Good Palm Oil vs. Bad Palm Oil + a Recipe for Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake

Today, we are going to have an important conversation regarding palm oil. And even though the recipe might sound like a more interesting read, I would encourage all of you to spend a few minutes and read through this post.

Do you use palm oil? I bet most of you would answer ‘no’ to that.

The truth is that most of us still remain largely unaware of the fact that palm oil is an integral part of our daily lives. Often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, it is a main ingredient in almost 50% of our supermarket goods ranging from biscuits, cookies, chocolates, margarine, sauces, condiments etc… The raw materials derived from palm oil are also a main component of more than 70% of the cosmetics and household detergents we use.

Surprised? I sure was but what was even more surprising or rather shocking was the fact that many of the everyday products that I purchase for my household was made from ‘bad palm oil’.

Does your cookies have good or bad palm oil -

Does your icecream have good or bad palm oil -

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil is not about health; it is more about sustainability and protecting our forests and ecosystems.

And it is my own lack of awareness that made me want to collaborate with RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and take part in the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign.

This global campaign which was launched on 23rd Sept in Australia aims to raise awareness around good and bad palm oil and why it is important for each one of us to make an informed choice everytime we reach out for our favourite lipstick or biscuit.

To quote, ‘at RSPO, we believe that achieving 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is not only a realistic ambition but a vital one too. The production of ‘bad’ palm oil is rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and ecosystems causing air pollution to rise and putting many species at the risk of extinction. If grown sustainably, ‘good’ palm oil can benefit local communities with fair working conditions and help protect valuable species and forests.’

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil -

I was happy to read that there are a lot of companies, both Australian and global, who have pledged to use sustainable aka good palm oil. They are certified RSPO producers and the products carry the trademark so that ordinary customers like you and me can make the right choice. But these numbers are not enough; more work needs to be done and there has to be higher visibility and transparency. And this can come only through our informed choices. It is the consumer’s voice that eventually leads to change, albeit one small change at a time!

Read more about the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign here and also watch Jessica Dance’s knitted food videos which spread this valuable message.

I did spend a lot of time looking through this list of Australian companies to understand more about who are certified and also to find out if my favourite products are indeed doing their bit. There were a few nasty surprises but there was good news too.

And when it was time to create a recipe for today, I chose Arnott’s; incredibly happy that one of our favourite brands believes in sustainability and also exhibits a strong social responsibility. Arnott’s ANZ is not only a member of RSPO but also works with a third party NGO so that they can trace their supply back to the mill. All the palm oil used in their products are sourced from Peninsular Malaysia, regions that are meant for agricultural cultivation and does not result in deforestation, peat destruction or exploitation of workers. You can read more about the company’s corporate and social responsibility here.

And when we think of Arnott’s, we think of Tim Tams – the Aussie icon! And what a delicious icon it is!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams -

Tim Tams are much loved in our household (I am sure it’s the same for you). Even a non-biscuit lover like me is extremely fond of this chocolicious delight. And now I am relieved that I do not have to feel too guilty about eating these.

So I decided to create a summer treat using these and packed the hubby off to the nearest Coles to get me a few packets. My mind was torn between the dark chocolate and chewy caramel but imagine the surprise to find the new mango flavoured ones. I am guessing these are limited edition for the season so grab a few packets before they disappear from the shelves.

And a few experiments later… we have a delicious frozen treat to beat the sunny days!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams with a no churn Vanilla Icecream Cake!

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert -

Drawing inspiration from the cheesecakes, I blitzed the Tim tams and used it as the bottom layer. And though icecreams are traditionally made using eggs, I used a simple eggless version so that a lot more people can enjoy making this. The texture of this is somewhere between a traditional icecream and a semifreddo.

This is an extremely versatile recipe and just about any Tim Tam flavour can be used. Can’t find Tim Tams where you live, buy your favourite pack of biscuits (just make sure it is RSPO certified). You could also add other ingredients to the icecream for eg: some fresh berries for a more fruity flavour especially if you are using a chocolate flavour base.

Mango flavoured TIm Tams -

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert -

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert -

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert -

An easy peasy summer dessert which is a sure hit with children too; you can get them to help you make this infact. Comes together in no time at all especially for this party season. A very light and delicious ending to any kind of meal.


  1. 1 pack mango flavoured Tim Tams (use any flavour you wish to)
  2. 400ml full cream milk
  3. 400ml condensed milk
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 250ml double/thick cream (chilled)
  6. ½ tsp good quality vanilla essence

To decorate:

  1. ½ pack mango flavoured Tim Tams
  2. Dark chocolate shavings
  3. Cake Sprinkles


  • Line the bottom of a round springform cake tin (20cm) with baking paper.
  • Crumble the Tim Tams in a food processor and add this to the cake tin. Press down well using a spoon or ladle to form a tight base. Refrigerate.
  • Add the milk, condensed milk and salt to a pot; bring to boil and then simmer gently till you get the consistency of a thin custard. Make sure you keep a close eye stirring often or else the mixture can bubble over. Remove from heat and allow to cool down completely and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Beat the chilled cream to get soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence and then gently fold in the chilled condensed milk mixture till combined well.
  • Pour this over the Tim Tam mixture in the baking tin and freeze for at least 4 hours or till completely set. Remove from the cake tin onto a serving stand.
  • To decorate, I lined the edges of the icecream cake with chocolate shavings. Added 2 Tim Tams to the top and a handful of sprinkles. Just let your creative juice flowing and decorate it however you wish to.

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert -

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert -

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry

Curry and Australia are inseparable, all thanks to the multicultural diaspora of this beautiful country. But can a curry change the world?

Maybe not. But a curry can definitely help and contribute towards putting food on another family’s table. Isn’t that ironic? Yes, it is and that is why we need to join hands with Opportunity International Australia in its annual fundraising campaign ‘Great Australian Curry’ to help and raise funds to help give a hand up to families living in poverty.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry -

I had collaborated with Opportunity International last year on their fundraising ‘Food for Thought’ campaign, which gave me an insight into how this organization works. As I mentioned in last year’s post, I am not a big believer in giving away a few dollars (or more) to an NGO or charity organization and think I have done my bit for the society. I like to be involved in campaigns where I know the exact reach of that money and if it is being used in a truly positive manner i.e. is there at least one person whose life I have touched in a positive way.

Opportunity works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes. And this year’s ‘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 - Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry -

This year’s campaign is extra special because it is being backed by three-time Olympic gold medallist, Stephanie Rice and former Australian test cricketer and fast bowler, Michael Kasprowicz.

Michael Kasprowicz said: “I recently visited Opportunity’s work in Delhi, India. Seeing firsthand the impact of small loans, empowering parents to meet the needs of their children, was so rewarding. Kids can dream of becoming whatever they want in the future, whether it be sportspeople or teachers, because they know their parents can afford to give them an education. It’s the way it should be.”

Stephanie Rice invited Australians to get behind the Great Australian Curry. “By simply getting together with some friends and family and cooking up your favourite curry, we can help raise much needed funds and give people in Asia a hand-up,” she exclaimed.

The ‘Great Australian Curry’ was officially launched last week with a fun curry cook-off between Stephanie and Michael. You can watch all the action here and get inspired to cook up some curry.

Great Australian Curry cook-off with Stephanie Rice and Michael Kasprowicz -

So how exactly can you help?

Plan – Decide on which curry you would like to cook (that’s where I come in with ideas and recipes) at home or maybe a fun cook-off with friends/colleagues or simply head over to your nearest curry offering establishment sometime in October or November.

Set up your goal – Start your unique fundraising page here and mention the goal you would like to achieve.

Donate and spread the word – Get everyone you know onboard and encourage them to not only share the curry with you but also contribute towards this campaign to help families living in poverty in Asian countries like Philippines, Indonesia, India etc….

Ofcourse I cannot leave you guys without a curry recipe so today I have a very special dish for you – the Jaffna style goat curry.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry -

Adapted from a Peter Kuruvita recipe, this curry is a rather simple one. And with this, I added yet another spice blend to my collection – the Srilankan roasted curry powder. Garam masala has taken a backseat forever!

In traditional Srilankan cooking, two forms of spice blends are common – the roasted and the unroasted variety. While the former is reserved for the rich curries and nonvegetarian dishes, the latter is milder and for seafood and vegetarian dishes (exceptions ofcourse). The key to a good roasted curry powder is getting your hands on good quality whole spices and then roasting it yourself. The roasting is taken right to the edge without burning it, so watch over it diligently.

I read up a lot of recipes and articles on how to make both the versions and ended up using this one I found on YouTube; seemed the most basic and authentic version. Also just as with many traditional spice blends like the garam masala, the Srilankan roasted curry powder also varies slightly between households.

Unroasted Srilankan curry powder -

Srilankan roasted curry powder -

The Jaffna goat curry uses both the roasted and unroasted curry powder which is liberally used to marinate the meat along with a few other aromatics and thin coconut milk. Another interesting thing about the recipe is that it only uses the thin and not the thick coconut milk so you still get that rich dark curry opposed to the creamy coconuty one.

As I mentioned, this is an adaptation of the traditional curry (which uses blood and offals); I have not done both, choosing to keep it simple and easy to make by all.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry -

And before we get on to this recipe, here are five other curries that would be perfect to host the ‘Great Australian Curry’

  1. Thai Massaman Curry
  2. Indian style Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry
  3. Cambodian (Khmer) style Chicken Samlâ Curry
  4. Gosht Durbari (Lamb Curry slow cooked with Yoghurt, Fried Onions and Spices)
  5. Burmese style Prawns with Tomatoes Curry

Jaffna Goat Curry


  1. 1 kg goat curry pieces (with bones)
  2. 1 tbsp Jaffna unroasted curry powder (recipe given below)
  3. 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  4. 5 green cardamoms; crushed
  5. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  6. 1 cinnamon stick
  7. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  8. 1 ½ tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  9. 2 tbsp Srilankan roasted curry powder (recipe given below)
  10. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  11. 200ml thin or 2nd extract coconut milk
  12. Salt, to season
  13. 4-5 shallots; finely sliced
  14. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  15. 1 inch ginger; grated
  16. A few sprigs of curry leaves
  17. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. In a large pot, add the goat curry pieces along unroasted curry powder, cumin powder, cardamoms, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, roasted curry powder, tomato paste, salt and thin coconut milk. Mix and keep aside for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in another vessel (earthenware if you have) and add the curry leaves, shallots, garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Then add the marinated goat pieces into this, season with salt and mix well to combine. If there is extra marinade in the first pot, add a little water to it and rinse it out into the curry so none of that lovely flavour is lost. Add more water to the curry if necessary and cook covered on low heat till the goat pieces are tender and falling off the bone. Stir occasionally and add water if more gravy is required.
  4. Garnish with curry leaves and serve warm.

Note – It is best to make this curry ahead and let it sit for a while for the flavours to develop.

Ingredients for unroasted curry powder:

  1. 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. ½ tbsp fennel seeds


In a grinder, add all the whole spices and grind to get a fine powder. Store in an airtight container and use as required.

Ingredients for Srilankan roasted curry powder:

  1. 3 sprigs curry leaves
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. ½ tbsp fennel seeds
  4. 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  5. 10 dried chillies
  6. ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  7. 5 cloves
  8. 5 green cardamom
  9. 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon (not cassia)
  10. 2 dry bay leaf


Note – Roasting the spices has to be done in steps as some of the spices need to be roasted longer than the others. Some versions of this blend also use fenugreek, mustard and pandan leaves.

Add the coriander seeds to a pan and allow to roast on low heat for about a minute and then add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Roast for another 15 seconds and then add the curry leaves. Mix regularly and keep the heat low to avoid burning the spices. Continue to roast for another 30 seconds and then add the chillies. Allow to roast for a minute and finally add the fennel and cumin seeds. Roast for another 15-30 seconds and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and then grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry -

September Favourites + The Spice Trail Cooking Class

This month went by at lightning speed for me…so many events and new ventures, none of it anticipated. So plenty of excitement but plenty of butterflies fluttering around in my tummy too…

As many of you would have come across on my social media channels, I am hosting my first cooking class ‘The Spice Trail’ in collaboration with Food Social Australia.  The class is going to be held at the South Melbourne Market on October 15th, 12.00 – 3.00pm.

A medley of spices, herbs and aromatics - food photography -

It’s going to be fun and interactive for sure. I will be demonstrating some basics like making spice blends, building up a curry base etc…. and then some hands on cooking with the guests and finally we all sit down to feast on all the delicious stuff we made together. I promise you, it’s going to be a great experience and I would love to see you guys there. All the details can be found here and check it out soon as spots are filling in fast.

And for a limited time, I am also offering all my subscribers a 15% discount because you guys are just awesome.

The Spice Trail cooking class at South Melbourne Market -

Earlier this month, I celebrated Onam (a harvest festival celebrated in my hometown Kerala). And since I celebrate it every year without fail, I decided to invite all my girlfriends out here in Melbourne for a traditional feast. Check out this fun video that was created by friend and fellow YouTuber, Shyamali Sinha of Foodie’s Hut.

Onam celebrations in Melbourne -

Are you a beginner to Indian cooking? Then you might want to take a look at this article in which Indian food bloggers reveal their best tips for anyone taking baby steps into the vast world of Indian cuisine. Yours truly included.

The fact that I am busy means that I end up making this pasta dish often; simple, easy in a jiffy and vegetarian!

Linguine with Asparagus and Tomato - Meatless Monday cannot get more delicious -

And my favourite quote for the month is;

Quote -

Source – Pinterest

Now let’s get on to my top picks for this month;

I met Monica through my social media channels 2 years ago and she has remained a dear friend since. She recently launched her own business, Be.GiftingandLiving, an online gifting store which is filled with the most beautiful and pretty things. Do take a look, her space will instantly make you happy from within and with Christmas fast approaching, you might find some great gifts too.

Want to learn food photography from the experts? Then this workshop is where you need to be; I wish I could be there myself.

Slow blogging! Yes, I believe in it and it has worked wonders for me. If you are just starting out or caught in a rut, then please do read this article.

Do  women need their girlfriends? Yes we do and this article tells you why.

This pasta dish is what I am craving now.

Summer is coming and if you have a herb garden like I do, then this article on drying herbs will be very useful.

Drooling over this bowl of yumminess.

Bookmarking these for my Oreo loving son’s birthday.

These potato croquettes! Sigh!

And of course we need a cocktail recipe but this one is for my fellow foodies around the globe because it’s a fabulous fall one.

It’s time to get out of my boots and into these beautiful wedges.
















Jura Z6 and Impressa A9 (a Review) + a Recipe for Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing

Jura….the coffee and the machine!

Jura Impressa A9 - a review -

Unlike what most people think, it is a very daunting task for a food blogger (the honest types!) to do a product review. Starting from the day the mail from the brand arrives in my inbox to the day the final post gets published, I am under a certain kind of pressure to ensure that the review is honest, frank and unbiased. And there are days of research and testing out that happen behind the scenes before I say that I liked and enjoyed a certain product.

It was the same with Jura, albeit a bit easier because I fell in love with their coffee machines right on day one when I got to attend the launch of their latest machine, the Z6. And of course the fact that coffee is indeed a passionate obsession of mine.

Unlike the usual glamorous media launches, I was lucky to attend a trade launch which gave me a lot of insight into the technology and superior craftsmanship that Jura employs across all their coffee machines. Armed with all this information (and plenty of coffee sampling at the venue), I gave my nod to review two Jura coffee machines – Z6 and Impressa A9. So read on to know my thoughts and experiences over the past two months with these beauties and there’s also a delicious Mocha Cake recipe waiting at the end for you.

Jura Z6 launch -

Let me rewind a bit and give you a brief intro of the company itself. Jura is a Swiss brand which began manufacturing coffee machines as early as 1937.  Over the years, they have launched several lines of premium automated coffee machines which clearly puts them as one of the top leaders of the coffee machine world.

Early this year, Jura unveiled its latest innovation in automated coffee technology – the Z6 which incorporates the Pulse extraction process which ensures that perfect shot of espresso right in the comfort of your home. The tagline ‘be your own barista’ is befitting to the Z6 (this one should totally be on your Christmas wish list guys).

Jura Z6 - a product review -

Picture courtesy – Jura Australia

Jura Z6

Looks – I know that I should be speaking of technology first but looks do matter, right? The glamorous black and stainless steel exterior (that combination is a weakness of mine when it comes to gadgets) of the Z6 ensures that it sits pretty on your table top; in fact this machine is truly a conversation starter.

Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P) – This is the game changer which makes the Z6 stand apart from all the other automated coffee machines in the world. A process which optimizes the extraction time so that you can enjoy the perfect short speciality coffees like espresso and ristretto.

Latte Macchiato with Jura Z6 -

Functionality – At the touch of a button, literally! The Z6 has a rotary selection feature and a TFT display using which you can select the type of coffee you wish to have and also customize it to your specific needs like coffee strength, amount of milk foam, coffee etc….. You can even rename the customized versions and position it on the main screen. Like I said, the perfect coffee at the touch of a button.

Jura Z6 - a product review -

Taste – which is how most of us judge a cuppa. Intense and full bodied with a velvety soft and long lasting crema, each cup promises a café like experience every single time. I am more of a cappuccino girl and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the Z6 makes an absolutely stunning cappuccino at par with some of the best cafes of Melbourne. Apart from the Jura beans, I also used several different varieties of coffee beans and it was quite interesting to experience the different tastes and flavours.

Order your coffee through an app! You heard it right; an exclusive Jura app that can be downloaded on your phone and used to customize and order your coffee. My son had such a fun time playing the ‘virtual barista’ at home. (Don’t forget to keep a cup in place though!)

Jura app - a product review -

Cleaning this machine is a breeze. The machine will notify when the drip tray needs to be emptied or when the used ground coffee container needs to be emptied. The large rectangular water tank sits at the side and is easy to remove, clean and fill. The machine also self cleans 15 minutes after the last use and shuts down itself. A milk clean must be done everyday (if you use milk) and all that you need to do is add the cleaning liquid to a small container and hook it to the machine.


Well none really, except the price tag! But I am not sure if I can call this a disadvantage as you bring home a premium Swiss fully automated coffee machine, endorsed by none other than Roger Federer. Retailing at $3790, the Z6 does not come cheap. It must be seen as an investment and a replacement for all those expensive café style coffees that you usually indulge in.

And be prepared for friends to drop in more often once you have introduced them to the Z6!

Jura Impressa A9

Jura Impressa A9 - a product review -

When discussions regarding reviewing the Z6 were going on, I requested to the client that I would like to review another coffee machine too, one which might be a bit more affordable to coffee lovers like me. And that’s how I got to play around with the Impressa A9.

Smaller size – The A9 is a much smaller machine when compared to the Z6, perfect for those who live in apartments or do not have lots of bench space. The same black and stainless steel looks that I love with a simple yet distinct design.

Simplicity – While the Z6 speaks of sophistication, the A9 focuses on simplicity. I loved the fact that the machine is much simpler to use in spite of having 12 specialities of coffee to choose from. The cappuccino doppio was my favourite program in this one. The touchscreen is simple to use with clear and concise directions; you hardly need a catalogue to use the machine.

Taste – While the A9 does make a really good cup of cappuccino, it might not be the best if you are an espresso lover. And that’s where the difference lies; A9 is currently not equipped with the P.E.P technology which means that while the coffee is still good, it does not have the same full bodied taste that the Z6 will give you. But this difference is most noticeable with the short blacks and espressos.

Cost – Retailing at $1990, the Impressa A9 is definitely more affordable for the average household. While it may not bring the sophistication of the Z6, it still is a really good fully automated coffee machine to make your favourite brew.

Jura Impressa A9 - a product review -

So which one is going to be in your Christmas wish list? I definitely have my eyes on the Z6…..

And since all of you have been patient and with me on this Jura coffee journey, it wouldn’t be nice if I didn’t share a great recipe here – one that uses coffee ofcourse!

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing -

While there were a zillion ideas buzzing through my mind, especially ones like this Grilled chicken with Coffee Spice Rub, I decided against all of it and instead went hunting for a simple and basic coffee infused cake.

That search ended when I found this super simple and easy Mocha Cake in Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Bake’. Now that’s a cookbook you need if you want to learn some baking fundamentals.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; the school holidays had just started so this Mocha Cake became a fun project for me and my little champ. Adi was with me through every step of this, right from weighing, mixing, baking to decorating the cake and also photographing it. The cake looks messy, the frosting is sloppy and the photographs are inconsistent. I can vouch for the fact that the cake was delicious though and we had fun like we never had before and I guess that’s all that matters.

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing -

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing -

And at the end of it, Adi ordered me to say an official thanks to him on my blog post (in fact he insisted on it). So Adi, thanks a lot for helping me bake and photograph this beautiful Mocha Cake.


For the cake:

(5 x 9 inch loaf tin used)

  1. 175gm self raising flour
  2. 40gm cocoa powder
  3. 220gm raw brown sugar
  4. 175gm unsalted butter, melted
  5. 4 medium eggs, separated
  6. 70ml strong coffee, cooled
  7. 3 tbsp water
  8. Coffee butter icing; to decorate
  9. Dark chocolate sprinkles; to decorate

For the coffee butter icing:

  1. 100gm butter, softened
  2. 200gm icing sugar, sifted
  3. 4 tbsp strong coffee, cooled


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly butter and line the loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl and add the sugar; stir to combine well.
  3. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, coffee and water into the dry mixture and beat using a hand held whisk or beater till smooth.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in another large clean bowl till fairly stiff peaks form and then gently fold this into the cake mixture in three batches. Be gentle but make sure no lumps of egg white remain.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smoothen the surface and tap to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Bake at 175°C for 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 160°C and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the loaf tin for at least 10 minutes before lifting it out. Then leave on a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating with the butter icing.
  8. Once cooled, cut the cake along the middle horizontally into two equal halves. Apply half of the icing on the lower half and then place the other half of the cake on top. Spread the remaining icing on top and decorate with the dark chocolate sprinkles.
  9. Allow the cake to settle for half an hour before cutting.

Note – I used a conventional oven; you may need to adjust the temperature and timings depending on the kind of oven you are using. To be on the safe side, check after the first 20 minutes and adjust temperatures accordingly.

To make the icing:

  1. Place the softened butter in a large clean bowl and beat till soft.
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar in batches and continue to beat.
  3. Add 3-4 tbsp cooled coffee and beat till smooth and creamy.

Enjoy! And if you do bake this, do send me a picture or tag me in your post using #thespiceadventuress

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing -

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing -

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post and the coffee machines were given on loan to me by Jura Australia. But all the opinions expressed are truly mine. 










Onam Sadya……and memories of a delicious childhood

A delicious childhood……I know that’s not an appropriate adjective at all but that’s exactly what my childhood was like. Great food always for the family and for the zillions of friends who came home to eat my mom’s food.

Just like most people, there are so many memories associated with food from my childhood. But nothing else perhaps is as profound as the Onam sadya; maybe because it came only once a year or maybe because I was always fond of large feasts.

Growing up in a foreign country, the food is how I connected with my birth land. So when I think of Kerala, it is the food that rushes to my mind especially the rather elaborate Onam sadya. I can still remember my mom rising at the crack of dawn to prepare all the delicacies for the feast and me, her little assistant hovering around in the kitchen. As I grew, so did the responsibilities….chopping veggies and washing dishes. While the former was a prize to be conferred upon, the latter I thoroughly disliked even to this day.

After I got married and had my own small family, the Onam sadya was a tradition I continued. While I am deeply spiritual but not religious, there are very few cultural traditions or festivals that are celebrated in our home unlike many Indian families. But the Onam sadya has stayed with us because for me, it was all about sharing a slice of my childhood with my little boy.

This year, I have invited my girl gang to join me in the celebrations and excitedly looking forward to the day. Do you celebrate Onam at home or have friends with whom you celebrate? I would love to hear your stories and memories too….

And here is a compilation of some of the dishes that is traditionally served for the sadya. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not have the entire list but there are quite a few if you need some help preparing for the feast. And if you have nothing to do with this festival, it still doesn’t matter because you get the opportunity to learn a few traditional vegetarian dishes from God’s own country.

Cut Mango Pickle

This is a great example of an instant pickle and with raw mangoes in season, a must have in your refrigerator.

Cut mango pickle (Onam sadya) - an instant pickle made from raw mangoes -

Puli Inji (Tamarind Ginger Chutney)

A preparation unique to the state, this chutney is all about the balance of flavours. A lipsmacking condiment for the feast.

Puli Inji/Tamarind Ginger Chutney - a classic chutney that forms an integral part of Onam sadya -

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk)

Succulent melon/gourd pieces simmered in coconut milk and spiced with green chillies. While winter melon is available in some markets, it still might be a tad difficult for everyone to source. Use native Australian cucumbers instead!

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk) - a part of the vegetarian Onam sadya -

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

A lesser known component of the feast, this yam and plantain curry is more famous in the central parts of Kerala. A creamy texture and spiced with black peppercorns, there is a slight twinge of sourness from the curd which completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast -

Potato ishtew (stew)

Another classic, traditional dish that enjoys its quiet spot on the Onam sadya spread. This is one dish where the potato actually gets sidelined and the coconut takes over. The taste that hits your senses is the warm aroma of coconut oil with the rich sweet creaminess of coconut milk against the subtle hotness from the ginger.

Potato ishtew (stew) - a delicious creamy potato dish made specially during Onam -

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut)

A staple vegetarian dish which can be recreated in a zillion ways using just about all kinds of vegetables, legumes, meat etc…. For the sadya, a thoran is important but you can make any kind you wish to. I chose beetroot because it’s our favourite.

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut) - a vibrant vegetarian dish that is made during Onam -

Avial (Mixed vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt base)

The most famous vegetarian dish from Kerala, this medley of vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt sauce is simply to die for!

Avial - Mixed vegetables in a creamy yoghurt coconut sauce -

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip)

Now you must be wondering what is Thai brinjals doing in Kerala cuisine. Well, it is just my way of using local vegetables. Traditionally a pachadi or yoghurt dip is made using native Malabar cucumbers which is not available here so I substituted it with baby brinjals.

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip) -

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns)

Essentially a mixed vegetarian curry which is always prepared using black chickpeas, raw plantain and Indian yams. This dish is a true representation of the state as the main flavour components are coconut and peppercorns. It is the Malabar region that gave ‘peppercorns’ aka ‘black gold’ to the world. So the Kootu curry is a befitting tribute to that discovery which changed the course of the world.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) -

So that brings us to the end of the list…..I know it’s far from complete but as I said, it’s a work in progress.

Happy Onam folks!


Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

Onam is almost here, just another week to go and most households which celebrate this festival must have begun the preparations.

For those who have not heard of this festival before, Onam is an annual festival that is celebrated in the state of Kerala, South India. The whole state comes together irrespective of caste, creed and religion and every household celebrates it albeit in a small manner. Without going into the specifics, one of the most important aspects of this festival is the feast, also referred to as the Onam sadya.

The sadya is traditionally served on a fresh banana leaf and includes at least 24-28 dishes, sometimes even going as high as 64. Every year I try and add a few recipes to the list here and hopefully, some day I will have the entire compilation. So the next two posts here will be about this ‘delicious’ festival since I will be celebrating it this year too just as I have done for the past 35 years of my life.

Today’s dish is called kaalan (I know it’s a hard one to pronounce for all those who do not know the language) or a yam and plantain curry with coconut, yoghurt and peppercorns. This recipe might sound quite similar to avial but the taste is very different due to the vegetables used and also the texture and consistency.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast -

A couple of days ago, I was on the phone learning how to make this dish from my mom. Even though I am familiar with the consistency of this dish, she kept stressing about its importance. In her words, ‘the consistency must be that if you throw a spoonful of the curry at a wall, it must stay put and not slide down’….. Sigh. Mothers have such a unique way of recipe telling!

Now I am not going to advise you to do the same. Just make sure that the curry is thick enough yet not too dry and the secret to getting that is a spoonful of ghee that you must add at the end. Though other spices are also added, the predominant flavour is that of peppercorns. A slight twinge of sourness from the curd completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.


  1. 1 cup yam; diced
  2. 1 raw plantain; diced
  3. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  4. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  6. 1 tbsp black peppercorns (adjust to preferences)
  7. 1 green chilli
  8. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  9. ½ cup natural thick curd/yoghurt
  10. 1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  11. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  12. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  13. ½ tsp fenugreek/uluva seeds
  14. 2-3 dry red chilli
  15. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  16. Salt, to season


  1. Add the diced yams, red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder and salt to a pan; add 1 cup water, bring to boil and cook covered till the yams are completely cooked to a consistency where it can be mashed. Add more water if necessary but not too much; remember that a thick mash is what is needed at the end. (You can use a pressure cooker also).
  2. In another pan, cook the diced plantain with the remaining turmeric powder, water and salt till just done so that the pieces are cooked but still have a bite to it.
  3. Grind the coconut, black peppercorns, green chilli, and cumin along with curd to a fine paste. If the curd is a bit sour, add a pinch of sugar too.
  4. Once the yam is cooked well and mashed, add the plantain to this along with the ground paste. Simmer on low heat till mixed thoroughly. Add the ghee and continue to mix on low heat till the thick consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  5. For the tempering, heat coconut oil and crackle mustards seeds. Add the fenugreek seeds, dry red chilli and curry leaves.
  6. Pour this over the top of the prepared curry, remove from heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast -



August Favourites

Next Sunday is Father’s Day……. and this is for the man who is the most awesome ‘dada’ to my little champ.

Father and Son -

And this…..for my dad, my hero always!

Father and Daughter -

Source – Pinterest

For those who missed out, a delicious breakfast smoothie to start off the day on a healthy note.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious -

And my favourite photograph for the month of August!

Jura coffee machine -


My favourites folder overflowed this month and I had such a hard time picking just a few. But it’s still going to be long, so grab a coffee and enjoy the inspiration.

Does your dad love to wine and dine? Then here are some amazing gift ideas.

One of the less glamorous aspects of recipe development is a lot of hand washing which is why I totally love this nourishing hand wash.

This lady has mastered the art of pampering and I love every single product in her range; this month’s pick is this cleansing oil.

One of the top contenders in my travel bucket list.

What colour is your energy?

Barack Obama…he sure loves kids. Check this out!

This mezze platter is totally my thing.

A quick and delicious weekday dinner; just waiting for my basil to grow again to try this one out.

I ate a lot of these (a lot!) during my uni days.

No one can eat just one.

There can never be too many chicken wings recipes.

This is an interesting collection of traditional Indian dishes; how many do you know?

The fried chicken goes to Asia.

Had to include this in my dinner planning for next week. You will too….



Transport Public Bar, Melbourne CBD – a Review

Lunch dates with girlfriends is such an awesome thing; infact it must be made legit and compulsory. That few precious hours snatched away from the daily grind and routine is such a relaxing experience for me.

I am lucky to have a few but a solid bunch of girlfriends here in Melbourne with whom I meet at varying frequencies. And we always try and meet up for lunch at restaurants in and around the city which also gives us an opportunity to try out a new place each time. So this time, we headed to the Transport Public Bar in the CBD.

The Transport Public Bar is one that needs no introduction, especially given its location. Though many of us might not have walked into the space, almost all of us would have seen it at some point or even everyday. If location is anything, this place has picked out the most coveted spot; right opposite Flinders station and bang in the middle of Federation Square.

Overlooking the city, Transport bar has an amazing view on offer. Whether you pick your spot outside or inside, it’s a space that you can both relax and soak in the city atmosphere at the same time. We chose indoors as it was slightly chilly. And being a working weekday, there weren’t too many customers which suits just fine when you are catching up with your girl tribe.

For drinks, we decided to go with cocktails as the menu had a few interesting ones. Both the drinks and food menu changes often which is great as this is a space that attracts a lot of regulars.

I chose the Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri, specifically because of those two ingredients. The flavours were distinctly refreshing and even though I expected it to taste summery, it actually reminded me of autumn…

Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) -

The second cocktail chosen by one of the girls was the Pom Plum Rum (I hope I have got this right), a delicious concoction of rum, cherry and other ingredients. Apologize that I forgot the exact combination; we were having too much fun to get into the details but nevertheless it was delicious and perfect for autumn.

Pom Plum Rum - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) -

And the third drink we ordered for the day was the Somersby apple cider…..which really needs no introduction at all.

Somersby apple cider - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) -

The food at Transport Bar is relaxed and casual; no fancy stuff but crowd favourites created in the most delicious way.  Easy to share food with good quantities is another highlight which works perfect when you are catching up with friends or stopping by for an after work drink or a bunch of tourists.

We ordered three dishes which we shared amongst ourselves and these were;

The Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander – a Mexican delight that just can’t go wrong. Succulent pieces of fish encased in soft tortillas and finished off with coleslaw, salsa, lime, coriander and a dash of sour cream. Absolutely delicious and fingerlickin good.

Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) -

Simple couldn’t go past the Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter – how can you not love corn on the cob with grilled cheese and that splash of Tabasco to spice it up. Highly recommended especially if you are a corn lover!

Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) -

And the final dish was the day’s special – buffalo chicken wings. Yet another classic that was done to perfection. The chicken cooked perfectly and tossed through a delicious buffalo sauce that had just the right kick of heat. Yet another fingerlickin one.

buffalo chicken wings - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) -

Thoroughly fed and satiated, we said no to dessert this time. Maybe another lunch date to try out the desserts. I am sure we are going back…..

To summarize, a great place to hang out with friends and family. Do make it a point to take out a bit of time from all the stuff you need to get done and catch up with that someone special; small priceless moments of happiness.

Transport Public Bar

Federation Square, Corner
Swanston Street and Flinders Street
Melbourne CBD

Phone no: 03 9654 8808

All days – 11.00am to 3.00am


Transport Public Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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


The Breakfast Smoothie

So I am back peeps, after a brief hiatus…..with a delicious breakfast smoothie.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious -

As many of you are already aware, I moved homes last week. Just a couple of streets away, but the move didn’t turn out exactly how I had envisioned in my head. It was more intense, full on and plenty of work involved; coupled with bad organization, it turned out to be more stressful on our minds and bodies.

But finally, we are almost settled in the new place. There are still boxes to unpack but the basics are sorted and we are all beginning to feel at home again. Feeling at home again…..that’s a hard one to achieve when you move into a new space. A couple of my friends said that I invest a lot emotionally and physically in a rented property but for me, this space is home. It doesn’t matter who holds the ownership rights….for now, it’s our space and our home which we want to fill with happiness, stories and memories. So yes, I have always and will continue to invest a lot physically and emotionally in every home I live in.

One of the biggest changes has been the fact that after 3 years of our life in an apartment, we moved into a free standing house.  I am ecstatic about the larger space, more storage (for my props!) and a small but real backyard, but I feel a little lost at the same time. I keep forgetting where I have put stuff and then I run around like a headless chicken searching for it. Sigh.

So when it came to doing a blog post, I thought of sharing something simple and everyday like this breakfast smoothie which I made a lot during the past couple of days. High on nutrients to keep me nourished till lunch time and with that dash of chocolate and peanut butter for an indulgent luxurious feel.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious -

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious -


I thoroughly enjoy using oats in my smoothies rather than the porridge form; gives the drink a lot more body. I went for almonds because it’s my favourite but use any you wish to or maybe even a handful of different ones. If you have never used peanut butter in a smoothie, then do give it a shot folks; lends such a rich, silky and amazing texture with that hint of nuttiness to the drink.

And of course the chocolate….I was initially leaning towards coffee but then couldn’t look past the delicious blocks of Australian chocolate with 60% cocoa and hints of smoky oak, raisins and dried spices that I picked up from the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice CreameryYarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery (if you haven’t been here, you do need to check it out; perfect for a spring/summer day trip).

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious -

PS – That ladder has become my new best friend; the cupboards are so high in this house that my puny self cannot function without it!

The Breakfast Smoothie:


  1. 1 cup oats
  2. 10 almonds
  3. 1 tsp chia seeds
  4. 1 tbsp grated chocolate
  5. 1 tbsp peanut butter
  6. 2 cups milk
  7. ½ cup water
  8. A dash of honey


  • Blitz all the ingredients together in a blender.
  • Enjoy


In summer, add ice cubes and extra milk for a chilled drink; children will love it.

I used honey as a sweetener but you may use fruits like bananas or dry fruits like dates or prunes for the same.

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious -


Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa

Looking at the title, are you wondering where the hell did I find ripe mangoes?

This recipe was developed for a client a while ago when mangoes were in season but I somehow never got around to sharing it with you guys. And since we are moving homes this week, I thought of making these tacos again since I had some leftover prawns in the freezer. That’s when it struck me that I haven’t shared these awesome tacos with you, so here we go – Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious -

The star of these tacos is ofcourse the prawns that has been cooked in a rich Mexican style tomato sauce with oodles of flavour. All the ingredients are pantry and refrigerator staples, nothing fancy at all. Just get your hands on fresh local prawns and the job is done. Any type of salsa may be used; the mango salsa was a delicious addition because of the sweetness which balanced out the spice kick from the paprika in the prawns.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious -

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious -

Not going to keep you longer with small talk today…I am plainly tired from all the packing, cleaning and scrubbing going on so I promise we will talk more when I have finished with all the moving stuff.

And if you love tacos, then you need to check out this one too.


For the prawns:

  1. 300 gms large prawns; deshelled and deveined
  2. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 small red onion; finely chopped

For full recipe, click here.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious -

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious -

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.



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