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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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

March Favourites

March is our family’s birthday month.

Adi turned ten while I inched closer to the big 4, and with half a dozen family members celebrating birthdays too, March is always a happy and busy one.

Not just on the personal front, March has also been a great one on the work front. Lots of new recipes, articles, working with some excellent brands creating content that motivates me and makes my readers happy; I was truly in a fulfilling space.

One of my favourite recipes from March is the Lucknowi style Kofta Pulao; it was fragrant, aromatic and sheer indulgence. Many of you wrote to me how much you loved this dish…thanks for trying out and letting me know.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

There were also some great opportunities to visit new restaurants in town, and a particularly interesting one was the Earthbound Bolton. It’s a café that drives home a strong sentiment of taking care of our land, being environment friendly and adopting sustainable choices.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Developed two amazing recipes for Supreme Seafood this month.

The first one was a lipsmacking Marathi style Prawns Curry.

The Konkan region in India has some of the choicest seafood preparations and this Marathi style prawns curry is no exception. Simmered in freshly grounded spices and coconut, the prawns absorb every drop of flavor. Pour liberally over steaming hot rice for a delicious experience!

Marathi style Prawns Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

The second seafood recipe was a Sindhi style Grilled Fish.

A deliciously intense spice blend generously slathered over the whole fish which is then marinated and grilled to perfection. This popular fish recipe from the Sindhi cuisine is traditionally made using a river fish called ‘palla’. But today a large whole trout has been used to recreate this delicacy.

Sindhi style Grilled Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Other favourites for the month of March;

These twice baked baby potatoes look incredible.

Aren’t these the most gorgeous looking spring rolls?

Soup weather is back and this noodle soup is slurrrrpworthy!

If you have a slow cooker at home, then this Moroccan chicken is a must try.

Husbands that Cook! I know, most of us wish for the same. But this is not just a wish; this is the name of an amazing cookbook by some really cool guys. Maybe I should get Sam a copy.

My favourite website for authentic Mexican recipes

And this is my favourite website for restaurant reviews

Being a food photographer and stylist, I constantly like to inspire myself by observing and learning from the creative works of other food photographers and bloggers. Check out my Pinterest board on Food Styling to get your creative juices flowing.

Stunning is the word for these vintage etched champagne flutes

Getting this beautiful Corfu planter to add to my indoor garden.

Love tropical fresh fragrances for my home.

Absolutely love this Tibi drape dress, and isn’t it in the most gorgeous colour?

And finally, the school holidays are almost here. And if you want to find ways to entertain your kiddos this season, check out all the events that are happening.

 

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

Earthbound Bolton sits nestled between a gym and a spa, in the quiet neighbourhood of Bolton, near Eltham. And it’s a café that drives home a strong sentiment of taking care of our land, being environment friendly and adopting sustainable choices.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

After moving to the North East, I have become quite interested in discovering local restaurants and food joints, so when I received an invite from AGFG to check out this new café in Eltham, I just had to say yes.

Modern industrial vibes with plenty of light and texture is the best way to describe the ambience and décor at Earthbound Bolton. Not much has been done to the space; the décor seamlessly integrates into the natural contours of the space. I noticed the use of a lot of reclaimed timber which identifies well with the café’s philosophy of sustainability.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

Owner and Chef Luke McGregor-Allen has extensive experience working in the hospitality industry. This is his latest venture and he was quite excited when this opportunity opened up as he is a resident of Eltham. He said that the café’s philosophy, food and drinks sits well with the region as the people are very conscious of living sustainably and mindful of the environment they live in.

A special mention must be made to the coffee sold at Earthbound. Organic, fairtrade and sustainable, the café prides itself on the Wild Timor coffee blend used. Plus there are also organic, vegan friendly and gluten free options for all their beverages including hot chocolate, teas, milkshakes, drinks etc….

And yes, my cappuccino was just perfect!

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Earthbound also has a nice range of fresh drinks or the homemade soda range as they call it and we tried out two different ones. The first was an organic Hibiscus Tea and Ginger Spritzer! Really refreshing, delicious and a perfect afternoon drink. The second was a Turmeric and Ginger flavoured lemonade. Again really refreshing, organic, made from scratch using coconut sugar which makes it really healthy too. The turmeric flavour really shines through without being too overpowering.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

The menu has been designed keeping in mind not just the café’s philosophy but also catering to all types of diets. And if you have any special request, the staff would be more than happy to accommodate that if possible.

The first dish we tried was the Curried Cauliflower Salad. Tender mildly spiced cauliflower florets served with chargrilled capsicum, red quinoa, brown rice, chickpeas, baby spinach, radish, onion and pickled ginger. Every bite of this salad was so flavoursome that all of us enjoyed it thoroughly. A great example of how healthy clean eating can be super delicious too. Highly recommended!

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

The second one was the Breakfast Bruschetta – again a fresh, healthy, vibrant dish. Sourdough slices topped with a medley of seasoned tomatoes, onion, basil, spring onion, jalapeno and corn fritters, poached eggs, citrus dressed roquette and a homemade fig glaze. The fritters were excellent and that fig glaze just sensational.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

We also tried the Southern chicken burger. Served with hand cut chips, tomato relish and aioli, this was another hearty and well prepared dish if you have a bigger appetite.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

Another interesting concept at Earthbound Bolton is the ‘Read, Donate & Take’ library. I love the idea of a reading corner in any café and this tiny one is for a good cause too. You may take it home, or swap with another or simply donate a book; the only requirement being a gold coin donation that goes towards the Montmorency Asylum Seekers Support Group. Isn’t that great?

In a nutshell, Earthbound Bolton is a café that made me happy with its positive vibes, friendly staff, great food and exemplary social consciousness.

Earthbound Bolton (Eltham, Melbourne)

5b/266 Bolton St,
Eltham
VIC 3095

Phone no: (03) 9439 3932

FB: https://www.facebook.com/earthboundbolton/

Timings:

Mon – Fri: 7am to 3pm
Sat – Sun: 8am to 3pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Earthbound Bolton; all opinions are unbiased and entirely mine.

Earthbound Bolton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizzaiolo, not a Chef. That’s what Daniel Cester asked me to address him when I asked him if he was a professionally trained Chef. That was a new one for my vocabulary and just like most of you now, I did a quick Google search!!

When I first received a mail regarding this new pizzeria that has opened up in Dandenong North, I was ecstatic, surprised yet a bit saddened by the fact that I no longer live in the suburb. If you have followed my journey here, you would know that I consider myself a self proclaimed food ambassador of sorts for Dandenong. My life in Australia started there and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to pursue my food dreams.

But distance was not going to keep me away from visiting Pizza Strada…

Just as Daniel had described to me, Pizza Strada has a casual vibe to it from the location to the ambience inside. He was particular on starting his pizzeria in Dandenong as his whole family lives in and around the suburb so there were lots of childhood memories associated. Also he believed that great food (in this case, pizza) is all that you need to get people to visit.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The décor is minimal, comfortable and modern. And it’s a place for people from all walks of life. Daniel explained that in Italy, a pizzeria is not a formal dining restaurant but a casual food joint where people walked in for a quick meal, during lunch hours or after work catch up with friends. Hence he wanted the same appeal for Pizza Strada, and not design it as a formal dining space.

There is a large blackboard and foosball near the entrance; appeals to both the young and old alike. Children are welcome to play, draw and watch pizzas being made; as I mentioned it’s a casual space so let your kids be without (as long as they don’t create a ruckus) letting them stay glued to their devices.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Daniel’s passion for pizza is obvious if you observe him making a pizza. He loves a good chat so feel free to walk up to the front where the live pizza counter is situated. He would be more than happy to give you a ‘pizza education’ while your pizzas get made fresh in front of your eyes.

At Pizza Strada, you will find Neapolitan style pizzas; again have a chat with Daniel to learn the differences in pizza making and how it differs from region to region in Italy. A special 48 hour proofed dough that is Daniel’s signature recipe is shaped by hand and then topped with the freshest ingredients and drizzled with homemade infused oils (the basil oil and chilli oil is simply heavenly). It is then cooked for 60-90 seconds in a special wood fired oven to get that unique crispy base with a thick and puffy cornicione around the edge.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

As it’s a pizzeria, there’s nothing else on the menu except pizzas. And again, no fusion or gourmet stuff here; it’s as real as it gets to tradition.

The bar is not yet functional, hopefully soon because I would love to enjoy some Italian Chiantis with the pizzas. But there are some traditional Italian fizz drinks that are a must try. We tried three different flavours and loved each one of it, though my favourite was the green citrus (Mandarino).

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Before the pizzas arrived, we had a taste of the lemon granita. It’s more of refreshing palate cleanser than a dessert, and kids would simply love it.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

The first pizza we ordered was the Siciliana; a classic with tomato, mozzarella, Fior di latte, San Daniele prosciutto, artichokes, olives, capers and basil. The flavour of every ingredient shines through in this one especially the artichokes which are marinated for that extra layer of flavour.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

The second pizza we tried was the Diavola (with tomato, mozzarella, Fior di latte, Calabrese salami, capsicum, chilli flakes, oregano, and basil). When we ordered this, Daniel did mention that it’s a spicy one. And when you have Indian tastebuds, and someone tells you about spice, you are more likely to scoff at them like I did. But I couldn’t be more wrong, because the Diavola is a ‘hot’ one. But oh boy, it tastes heavenly. It’s got a solid chilli kick, but the flavours are so intense that every bite creates a riot on your tastebuds. A must try if you like a bit of heat!

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

And the final one to arrive was the dessert pizza. But if you are a chocolate or rather a Nutella lover, you could ask for this one. The Nutella Pizza with loads of cream and strawberries.

This part of the review, I think I should let Adi write, because he was the one who clearly enjoyed it. We had leftovers which got polished off the next day promptly. Order it if you love Nutella!

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

I do prefer medium to thin crust pizzas generally but Pizza Strada is definitely a pizzeria that I will travel for and dine at again because its great quality, tastes amazing and made with love and passion.

Pizza Strada & Bar (Dandenong North, Melbourne)

3A/46-64 Outlook Drive,
​Dandenong North, Victoria, 3175

Phone: 0412 808 893

https://www.pizzastradabar.com/

Timings:

Monday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Tuesday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Wednesday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Thursday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Friday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Saturday: 4.00pm – 11.00pm
Sunday: ​4.00pm – 11.00pm

Disclaimer – I was invited to dine as a guest at Pizza Strada, but all the opinions are mine and unbiased.

Pizza Strada & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

While I was on holiday in India this year, I purchased a couple of cookbooks to add to my collection. And one of the books I bought was ‘Dastarkhwan – e – Awadh’ by Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K.Saxena.

A simple cookbook that celebrates the royal kitchens of Awadh with recipes dating back to that golden era!

Awadhi cuisine is not just famous, but one that’s held in reverence. The food that came out of the Awadh kitchens had a royal elegance, a restraint yet so rich and inviting that made it synonymous with royalty. Of course it was made for the Nawabs but today, this cuisine is still held in such high esteem for the techniques, attention to ingredients and complexity of flavours.

The authors, Dr Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K.Saxena are both culinary historians and their passion to document the food of Awadh resulted in this book. Drafted after much research and speaking to a wide range of people including Nawabs, Chefs and yesteryear royal cooks, this book is a true tribute to the cuisine of Awadh.

It’s a simple book in appearance; reminds me of the old textbooks we used to have in India. No highly styled photographs of the food, but plenty of visuals depicting the people from the region, ingredients, street food, and also dishes presented in a natural manner.

There’s a brief introduction to the royal era of Awadh (the present day Lucknow), a historical perspective to the cuisine followed by explanation of terms that’s commonly used in Awadh cuisine. For eg: there are unique techniques employed in cooking Awadh food and these are explained along with reference to ingredients and other procedures that are a must know to understand the cooking style and culinary culture.

Clearly this is a cookbook that I would be cooking a lot from, but for that first recipe, I zeroed in on this lipsmacking Kofta Pulao.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

Pulao is often considered to be second grade in comparison to a biryani. There’s a general attitude that a pulao is made when one does not want to indulge in the extravagance of a biryani. But that is so wrong and an Awadhi style pulao is a prime example of that.

Making a good pulao requires as much skill as a biryani. And it all starts with cooking the rice perfectly. Always made using aged long grain rice which must be fragrant, aromatic and each grain separate from the other yet cooked perfectly. The flavours are much less complex in a pulao when compared to a biryani; there are far fewer spices and aromatics and it is a subtle play of those few spices that make a pulao so delicious.

Just as the name suggests, this is a kofta pulao, literally translated as meatballs and rice.

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao - thespiceadventuress.com

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

The meatballs are shaped small in this recipe, unlike the larger ones that we are accustomed to eating in pasta or as snacks. Though mutton would be used traditionally, I have used lamb mince to make koftas, which is flavoured with just cinnamon and cardamom.

Another important ingredient is ghee or clarified butter. In traditional Awadhi cooking, tempered ghee is used but here I have just used plain ghee to keep things simple. Oil can be used but would hardly provide any flavour, and ghee is way healthier anyway.

The rice and koftas are cooked separately and then layered; the cooking process is then finished using the dum technique. For those who aren’t aware, the dum technique is where all the ingredients are placed inside one pot and the edges sealed using dough. Slow charcoal heat is applied on top and also on bottom and the food is allowed to slow cook with minimal heat.

Now most of us would use a modern dum technique in our homes. You could either place all the ingredients in a casserole dish, seal using a foil and finish cooking at low heat in the oven. Or you could follow my technique – since I don’t like to use foil, I place a tea towel over the pot and then place the lid on top so that it’s really tight and no steam escapes. The pot is then placed on a flat tawa or directly on heat but at its lowest setting. Ensure that the edges of the towel hanging out is scrunched up; we don’t want to start a fire!!

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

So let’s get onto the recipe for this delicious Kofta Pulao;

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms aged basmati (long grained) rice; washed and soaked for atleast 1 hour
  2. 500gms lamb (or mutton) mince
  3. 1 inch ginger
  4. 5 medium garlic cloves
  5. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  6. 10gms roasted gram flour
  7. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  8. 3 whole green cardamom
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Ghee (clarified butter)
  11. 5 medium red onions
  12. 1 ½ tbsp rose water
  13. 1 pinch saffron
  14. 250 ml milk

Method:

  1. Grind the cinnamon and cardamom to a fine powder.
  2. Grind the garlic and ginger to a paste (add a few drops of water if necessary)
  3. Also grind 2 onions to a coarse paste and keep aside.
  4. Finely slice the remaining 3 onions; fry in ghee till golden brown, drain and keep aside.
  5. Into the mince, add half of the cinnamon-cardamom powder, roasted gram flour, 1 tbsp ghee and salt to season. Knead well to ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well and the mince has a fine consistency.
  6. Take small portions of the mince and roll into small balls (slightly larger than marbles). You will roughly get about 30 -35 balls. Heat ghee in a pan and fry the meatballs; keep aside. (Take care not to overcook or the meatballs taste dry)
  7. To cook the rice, heat 1 ½ litres water. Season with salt and add the remaining cardamom-cinnamon powder. Add the washed rice and parboil; drain and keep aside.
  8. In the same pan that the onions were fried (add more ghee only if necessary), add the onion and ginger garlic paste. Sauté on medium heat till the rawness disappears. Then add chilli powder and sauté till the ghee separates.
  9. Add the fried meatballs to this and add 1 cup (250 ml) water. Cook till most of the water has disappeared. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  10. Meanwhile soak saffron in warm milk.
  11. To finally assemble the dish, place a large deep bottom vessel on low heat and add half of the cooked rice. Then layer with the cooked koftas/meatballs, add half of the rose water and saffron milk. Then add the remaining rice followed by the remaining rose water and saffron milk.
  12. Seal the edges (read description above for dum techniques) of the vessel and cook covered on low heat for about 20 minutes.
  13. Open just before serving and garnish with fried onions.
  14. Serve with a raita

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

 

 

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne)

Box Hill, as we all know has a populous Asian influence, so in my opinion it also becomes one of the best spots to enjoy Asian cuisine. There are plenty of restaurants offering varying styles of Asian food and a visit to Box Hill Central will offer you a glimpse into this world.

I was invited recently by Box Hill Central to check out one of their most popular food joints, Dragon Hot Pot.

Dragon Hot Pot is situated in the North precinct (food court) of Box Hill Central; it’s in the older part of the complex so if you are new, feel free to ask any of the staff for help like we did. Once you are in the North food court, it’s hard to miss Dragon Hot Pot as it’s a rather famous and one of the older eateries of Central.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are new to the whole Hot Pot culture, then you might need a bit of help to get started. The staff is friendly and having a chat with them is a great idea if you want assistance or recommendations.

Traditionally, a hot pot is a style of cooking in which a large pot of boiling soup stock is placed in the centre of the table surrounded by different raw ingredients which are then dipped into the broth to be cooked and consumed. It’s fun, interactive and diners get to customize and pick their set of preferred ingredients.

At Dragon Hot Pot, the idea remains same though executed slightly different to suit a food court ambience.

The first thing that you notice as you walk into Dragon Hot Pot is rows and columns (lots of them!) of ingredients lined up that you can choose to customize your hot pot. You will be handed a large metal pot into which you can then add your choice of ingredients. It’s so easy to get carried away guys; I literally wanted each and every ingredient in my pot.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

But that’s not a very wise decision so make sure you exhibit restraint and weigh your pot periodically so that you don’t go over the top. The base stock comes at no extra cost and the ingredients are priced $3.20 per 100g with minimum spend being $12.80 (i.e. 400g). Plus there are also a variety of condiments that you can add to your final hot pot, totally free of cost again.

There are three main stock bases available at Dragon Hot Pot in Box Hill (some other branches have upto 5). The first one is the signature Ma La Tang; cooked with more than 24 wild herbs from the Mount Emei region in Sichuan, China, this one is a must try here. The other stock bases are Sichuan Hot n’ Sour and Collagen Bone Broth.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne)

Once you hand over your pot of chosen ingredients to the staff, you can then customize it further with your stock base of choice and also the spice level. Finally your hot pot arrives in a beautiful vibrant yellow bowl with all the ingredients simmering in the hot stock base. Feel free to add the toppings too but even without anything extra, the hot pot is just perfect.

The stock bases we chose were the Signature Ma La Tang and Sichuan Hot n’ Sour.

An assault on the senses, the hotpot broth makes your tastebuds come alive in ways you could never imagine. It was hot and spicy with so many different ingredients of your liking; what can be better than a completely customized bowl of soup.

Yes you will be sweating through all pores by the time you finish and get in there, slurp it all up because that’s the way to enjoy a hot pot.

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Dragon Hot Pot, Box Hill Central (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We are definitely going back for more bowls in the future!

Dragon Hot Pot

Upper level North Food Court
Box Hill Central
1 Main Street,
Box Hill, VIC – 3128

Timings:

Mon: 9am – 5.30pm
Tue: 9am – 5.30pm
Wed: 9am – 5.30pm
Thurs: 9am – 7.00pm
Fri: 9am – 9.00pm
Sat: 9am – 5.00pm
Sun: 9am – 5.00pm

Disclaimer – As mentioned, I was invited by Box Hill Central to experience the food at Dragon Hot Pot. All the photographs and musings are entirely mine.

Dragon Hot Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Yogic Kitchen – Jody Vassallo (+ a Recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing)

I am a firm believer in the philosophy that ‘Food is Medicine.’

In fact if you talk to me about regular ailments, I am more likely to advise you on dietary and lifestyle changes than go visit a doctor. I am not at all taking away the importance of medical science but I tend to gravitate towards eating right and practicing natural medicine and holistic healing generally.

The Yogic Kitchen by Jody Vassallo (HQ Non Fiction, $39.99) corroborates with this philosophy completely.

Jody is a food writer, stylist, yoga teacher and Ayurvedic health coach. I have personally followed her work for a while and she has published and authored several books for Marie Claire, Hachette Livre etc….

The Yogic Kitchen offers us an insight into understanding our body through the Ayurvedic principles of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Even though I have heard much about these principles, I admit that I didn’t have a proper understanding of it till now.

The Yogic Kitchen – Jody Vassallo (+ a Recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing) - thespiceadventuress.com

Based on Ayurvedic principles, the book explores the philosophy of ‘food is medicine’ at a much deeper and scientific level. This is not a regular cookbook filled with just recipes and amazing photographs.

The book starts with an introduction to Ayurveda; a brief history followed by the scientific principles that form the foundation of this ancient science. According to Ayurveda, the five elements of earth, fire, water, air and space exist inside out bodies as much as outside. These exist in varying degrees and in turn make up the three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. And these doshas are used to represent our unique body constitution.

So the first thing is to identify which is your dosha.

The book provides an extensive classification of the three doshas based on which you can find out which one do you identify with most. Sometimes you could be a mix of two or even all the three doshas. I found out that I am mostly Vata but with a small percentage of Pitta thrown in.

From yoga to Ayurveda, Jody also explains how she embarked on this journey and the positive changes it has bought about to her health and overall life. Often we tend to forget that our mind and bodies are intertwined and the food we eat has the power to affect not just our physical but our mental self too.

The Yogic Kitchen also provides extensive information on how to balance the doshas, food that are compatible for each dosha, foods and habits to avoid that can cause imbalance etc….

The recipes outlined in the book are also divided into three based on the doshas and also based on the seasons as this is an important factor that affects our bodies. Apart from these, there are also recipes that are suitable for all types of doshas and also foods that are best for a detoxification/cleanse diet.

Jody also outlines a variety of herbal teas and medicated milks suitable for the different doshas, spices and herbs that are integral to Ayurvedic cooking. There is also an extensive list of food types that are suitable and not suitable for each dosha provided based on which you can regulate your daily diet.

What I liked best about the recipes outlined in The Yogic Kitchen is the fact that there’s nothing exotic but easy everyday cooking, perhaps with a different mindset. And I also liked the fact that there are options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts.

There’s often a misconception that recipes that focus on Ayurvedic philosophies should be Indian cuisine based but that’s not too true at all. Ayurveda is a science, which can be implemented in all kinds of cooking.

One of the recipes that I tried from this book is the Marinated chicken with Coconut Lime dressing.

The Yogic Kitchen – Jody Vassallo (+ a Recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Yogic Kitchen – Jody Vassallo (+ a Recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing) - thespiceadventuress.com

The two things that stood out in this recipe are the simplicity and ease of making the dish and the coconut lime dressing. That dressing is just mind-blowing spectacular and some days, I have been making just that for my salads.

It’s a perfect dinner dish for the whole family and one I can prep for ahead of time which means after a work day, dinner is ready with minimal effort and fuss without sacrificing at all on the health or delicious quotient.

I have tweaked the recipe slightly to suit individual preferences, which you should too especially based on the amount of chicken that you would use. While drumsticks are used in this recipe and provides maximum flavour, other cuts of chicken would be good too provided it’s on the bone. And instead of coconut sugar used in the original recipe, I used jaggery since that was available.

So let’s get to the recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing.

The Yogic Kitchen – Jody Vassallo (+ a Recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing)

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg chicken drumsticks
  2. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  3. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  4. 170ml coconut yoghurt
  5. 2 tsp sweet paprika
  6. 1 tsp coriander powder
  7. 1 tsp cumin powder
  8. 1 tsp garam masala
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 1 small red onion; grated
  11. Juice of ½ lemon

Coconut lime dressing:

  1. 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut (desiccated may be used too)
  2. Zest and juice of 1 lime
  3. 1 tsp crushed jaggery (or coconut sugar)
  4. 1 small red chilli; finely chopped
  5. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  6. 3 tbsp coconut oil
  7. 1 tbsp water

Method:

  1. In a bowl, add the coconut yoghurt; grate the garlic, onion and add all the spice powders. Add the lemon juice and season with salt. Mix well and marinate the chicken drumsticks in this; refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is preferable.
  2. Bring the chicken drumsticks to room temperature at least 30 min before cooking.
  3. Preheat the oven (fan forced) to 200°C
  4. Line an oven proof tray with baking paper; place the drumsticks in the tray. Retain the remaining yoghurt mixture.
  5. Cook the drumsticks for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through. Turning occasionally and rush with the remaining yoghurt mixture everytime the chicken is turned.
  6. Meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the coconut lime dressing in a bowl; taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Serve the chicken drumsticks warm topped with the coconut lime dressing.

The Yogic Kitchen – Jody Vassallo (+ a Recipe for Marinated Chicken with Coconut Lime dressing)

 

February Favourites

It’s about 10am and I just sat down at my work desk with a cup of coffee. When I say work desk, it’s actually my dining table with the laptop and half a dozen planners, diaries, recipe books etc……

Blogging is a lonely profession or should I say a deeply internal one. I know there are a few who would disagree but many would agree with me. And lonely does not have to be a bad thing necessarily; I enjoy the calmness of working from home with no one around to disturb me except the occasional doorbell. It gives me the freedom to have a relaxed morning and not stress about getting ready, rushing out the door, daily commute etc… I have the luxury of working in my PJs, having the flexibility of working yet being available for my son when he is back from school.

There are so many advantages to this profession yet I call it lonely. To start with, there is very less human interaction. In traditional jobs you have colleagues and the joy of shared spaces, lunch outings, conversations; but here I am the boss, the secretary and everything in between. And some days, you just don’t want to do it all, you want help and to be able to share your work and responsibilities.

And because there is no clear distinction of roles and responsibilities, most people simply do not get the amount of work that goes into the job. There is often a nonchalant attitude from most people in my life when it comes to my job, simply because they cannot believe it takes so much effort. After all how difficult can it be to make a dish and photograph it! And the fact that people don’t always understand also makes it a bit lonely.

Well I don’t intend to sound like a broken record because in spite of everything, I love this job and wouldn’t have it any other way.

That means we are back to the topic of food!

Tacos are a favourite at our home. We love all variations of it and I find it’s one of the easiest meals to put together. I agree there is a bit of prep work involved especially if you are making everything from scratch but still it’s a meal that can be bulked up easily. And it’s a meal that requires everyone to come together at the table, which is a winner in my opinion.

Some of our favourites are;

  1. Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo)
  2. Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt
  3. Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa
  4. Chicken Tinga Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa

Fish Tacos (with Pickled Slaw and Jalapeno Mayo) - thespiceadventuress.com

Moving on to other favourites for the month;

Baking a batch of these delicious almond butterscotch cookies.

Bookmarking this chicken and rice soup for late autumn/winter which is not far behind

Beet salads are always gorgeous, but this version looks even better

Shrimp lettuce wraps. Bring it on!!

This tuna sandwich is a game changer.

A wine I am looking forward to trying out.

This cocktail, when the blood orange season arrives.

Vegan does not necessarily mean boring, and Richa’s blog is ample proof of that.

My favourite Pinterest account for vegetarian grub.

This Scanpan copper set looks amazing; guess it’s time to throw out the old pots and pans.

I love attending interesting events and so every month, I go through a list of events that are taking place in Melbourne and surroundings. Here are the top free events happening this month….

I dream of visiting Lucknow someday, and eat my way through history. If you are visiting, here are some suggestions.

 

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne)

It’s quite refreshing to see new and interesting restaurants open up in the suburbs, than crowding up in and around the city fringes.

QT Kitchen is  one such new venture headed by young chef Kevin, and specializes in modern Vietnamese cuisine. So I was quite excited to check out the food here when I received an invite from AGFG and QT.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Kevin has been in the industry for about 16 years starting first in Vietnam and then moving to Australia about 10 years ago. After working with several reputed restaurant groups including the Mantra group, he opened QT Kitchen 1.5 years ago.

From the time he began helping out his grandmom in her kitchen, Chef Kevin has always dreamt about having a restaurant of his own, where he can showcase his passion and love for cooking. Formally trained in Italian cuisine, at QT, he has combined that technical knowledge with traditional Vietnamese flavours using local Australian produce.

And his efforts have not gone unnoticed; QT Kitchen was quick to gain popularity as a friendly neighbourhood restaurant where you can go with your family and friends for excellent food, friendly atmosphere and genuine customer service. Perhaps why the restaurant won the 2019 AGFG Reader’s Choice Award!

The restaurant does have a very friendly vibe and that’s one of the first things you notice when you walk in. The staff are super friendly and genuine in their interactions. We were welcomed with colourful balloons imprinted with my blog’s name (I was totally blown away!) and since it was around Christmas time when we visited, there were party crackers for us to have fun with before the food and drinks arrived.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And this service was not just extended to me; I noticed that the staff were friendly to all customers and went out of their way to make you feel special if you were celebrating or having a get together etc…

The ambience matches the cuisine at QT; contemporary vibes with accents of traditional Vietnamese/Asian décor pieces. Warm and inviting yet modern; Chef Kevin wanted to move away from the image that Vietnamese food is always street hawker style; it can be more and that’s what he has tried to showcase through his food and space.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Now let’s get to the drinks….

(All the details of each dish will be outlined below each image)

The drinks menu is a decent sized one with plenty of Australian wines and standard medley of liquors and cocktails.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

It was a warm day and I opted for the Strawberry Margarita. And just as you would expect, it’s a refreshing light cocktail; perfect for those looking for something sweet and fresh, not necessarily a heady rush.)

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam got a glass of the Hollick “The Bard” Cab Sauv 2016, Coonawarra SA. Rich with flavours of wild berries and blackberry, this red is perfect for those who like bold flavours and pairs excellent with the meaty dishes on the menu.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Kevin wanted me to try out one of their signature cocktails, Bonjour Vietnam (Bacardi rum, vodka, Pina colada, blue curacao & pineapple juice). It tasted good but I am not a big fan of Pina colada or blue curacao so not the best choice for me. But if you enjoy tropical flavours, then it’s a cocktail you must try.

And now onto the food…

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled Wagyu Beef in Wild Betel Leaves, with house pickles, peanuts and Sriracha mayo, served on crispy crackers. And absolute cracker of a dish…it delivers everything; presentation, taste, texture. A very traditional dish from Vietnam, it’s one of my favourites and I loved this modern interpretation too. A must try from the small bites menu.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the most interesting dishes on the menu! Bushman Lamb Shank herbs crusted, Victorian beetroot, chestnut, pancetta crisps. I have never tasted a dish like these before; really unique flavours for me. The herb crusting gives it a crunchy exterior though the meat was cooked well but could be a tad bit tender. The combination of beets, chestnuts and pancetta takes the dish to another whole level. Not to mention that roasted garlic; make sure you squeeze it out for that smoky sweetness.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy line caught whole Baby Snapper with citrus salsa and hot tamarind caramel – a signature QT Kitchen dish that is so reminiscent of Vietnamese flavours. Another traditional dish that has been reinvented at QT, the snapper was beautifully cooked, crunchy on the outside but flaky inside. The citrus salsa was brilliant and I loved the caramel but the sourness could have been better balanced. But having said that, I would totally order this one again.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Homemade red curry, aromatic coconut broth, seasonal veggies and lychee with barramundi fillet. The presentation was amazing with an earthen pot of rice on the side. The curry was so flavourful and loved the addition of lychee. It was not spicy enough for me but I guess that’s my taste buds. But another must try at QT.

QT Kitchen (Glen Iris, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

And a side that I always buy if it’s available on the menu – marinated cucumbers. A perfect accompaniment to any kind of dish that you order. If you haven’t tried it, you most definitely should.

To summarize, QT Kitchen is a great spot to enjoy a modern take on Vietnamese cuisine. The food is great, the service excellent and I can’t wait to go back.

QT Kitchen

Shop 2/10-12 High Street,
Glen Iris,
Melbourne

Phone no: 03 9885 2009

Website: https://qtkitchen.com.au/

Timings:
 
Mon: Closed
Tue: 5pm – 10pm
Wed: 5pm – 10pm
Thurs: 12pm – 10pm
Fri: 12pm – 10pm
Sat: 12pm – 10pm
Sun: 12pm – 10pm

QT Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and QT Kitchen; but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine and unbiased. 

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