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Indian style Borlotti beans curry (with Dhansak masala)

Indian cuisine has the most delicious recipes when it comes to pulses (all kinds including lentils, legumes, dried beans etc…)

This category of ingredients is a staple in almost every household of India, and hence there are zillions of recipes too. The preparation style varies from region to region and sometimes, for the same pulse, there will be different recipes. So that’s a lot of variety!

Today’s dish, an Indian style beans curry is one I prepare regularly. But it’s the first time I am using Borlotti beans for this recipe.

Dried borlotti beans are very commonly used in Italian and Portuguese cuisine. It is also referred to as cranberry beans in US and other countries. Since Italian cuisine is very popular in Melbourne, it’s very easy to find borlotti beans in any supermarket and also in delis.

Usually I prepare this curry using red kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas etc…. but recently tried it with the borlotti beans and the result was a really delicious, hearty and comforting curry. And it’s the kind of dish that most of us crave in winter. Pair it with some steamed rice, Naan or any Indian bread and you have a lipsmacking meal for the family.

Now looking at the photographs, most Indians would think that this dish looks exactly like Rajma masala. Rajma or red kidney beans is very popular in North India especially in Delhi and surrounding regions and a staple meal in most households is Rajma Chawal (red kidney bean curry served over rice). It’s that kind of rustic, everyday dish that reminds most people of home or their mother’s cooking.

Even though this dish looks similar in colour, texture and consistency, the flavours are slightly different because borlotti beans have a slightly different texture to red kidney beans. And also this beans curry is prepared using Dhansak masala, a spice blend that’s traditionally used to prepare a Parsi style mutton curry called Dhansak. It’s such a flavourful blend and quite a versatile one that I love using it in different kinds of curries. Remember the lamb curry with haricot beans that I had posted a while ago, an offbeat adaptation of Dhansak that I made using the same spice blend.

As mentioned earlier, this is a curry I make often with different types of dried beans and pulses but it’s one that you can extend to meats and other veggies too (potatoes would work brilliantly in a curry like this).

Soaking the borlotti beans overnight is always advisable as it helps reduce the cooking time drastically especially if you need a quick dinner after a long working day. You may also use a pressure cooker or instant pot for preparing this dish, both of which will fasten the cooking time.

So let’s get onto the recipe for this delicious Indian style Borlotti beans curry. And if you try it out, do let me know your feedback…

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ½ cups dried borlotti beans (soaked overnight)
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 2 dried bay leaf
  4. 2 dried red chillies
  5. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  6. 1 inch ginger; grated
  7. 2 onions; finely chopped
  8. 2 medium ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  9. 1 tsp tomato paste
  10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  11. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  12. ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  13. 2 tsp coriander powder
  14. 1 tsp Dhansak masala
  15. Salt, to season
  16. ¼ tsp raw sugar
  17. ¼ cup milk
  18. 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  19. 2 tbsp plain yoghurt; to serve
  20. Lemon wedges; to serve

Note – Dhansak masala recipe can be found here.

Method:

  1. Soak the dried beans overnight; wash well the next day and drain.
  2. In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil to medium and add the dried bay leaf and red chillies. Then add the grated garlic and ginger; sauté for a few seconds till the rawness of the aromatics goes away (take care not to burn).
  3. Add the onions and sauté till softened and takes on a light brown colour.
  4. Next add the chopped tomatoes and continue to sauté till the tomatoes break down and the whole mixture turns slightly mushy.
  5. Add the tomato paste and mix well to combine.
  6. Next add all the spice powders, sugar and season with salt. Mix well to combine and sauté on low heat till the whole masala comes together and oil starts to leave the sides.
  7. Add the drained beans and mix well to combine and add 2 cups water. Cook till the beans are done (the beans must be slightly mushy yet have a bite).
  8. Taste and season accordingly. Add ¼ cup milk and mix well to combine.
  9. Serve with lemon wedges and yoghurt drizzled on top.

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Organic Coconut Beef Curry with Cauliflower Rice

The word ‘organic’ is often associated with being trendy, modern etc…. but we often forget that ‘organic’ is how our forefathers ate.

The rampant commercialization and globalization has led to an increased use of chemical fertilizers, additives etc…. in our everyday food to a level so high that it has led to serious health consequences. It’s time we paid more attention to what we ate, where we buy our produce from, how our food is grown and manufactured or we will leave behind a highly toxic planet to our future generations. Not to forget the wide range of diet and lifestyle related diseases that we seem to suffer from these days.

I try and buy organic and local as much as possible. Sometimes it’s not practical or available and sometimes the ingredients are higher priced that we have a second thought; after all most of us have a budget to live by. But it’s not something impossible either; it just begins with a small effort to be more conscious whenever you shop.

Lack of information or rather, trusted information was the biggest challenge I faced when it came to buying organically grown produce or ingredients. During my research, I came across Australian Organic Limited (AOL), a not-for-profit member owned organization established in 1987.

“Australian Organic Limited (AOL) is the leading industry body representing all certifiers and certified operators; and advocates for the betterment growth interests of the certified organic industry by lobbying government and driving awareness.”

Through AOL, I was able to learn more about certification, how the organic industry works, brands and companies that specialize in organic produce within Australia etc…. You can also read up on the latest news within the industry on the AOL website or become a member of the Australian Organic community if you wish to be more actively involved.

Recently, I was sent a copy of the Australian Organic Recipe Book (2nd edition) which includes a recipe collection featuring certified organic produce and ingredients. The recipes have been created by chefs and also the AOL ambassadors (2019) – Luke Hines and Elle Halliwell.

The recipe book also comes in a digital version which can be downloaded here; there is a small fee for purchasing both the print and digital copy. You can also download the first edition of the recipe book here.

What I liked about the Australian Organic Recipe book is the fact that all the recipes are perfect for everyday cooking for all times of the day. It’s a small book, not one with hundreds of recipes like most traditional cookbooks. All the information regarding the organic ingredients use is available so that you know which brand to look out for while shopping.

And just to give you an idea of how delicious and easy the recipes are, I am sharing one here – Organic Coconut Beef Curry with Cauliflower Rice.

The organic beef used in this recipe (in the cookbook) is from Sherwood Rd Organic Meats which specializes in certified organic, 100% grass fed lamb, beef and goat. Apart from these, they also sell other organic meat and meat products.

Since their shop is located in Brisbane, I could not buy directly from them but instead bought from my local market vendor who specializes in organic beef. If you are in Brisbane, do check out their stores or you can use any organic beef for this curry.

With my Kerala (South India) roots, a coconut milk based beef curry is a highly regarded one. This particular recipe veers slightly from the traditional one which can be complicated for those who are not familiar with the cuisine.

But this coconut beef curry is super simple and comes together with just a few ingredients and basic spices. And pairing it with cauliflower rice is a brilliant idea.

For those who haven’t tried mock cauliflower rice, you must give it a go. Not only does it mimic rice but it is delicious and really healthy too. Instead of the plain version outlined in the book, I used my Tempered Cauliflower rice recipe to pair with this coconut beef curry. Loads more flavour guaranteed!

When you are shopping this weekend, add these ingredients to your list and treat yourself to a delicious, mildly spiced, warm and comforting Organic Coconut Beef Curry.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg organic beef chuck; cut into cubes
  2. 2-3 tbsp organic coconut oil
  3. 1 large onion; finely chopped
  4. 3 garlic cloves; crushed
  5. 2 ½ tsp curry powder
  6. 2 tsp coriander powder
  7. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  8. 1 ½ tsp cumin powder
  9. ½ tsp garam masala
  10. 1 tsp chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  11. 1 tsp cardamom seeds; crushed
  12. 1 ½ tsp hot paprika
  13. Salt, to season
  14. 2 cans coconut milk (270ml each)
  15. Fresh coriander sprigs; for garnish
  16. 1 fresh chilli; to serve
  17. Fresh lime wedges; to serve

Method:

  1. In a large, heavy bottom saucepan, heat coconut oil and add the garlic and onions. Sauté till the onions are soft and take on a light brown colour.
  2. Add all the spices and cook on low heat for 1-2 minutes taking care not to burn.
  3. Add the beef pieces, season with salt and cook on medium heat for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1 can coconut milk; mix well to combine and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. After 30 minutes, add the second can of coconut milk (or as much as you need depending on how much gravy you prefer) and continue to cook till the beef pieces are tender.
  6. Check seasoning and add the coriander leaves. Mix and remove from heat. Keep for atleast 15 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve with cauliflower rice topped with red chillies and lemon wedges.

Tempered Cauliflower Rice, full recipe here.

May Favourites

May’s been a hectic one but an awesome month.

It’s been that kind of month when you have loads of work, super busy yet somehow manage to carve time to spend with friends and family. There were city outings, new experiences, dinner catch ups and as always, plenty of delicious food.

May was also extra special because of Mother’s Day.

While I do not keep high expectations for the day, I know that there will be a special gift from Adi. Ever since he started school, every year he would get me something special from the Mother’s Day stall. There would be also be a handwritten note or card along with a custom-made Lego model.

But this year, he took part in a poetry competition dedicated to Mother’s Day held by our local community and won a prize too. Can’t really find the words to express my joy, not necessarily at him winning but to watch my little boy recite the poem for me at the event. Its little moments like these that stay with us forever and make us feel so grateful to be blessed with a child.

Another highlight of the month was attending the Dog Lovers Show, especially because I have two crazy dog lovers at home. And it’s only a matter of time before we a pet dog so this show seemed to be a good idea to get Adi introduced to different breeds, collect more information about being a foster home, adopting dogs, volunteering at shelters etc….

Apart from that, it was sheer joy to watch the pets have fun with the owners, taking part in competitions etc….

The show was held at the Royal Exhibition Building; while I have heard and walked past the building many times, this was the first time inside. And I was blown away by the architecture and paintings inside especially the dome and ceilings. It is one of the world’s oldest remaining exhibition pavilions and the first World heritage listed building in Australia.

Renovation works are currently in progress with lots of exciting re-developments including a viewing platform for the Dome. I am eagerly waiting for the works to be complete to take a proper guided tour of the building and learn more about its architecture and heritage. Have you been there before, and do you like architecture and visiting heritage properties?

Royal Exhibition Building - thespiceadventuress.com

Did you see my blog post on Malgudi Days Specialty premium South Indian filter coffee? It was another highlight of the month for me discovering a brand that ties in my South Indian roots with my Australian way of living perfectly.

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

Iftar is a special time for all Muslims observing Ramadan. Apart from the religious aspect, food is also a highlight during this time and I got an opportunity to collaborate with Shan Foods to create an Indian fusion dish using one of their spice blends. And I came up with this – Tomato Shorba shots with Grilled Prawns (spiced with Lahori fish masala). You can find the recipe on my IG page.

Tomato Shorba shots with Grilled Prawns - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the seafood recipes developed this month for Supreme Seafood was a delicious, fingerlickin good Bengali style prawn curry.

A simple, home style curry that’s a delight for your taste buds. It’s the simplicity of this dish that makes it delicious too. Go for medium sized prawns which work best in a dish like this. And pair it with just steamed rice or treat yourself to a whole thali experience.

Bengali style Prawn Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

And now for favourites from around the world….

Beauty:

Love wearing lipsticks, and this shade from Anastasia Beverly Hills looks amazing

Fashion:

Love these Rose gold Pandora bracelets

These black sandals are on my list for summer

Time to stock up on knitwear…isn’t this the most gorgeous colour.

If you are a designer fashion junkie, then you can’t miss the Balenciaga exhibition coming to Victoria.

Home:

This beautiful Onyx tray would be perfect for my perfume collection.

This linen quilt cover set is so snug and cozy.

This lamp would match my living room décor perfectly.

Travel:

Puffing Billy needs no introduction to anyone living in Melbourne. But have you tried the Steam and Luncheon experience?

One of my favourite travel writers

Drinks:

Love a good Manhattan during the winter months

Food:

Can’t wait to make a batch of this creamy chipotle sauce

An interesting summer salad

How delicious and comforting does this dal recipe look!

This potato soup is all I need for the chilly nights

Chipotle braised chicken nachos. Do I need to say anything more?

Love beef? Then you need to check out my Pinterest board.

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta

After school snack time is taken quite seriously in our household.

The first question Adi asks as he enters the house is ‘what’s for snack’? And I know he is expecting something hearty and delicious.

Usually it’s something homemade, but I have my days when I am more than happy to open a frozen packet. But what I generally tend to do is prepare snacks in bulk and freeze in portions or have veggies/meat prepped ahead so that a quick snack can be put together.

One such ingredient that I have been lately having in my refrigerator is Marinated Feta. It’s such a versatile ingredient that can be used in a zillion ways and each one different from the other. It’s great in salads; replace regular feta with the marinated one in your next Greek salad and you will know the difference.

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta - thespiceadventuress.com

I have adapted this marinated feta recipe from Bon Appetit. What I loved most about this is the addition of roasted lemon slices and dried chillies that lends such a delicious citrusy flavour with that hint of smoky heat in the background, subtle yet there to boost the overall flavour of the feta.

And even when you are done using the feta, the lemon slices, chillies and oil can be used in different ways so that nothing really goes to waste. Though I love to use the marinated feta in salads, this time I used it as a spread for a Bruschetta.

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta - thespiceadventuress.com

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta - thespiceadventuress.com

Bruschetta is another favourite of ours. It’s a snack I make at home often but we also love to order it while dining out at really good Italian restaurants. The quality of the tomatoes makes a huge difference to the taste of a Bruschetta so many restaurants do not really do justice to this simple classic dish.

In today’s recipe, I have used the marinated feta as a spread and then topped it with the tomato mixture. The background flavours of citrus, salt and cheese lend a delicious creaminess and it works as a wonderful base for the sweet tomatoes.

I always use sour dough or ciabatta for making a Bruschetta. The bread must be toasted lightly on both sides so that it does not go soggy and provides that crunchy texture to the soft tomatoes and feta. As for tomatoes, use sweet vine ripened tomatoes whenever possible. Most people tend to leave out the tomato flesh while making a Bruschetta. While I am making it as a quick snack at home, I use the tomatoes whole and the bruschetta is consumed shortly after making. But if I am prepping a larger quantity for a party, then I omit the flesh so that the tomatoes do not go too soft.

For making the marinated feta, I used Danish feta as it has less salt content when compared to other types. But really, any variety should do.

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta - thespiceadventuress.com

So let’s get to the recipe for this flavourful Marinated Feta and an equally delicious Bruschetta using this. And if you would like to get more snack ideas, check out the category ‘Appetizers’ on the blog.

Ingredients:

For making marinated feta:

  1. 200gms feta; cut into large cubes
  2. 1 lemon; sliced and seeds removed
  3. 2 dried red chillies
  4. 2 dried bay leaf
  5. Freshly ground black pepper
  6. Olive oil; enough to cover the feta.

For the bruschetta:

  1. 1 medium sized sourdough; sliced
  2. 2-3 vine ripened tomatoes; chopped (remove flesh if you wish to)
  3. Freshly ground black pepper
  4. A pinch of sugar
  5. A couple of fresh basil leaves; torn into small pieces
  6. 1 tsp olive oil (from the marinated feta)
  7. 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Method:

Marinated Feta:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200°C. Line an oven proof tray with baking paper, arrange the lemon slices on top and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Roast till lightly caramelized and charred at the edges (roughly 10-12 minutes, but depends on the size and thickness of the slices so keep a close eye).
  2. Once the roasted lemon slices have cooled, place it in a clean jar along with the feta, bay leaves and chillies. Season with black pepper and pour enough olive oil to cover the feta.
  3. Marinate overnight for best results.

Bruschetta:

  1. In a bowl, add the chopped tomatoes and basil. Add sugar, pepper and a dash of olive oil; mix well.
  2. Smash 2-3 cubes of the marinated feta in a separate bowl using the back of a spoon and spread this on top of the sourdough slices.
  3. Then top each slice with the tomato mixture and drizzle lightly with balsamic.
  4. Serve immediately

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta - thespiceadventuress.com

Bruschetta with Marinated Feta - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee – Nostalgia in a Cup

Every morning. That first sip of coffee……

I was introduced to coffee while studying for my Master’s degree in Chennai (South India).

Not a fan of caffeinated drinks, I would always choose milk while my friends would order a cuppa from our college café. And then they would rave about it. Not just for the taste but also the fact that it kept the sleep at bay while attending boring University lectures. Now that got me curious, because my humble glass of milk couldn’t do that. And that is what led to my first sip of coffee.

‘Love at first taste’ is how I describe that moment. It was strong, bitter, rich, sweet…..not flavours I generally enjoyed but I was hooked.

Now that I had started to enjoy coffee, I was quickly introduced to filter coffee or filter kaapi as traditionally known. Living in Chennai, it was hard to ignore filter coffee. I would always be fascinated with the aroma that lingers in every restaurant serving South Indian food. And even more fascinated with the way the coffee was served, in stainless steel dabaras.

The filter kaapi took my coffee experience to a whole new level. Countless cups were enjoyed during my student life, and marrying into a Tamilian household, filter kaapi soon became an integral part of my everyday routine.

But filter coffee got forgotten when I moved to Australia. Because who sells filter coffee in Australia? We tried a couple of South Indian restaurants here hoping to have some good filter coffee, but the experience was always disappointing.

And then I discovered Malgudi Days – a premium specialty South Indian Coffee, roasted and blended in Australia!

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

Malgudi Days has the most interesting story on how their signature South Indian traditional filter coffee blend came to life.

A native of South India, but bought up in New Zealand and Australia, Anee was always interested in the world of coffee. Perhaps owing to the fact that his dad’s family had owned coffee farms and been in the coffee industry back in India. So after a decade of working as Senior Risk Management Executive in the banking industry, Anee decided to shift gears and set up his own coffee business in 2012 establishing his company, Samson Coffee House.

The story of Malgudi Days began when Anee’s mom, disappointed with the quality of filter kaapi options in Australia, asked him to create a traditional blend that’s reminiscent of the true flavours of South Indian coffee.

South Indian filter coffee is a unique blend of coffee beans and chicory (introduced to India by the British in late 18th century). So Anee spent months researching, testing and trying out several different combinations before he was able to create a blend that bought an acknowledging smile to his mom’s face. While initially it was only a gift to his mom, anyone who tasted this blend encouraged him to go commercial, and thus Malgudi days was born.

Named after his mom’s favourite writer and his book, Malgudi Days is all about incorporating Indian culture into the modern day Australian narrative.

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

The traditional blend is crafted from Arabica and Robusta beans, grown in the Baba Bundangiri Hills and premium grade organic chicory.

“We pick ‘Speciality’ grade beans which can be traced back to the farmer, Co-Op, plantation or estates where the coffee has come from. Speciality coffee refers to coffee that is “grown and farmed in optimum conditions, harvested with care, processed meticulously and finally, roasted and brewed with a knowledge and understanding that does justice to everyone involved in this process”. Speciality coffee is associated with delicious, well made and ethically sourced coffee. It is often used to refer to coffees that are graded (by qualified taste-testers, or Q Graders) and that “score above 80 points (out of 100)”.

Both the whole bean and ground variants are available at Malgudi Days for purchase. Apart from the traditional South Indian filter coffee blend, there are also others like Heritage, Mysuru, Monsoon, Royale to choose from.

The description for each type of coffee, brew methods and other information is provided in detail on the website. So hop over and take a read.

Getting back to the traditional blend, the South Indian filter is the best brewing method; you could also use the stovetop method. Both are outlined in detail here. I used the filter method which is really easy once you get the hang of it. The filter and the traditional stainless steel cups/dabaras are also available for purchase on the website.

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

Malgudi Days Specialty South Indian Filter Coffee - thespiceadventuress.com

When one thinks of South Indian filter coffee, it’s always traditional South Indian food especially breakfast dishes like idli, dosa, upma etc… that come to mind.

But I am travelling a bit further today….to Nepal, to bring to you their much loved breakfast snack – Gwaramari (loosely translated as round bread).

Gwaramari (Nepali bread) - thespiceadventuress.com

The reason why I wanted to step away from South Indian food is to showcase the fact that filter coffee can pair with dishes from other cuisines too, moving regional to global. And what always surprises me is that every cuisine in the world share similarities if we are willing to look and embrace it.

Gwaramari reminds me of so many different snacks like fritters, vada (South Indian savoury doughnut) etc… The key difference is that this Nepali bread is made from flour as opposed to rice or lentils. And though I have never been to Nepal, I have read that Gwaramari is especially popular during the colder months.

Gwaramari (Nepali bread)

So it only feels apt to make it now….what can be more delicious than a glass of hot filter kaapi and some fried deliciousness on a cold day.

Let’s end the rambling and get right on to the recipe;

(Note – Instead of Nepali style chutneys, I served the Gwaramari with sambar (South Indian lentil stew) and tomato onion chutney)

Ingredients:

  1. 250gm plain flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. ½ tsp grated ginger
  4. ½ tsp grated garlic
  5. ½ tsp crushed cumin
  6. ¼ tsp coriander powder
  7. ½ tsp black pepper powder
  8. Salt, to season
  9. 230ml water
  10. Vegetable oil; for deep frying

Method:

Note – It’s best to let the flour mixture rest overnight. If pressed for time, use after resting for 2-3 hours.

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except water.
  2. Slowly add the water, stirring continuously, till a thick batter consistency is obtained (almost like a paste). Water must be added slowly to ensure that the right consistency is obtained.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight or keep for atleast 2-3 hours.
  4. Remove the flour mixture from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before use.
  5. Heat oil in a deep pan (for deep frying) to 190°C. Take a small ladleful (roughly 1 ½ tbsp) of the flour mixture and place gently into the oil. (Within seconds, the gwaramari will rise to the surface of the oil). Add more and fry till the bread balls are golden brown and crisp.
  6. Repeat with the entire flour mixture.

The bread does not have a uniform appearance and that’s part of its rustic appeal. Enjoy warm with chutneys and a hot cup of filter kaapi.

Gwaramari (Nepali bread)

Gwaramari (Nepali bread)

 

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Malgudi Days. All the opinions are unbiased and entirely mine. 

 

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne)

For the longest time of my life, all that I thought about German food is that it tastes bland and they drink a lot of beer.

But that changed when I had my first taste of real German food, and very surprisingly it happened while living in India. There was an Indo German expo, to boost cultural and economic ties between the two countries and one of the highlights of the expo was showcasing real German food. And that was the first time I indulged in German sausages, pretzels, sauerkraut etc… and also appreciated the value of mustard as a condiment.

This back story is just to share with you the fact that I was super excited to receive an invite from Hofbräuhaus to check out their new brunch menu. Guess I was living under a rock because I had no clue about Hofbräuhaus till now, and the fact that this traditional German restaurant has been in Melbourne since 1968.

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

An enviable location right in the heart of the CBD, Hofbräuhaus is ideal for all kinds of people who want to enjoy traditional German food. Stop in at the bar for a pint of beer and sides or perhaps a quick lunch on workdays. The restaurant is open late everyday which makes it ideal for a dinner date and now a special brunch menu makes it a great option for friends and families out and about in the city too.

Walking into Hofbräuhaus is like walking into a slice of history. There is a distinct German feel to the ambience, further pronounced by the fact that the staff is dressed in traditional German attire. The brunch is served in the Alpine Bar which has that old school pub feel with plenty of wooden paneling and dark colours.

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

A special mention to the staff here….super friendly and go out of their way especially if you are relatively new to the cuisine. And believe me; you do need the recommendations and suggestions if you do not have much experience with German food.

As I mentioned, we were there to check out the new brunch menu so all the dishes we had were specifically from this menu and not from the main restaurant one.

Of course you need to start with beer! Now I am not much of a beer drinker as I don’t prefer the bitter undertones. But the Acrobräu Weissbier piqued my interest, and the staff recommended the same when I said I preferred fruity flavours. A true Bavarian wheat Bier which is subtly sweet with rounded fruit flavours, hints of lemon and banana. Exactly what I wanted; for once, I was excited about drinking beer or bier as they call it. Highly recommended if your preferences are like mine….

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam wanted a low alcohol variety, so he chose the Acrobräu Leichte Helle; a premium light lager, full flavoured, smooth and mild.

It’s no surprise why Germans love beer so much; they do such a fine job making it. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations to the staff if you need help deciding, and this goes for the menu too.

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We started with Frühstücksplatte; a German style breakfast platter with a selection of cold cut meats, Alpine and Swiss cheese, boiled eggs, Obatzda, pickled vegetables, German farmers salami, liverwurst and German rye bread. A great spread and a great choice if you want something to share and also sample a selection of different stuff. The rye bread was exceptional and so was the cold cuts and cheese.

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The second dish we ordered was Weisswurst Frühstück; a traditional German style breakfast sausage in a poaching broth with a freshly baked Bretzel and sweet Bavarian mustard. This was a new and unique one for us. The staff suggested that the best way to eat this was to remove the skin of the sausage and then moisten the meat in the broth followed by a generous dip in the mustard. Really delicious and the mustard was such a killer combination with the sausage. And of course the joy of a freshly baked Bretzel, not a pretzel!

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish was GroBes Frühstück or the Big Bavarian Breakfast. Freshly baked Bretzel filled with poached eggs, Kassler, Bratwurst, roasted tomato, Sauerkraut and Bavarian mayo. If you want to experience a true German breakfast with all the goodies, then this is the one to order. Particularly in love with the Bratwurst!

Hofbräuhaus (Market Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, the new brunch menu at Hofbräuhaus is exciting for anyone who are taking baby steps into experiencing traditional German food. The old world charm of the space and the super friendly staff only add to the experience. Can’t wait to go back, perhaps for some Schnitzel this time.

Hofbräuhaus

18-28 Market Lane
Melbourne
VIC 3000

Phone no: 03 9663 3361

Website: http://www.hofbrauhaus.com.au/

Timings:

Mon – Wed: 12pm to 11pm
Thurs – Sat: 12pm to 12am
Sun: 11am to 11pm

Disclaimer – As mentioned, I was invited to dine as a guest at Hofbräuhaus and to sample their new brunch menu. All the photographs, opinions and musings are entirely mine. Bottom of Form

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

Zigni (Ethiopian/Eritrean style Beef Stew)

I travel the world through food, and today I am taking you to East Africa!

It was ‘berbere’ that introduced me to East African cuisine, specifically Ethiopian cuisine. Suddenly my world opened up to a whole new spectrum of flavours and dishes. From this traditional tomato salad to a grilled fish recipe inspired by my new found love for berbere, I wanted to learn more about the vast expanse called African cuisine which is as colourful as its land, culture and people.

This time, I did not just re-visit Ethiopia but learnt of the existence of a whole new country, Eritrea.

Sharing borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, Eritrea has a fascinating cuisine with borrowed influences from all these bordering countries. And I learnt that berbere was hence, commonly used in Eritrean cuisine too. Today’s dish, Zigni, is a great example of that.

Zigni (Ethiopian/Eritrean style Beef Stew) - thespiceadventuress.com

Zigni is essentially a beef stew spiced with berbere and simmered in a tomato based gravy. It is a relatively spicy dish, but nothing crazy. If you can handle an Indian curry, you can enjoy this one too.

Ever since I discovered berbere, it has become a staple spice paste in my kitchen. Very flavourful from both whole spices and aromatics like garlic but it is the paprika that gives it that classic red colour and the spice hit. Hot paprika needs to be used for berbere and not the sweet or smoked version, both of which will alter the final taste of the spice paste. Fenugreek is another crucial ingredient along with other whole spices like cumin, cardamom, coriander, pepper etc….

Just as with all spice blends, berbere too has variations but the key spices that go into the paste remain the same. And that goes for the preparation of Zigni too…I found quite a few variations of this dish but the general idea remains same. So it is really important to research a bit, read up many recipes from as authentic a source as possible before trying out traditional dishes like this. The version that I have made is adapted from a couple of recipes and the recipe of berbere is from this African cookbook.

Berbere - thespiceadventuress.com

Traditionally Zigni is had with Injeri, a soft spongy sourdough risen flatbread which is an amazing combination. While I have had Injeri before, I do not know how to make it so paired this beef stew with garlic herb foccacia. Any sort of bread with a spongy texture is idea with Zigni to soak up all the juices of the stew.

So let’s get cooking this traditional dish of Eritrea – Zigni!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg beef; cubed
  2. 1 can diced tomatoes
  3. 4 spring onions (only the white part); sliced
  4. 2 garlic cloves; sliced
  5. 1 small onion; sliced
  6. 3 tbsp berbere (click here for recipe)
  7. ½ tsp sugar
  8. ½ cup fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  9. Vegetable oil
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Heat 4-5 tbsp oil in a deep bottom pan; sear the beef cubes in batches and keep aside.
  2. Add more oil if necessary and when medium hot, add the garlic, onions and spring onions. Cook till softened and then add the berbere.
  3. Mix well to combine and cook on low heat for a minute.
  4. Next add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the sugar and season with salt. Cook on medium for 2 minutes and then add the seared beef cubes.
  5. Also add 2 cups water and bring to boil. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  6. Simmer and cook till the beef pieces are tender and soft (stir occasionally and add more water if necessary).
  7. Finish with fresh coriander leaves mixed through.
  8. Rest for at least 30 minutes before serving for the flavours to develop.

Zigni (Ethiopian/Eritrean style Beef Stew)

 

April Favourites

Autumn is here.

It’s beginning to turn chilly, which means sinking deeper into the bed in the mornings with the blanket pulled up tight not wanting to wake up to another day’s work. Even though I am not a fan of the colder seasons, I must admit that autumn is breathtakingly beautiful in Australia, with the myriad shades of orange and red all around us.

You don’t have to travel anywhere far to experience this. Just driving through our tree lined suburbs is sometimes enough to experience this magical season.

Easter was a low key affair this year. I wanted a break from all the cooking, so spent the day at our friends’ homes. Adi has already started telling me that next year, he wants an Easter egg hunt at our home. Never organized one, so that should be interesting though it’s too early to even think about it. How did you spend the Easter holidays?

I had posted this Easter themed icecream cake on my Insta page and it always generates a lot of interest as it’s a super easy dessert to put together. The best part is that you can take the same idea and make a customized icecream cake for your next party, not matter what the theme.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

This month too, there were two seafood recipes that were developed for Supreme Seafood. And these are;

Pan Seared Cod with Mixed Dried Beans Salad

Easy, delicious and super healthy, this is an excellent choice for weekday meals. The mixed beans salad is a great accompaniment to perfectly pan seared cod fillets but can be paired with any other white fish fillet too. And what’s best about this recipe is that the salad can be a dish in itself, as an accompaniment to any meal or perhaps with grilled tofu or paneer if you are looking at a vegetarian option. Full recipe here….

Pan Seared Cod with Mixed Dried Beans Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Seared Cod with Mixed Dried Beans Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Indo Chinese style Fish Fried Rice

Indo Chinese cuisine is a really interesting one, a unique fusion of Chinese and Indian flavours that’s a riot on your tastebuds. This fried rice is a  delicious, easy to prepare one with onions, peppers and mildly spiced barramundi. Perfect for a quick yet decadent weeknight dinner that will be enjoyed by the young and old alike. Full recipe here

Indo Chinese style Fish Fried Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Last week, I had posted this photograph on my IG page. It was a fun post, sharing five things that most of you might not know about me. But I also want to talk about the dress I am wearing. It’s from an Indian brand called Lila, a design lab that specializes in using “ pure and natural materials that are both locally sourced and fabricated – giving not only a laid back vibe but a sense of quiet sophistication.”

Lila cotton dress - thespiceadventuress.com

And now it’s time to share favourites from around the globe….

Now that school’s open, I must try baking some of these delicious chocolate chip cookies

Can’t wait to try out this caramelized onion dip.

Love Soba noodles; this soup should be worth a try for the colder months.

I remember having this Prawn Caldine while on holiday in Goa. Paired with steaming hot rice, it makes the most delicious experience. Here’s a great recipe if you wish to try.

Passionate about food photography? Then here’s a great account for you to follow…

Love ceramic diningware? Then you might want to check out this sale.

The Salt n’Pepper 2019 Autumn Winter Collection is out now.

Looking forward to the release of this cookbook.

Are you a fan of Calvin and Hobbes? I have a fun Pinterest board dedicated to this…

 

Green Goddess Smoothie

Why this name? Simply because this is my absolute favourite green smoothie…

Green Goddess Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

I started having smoothies for breakfast way before the whole trend kicked in. The reason being, I dislike having breakfast. I know, it’s not meant to be ideal from a health perspective but I simply can’t bring myself to eat anything in the morning.

Since I dislike breakfast and couldn’t be forced to eat anything, my mom used to serve me rice gruel. It’s light and usually made from broken red rice so I could just drink it straight from the bowl. When I moved out of home for higher studies and then marriage, the initial idea was to skip breakfast which I did too for a while. But when I realised that this was not great for my health, I started looking for liquid breakfast ideas. And thus my relationship with smoothies took off…

Even the term ‘smoothie’ was a bit foreign, I would call it a milkshake as I often used milk as the liquid base to blend with the other ingredients.

Years have passed and I still have a smoothie for breakfast almost every single day, especially weekdays. I often post about my daily smoothies on my Facebook page as each one does not require a detailed blog post. So if you are looking for ideas, check out my FB page. Also if you are a smoothie fan like me, do share some of your favourite combinations too.

While I do make other green smoothies, this one has to be my favourite because it’s so delicious. Usually green smoothies have a bad reputation when it comes to the taste department but this one is packed with nutrients and flavourful at the same time.

Green Goddess Smoothie

Green Goddess Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

The reason why this green smoothie is so delicious is the addition of ginger, pear and lemon which really adds sweetness and a spicy citrusy zing. I like to add a handful of nuts to most smoothies; sometimes the nuts are on rotation and sometimes a handful of mixed ones. For this green smoothie, I added a paleo mix that I picked up from Aldi which has nuts, seeds and dried coconut flakes.

Usually milk is my preferred liquid base for most smoothies, but I used yoghurt for this green smoothie as it requires that extra creaminess with the slightly sour edge which adds to the deliciousness.

While I have provided a recipe, it’s important to adjust measurements depending on your taste preferences. Play around with the quantities till you get your favourite Green Goddess Smoothie.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup kale; chopped
  2. ½ cup baby spinach
  3. 1 small pear; diced
  4. ½ Lebanese cucumber; deseeded and diced
  5. ½ tsp grated ginger
  6. Juice of ½ lemon
  7. ½ cup plain yoghurt
  8. A handful of paleo mix (nuts, seeds and dried coconut)

Method:

  • Blend all the ingredients in a blender till smooth. Add more yoghurt if you like a creamier texture.

Green Goddess Smoothie

 

 

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise

School holidays are here again. And for me, that means to take a semi-break; to slow down a bit on the work front and do only the absolute necessary stuff and not take up any demanding projects.

Even with menu planning, the focus is on easy to put together dishes that would free up time to spend with Adi and also take him to different holiday activities. How are you spending the school holidays? Do let me know in the comments below if you have any exciting activities or holiday trips planned…

When it comes to easy to put together meals, tacos always make it to the list. There are a zillion options and with a bit of prep, you have an amazing meal for the whole family to sit down and enjoy together.

Today, I am making these delicious Beef steak tortillas along with homemade avocado salsa and chilli mayonnaise.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

The best thing about using a good quality porterhouse steak is the fact that it is not just delicious, but cooks really fast. While I generally like to cook my steak medium rare, I have gone for well done this time since Adi was having it too and he prefers it so. But well done does not have to mean dry; if you sear both sides of the steak on a grill pan and then finish off in the oven, then you get a really juicy well done steak. And always allow to rest before slicing.

And for that extra flavour, a simple spice rub was used for the steaks which really add to the deliciousness.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

Usually for our tacos, we go with a guacamole or avocado crema and a separate salsa (like this mango salsa when mangoes are in season or a spicy Poblano salsa). But this time, made the process simpler with an avocado salsa. I used a nearly ripe avocado; the creaminess of the avo coats all the other ingredients when tossed through which gives the satisfaction and deliciousness of both a guacamole and salsa rolled into one.

Finally coming to the mayonnaise, if you have ever tried homemade mayo or aioli, you will never want to eat the store bought ones again. Agreed buying it is convenient and provides a better shelf life, but there are always a long ingredient list of substances that is not the best for your body. While it might seem difficult initially, making a mayonnaise at home is easy and once you get the hang of it, you will be more than happy to make a weekly batch.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

So let’s get cooking these delicious beef steak tortillas with avocado salsa and chilli mayo….

Ingredients:

  1. 2 large Porterhouse steaks
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Olive oil; for grilling
  4. 1 packet mini tortillas
  5. Fresh coriander leaves; to serve
  6. Lime wedges; to serve
  7. Shredded lettuce; to serve

Spice rub:

  1. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. 1 tsp fennel seeds
  4. 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  5. Olive oil

Note – Reserve some of the spice rub before making the paste to sprinkle over the final tacos.

Avocado Salsa:

  1. I semi ripe avocado; diced
  2. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tomato; finely chopped
  4. Lime juice, as required
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 1 tsp pickled jalapenos; finely chopped
  7. 1 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped

Chilli Mayonnaise:

  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. Salt, to season
  3. 1 bird’s eye chilli (add more according to preferences)
  4. 1 small garlic clove
  5. 1 lime
  6. Vegetable oil

Method:

  1. To prepare the spice rub, dry roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds on low heat till aromatic. Cool and blend to a coarse powder. Mix the dried Italian herbs and enough olive oil to make a coarse paste.
  2. Place the steaks on a plate, season with salt and rub the spice paste on both sides. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. To prepare the chilli mayo, grind the garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle. Add the egg yolk and the juice of half a lime to a processor and blend till smooth. Slowly add the oil in a thin trickle, processing at the same time till the thick, emulsified consistency of the mayo is achieved. Add the chilli paste, season with more salt and lime juice if necessary and process for a few more seconds. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate till use.
  4. To make the salsa, add all the ingredients to a bowl and toss well.
  5. To grill the steaks, oil and heat the grill pan to smoking hot and place the steaks. Cook on both sides for 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness for medium rare. (For a well done yet tender steak, preheat the oven to 180°C before grilling. Grill for 2 minutes on either side and then finish off cooking in the oven for another 2-3 minutes). Rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  6. Lightly warm the tortillas and place all the components on a serving
  7. To assemble a taco, spread some chilli mayo on a tortilla, add some lettuce followed by steak pieces. Top with avocado salsa, coriander leaves, sprinkle a pinch of the spice rub followed by a generous squeeze of lime.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

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