.

Grilled vegetables:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 red onion; cut into cubes
  2. 1 red bell pepper; cut into cubes
  3. 1 medium zucchini; cut into cubes
  4. 1 punnet baby corn
  5. 1 small broccoli; florets separated
  6. 1 small fennel bulb; cut into cubes
  7. ½ cup tandoori marinade
  8. Salt, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for grilling

Method:

  • Place all the vegetables in a bowl, add the marinade and season with salt if necessary. Mix well and keep for at least 1-2 hours.
  • Heat a stove grill to high, brush with oil and grill the veggies in batches. Remember to grill on high to get the char but still keep the crunchy texture.

Couscous:

  1. 2 ½ cups couscous
  2. 2 ½ cups water
  3. Salt; to season

Method:

Add 2 ½ cups boiling water to 2 ½ cups couscous (1:1 ratio), season with salt, cover and keep aside. After 10 minutes, use a fork to lightly fluff up the couscous.

Note – Do check packet instructions as the ratio of water to couscous can sometimes vary.

For garnish:

  • Lemon wedges
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves; finely chopped

To assemble:

  • Place the couscous in the middle of a large platter and arrange the grilled veggies around it. Garnish with half of the coriander leaves
  • Place the chicken thighs on another platter, garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with lemon wedges and mint coriander chutney.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Kerala style Stingray Curry

When you are a native of another country living abroad, shopping for many ingredients can be a real chore. Often you would know the name of ingredients in your local or native language and it can sometimes be a difficult task to find the English name for it while shopping here.

And with Google and Wiki being my best friend in most instances, I still find it hard sometimes especially while shopping for seafood.

That’s what happened last week at the market. I had taken my parents out to the Dandenong Market, to show them around as well as pick up some seafood and other ingredients. I was quite curious when their faces lit up at the sight of a particular product. And I was so surprised to hear that it was one of my absolute favourites, a local variety that is often called ‘therendi’, a fish species popular in some parts of Kerala.

Therendi (also called therachi) is actually a variety of Stingray which is quite famous for its unique cartilaginous structure.

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

I have often seen this at the markets but never could identify because it was always cut up and kept in chunks rather than the whole fish and also I had no clue of its English name. And I was always under the impression that stingray was not for human consumption!

To cut a long story short, I was quite ecstatic that one of my favourite ingredients is so easily available here. Stingray is a common or popular fish in many Asian countries; it is a very affordable one often being dubbed poor man’s fish. But I love its cartilaginous flesh which has a really unique texture when you bite into it.

There are many delicious ways of preparing this fish, but one of my favourite preparations is the spicy curry using chilli, coconut and kokum that is quite famous in the Kottayam region of Kerala. A lipsmacking, fiery preparation that is best enjoyed with steamed red rice and tempered buttermilk curry, or perhaps with steamed tapioca.

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

The defining flavours of this curry are powdered red chilli and kudampuli (black kokum). As I mentioned, it is a fiery one but you can always adjust the heat level to your preferences.

And remember, this curry always tastes better when allowed to sit for a while especially overnight. So prepare ahead if time permits.

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms stingray; cut into cubes
  2. 2 shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 inch ginger; finely chopped

This post was bought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood, so head over to their website for the full recipe.

And do not forget to tag me #thespiceadventuress if you try it out. 

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

October Favourites

October literally flashed by in the blink of an eye.

Since my parents are visiting me, the days go by super busy with a lot of travel that we do on weekends. There’s no particular routine at home and it all seems like an extended vacation to me.

Yarra Valley was one of our travel destinations in October. And unlike most visitors, we checked out the Yarra Valley Orchid Show instead of visiting the usual spots. My parents are such avid gardeners, especially fond of growing ornamental orchids at home. So this was something they were totally looking forward to, especially to pick up some gardening tips from the experts.

If you love orchids, then do check out the Orchid Societies of Victoria. The society has lots of registered clubs across Victoria and holds a lot of shows around the year. So it’s a small but great show to visit if you love orchids or want to learn more about growing these beauties.

Yarra Valley Orchid Show - thespiceadventuress.com

We also went fishing at the Australian Rainbow Trout Farm in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. The farm specializes in Rainbow trout, Golden trout and Atlantic Salmon. It’s a great spot for a one day family picnic which includes the fishing experience, bbq pits, children’s playground, mini golf course etc…

I have been here before and you can read all about that experience here. We also caught all the different varieties of fish and I used the golden trout to recreate last year’s recipe again at the farm. Delicious and perfectly grilled, do try it out if you haven’t before.

Australian Rainbow Trout Farm - thespiceadventuress.com

I was quite surprised to see how popular Halloween has become in Australia. Personally, I do not celebrate it and quite frankly find it a bit weird. But given the nature of my work, I did create DIY Halloween themed pizzas for Stuff Mums Like. It was fun doing the project because I have finally nailed making pizza bases from scratch.

So do check out the post if you would like to attempt making pizzas at home, So much fun and way better for your health.

Halloween DIY pizzas - thespiceadventuress.com

Last week, I attended the Kids Business Bloggers Brunch at Encore St Kilda. A fantastic event with lots of brands to interact and meet up with. I have decided to collaborate with a few that I personally use and enjoy, so do watch out this space for more information.

One of the highlights of the event this year was the partnership with Ryobi. Barry Du Bois, star of The Living Room and Kerryn Carter, founder of Tool School were among the VIP guests for the day sharing their inspiring story which has highly motivating and moved many of us to tears.

Another highlight was the DIY workshop set up by Ryobi for all the attendees, where each one of us could make our own food/cheese/presentation board. We were taught how to use Ryobi power tools for sanding, drilling, driving etc…. to create our own board. I must agree that it did give me lots of confidence and I am seriously thinking of executing some DIY projects over the summer hols.

Ryobi power tools DIY workshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Have you started planning for your holiday parties?

I have. And even before the menu planning, I have the tablescape sorted this year with this stunning stoneware and pottery range from Salt & Pepper. I picked up pieces from the ‘Artefact’ and ‘Relic’ collection; both have a rustic yet contemporary feel which I totally love. And the duck egg blue and slate colour tones would go perfectly with the white Christmas theme I have in mind.

Salt and Pepper stoneware range - thespiceadventuress.com

And now other news from around the globe…

My love for travelling kicked in well and truly only after I had a baby; and I thoroughly enjoyed travelling the world with him. If you think travelling is difficult with a baby, then here is the expert talking.

Well, this has what Instagram has truly become!

Margatini, now that’s interesting.

A spicy old fashioned!

This shakshuka sounds more interesting than the original version.

Chicken chickpea curry; that’s a new combination for me.

I am not a huge avo lover but this coconut avocado lime soft serve seems perfect for summer.

This chai masala bundt cake looks simply awesome.

Dark chocolate tahini cups! Now that’s an equally delicious use for tahini as hummus.

 

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign)

Curry for change!

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Great Australian Curry – an annual fundraising campaign by Opportunity International Australia is back and this is my second year of pledging support for the cause.

(You can view details of the previous campaigns here and here.)

Opportunity International Australia works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes in developing countries including India. And the ‘Great Australian Curry’ campaign is a great way by which food lovers like us can contribute in a meaningful manner towards poverty and diminishing its impact.

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This year’s campaign was officially launched last month with a spicy cook-off between Stephanie Rice (Triple Olympic gold medallist) and Courtney Ferdinands (Finalist, My Kitchen Rules) on one team and Michael Kasprowicz (former Australian Test Cricketer) and Valerie Ferdinands (Finalist, My Kitchen Rules) on the other team.

It’s a great cause and with curry being a favourite at most Australian homes, it’s so easy to organize a small fundraiser in your home or office. Invite a couple of your friends home for a dinner (plenty of delicious curry recipes on the blog to help you with the cooking) and organize a small fundraiser of your own. Or perhaps arrange a curry potluck in your office where you can pitch in with your colleagues to raise a target amount. Remember that even the smallest amount can go a long way in being a helping hand to those in need.

Robert Dunn, the Opportunity Chief Executive Officer, said that last year the campaign was able to raise $108,000 which was used to help out 1500 families start small businesses and provide a livelihood. ‘We hope to help even more families this year through the generosity of Australians.’

And if cooking is not your thing, you can still make a donation and show support.

For more information about the campaign; visit the fundraising website, Great Australian Curry.

There are also many exciting prizes up for grabs this year to encourage you to start a campaign.

“The first 20 people to set up a fundraiser on Opportunity’s website will receive Rick Stein’s mouth-watering cookbook, ‘India’. The book features a wealth of simple curry recipes that’ll come in handy for your Great Australian Curry events. The colourful cookbook features the best recipes from Rick Stein’s Indian odyssey in search of the perfect curry.

There is also a writing competition and the prize is a signed copy of renowned Sydney Quay chef Peter Gilmore’s cookbook ‘Organum’. Peter’s book delves into the four essential ingredients for the perfect dish “nature, texture, intensity and purity. Just tell us in 25 words or less why taking part in the Great Australian Curry is important to you. Details of this competition are on the Great Australian Curry website.

And while you can find lots of delicious curry inspiration on my blog, here’s another one to get you started…Chettinad style Duck Kurma.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Today’s recipe comes from the Chettinad region in South India, which is famous for its cuisine especially curries.

Kurma is a type of curry preparation that was bought to India by the Mughals. While it has evolved much over the years, the kurma is essentially a rich creamy curry and can be both vegetarian and non vegetarian.

However in the Chettinad region, the kurma is prepared slightly different as the cream gets replaced by coconut which is blended with poppy seeds, cashewnuts and other spices to form a rich and flavourful curry. Personally, it’s this kurma preparation that’s my favourite as I am not too fond of cream based curries.

I have veered away from the usual proteins, opting for duck instead of chicken or lamb as it’s a delicious meat that pairs beautifully with the spices and coconut. And also because we get such high quality duck meat in Australia.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Note – Use any meat of choice or replace with eggs or mixed vegetables/paneer/tofu for a vegetarian option.

Ingredients:

Wet spice paste:

  1. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 2 tsp fennel seeds
  3. 2 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 3 fresh green chillies; broken in half
  5. 2 tsp white poppy seeds
  6. 10 raw cashewnuts
  7. 7 garlic cloves; crushed
  8. 2 tbsp roasted Bengal gram (split)
  9. 1 ½ inch ginger; crushed
  10. 60gms fresh grated coconut

For the curry:

  1. Whole duck (approximately 1.1kg); cut into curry sized pieces
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 2 inch cinnamon bark
  4. 4 green cardamom
  5. 1 large onion; finely chopped
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
  8. 2 large ripe tomatoes; pureed
  9. 2 tsp red chilli powder
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

To prepare the wet spice paste:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and add the cumin, fennel seeds and green chillies. Then add the poppy seeds, cashews and garlic; sauté for a few seconds.
  2. Next add the Bengal gram, coconut and ginger. Mix well and sauté for a minute or two till the coconut turns a little toasty but not too brown.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Blend with just enough water to get a wet paste.

To make the curry:

  1. Heat the remaining oil in a large wok/kadhai and add the cinnamon and cardamom followed by the onion. Sauté till the onions are softened and turn light brown.
  2. Next add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and curry leaves; mix to combine.
  3. Add the tomato puree and season with salt. Cook on medium heat till the mixture comes together and you can notice oil appearing at the sides of the masala.
  4. Next add the wet spice pasta and mix well to combine. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat stirring continuously.
  5. Add the duck pieces; mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add 1-2 cups water (depending on how much gravy you prefer) and bring to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently till the duck pieces have cooked perfectly and the gravy has thickened. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  6. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This duck curry is delicious with hoppers, flatbreads, rice, pita breads etc… I paired it with steamed rice, flat breads, a green salad and my favourite tomato chutney.

Enjoy…but don’t forget to take part in the fundraising too. A little help from us can go a long way to help out another family in need.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post was bought to you in association with Opportunity International but all the opinions and musings are mine.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug)

Yet another spice blend to add to my repertoire!

Z’hug or Z’hoog (as pronounced) is a traditional blend from Yemen. Traditionally, the blend is in the form of a wet marinade made from fresh and moist ingredients like parsley, garlic, cilantro and the local Marash pepper.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

Amongst the cookbooks I own, one of my most prized ones is the New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou. It’s an amazing book where Chef/author Mourad Lahlou delves into traditional Moroccan cooking, basics and fundamentals but executed in a modern, contemporary style.

So there’s information about so many spices, ingredients, techniques from in and around the region; great for those who do not know much about Morocco or its cuisine. Yet the recipes and dishes outlined are global fare.

Though Z’hug is a wet blend as mentioned, Mourad has outlined a recipe in the book for a dry version which is often used in his restaurant. And that’s what I have used too, except that instead of Marash pepper, I used semi dried chillies. Even though I do stock the Marash pepper, it’s not an easy one to find for most people so I decided to use the chilli variety that is available locally and easily for all. But if you do have it, use it by all means.

There are plenty of ways to use Z’hug. It can be used as a dry rub for steaks or roast chicken. It can also be used to spice up casseroles, lentils or roast vegetables. Roast nuts spiced with Z’hug is also a great idea.

Z’hug and seafood would also be a delightful combination. And I wanted to make something that’s quick and simply to put together for a midweek meal or as a party starter. The spice blend can also be made in excess and stored; one that is great to have in the pantry always.

I decided to use prawns marinated with Z’hug and then pan grill it. Prawns do not require prolonged marination, so it’s a dish that comes together in no time at all. And with the holiday season upon us, this is a great dish to add to your party table.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms tiger prawns; deveined and deshelled
  2. Z’hug blend
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Vegetable oil
  5. Lemon wedges; to serve

Z’hug:

(I have used Gourmet Garden’s semi dried chillies and herbs; but you can substitute with any brand you have access to. Or you can use fresh ingredients to make a wet spice marinade)

  1. 2 tsp semi dried chilli flakes
  2. 3 tsp ground coriander
  3. 2 tsp dried cilantro/coriander leaves
  4. 3 tsp dried parsley
  5. 1 tsp garlic granules
  6. 1 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tsp ground caraway
  8. 1 tsp ground cardamom
  9. ¼ tsp citric acid
  10. ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Method:

To make Z’hug:

  • Combine all the ingredients, grind if necessary and store in an airtight container.

To prepare the final dish:

  • Clean and pat dry the prawns.
  • In a non reactive bowl, marinate the prawns with Z’hug and season with salt. Mix well and keep for 15-30minutes.
  • Brush enough oil and heat the grill pan to high. Pan grill the prawns in batches till done.
  • Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Pan grilled Prawns (spiced with Z’hug) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

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