Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms

Of course pasta has to make its appearance into my weekly menu. But this is the first time I am trying out a mascarpone based sauce.

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms - thespiceadventuress.com

A no-brainer recipe and a great alternative to Bechamel sauce especially if you want a creamy one without the heaviness of a Bechamel. Also the process of making the Mascarpone sauce is much easier in comparison.

This dish could just be spaghetti and mascarpone sauce without the addition of anything else. But I wanted more flavour, something more meaty yet nutritious so mushrooms were the natural choice. And mushrooms lend itself very well to a creamy sauce like this one. Perfect for a busy day or when you need to feed a crowd with minimal fuss!

Do you make pasta often? What’s your favourite way to eat pasta?

Here are a few other suggestions if you are fond of pasta like my family….

  1. Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese
  2. Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms
  3. Penne with Tuna (in Chilli Oil)
  4. Spaghetti with Chicken Sausages in White Sauce
  5. Pasta stir fry with Asparagus, Broccoli, Peppers and Snow Peas

So let’s jump straight in to the recipe for Spaghetti, Mascarpone sauce and Mushrooms…

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 200 gms spaghetti
  2. 15gms unsalted butter
  3. 250gms mascarpone cheese
  4. ½ cup milk
  5. ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Freshly crushed black pepper; to season
  8. 3 tbsp olive oil
  9. 1 ½ cups assorted mushrooms
  10. 1 garlic; grated
  11. 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  12. ¼ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped (reserve some for garnish)
  13. A handful of walnuts; coarsely crushed
  14. Grated parmesan; to serve

Method:

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water as per packet instructions and keep aside.
  2. In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the grated garlic followed by the mushrooms. Stir fry on high heat and season the mushrooms with salt and chilli flakes. Keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, melt butter and add the mascarpone cheese. Mix well; add the milk to loosen up the sauce followed by the Parmesan. Season with salt and black pepper; cook till all the ingredients are combined to get a smooth sauce. Add the spaghetti, mushrooms and parsley; toss well to combine.
  4. Serve hot with chopped parsley, crushed walnuts and grated parmesan.

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms

 

 

 

Advertisements

November Favourites

As I typed in the title, I realised that a year has sped by so fast. We have reached the end of 2018 and the next time I publish a favourites post, it’s most likely going to be 2019. Wow!

November is always a crazy month filled with lots of work as food is the most popular subject during this time of the year. Lots of preparations to welcome the festive month ahead leading up to our summer holidays.

And buying gifts….I think most of my energy is spent just deciding on that perfect gift for friends and family. I am not a huge gift buyer but in spite of that I put in so much effort in the whole gifting process since I don’t want to get carried away and buy stuff that has no value for money. Most of the stuff are just packaged beautifully (costs a fortune just for that reason) but absolutely not worth it. Instead I prefer to buy things that have a lasting value and mean a lot to the person who receives it.

Edible gifts are definitely high on my list especially for those who appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of the product. Spices, spice blends, fruits, wine, cheese, coffee beans, rare tea blends etc… are all high on my list of edible gifts.

Do you shop a lot during this season? What kind of gifts do you like to receive?

One of my top recommendations for edible gifts would be a box of premium Yarra Valley Cherries.

I was lucky to spend a beautiful afternoon at their boutique orchard in Seville. We picked and feasted on the most delicious, sweet, ripe red cherries followed by an epic lunch laid out in the orchard. Dedicated to top notch quality, Yarra Valley Cherries are able to guarantee the freshest, delicious cherries due to their unique advantage of growing, picking, grading and packing their cherries on their orchard in Seville making it available to us on the very same day.

A delicious gift to give yourself or anyone for Christmas. You could either place an online order or purchase directly from their Farmgate at Seville.

Yarra Valley Cherries - thespiceadventuress.com

Yarra Valley Cherries - thespiceadventuress.com

As part of my final collaborative project with ALDI for 2018, I threw an early Christmas party for friends and family last week. Took the whole roasted ham/turkey route this year with plenty of help from ALDI’s premium Christmas range.

On my Christmas table were;

  • Premium triple smoked leg ham portion (glazed with orange juice, maple syrup, honey, Dijon mustard, cinnamon, all spice and dried ginger.
  • Stuffed turkey breast roast (with cranberries and apple)
  • Pan fried scallops with herb butter (sprinkled with dukkah)
  • Potato and cauliflower mash
  • Roasted baby potatoes (with garlic and rosemary)
  • Grilled Asparagus (with garlic and chilli flakes)
  • Kale Slaw
  • Rocket, Spinach and Pear Salad (with feta and walnuts)
  • Cranberries in red wine sauce

There are lots of goodies in store this season so stock up early if you are going to be throwing a Christmas party at home.

• Premium triple smoked leg ham portion (glazed with orange juice, maple syrup, honey, Dijon mustard, cinnamon, all spice and dried ginger - thespiceadventuress.com

Sparkling wine - thespiceadventuress.com

The rocket, spinach and pear salad that I made for our Christmas feast was an excellent side especially for our warmer days and nights. It’s so quick to put together, really refreshing from the crunchy pear slices, creamy from the crumbled feta and to finish off, that nutty texture from the walnuts. A beautiful salad that you must definitely try out.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups baby spinach
  2. 2 cups rocket
  3. 1 large green pear; sliced into wedges
  4. 50gms feta
  5. A handful of walnuts
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Freshly crushed black pepper, to season
  8. Extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 tsp honey
  10. 1 tsp verjuice (or replace with vinegar of choice)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, add the spinach, rocket and pear slices.
  2. To prepare the dressing, add olive oil, honey, verjuice, salt and pepper to a small container with a lid. Shake vigorously to make an emulsion.
  3. Just before serving, add the dressing and toss the ingredients well.
  4. Top with feta and crushed walnuts.

Rocket, spinach and pear salad (with feta and walnuts) - thespiceadventuress.com

Other favourites for November:

These salad servers from Country Road with the brass finish are so chic.

Love serving ware with a matt finish and these graphite platter set from Aura Home are so understated yet beautiful.

Vintage Santa dinner plates! So nostalgic….

Lusting after this copper wine bucket!

I have a bit of an obsession with wooden crates and storage baskets.

Have you been to the Cellar Door in Ringwood?

These starry brown sugar cookies are so delicious.

This Japanese potato salad will be a fabulous replacement to mashed potatoes.

Chocolate and Cranberry Goat’s Cheese Truffles. Enough said.

How delicious are these meatballs!

Mozzarella and Jalapeno Croquettes – always a hit at my parties.

The best homemade chocolate fudge

This passion fruit and mint cooler is just perfect for our warm days.

 

 

Fiji style Crab Curry

Some days the words just don’t come….

And it’s usually when my mind is overwhelmed and I am so busy trying to achieve a zillion things in a short period. Pretty much how I feel currently with the holiday season coming up soon.

I hardly get overwhelmed or stressed over personal and emotional happenings; pretty sorted that way. But when it gets to physical things like working, events to attend, parties to plan etc… that’s when I feel so beat up and tired. And that’s exactly the current state of affairs. There are so many recipes to test, shoot and write, so many events to attend (in spite of saying yes only to a quarter of the invites), Christmas parties to plan, a trip to India early next year for my brother’s wedding which means a whole lot of wedding shopping to do…the list goes on.

Since I have nothing more to say apart from how crazy things are at the moment, I will just get on with today’s recipe – a Fiji style Crab Curry.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

With Fiji being so close to Australia in terms of geography, there are so many people I know who are from the island. But when it comes to food, I am totally clueless. I do know that Fiji cuisine is heavily influenced by the various migrants and settlers so it’s totally normal to see an Indian curry sitting beside a native dish. And seafood is an integral part of the diet due to the coastal topography.

I found the recipe for this Fiji style crab curry in my recipe journal (basically a bunch of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers that I used to collect way before the food blogging journey). And so I have no clue whom to credit the recipe to. In fact I am not even sure if it’s the most authentic or traditional way of making crab curry in Fiji.

The original recipe called for large mud crabs to make this curry, but I decided to use blue swimmer crabs as these are in season and also because I love the flavour of these..so sweet and delicious.

Blue swimmer crab - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Medium thick milk from freshly grated coconuts is the best to make this Fiji style Crab Curry, but canned coconut milk will work just fine too (tends to be slightly more sweet than fresh coconut milk). The crabs are broken down so that the flavour from all the spices and aromatics seeps into every nook and crevice of the claws and body which makes this curry a delicious delight. And of course, ensure there are plenty of napkins around, there’s no neat or demure way to eat crabs.

In traditional Fiji cooking, a hot masala powder would be used but sourcing that would be difficult for most people, hence I used garam masala  which is quite similar to the hot masala. If you live in Australia, there are plenty of stores that stock Fijian products so you can use the hot masala itself.

In spite of all the spices, this is a very mild and light curry that’s perfect for the warmer days. It’s creamy yet light and soupy, sweet yet with a hint of spice that’s best enjoyed over a bowl of steamed white rice.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Fiji style Crab Curry

So let’s get cooking a delicious pot of this Fiji style Crab Curry…

Ingredients:

  1. 3 blue swimmer crabs
  2. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  3. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  4. 1 inch ginger; julienned

Recipe developed for Supreme Seafood, so find the full recipe on their website..

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita

How many oyster lovers here?

We love oysters, all the three of us, including our 9 year old who started eating raw oysters when he was about 6. And that’s a fact that gets us a lot of attention when we order fresh raw oysters at any restaurant. From the staff to the people dining at neighbouring tables, we get a lot of smiling, curious faces when they see Adi golfing down raw oysters with the happiest grin on his face.

So oysters make a regular appearance in our home when we are in the entertaining mode. Of course we are mindful of how many he eats and we ensure to get our hands on the freshest oysters too (which is important for everyone).

Even though I started writing about Adi’s love for oysters, today’s recipe is not for children. It’s strictly 18+

The idea for this recipe came about when I was sent a bottle of Rameau D’or Cotes De Provence Rosé 2017 as part of a social media project.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Provence region in France, this Rosé was a fabulous wine to discover. It was not too sweet unlike many of the Rosés I have had before. Delicious and smooth with hints of delicate spice and Turkish delight/strawberry sorbet sort of flavours, this Rosé was truly a delightful drop.

I enjoyed the Rameau D’or Cotes De Provence Rosé 2017 but still wanted to create a recipe using the wine. And since it was a drop perfect for spring and summer, I came up with the idea of making a granita.

Granita is an ideal summer dessert; it’s simple to make and there are a zillion flavour combinations to choose from. While I have enjoyed the fruit version before, this is the first time I went ahead with a wine based granite.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

Granita is believed to have originated in Sicily and it is basically a semi-frozen dessert that is made from fruit or any other flavourings mixed along with sugar and water. A variation of the granita is the Indian gola which is quite popular during the summer months. The difference is that the gola is basically shaved ice onto which the flavourings are poured but in a granita, the flavouring are mixed initially and then allowed to freeze.

Making a granita involves a bit of technicality; you don’t allow the liquid to freeze completely or it just turns to solid ice instead of ice crystals. The liquid is allowed to freeze for a short period of time and as it begins to freeze around the edges, the frozen bits are scraped from the edge towards the centre using a fork creating the crystals. Repeat for a couple of times to get the perfect granita.

This Rosé wine granita is a dessert on its own, a great refreshment after meal for a hot summer day if you don’t want to have any heavy desserts. Or you could pair it with fresh oysters like I did, a really fun and entertaining idea especially if you have friends over.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

The same recipe can be followed for other wine varieties too like a Prosecco, Red Wine, Champagne etc…. but you will have to play around with the quantities of lemon juice (I have used verjuice in this recipe) and sugar, both of which are essential when making a wine granita as wine alone does not freeze well.

So let’s make a batch and chill out this summer with a Rosé Wine granita. Pair it with fresh oysters for a delicious starter or finish off your meal with this stunning dessert cocktail.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups Rosé Wine
  2. ¼ cup verjuice (or lemon juice)
  3. ¼ cup raw sugar
  4. ½ cup cold water

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a non reactive bowl and mix till the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour into a clean baking tray and place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove after 1 hour and scrape from the edges using a fork to form the crystals. Freeze again.
  4. Repeat this every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours.
  5. Granita ready!

Note – The quantities of sugar and lemon juice/verjuice will need to be adjusted according to the flavour profile of the wine. So taste after mixing all the ingredients and adjust levels of lemon juice and sugar.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne)

The Mt Alexander Rd in Moonee Ponds is a food lover’s paradise; the range and quality of restaurants is really good and one of my favourite places to dine in a Melbourne suburb. While I can’t call myself an expert in the area, I have dined at quite a few places there and never been disappointed.

So when Australian Good Food Guide (AGFG) and Jack’s Satay Bar invited me for a dinner, I was more than happy to accept it.

Jack’s Satay Bar has been around for about 20 years. Initially starting out as a wine bar, it was soon upgraded to a fully fledged restaurant especially being situated in a very promising location. The food is distinctly Malaysian with influences of Chinese, Indian and Malay styles. Inspite of starting out as a wine bar, the current drinks menu is simple and small but there is a strong presence of boutique wines (local and international) and also some good cocktails on the list. Do ask for suggestions….

There’s not much of an ambience to write about; the space is of course warm and comfortable but there’s no distinct style or uniqueness about it. But what’s interesting is the many photographs near the counter from racing events including a jersey from a past winning jockey. With Flemington and Moonee Ponds racecourses nearby, Jack’s Satay Bar is a hot favourite during the spring racing season, often packed with jockeys, trainers and other officials dropping in after the event.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

John Ho, the owner of Jack’s Satay Bar loves a good conversation so if you are interested in knowing more about the photographs, history and anecdotes, he is the man to talk to….

For drinks, we started with cocktails – Burnt Orange Bourbon Sour (special of the week) and a French Gimlet. The cocktails were brilliant and perfectly balanced. Do check out the special board; plenty of interesting options not on the regular menu. And while we were waiting for the drinks, we had a nibbles plate with sambal, fresh cucumber, fried anchovies and peanuts. Absolutely brilliant with the drinks too.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Burnt Orange Bourbon Sour

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the entrée list, we tried out three different dishes;

Given the name of the restaurant, we had to definitely try out the Satay so we went with the Prawn Satay. The peanut sauce was one of the most delicious I have had to date….it was perfectly balanced, spicy, sweet with that distinct peanut flavour yet not too overpowering. The prawns were perfectly cooked but I would have preferred it to be grilled with a bit of that smoky char that would have paired even better with the satay sauce.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Since the Roti rolls were highly recommended, we decided to try it as our next dish. Roti rolls are very famous in Malaysia and most restaurants, both traditional and modern ones here have it on the menu. While the basic concept of the dish remains the same, I have noticed that the taste does differ between restaurants as chefs try to put their own spin on it with regard to fillings, flavours etc… The one we tried here had marinated chicken pieces with fresh cucumber and tomatoes wrapped inside the roti served with a spicy peanut sauce. Again an enjoyable dish, I really liked the flavour of the marinated chicken; a great street style dish.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Roti rolls

The third entrée we tried was another traditional dish called Lohkaing. It’s essentially minced prawn and pork wrapped in a crispy beancurd skin that’s served with a tangy sauce. The unique texture of the crispy beancurd skin combined with the soft delicious prawn pork mince was simply divine. One of my favourite dishes from the day and one I highly recommend.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lohkaing

As I mentioned earlier, the wine list might be small at Jack’s but there are a few surprising boutique wines available. For my 2nd drink, I had placed an order but the Manager came over and suggested me to try a glass of Salatin Pinot Grigio. And I am happy I went with the suggestion as it was a really refreshing, well balanced, medium dry Pinot with citrusy undertones; paired well with the next round of dishes too.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Salatin Pinot Grigio

For mains, we started with a plate of Char Keow Teow – fried flat rice noodles with fresh shrimps, eggs, bean shoots, Chinese sausage and spices. It was rich with a good balance of spices and really delicious. The flavours were distinctly Malaysian and the small bits of pork belly through the noodles made it taste even better.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Char Keow Teow

Usually in a Malaysian restaurant, we invariably end up ordering a curry but this time, we decided to skip that and instead got Ikan Kerisi, steamed rice and Sambal Spinach.

Ikan Kerisi is basically fillets of sea perch steamed in a flavourful broth of ginger, shallots, coriander and light soy sauce. Sea perch is not usually a fish I get to eat at many restaurants but it’s a perfect one for a dish like this. A very light and flavourful dish, the fillets were beautifully cooked, subtle but with loads of flavour from the aromatics. Paired with the sambal spinach, a must try if you love spinach and steamed rice, this was a great mains option.

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Jack’s Satay Bar (Moonee Ponds, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sambal Spinach

Skipped dessert as we do often, especially after we have eaten too much.

To summarize, Jack’s Satay Bar is a great neighbourhood restaurant for those living in Moonee Ponds and nearby suburbs. And if you are a racing fan, it’s definitely a place to stop by after the races for drinks and snacks. Don’t forget to check out the racing trivia up on the walls too.

Jack’s Satay Bar

571-573
Mt Alexander Rd
Moonee Ponds, Victoria
Australia, 3039

Ph:   03 9375 3778 & 03 9375 3577

http://www.jacksatay.com.au/

Timings:

Lunch: Tue-Fri
Dinner: Tue-Sun

Closed Monday

Jack's Satay Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Jack’s Satay Bar. All the opinions are purely personal. 

October Favourites + a Review of Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery

Just two more months to bid goodbye to this year!!!

Where has time flown? But then that’s how I start every monthly favourite post of mine, isn’t it?

But sometimes it’s scary right when time rushes by so fast that you wish you had the power to hold it in your hands and keep it still…..shhh, just stay still till I have caught my breath.

Alas that never happens, and the only option seems to be to flow along with its tide….

At the same time, there is also the excitement and joy of the approaching festive season. While there is so much work to do during this time, both personal and professional, I love the energy, the joyous and festive spirit that’s in the air.

On the professional front, I am planning recipes more suited for the season so if any of you have special requests, do comment below and I will try my best to take that into consideration.

Reading is a very passionate hobby of mine, especially hard copies. I do not like digital books or tools for reading as I think it destroys the very joy of holding a book in your hands. While I do read a lot of books, I do not talk much about it on the blog except when it’s a book related to food.

This month, I got the opportunity to read Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery – a Guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of Australia, Edited by Jill Dupleix.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery - a Book Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The book is part of a series of the world’s first guides to restaurants and establishments serving truly exceptional, sustainable, organic and ethical food.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery has a simple yet elegant design and layout; the photographs are outstanding yet simple and real focusing on the food and nothing else. Published by Blackwell &Ruth, 5% of the publisher’s revenue from the sales of the book goes towards the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI) which is absolutely fantastic.

Food guides like these have always been a part of my library and I actively seek out restaurants suggested – local, regional and international. The restaurants suggested in this book are not just about delicious food; that’s definitely a criteria but it’s more about the care and passion that goes into the sourcing of the ingredients, giving back to the farming community, the attention to detail while each ingredient is prepped and prepared to create the final harmony on a plate.

One of the first things I did on getting the book was going through the ‘Victoria’ section; a curiosity to know the recommendations and how many places I had dined at. To my surprise, there were just 2 restaurants that I had been to from the list – Higher Ground and IDES. Both of these serve exemplary food; while the former is a casual café style setting, the latter is a high end fine dining affair. But yes, the food was exceptional.

Barramundi with garlic and red wine - at IDES, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the spectacular dishes I had at IDES, Melbourne – Barramundi, red wine and garlic

I know for a fact that I will use Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery as a guide, ticking off restaurants and food experiences as I travel along through this country. And I would love to get my hands on the rest of the series that showcases establishments in other countries too. But if you are only interested in knowing about the place you live in, do grab a copy for your country from the series.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery is not a book that I will read back to back in a few sittings; it’s a guide that I will keep returning to whenever I want suggestions of an exemplary restaurant, a place where I want to dine at not just for delicious food but where I will be served a dish created out of passion, joy and purity.

There is an exciting giveaway happening on my FB and Insta page. You can win 1 x double pass (valued at $160) to Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran.

Spend a beautiful spring afternoon in the spectacular grounds of Mt Langi Ghiran winery in the Grampians. Also treat yourself to wine tastings, a cheese feast, vineyard promenade and sun basking followed by 40 minutes of classical music performance by 4 ace musicians, with a glass of the renowned Langi Shiraz in your hand.

So why are you waiting….head over now to my FB or Insta page to enter. Good Luck!

Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran. - thespiceadventuress.com

Now it’s time for all the other favourites for the month;

I had the worst attack of flu and sinusitis this month; this tea was an absolute miracle.

One of my favourite vegetarian snacks using spinach.

I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one bowl of this soup

Absolutely love pumpkin soup; and this one is fantastic.

Another exciting vegetarian recipe; absolutely fingerlickin good!

Lentil and Egg Stew; I have never had anything like this before.

Absolutely stunning food photography!

She inspired me to start a monthly favourites column

How beautiful are these candle holders? Would be perfect for my Christmas table set up.

Need to upgrade my summer wedges

 

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf

Ancient grains, lentils, pulses have all gone through a revival of sorts in the recent years with a large section of the world waking up to its benefits, not only to preserve these ancient ingredients but also sick and tired of what the processed food culture is doing to our health and well-being.

As I mentioned in my post on French Green Lentils, I had been pretty one-dimensional in my knowledge or use of grains, lentils and pulses. India has always had a rich agricultural heritage when it came to this food category but many of our households have not embraced it well in the modern times. And while my mom did try to introduce us to a large variety of these, I was quite the difficult to please kid who loved food but had very strong likes and dislikes.

While I was easy with vegetables and fruits, I always found it hard to embrace different types of grains or lentils. As my food knowledge grew over the years, especially after getting exposed to different cuisines, I realized that it was the taste of the dish that was putting me off a particular ingredient than the taste or texture of the ingredient itself. For eg: I would love a particular type of lentil in a salad but not in a traditional Indian style lentil curry.

Thus began the quest to discover and experiment with different cuisines, recipes etc… that will help me not just to embrace these ingredients again but genuinely enjoy the experience too.

And that’s how a packet of freekeh ended up in my pantry….

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf - thespiceadventuress.com

Freekeh is an ancient grain that is made from green durum wheat. It is highly nutritious and a great source of protein apart from being rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins and minerals like manganese. Freekeh is often referred to as green wheat as the grains are harvested when young and green which makes it higher in nutrients when compared to mature wheat grains.

Freekeh is extremely popular in North African, Meditteranean and Middle Eastern cuisines often used in salads and stews. But these days, freekeh has become more versatile in its use including the use of freekeh flour to make breads, pasta etc…

I decided to keep it simple and use it in a pilaf which makes it an excellent replacement for rice. The idea for a pilaf came about since I had a similar dish in a restaurant before. And a bit of research later, I found an Ottolenghi recipe for a freekeh pilaf which seemed to fit the bill. But of course I had to tweak it to suit my tastebuds and also included chicken to make it a one pot, wholesome dish. Feel free to omit the chicken if you want to keep it vegetarian.

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf - thespiceadventuress.com

Freekeh is available as whole and cracked grains; I have used the cracked variety as I preferred the texture better. These grains are easy to cook and require very less time.

Note – The colour of my pilaf is slightly darker due to the meat stock used; but if you use a chicken or vegetarian stock, then the final colour of the dish will be much lighter.

So let’s get cooking this delicious Freekeh Pilaf, with caramelized onions, garlic, diced chicken and flavoured with paprika, cumin, all spice and cinnamon. Drizzled with a garlicky lemony yoghurt dressing, this is a delicious one pot meal under 30 minutes.

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup cracked freekeh
  2. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  3. 2 tbsp olive oil
  4. 2 medium brown onion; finely sliced
  5. 2 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  6. 250gms boneless chicken thigh; diced
  7. ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  8. ½ tsp all spice powder
  9. ½ tsp smoked paprika
  10. 1 tsp crushed cumin
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  13. 3 cups stock
  14. A handful of dried barberries
  15. 2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
  16. 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  17. Olive oil; to drizzle while serving

Yoghurt sauce:

  1. 1 cup plain yoghurt
  2. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  3. 1 tsp lemon juice
  4. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Soak the cracked freekeh for 5 minutes and then wash thoroughly under running cold water. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Soak the dried barberries and toast the pine nuts. Keep aside for serving.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add the onions and garlic; sauté till the onions are softened and light brown.
  4. Add the diced chicken pieces and cook on medium heat till almost done.
  5. Then add all the spices and the drained freekeh; mix well to combine.
  6. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. (If using store bought stock, make sure you taste and add salt as the stock often contains salt).
  7. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to lowest and cook covered for 15 minutes or till all the stock has been absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes.
  9. To prepare the yoghurt sauce, add the plain yoghurt to a bowl along with grated garlic and lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary and season with salt. Keep aside.
  10. Remove the lid and allow the pilaf to cool for another 3-5 minutes.
  11. To serve, garnish with barberries, parsley, pine nuts. Drizzle the yoghurt sauce on top followed by the olive oil.
  12. Tuck in!

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf

 

 

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry

Curry for change!

The ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign is back, and I am very honoured to be collaborating again with Opportunity International Australia for their annual fundraising project. In its third year (you can view details of the previous years here and here); the campaign aims to raise funds to help families in developing countries build income-generating businesses.

A bit of background info for those who are hearing about Opportunity International Australia and the Great Australian Curry campaign for the first time…

Opportunity International Australia provides small loans to families in developing countries to steer them towards a path of financial independence and thereby a better quality of life. Founded in the 1970s by David Bussau, Opportunity has come a long way since offering innumerable families a new lease of life.

Opportunity works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes. 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.

Opportunity International Australia

But why curry?

Most of Opportunity International Australia’s work is concentrated in the Asian countries and a curry is perhaps the most iconic dish to have come from the region. And Australia loves curry – Vindaloo, Rogan Josh, Massaman, Thai green curry…the list is endless.

This year’s campaign was launched last week with a Curry Cook-off between veteran Chef (and MasterChef judge) Ian Curley and MasterChef 2017 winner, Diana Chan.

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Ian Curley said that he is looking forward to cooking up a curry with Diana. “It’s one way we can give a hand up to families less fortunate than ours. It’s important for us to not lose focus of how lucky we are, just the simple fact of where we live. I’m very blessed to have a healthy family and to live In Australia with the opportunity to do the work I love.”

Diana agrees too and she says that it will be an honour to share space and cook alongside Chef Curley. “I am so impressed with the work that Opportunity does to help families end poverty. “I also love that I can contribute towards the same through my cooking skills.”

Oppoyle Prawn Curry

There are so many different ways through which you can participate in this year’s Great Australian Curry Campaign;

Plan a Curry Night – Time to dig out your favourite recipes and invite your friends and family for a curry feast at home. Be generous and plan the entire dinner yourself or make it a curry potluck (so much fun!); even better would be a curry cook-off. If cooking is not your forte, head out for a curry night to your favourite restaurant and let the professionals feed you.

Create a Fundraiser – Once you have planned out the night, set up a fundraiser page and encourage everyone to make a donation. The fundraiser page can also be set up without hosting any curry event. All the details for setting up the page can be found here.

Spread the Word – Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to show support by making a donation or host their own curry fundraising event.

And this year, the Great Australian Curry campaign has another proud supporter – Herbie’s Spices, the artisan Australian spice business.

Since all of you get my fascination for good quality spices, I was thrilled when Herbie’s Spices gifted all the spices that I needed to create this lipsmacking delicious Kerala style Prawn Curry. This is not the first time I am using Herbie’s Spices; it has been one of my go to brands whenever I need to stock up my spice pantry.

The first 20 people to sign up to host a Great Australian Curry fundraiser will win a ‘Flavours of India Spice Kit’. Also Ian and Liz Hemphill, who established Herbie’s Spices 21 years ago, will also give out ‘Pantry Spice Kits’ and their ‘Herb and Spice Bible—Third Edition’ as prizes for an upcoming Facebook competition promoting the campaign,” Learn more and participate in the competition here.

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

Ian Hemphill is enthusiastic to be giving a boost to the Great Australian Curry. “As most spices originate from developing countries, we’re keen to support a campaign that strives to improve the lives of people in these spice-producing communities.

Speaking of spices, here is a deliciously creamy and coconuty Kerala style Prawn Curry that you can make for your fundraising curry night.

This year, I wanted to make a seafood curry. Seafood, especially prawns is hugely popular during the spring-summer months in Australia leading up to Christmas and New Year. And I also wanted to make a curry that is light yet packed with flavour that’s perfect for our warm days.

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

The title ‘Kerala style Prawn Curry’ is rather generic because there are so many different styles of making seafood curries in Kerala. This particular one is more popular in central Kerala, as coconut milk is used liberally in curries making it light yet so creamy, coconuty and packed with flavour. As for spices, I have kept is simple again and used spices that are familiar to most people.

I used tiger prawns for making this curry and if you can source it fresh, then I highly suggest you do so because then this dish is nothing short of an indulgence. And pair it with steaming hot long grained rice; that’s all you need. Maybe some pappadoms on the side….

So let’s get cooking this fingerlickin’ good Kerala style Prawn Curry….

Kerala style Prawn Curry

But before that, here are a few curry recipes for hosting your Great Australian Curry fundraising campaign….

  1. Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samlá Curry
  2. Massaman Curry
  3. Duck Kurma
  4. Jaffna style Goat Curry
  5. Hyderabadi Shahi Macchi Kurma (Fish in a Creamy, Saffron induced Yoghurt Curry)

Kerala style Prawn Curry

Ingredients:

  1. 800 gms tiger prawns; deveined and deshelled (but retain shell at the tail end)
  2. 3 tbsp coconut oil + 1 tbsp for tempering
  3. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  4. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  5. 2 small red onions; finely sliced
  6. 1 tsp ginger paste
  7. 5 green chillies (whole)
  8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  9. 1 tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  10. 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. Salt, to season
  13. ½ tsp Freshly milled black pepper
  14. 2 dried Kashmiri red chillies
  15. 4-5 sprigs curry leaves
  16. 400ml coconut milk

Method:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a deep pan (use an earthenware pot, if you have one).
  2. When the oil gets warm, add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle.
  3. Then add the fenugreek seeds, half of the curry leaves and green chillies.
  4. Next add the ginger paste and sliced onions; sauté till the onions are softened and translucent.
  5. Then add the turmeric, chilli, black pepper and coriander powder; mix well to combine and reduce heat to avoid the spices from burning.
  6. Add the cleaned prawns and 300ml coconut milk (reserve the remaining). Season with salt and mix well. Bring to boil and then simmer gently on low heat till the prawns are cooked.
  7. Once the prawns are cooked, add the remaining coconut milk and mix well. Adjust seasoning and remove from heat.
  8. In another small pan, heat coconut oil and add the remaining curry leaves and dry red chillies. Fry for a few seconds and add this to the prepared prawn curry. Keep covered for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  9. Enjoy over steamed long grain rice.

And let’s not forget to join hands and support Opportunity International Australia’s commitment to help fight poverty. Start your own Great Australian Curry fundraising campaign today!

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

 

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in association with Opportunity International Australia and all the spices were kindly gifted by Herbie’s Spices.

 

Tandoori Chicken Burger

It’s that time of the year again when the sun’s shining bright and we welcome the season wholeheartedly with barbecues and backyard parties.

I love spring and summer! No matter how hot it gets, I love this season because it’s all about the outdoor life. The late sunsets and balmy evenings are perfect for outdoor parties. Our new home has a beautiful backyard and deck space so can’t wait to have friends over for some great food and conversations.

And when we speak of barbecues, burgers are a hot favourite especially if you have kids around. I like to make the burgers from scratch as there’s more control of the type and quality of meat and also the flavour and seasonings that go into it.

While I have experimented with pork, lamb and beef burger before, this is the first time with a chicken burger; a recipe I wanted to perfect as a lot of our friends do not eat other meats except chicken. And of course my love for spice blends came to the fore with this one too and hence a ‘Tandoori Chicken Burger’

Tandoori Chicken Burger - thespiceadventuress.com

Now the tandoori masala is a wet marinade which does not really work with a burger. So I made a dry spice blend incorporating many of the spices and herbs that traditionally go into making a tandoori masala. The dry spice blend was added to the chicken mince to flavour and season before being shaped into burger patties.

This dry tandoori blend is a really versatile one. Of course you can add it to yoghurt and make the tandoori marinade for grilling veggies, fish or meats. But I end up using this dry marinade as a seasoning agent for so many dishes including curries. And when it comes to this particular recipe, the flavoured mince can again be used to make meatballs, koftes etc….

Tandoori Chicken Burger - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I wanted to keep the flavours on the traditional side, the accompaniments were tomato chutney, mint coriander chutney, pickled onions along with sliced tomatoes and butter lettuce.

Note – Recipe for mint coriander chutney can be found here.

So let’s get grilling these delicious Tandoori Chicken Burgers….

Ingredients:

Tandoori Spice Blend:

(The excess can be stored in an airtight container; keeps fresh for 3 months)

  1. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  2. 4 tsp red chilli powder
  3. 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  4. 2 tsp coriander powder
  5. 2 tsp cumin powder
  6. 2 tsp chaat masala
  7. ½ tsp dried mango powder
  8. 1 tsp dried garlic granules (or use garlic powder)
  9. 1 tsp dried ginger

To prepare, mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. No salt has been added to this spice blend unlike most commercial ones so keep that in mind while using it as a spice rub or marinade.

For the burger patties:

  1. 500gms chicken mince
  2. 1 ½ tbsp tandoori spice blend
  3. 2 tbsp fresh coriander; finely chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Oil, for grilling
  6. 4 Brioche burger buns
  7. Tomato chutney
  8. Mint coriander chutney
  9. Pickled onions
  10. Butter lettuce
  11. ½ Lebanese cucumber; sliced
  12. 1 tomato; sliced

Method:

  1. In a glass bowl, add the chicken mince, tandoori blend, coriander and salt. Mix well to combine and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Shape into 4 large patties (you may shape into smaller sized patties based on your preference) and keep aside.
  3. Spray oil on a stove top grill (the burgers can be cooked on a barbecue too) and place on medium to high heat. When the grill is really hot, place the burger patties and hold down with the spatula for a few seconds. Repeat for all four.
  4. Flip over after 1-2 minutes and repeat till the burgers are done. Remove and keep aside.
  5. Cut the brioche buns in half and grill.
  6. To assemble, spread tomato chutney on one side and mint coriander chutney on the other side. Place the butter lettuce leaves and then place the burger on top, followed by the tomato slice, cucumber and pickled onions.

Tandoori Chicken Burger - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passage thru Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne)

When we moved into the North Eastern suburbs a couple of weeks ago, one of the most exciting things for me was the fact that there were so many new restaurants for me to explore. And on one of those restaurant expeditions, we first came across Passage thru Malaysia.

It was the logo of the restaurant that drew us initially to this place. Brilliantly designed to depict Malaysia’s culinary amalgamation of traditional Malay, Indian and Chinese influences, the logo is definitely a conversation starter.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We had a pleasant dinner that day but imagine my surprise when I receive an invite to the restaurant again courtesy Australian Good Food Guide (my go to guide for all the restaurant/hospitality news of Australia).

Situated on the Main Street in Greensborough, Passage thru Malaysia focuses on traditional Malaysian cuisine in a contemporary ambience. Owned by sisters Jerena and Jasmine, the restaurant showcases all the three major influences on modern Malaysian cuisine – Malay, Indian and Chinese.

The restaurant space was earlier a bank but when renovated, they decided to incorporate structures like the vault into the design so you can actually walk into the vault room which is now a private dining area. How cool is that!

The ambience is modern with plenty of traditional touches in the form of artefacts, paintings, cartoons, props etc…all of which take you back to the Malaysian way of life. And if you know the language, you might want to spend some time looking through the drawings too, which Jasmine tells me belong to popular Malaysian artists and cartoonists.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, the menu covers familiar and traditional Malaysian food across all the three categories. The staff are super friendly so make sure you ask for suggestions if you are not familiar with Malaysian food.

The drinks menu is a basic one but you will find good house wines, Asian beers and also a few cocktails. But the emphasis is on the fresh and traditional Malaysian non alcoholic drinks which is great especially with the warmer days coming up.

(The description for all the drinks and food we tried out are provided below each photograph)

Ribena Lychee

Ribena Lychee – This is quite a popular drink in Malaysia and quite a famous one in Melbourne too. It’s really delicious, refreshing and those lychees inside are simply to die for. Definitely recommended and our favourite too.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Syrup Bandung – with evaporated milk and rose cordial syrup. Milk based mocktails are not a personal preference of mine especially for dinner so I must admit that I did not enjoy this one immensely. It was made perfectly and would be a great choice for afternoons or if you enjoy milk based drinks. Could be popular among children too.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Syrup Limau – A refreshing sweet grain drink with lime. This is another delicious refresher, one to be had chilled. It’s not too sweet, light and a great drink to start the meal with.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Wonton Cups (with veggies and mayo) – There are plenty of vegetarian starters on the menu and one of the most delicious ones are these Wonton Cups. Crispy cups filled with fresh veggies and mayo, almost like a coleslaw. It’s light, fresh and so delicious that you will want to order more. Highly recommended!

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Curry Puffs – I assumed this would be meat based but to my surprise, it was another vegetarian delight. Not the generic, supermarket tasting puffs, you know this is handmade and fresh from the soft, buttery flakiness of the puffs but warm and crispy straight out of the oven. Filled with the most delicious veggie curry filling, another must try at Passage through Malaysia.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy Shhh Chicken – My absolute favourite dish of the day! The first time we were at the restaurant, we had ordered this thinking it was just fried chicken since the name and description gave nothing away. But imagine our surprise when we found that it was actually fried chicken skin tossed with dry chillies and curry leaves. It was a revelation as I have never had anything like this before and being a chicken skin fan, I was blown away by the taste. We ordered it again the second time and even a non chicken skin lover like my husband was converted. With a nice spicy kick, this dish is an absolute must try and something delicious to munch on while your mains arrive. And of course, don’t forget a chilled beer to accompany.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

For Mains, we were advised to try one dish each highlighting the Chinese, Indian and Malay influences. The first one we tried represented the Chinese influence – Stir fried vermicelli with eggs, bean shoots, shrimps and chicken. This was our favourite mains of the day; the vermicelli was cooked perfectly, the flavours balanced and each mouthful was a delicious one. Again a highly recommended one.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Indian influence, it was Roti Canai served with sambal, chicken curry gravy and dhal (lentil curry). Roti Canai is quite a famous dish in Melbourne and expectations were quite high for this one but unfortunately it was a tad bit disappointing. While the Roti was delicious, flaky and soft, the accompaniments were a letdown for me. The sambal didn’t really have its signature spicy kick, the chicken gravy had more oil than the gravy itself and the lentils were under seasoned.

Passage through Malaysia (Greensborough, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish we tasted was the Nasi Lemak with fried chicken – the National dish of Malaysia, the Nasi Lemak is a complete meal in itself with coconut rice, boiled egg, crispy anchovies, peanuts, fresh cucumber, sambal and fried chicken. While it is not the best Nasi Lemak I have had, it was a really good one. The chicken was fried perfectly, crispy on the outside but soft and juicy inside. The accompaniments were great but the sambal could have more flavour (same one served with Roti Canai). A must try if you want experience Malaysia in a plate.

To summarize, Passage thru Malaysia is a nice neighbourhood restaurant to enjoy Malaysian cuisine. The staff are friendly, beautiful ambience and good food to match, this is a place that we will be visiting often.

Passage thru Malaysia

2/16-22 Main Street
Greensborough, VIC

Phone: 03 9435 4958

https://www.passagethrumalaysia.com.au/

Timings:
Tues – Sun: 12pm – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm
Monday (Closed)

 

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Passage through Malaysia. All the opinions, musings, photographs are entirely mine unless stated otherwise. 

Passage Thru Malaysia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

%d bloggers like this: