Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

We have a tradition that we follow for Adi’s birthday; it began 2 years back when he turned 7. We decided that instead of having a regular birthday party every year, we would try and do an activity/experience/travel etc…. something off our bucket list every alternate year.

So it all began with a helicopter ride for his 7th birthday, which I have written about here. And before we knew two years had passed by and this year, we decided to treat him to a hot air balloon ride!

There are quite a few Australian travel and tourism accounts that I follow on Instagram, and that’s how the idea of a hot air balloon ride took shape. I would often see breathtaking images of the balloons on these accounts, both floating around the cityscape and also the picturesque Yarra Valley so it was not long before we decided that this was the experience we wanted to enjoy as a family on his big day.

We didn’t have to spend much time researching the company we wanted to book the flight with. Safety was paramount, especially in the wake of the recent tragic balloon accident. So there was to be no shopping around or compromise. And hence ‘Global Ballooning Australia’.

Apart from being endorsed by the State tourism board, a quick look at their website is enough to understand why we went along with Global Ballooning. Safety and experience – that’s what you must look for and the company offers just that. Instead of me rambling on about their safety standards and experience, here is a link that you must check out if you are planning on a hot air balloon ride.

Global Ballooning offers rides in both Melbourne CBD and Yarra Valley. We chose to go with Yarra Valley, because we had already done the helicopter ride in the CBD and wanted a different view to experience. And Yarra is one of our favourite weekend destinations with its picturesque valleys and wineries, so we knew it was bound to be a breathtaking experience.

There are different packages to choose from and we chose the one with the ride and a champagne breakfast afterwards at Balgownie Estate. There are both private and public rides; ours was a public one which means we ride along with other passengers.

It’s always an early start in the morning, at least 2 hours before sunrise when you go hot air ballooning. And the real reason for that is not just to watch the sunrise but the air conditions are best at this time. Instead of driving from home at such an early hour, we decided to stay over at the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel, a vintage stay in the heart of Yarra. A budget friendly stay yet an amazing hotel with so much history and character.

After assembling at the Balgownie Estate, we were briefed by the staff about how we will go about the whole ride, a few safety instructions and other important information about ballooning in general. Then we boarded a vehicle that would take us to the property where we would be assembling the balloon and taking off. This can vary depending on the direction of the wind and where the pilot deems it best to take off.

A five minute drive after which we got to the property and before we began assembling, we were all briefed about the safety instructions. We then got to meet our pilot for the ride, who once again took us through safety procedures and instructions. And then we began to assemble….

I think the rest of our experience is best explained through photographs…..

The setting up process:

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Photograph Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Up in the air we go….. (The next two photographs were taken by the camera that was attached to the balloon and can be bought from the company for a nominal fee).

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

The magic of a sunrise….

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Breathtaking views all around!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yering Station

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Our pilot Bryan…..so witty and charming!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia)

Time to land….

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Packing away the balloon!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

One last click before we say goodbye!

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

Off to Balgownie Estate for an amazing breakfast (we were ravenous!)…

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

And before we leave, a bit of wine tasting at the Cellar Door…

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com





Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish

Bengalis and Keralites have plenty in common, a fact that’s become common knowledge now due to the numerous Internet memes floating around.

(For my international readers, Bengalis are the natives of West Bengal, a state in the Eastern part of India while Keralites are the natives of Kerala, a state in the Southern part of India).

An outsider might not find much similarity but if you delve deep, there are quite a few that these states have in common in terms of politics, literature, art, fashion and food.

Now let’s talk about food, since that’s our topic of interest. The most obvious similarity between the cuisines would be the ‘rice and fish curry’ obsession. There cannot be a more comforting meal than this, a combination that is relished across the length and breadth of both the states.

Seafood is much revered in both states as they enjoy an envious coastline. But the irony is that there ends the similarity too because apart from the seafood craze, there’s hardly much in common when it comes to preferred seafood varieties or style of preparation.

When I started learning more about the cuisines from other parts of India, the one that I was most hesitant to try out in my kitchen was Bengali cuisine, simply because of the use of mustard oil. Initially, I tried adapting the dishes using vegetable or coconut oil but soon realised that I am not doing any justice to the cuisine of Bengal. That’s when I slowly learnt to use mustard oil in the right quantities and also pick out dishes that are more familiar to my tastebuds. And the journey, ofcourse, began with seafood.

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

Today, there are plenty of Bengali dishes I cook on a regular basis in my kitchen like this simple cabbage dish or this delicious fish curry. But the learning never stops and so here is another delicacy from the Bengali kitchen – a simple fish curry using Silver Whiting.

Fish and potatoes is a very unique combination but one that is extremely popular in Bengali cuisine. Though initially skeptical, I was amazed at how beautifully both the ingredients come together in this curry. The combination of mustard seeds with kalonji (onion seeds) and other spices and aromatics lend an earthy flavour to the curry that has to be enjoyed with steamed rice.

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

(Do you cook Bengali dishes at home? What’s your favourite?)


  1. 500gms ladyfish; cleaned (head removed)
  2. 1 medium potato; cut into long wedges/strips
  3. 1 large onion; grind to a paste with no water

This recipe was developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood, so visit their website for the full recipe.

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review

Brunswick Flour Mill is situated on the iconic Sydney Road in Brunswick, which is a food lover’s paradise. The name comes from the unique heritage building that is atleast 100 years old in which the café is housed. Apparently, it was a location for trading and flour was one of the main commodities, hence the name.

The unique heritage structure is visible not just outside but inside the café interiors too with rustic wooden furniture, vintage flour sacks, balances and other props that add to the warm ambience and the bygone history of the place.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The café culture of Melbourne is really strong and personally, I love the trend because it’s such a nice space to enjoy a cup of coffee all by yourself or have a quick lunch with friends or colleagues. This time, I was meeting a new friend who had just moved to Melbourne to pursue her dream of being a pastry chef.

When the new management took over around a year ago, there was a revamp of the old menu. The dishes are all familiar but now with an emphasis on clean flavours and use of local, sustainable and organic ingredients wherever possible. There are also plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. The all day breakfast menu has something for all taste buds and dietary needs ranging from a healthy bowl of granola to salads, pancakes and the big breakfast with eggs, sausages and all the sides.

And ofcourse coffee is serious business at Brunswick Flour Mill. The owner, Anjali Diddi, said that they use only certified organic rainforest alliance coffee which has been selected and roasted by some of Melbourne’s premier baristas.

Apart from coffee and tea varieties, there is also a selection of freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies and a basic alcohol menu.

Brunswick Flour Mill is now open for dinner too from Thursday to Saturday. The new dinner menu has the classics as always but will also include more health conscious yet delicious additions.

We were at the café for lunch, so began our meal with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a glass of Chardonnay.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

My friend couldn’t look past the Wagyu Beef Burger on the menu so that’s what she ordered. With a homemade beef patty, bacon, caramelized onions, pickled cucumber, cheese, iceberg lettuce and tomato relish between perfectly toasted buns, this one was a juicy delicious delight. And the in house aioli and chips was a perfect match. Definitely recommended if you want to sink your teeth into something meaty and delicious.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

I chose to order the day’s special, the French Omelette and a side of thyme flavoured mushrooms. The sides menu is really interesting and you can also put together your meal without having to order a specific dish from the menu. For eg: you can order some eggs and add a side of mushrooms or sausage etc….

The French omelette lived up to my expectations; fluffy and moist with a filling of earthy mushrooms, ham, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes and herbs, it was light yet really delicious. A really satisfying meal with two toasts of sourdough and butter on the side.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The café also stocks a range of cakes, pastries, muffins etc….that is prepared fresh and can be chosen from the counter shelf.

To summarize, the Brunswick Flour Mill is a great café to step into while out and about in the area. With a warm and welcoming ambience, it’s the perfect spot to catch up over delicious food or grab a great coffee and muffin on the go.

Brunswick Flour Mill

341 Sydney Rd.
Brunswick 3056
Phone no:  (03) 9078 0497

Monday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm/5.30pm – 10.00pm
Friday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm/5.30pm – 10.00pm
Saturday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm/5.30pm – 10.00pm
Sunday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

Brunswick Flour Mill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Brunswick Flour Mill, but all the thoughts and opinions about the food are entirely mine.

Lamb Cigar Rolls

“I have a son, who is my heart.
A wonderful young boy, daring and loving
Strong and kind.”

-Maya Angelou

Today our little munchkin turns 9.  And our hearts are filled with so much joy and happiness…..

Adi is a happy child, a genuine kind soul who finds happiness in humor, music and bear hugs. And as much as we would like to take credit for his upbringing, the truth is that it is not us. His kindness and generosity comes from within him and we are really blessed to have him in our lives.

And just as every other parent, we wish him good health and a joyful heart always.

All of us call Adi the ‘gourmet’ boy. His love for oysters is legendary; yes he can down a dozen of the raw ones which always get us attention at any restaurant we go to. But he is equally at home with traditional South Indian food especially dosas and this tomato egg chutney which is the ultimate combo for him. In fact that’s exactly what I will be making for his birthday dinner!

Lately he has also taken fancy to homemade snacks, especially the savoury ones. These days, he comes home ravenous from school. The growth spurts are real and that means I am always hunting for interesting recipes for quick after school snacks, especially ones that can be made in bulk and frozen to alternate through the week.

The Lamb Cigar Rolls fit the bill perfectly.

Lamb Cigar Rolls - thespiceadventuress.com

Frozen puff pastry sheets are a real blessing; and I always have some stocked in the freezer. Which means that I just need to make a filling for a quick, healthy and delicious snack. These lamb rolls were inspired by the paneer rolls I made last year for Adi’s birthday; it was hands down the best loved starter of the party.

The filling is really simple; lamb mince spiced with cumin, dried mint, paprika and turmeric with chopped onion, garlic and ginger through it. A few spices and aromatics can work wonders with lamb and the flavour of the meat really shines through. A handful of chopped raisins too for that intermittent sweet burst of flavour.

If you are fond of puff pastry snacks, then here’s another delicious one using kangaroo mince.

Lamb Cigar Rolls - thespiceadventuress.com


(Makes 18-20 rolls)

  1. 5 Puff pastry sheets; each sheet cut into four
  2. 500gm lamb mince
  3. 1 small or ½ medium onion
  4. 3 medium garlic cloves
  5. ½ inch ginger
  6. 2 heaped tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. ½ tsp cumin powder
  8. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  9. ½ tsp dried mint
  10. 1 tsp paprika (or use Kashmiri chilli powder)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. A handful of chopped raisins (optional)
  13. Sesame seeds, for garnish
  14. Vegetable oil


  1. Defrost the puff pastry sheets before use.
  2. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a pan and brown the lamb mince in batches. Remove and keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, add the onion, garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have softened.
  4. Next add the lamb mince back and season with the spices and salt. Mix well to combine and then add the raisins and coriander leaves. Mix well and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Pre heat the oven (fan forced) to 200°C
  6. Divide one pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.
  7. Place 1-2 tbsp of the prepared mince at one end of the square. Wet the edges of the sheet and roll tightly to form a cigar shaped roll. Repeat for all the other sheets.
  8. Place in a tray lined with baking paper. Spray the rolls lightly with oil and sprinkle the sesame seeds.
  9. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes or till golden brown (time taken may vary depending on the type of oven so check intermittently).
  10. Serve warm with your choice of dipping sauce.

Note – If you want to freeze for later, prepare the rolls and freeze in an airtight container. Keeps upto 2 months.

Lamb Cigar Rolls - thespiceadventuress.com

February Favourites

A short and sweet month, that’s what I always feel about February.

The month always goes by fast and for us, it’s always a month of planning as Adi’s birthday falls in March; mine too. We are planning something really exciting on his birthday, so stay tuned for that info….

Coming back to Feb, it was a month of getting back into routine with schools reopened. After the holidays, it was such a welcome change to get back to our everyday lives and for me, especially to get back into the kitchen after a month long break.

One of my main goals this year and hopefully, future ones too is to send more packed work lunches as it is much more healthy (approaching 40s always makes you mindful) and also great for the wallet. And that means cooking food that’s simple, can be reheated and consumed easily yet tastes delicious.

And one such dish that I have been cooking a lot is Tomato Rice.

Tomato Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

It is such a versatile and easy to make rice dish that is delicious just with a raita as accompaniment or with any sort of veggies or grilled fish or meat. I had shared the recipe for this traditional South Indian preparation on my Facebook page and Instastories so if you missed it, make sure to check it out.

I have also started consciously putting an effort into our after school snacks. Adi is growing up and that reflects in his dietary needs too. He is ravenous when he comes back from school and needs something more substantial. Since he has his dinner much later, the snack has to be filling and healthy but light on the tummy so that he can enjoy his dinner too.

So I have been trying out so many different snacking options and one of our favourites is salsa, in all forms. We have been enjoying this mango salsa a lot but also this corn and sprouts salsa, which doubles up as a salad. Really healthy and delicious….

Sprouted beans and corn salsa - thespiceadventuress.com

Guess I have blabbered enough, now onto all my other favourites from around the Internet world….

This pineapple ginger tonic has so many medicinal benefits.

This salad is always on rotation in my home.

Guacamole on a Pizza! Bring it on…

Love the combination of Avocado, Mango and Yellow Lentils

Aloo Kachori – it was my staple breakfast while pursuing Master’s.

Who can say no to Falafel burgers?

A large batch of this makhni sauce in your freezer; a lifesaver for busy weekdays.

Gummy hearts and sparkling rose, it’s like a dream!

Totally making this for the next kids’ party!

Feels like this article was written for me….

Raising Sweet Boys and not Angry Men


My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools)

You guys know how much I love growing herbs at home and so I have always fancied having a proper wooden herb garden, especially when I scroll through the stunning Pinterest images.

A lot of them would be DIY projects but I never considered that option as it seemed almost impossible to build a wooden structure from scratch. I did extensive online searching to find models that are feasible in my rented home but a solid wooden one (at least the kind I had in mind) was always on the expensive side.

So the idea remained a dream of mine, until recently.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

As many of you already know, my parents were here visiting us for a few months late last year. Now my mom is a DIY queen and a very avid gardener too. So one day, while we were on the topic of gardening, I mentioned my desire to have a wooden herb unit, one that is practically designed yet big enough to grow many herbs at a time in small batches.

I showed her some of the designs I had in mind and she casually mentioned that it was nothing complex and quite achievable especially here, as all kinds of tools and resources are available for DIY purposes. In fact, of all the shops she visited, my mum fell in love with Bunnings!

Around this time, I got to learn more about Ryobi tools at a blogger’s event where I got an opportunity to handle their power tools and make a wooden serving platter. Even though that was a teeny weeny project that I got to do with the Ryobi experts beside me, it still gave a vague sense of ‘I think I can do it if I make an effort’, especially after those power tools made it feel real easy. An electric drill suddenly didn’t seem to be a daunting affair!

But with the excitement, came the apprehension too. What if I can’t do it? A long discussion with Sam and that inner voice telling me to try my hand at something new gave me the much needed confidence to say yes to this DIY project using the power tools supplied by Ryobi.

So without further ado, let’s jump straight in to the details of how I went about creating this beautiful wooden herb garden. And let me also inform you that this post is going to be a picture heavy one.

(I know the photographs might make you think that Sam did all the work but trust me, I did lots more than just take photographs!)

Step 1:

The right design:

Now this is a very crucial step and one you must spend considerable time on. I was looking for a design that is easy to put together yet one that is aesthetic and long term. I also wanted a structure that is portable as we are still renting and also one that can sit well in a small backyard space when we eventually get our first home.

After browsing through hundreds of images and online tutorials, I decided on this design from Garden Answer that was a perfect fit with my expectations. And their online tutorials were a great help to get a jist of how to go about the entire project.

Step 2:

The right tools:

This is where the Ryobi expertise came handy. While I was supplied the tools, you can easily purchase all Ryobi power tools at Bunnings. The tools are quite versatile which means they always come in handy for future uses too and not just for a specific project. Apart from the instruction manual, there are also online tutorials on how to use all the Ryobi tools on Ryobi TV which is so useful and handy if you are a beginner. The tools I used for this project were;

Circular Saw (1500W 184MM) (MODEL: #RCS1500-G | BUNNINGS I/N: 13549)

This mean rugged beast of a saw is surprisingly compact, not so heavy and quite easy to use. (And anyone who has seen me in real life would understand why lightweight is rather important for me). With great precision and power, this was absolutely necessary to cut out the wooden boards to the exact sizes and measurements. I was especially pleased with its comfortable grip which gave me total control to do the job.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Random Orbital Sander (18V ONE+ 125 MM) (MODEL: #R18ROS-0 | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210660)

Well, the job that took me the longest time was sanding. Thank God for power tools like these because I simply cannot imagine doing the job otherwise. The orbital sander was really easy to use and with upto 80% dust pickup efficiency, I didn’t have much cleaning up to do afterwards.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

18 V ONE+ Drill Driver Kit (MODEL: #R18DD-C155S | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210757)

A great drill driver combination kit for any project! Easy to use, convenient and versatile, this combo kit includes;

  • 1 x 18V drill driver (RCD1802)
  • 1 x 1.5Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L15)
  • 1 x 5.0Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L50)
  • 1 x fast charger (RC18120)

The high capacity 5.0Ah battery was a boon as I could get a lot of work done between charges. The compact design makes it very easy to use and it also has other features like variable speed control. Built-in LED work light and also a MagTray (which really helps keep those screws in one place).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Once I started using the tools, I realised that Ryobi products were not only affordable but also innovative with practical, intelligent features that makes it sought after by both novices and professionals alike.

Step 3:

Shopping for materials:

Thank God for Bunnings! Without the help of the amazing staff there, I could have landed in a bit of soup. From helping me pick out the right kind of wood to all the other supplies that I needed, they have been extremely helpful with their time and expertise.

While purchasing supplies, I would like to stress about the importance of investing in good quality safety materials like protective gloves, goggles, dust masks, overalls etc… Remember guys, safety comes first. Always!

Step 4:

Cutting and sawing:

I used treated pine for making this herb garden, all of which were purchased at Bunnings. So using the circular saw, all the wooden planks were cut into the desired sizes and measurements. I had to make adjustments to the measurements provided by Garden Answer to suit my needs and requirements.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 5:


As I already mentioned, the orbital sander was an extremely helpful tool as it required much lesser effort to other traditional methods. All the planks I used were sanded to perfection before being assembled.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 6:


Using the drill set, I assembled the structure beginning at the base and then moving on to the backside, the sides and finally the front portion (as depicted in the pictures below).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 7:

Staining and Plastic Covering:

Since I wanted the unit to match the deck area, I decided to use a wood stain in walnut shade followed by clear varnish. And finally, a layer of black plastic sheet was attached to the insides of the unit so that the soil does not come into direct contact with the wood thus prolonging the life of the wooden herb garden.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 8:


I filled the unit with a specialized vegetable herb potting mix and then it was time to plant the herbs. I bought a few new ones and re-planted some of the existing ones from pots. I intend to plant more herbs eventually but just to get started; I planted the curry leaves, chillies, coriander, parsley, sage, chives, mint, rosemary, spring onion and thyme.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sheer Joy!

That’s the only way I can describe what I felt at the end of it. Something made by my own hands come to life….the sense of happiness is incomparable. And I am so encouraged by how easy it actually was albeit my apprehensions using the Ryobi power tools.

I can guarantee loads more DIY projects in the future.

Hope this post has inspired you to try out some DIY projects of your own and do not forget to tag #thespiceadventuress so that I can see it too.

And finally leaving you with my Top 5 Recipes using Herbs!

Disclaimer – This post was brought to you in collaboration with Ryobi Tools. As mentioned, I was supplied with all the tools required for this project. The story, musings and all the hard work is entirely mine!


Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice

Salmon, with its delightfully soft, oily and flaky flesh was quick to become one of our favourite fish after moving to Australia.

Initially, I would use it only for Indian dishes which honestly do not always do justice to its incredible texture. And as we started dining out more here, I started enjoying the crispy skin salmon that somehow always finds a spot on most café/restaurant menus.

Earlier I always found it hard to achieve that elusive crispy skin. The fish would curl up slightly when I place it in the pan and it would always be crispy in certain areas and not uniform. Till I saw a Masterchef episode where they showed the technique of holding the fish down lightly for a few seconds after placing in the pan to ensure that it doesn’t get curled up and also get the skin really crisped up. And always cook skin side first!

Some of the other tips for cooking a perfect piece of salmon (other fish too), is to never overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches and serve warm; there’s nothing worse than eating cold fish especially with its skin on.

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

And to go along with the salmon, I also whipped up mock cauliflower rice which made this an extremely healthy dinner. A dollop of Roza’s mango, chilli and coconut chutney was added to oomph up the flavour quotient.

This is the kind of dinner that’s not just healthy but a substantial one for the family to unwind and relax at the end of a busy day. And I always cook enough portions to become our lunch for the next day. For us, this is the best way to ensure that we are eating right on work days too.

I always enjoy a touch of spice when I make salmon so here I have used a marinade made from fresh chillies, cumin, garlic etc… I kept the cauliflower rice real simple but you can also use this tempered cauliflower rice recipe that is one of the highest visited recipes on the blog.

Roza’s chutney was used because I had some in the refrigerator; feel free to use your favourite tomato, mango or any other chutney if you wish to.

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com


For the salmon:

  1. 4 salmon fillets; with skin
  2. 3 long red chillies (less heat variety)
  3. 5 medium garlic cloves
  4. ½ tsp ground coriander
  5. 1 tsp cumin powder
  6. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  7. Salt; to season
  8. Juice of ½ lemon
  9. Olive oil; to pan fry the salmon

For the cauliflower:

  1. 1 small cauliflower head; including the green bit
  2. Zest of 1 lemon; grated
  3. Juice of ½ lemon
  4. 3 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
  5. 3 tsp parsley; finely chopped
  6. Salt, to season
  7. ½ tsp paprika
  8. 2 tbsp olive oil


For the Salmon:

  1. Clean the salmon; remove any bones if present and pat dry.
  2. To make the marinade, blend together the chillies, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander and cumin.
  3. Pour this over the salmon, season with salt and rub well; keep aside for 15 – 30 minutes.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan (remember the marinade already contains oil) and when heated well, place the salmon fillets skin side down. Hold and press down the fillet lightly to ensure that the entire skin side is in contact with the pan for a few seconds. Then place the next fillet and repeat the same. Fry in batches if the pan is small.
  5. Remove and keep aside.

For the rice:

  1. Separate the cauliflower into large florets, the green bits can also be used for this but ensure that it is fresh and clean. Wash thoroughly and allow to dry before use.
  2. Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor to mimic rice; alternately use a grater if you do not have a processor.
  3. Warm the olive oil in a large wok and add the peanuts, paprika and lemon zest. Tip in the cauliflower along with the parsley, lemon juice and season with salt. Toss on high heat for a few seconds just to combine the flavours and remove. Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.

Serve the cauliflower rice with the fried salmon pieces and the chutney on the side. Tuck in!

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com


Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

A crazy title, isn’t it? I can explain…..

Months ago, when I attended the ‘Kids Business Blogger’s Brunch’, I was introduced to Flexo – a unique rigid construction brick and flexible tendon combination toy for children. The mum mode was switched on and I spent a considerable time learning more about Flexo; all for my Lego crazy son’s sake.

Lego is serious affair in our home. It is not just a toy, because it makes its presence felt everywhere. And it always takes up my favourite spot on the couch, not to mention the floor!

We do encourage his Lego craze in a responsible manner as he has always exhibited much creativity with it. He is never happy to stop with the catalogue, instead goes on to constantly make thoughtful designs, projects etc… using it as a base to express his creativity and imagination.

And Flexo seemed to be the perfect addition to it.

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Suitable for children above the age of six, Flexo is compatible with Lego as well as similar construction bricks. Apart from keeping your child engaged and away from unnecessary screen time, Flexo can be a good tool to develop fine motor skills along with fostering imagination and creativity in your child.

Also plays an important role in developing patience! I find many kids these days lack focus and concentration and toys like these have helped my son immensely with both of these. And when he gets onto a project, he is quite determined to get it done right returning back to it again and again rectifying mistakes till he is satisfied. Indirectly, I feel that this is a great skill to equip my son with.

The range of movement that Flexo tendons provide makes it a very unique addition to the brick enthusiasts. It’s available in different pack sizes and colours too. There are so many creative ways to use Flexo and can really lift your Lego creations up a notch.

The folks at Flexo were very kind to send me samples so that I could put it to the test before sharing my opinion here. When I gave it to Adi, there was only one condition I had – he needs to create something using Flexo and Lego that I can use for blogging. And this is what he came up with….

A little cute bowl for his food blogger mom!

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

So of course I did what I do best….make something that he would love to eat and also can be presented in his new Flexo bowl.

Considering the shape of the bowl, I decided to make Chocolate Tim Tam balls. We made these during the Christmas period (though I am so late in posting it here) which explains the Christmas decorations Adi insisted be a part of his bowl.

These chocolate balls need just three ingredients; Tim Tams, cream cheese and melted chocolate. It is one of the easiest treats to make and are fabulous edible gifts any time of the year.

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)


  1. 1 packet Tim Tam (Double Coat); use any variety you wish to
  2. 250gms cream cheese (softened)
  3. 300gms dark chocolate buttons
  4. For decoration
  • Grated chocolate
  • Sugar hearts
  • Edible silver balls


  1. In a food processor or using a rolling pin, crumb the Tim Tams and place in a bowl.
  2. Add the softened cream cheese and mix well to combine.
  3. Take a heaped tbsp each and roll into balls and place on a paper lined tray.
  4. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or longer till firm.
  5. Melt the chocolate buttons using the double boiler method or a microwave. Stir well to ensure that the chocolate mixture is smooth and without any lumps.
  6. Using two forks, coat each ball in the chocolate mixture, allowing the excess to drain and place on the paper lined tray.
  7. Garnish using the grated chocolate, sugar hearts and edible silver balls.
  8. Allow to set at room temperature and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

Giveaway Time!

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Flexo, I have two packs (Flexo standard pack orange and standard pack grey) valued at $180 to giveaway to one lucky subscriber. So if you have a Lego crazy kid at home, this would make an awesome gift.

To enter:

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id
  2. Comment below ‘what’s been the best Lego gift your child has ever received?’


  • Giveaway open only to Australian residents
  • End date: Feb 11th, 2018
  • The winner will be randomly chosen and notified through email (so make sure you subscribe using your email).

All the best!

This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified by email. 

Flex it with Flexo + a Recipe for Chocolate Tim Tam Balls (and a Giveaway too!)

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne)

Fabulous 2018 folks!

Hope all of you are having a great start to the year. I have, for sure, begun the year with much positivity, happiness and enthusiasm for work, family, friends…..everything about my life.

While I do not set resolutions, I do set a lot of goals at regular intervals throughout the year. And one of my major goals for this year is ‘balance’.

As work progresses and so does my family and social commitments, I realize that I can stay on top of my game only if there is a balance between all these parts of my life. When you have a business of your own, it’s very easy to spill over work into family time and vice versa. So that’s where I am going to strive and strike balance. Better management and clear cut division of time so that my family does not feel I am working all the time.

Have you set any goals for yourself this year?

Speaking of family time, I am so excited to take Adi to his first ever circus show – Silvers Circus, touring Melbourne currently.

Circus was a big thing in my childhood. We hardly had choices like today when it came to kids entertainment so going to the annual circus show in town was a huge thing. And most often, we would be taken from school like a picnic and I would get pocket money from my parents to buy cotton candy or some popcorn – and oh my, that was a big treat.

Surprisingly, Adi has never been to a circus and when Silvers Circus got in touch, I was so excited. I know we are going to have a fabulous time for sure.

Owned by Swiss born Anna & Anton Gasser, Silvers Circus began its journey 40 years ago and has evolved into one of the Top 10 circuses of the world. Stunning artists, Las Vegas style illusions, innovative stunts, humor, modern production techniques and much more, the Silvers Circus is a captivating experience for the young and old alike.

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

January Favourites + a Giveaway (Silvers Circus, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com


Silvers is currently touring Melbourne with shows at two locations, Mornington Peninsula (ended) and Dingley (January 31st to February 25th) with multiple show timings.

And they have been extremely kind to sponsor a giveaway i.e. one family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) for three different families to any show of their choice. Isn’t that awesome?

(This giveaway has now ended, and the winners have been notified by email)

So some rules;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email address (you can find the subscribe button at the top right hand side of the blog)
  2. Leave a comment below about what’s your most memorable experience visiting a circus.

Unfortunately, this one’s only for the Melbourne subscribers. Giveaway ends February 4th midnight and winners will be picked through a random draw and notified through email and on my social media channels.

Let’s hop on to top picks for the month of January;

This traditional South Indian dry chutney is super delicious and healthy.

5 easy steak marinades – and I love each one of it.

Indian style Nachos; yeah bring it on!

Baked but super crispy chicken wings; you definitely need this recipe in your life.

More fried chicken!

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is back on. Lots of interesting stuff and tickets are selling like hot cakes.

Do you have only one child? Why aren’t you having more? Won’t your child feel lonely? I am so tired of these questions. This article makes perfect sense and our reason is the second one ‘trust your gut’.


Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps

Not sure about all of you, but I am terribly late with my ‘back to school’ shopping.

As I have been away on holidays, I did not really have a chance to take stock of what are the new purchases I will need to make for Adi to get ready for school. And now, I just have a week left.

And while I will be scrambling to get the uniforms, shoes, bag etc…. I am so glad that the lunch box situation has been sorted, all thanks to Smash Enterprises.

My association with Smash began 2 years ago when I was introduced to the brand at a bloggers’ conference and I haven’t looked back since. And for the past two years, I have been reviewing their products and new launches during the ‘back to school’ period.

Check out my earlier posts here and here (there are some easy lunch box recipes too).

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash Enterprises is an Australian owned brand; and all their products are not just reliable and durable but designs that focus on reducing wastage. Moreover the products are BPA free, which is an extremely important factor for me.

There are so many choices when it comes to picking out the right type of lunch box for your child, based on individual needs and eating habits. Highly customizable products in varied sizes and shapes, that’s what I like best about Smash.

Smash products are sold at most of the big retailers like Coles, Woolworths, Officeworks, BigW, David Jones, Masters and Target. You can view the latest product catalogue, to see the entire range and also find out where the products retail as some of the designs are unique to certain stores.

One of my favourite products (and Adi’s too) is the Smash Box, also called the dual lunch box.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

It has a very simple yet practical design that is not just durable but also easy to dismantle and clean everyday. The twin compartments make it easy to segregate the different food items and there is also a sandwich belt to hold those unruly ones in place (how much I need that!). It also comes with a yoghurt container which we use a lot and also plenty of room to hold other nibbles like cheese, biscuits, fruits etc…

Smash also stocks small add on, multipurpose containers in several shapes and colours that can be used to pack food items like dips, pasta etc….

The lunch boxes also come with suitable bags which have the unique BLUE iQ mould resistant and antibacterial lining. It is free from BPA, Phthalate. lead and PVC. Also has an easy swipe clean design which is so practical for easy daily maintenance. Also available in so many colours and designs for that fun factor for children. Adi has chosen the ‘Camo’ design this time; apparently he is done with cartoons and Camo is the new cool!

Apart from the dual lunch box, some of the other popular designs are the bento box and this year’s launch, the Bento switch up which has removable dividers  that make it all the more easier to customize your child’s lunch box.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash also has a great collection for adult lunch boxes and I love the grown up designs and colours. Again really practical and reliable solutions for everyday use.

And now for the recipe….

Wraps are one of our go to school lunches. Adi loves the convenience of eating these while out and about on the playground; it’s non fussy and convenient. And I love the fact that there are a zillion fillings that I could think of for the wraps so that it does not become boring and repetitive.

I also find that wraps are an easy way to get him to eat all sorts of veggies; as long as it’s flavourful, he is not picking out ingredients. So today, we have this super delicious but easy veggie wraps using paneer or the Indian cottage cheese with assorted veggies.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

A really rich calcium source, paneer is often used in traditional Indian dishes but it is equally great to be eaten raw. Just make sure that you get good quality paneer and soak it in lukewarm water for 5 minutes to get super soft texture that is great as a salad topping or in wraps like this.

The only seasoning I have used is a touch of cumin and dukkah; both of which adds loads of flavour.

Do share your back to school experiences, any great brands you have discovered and your child’s favourite lunch box recipes.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

Paneer Veggie Wraps


  1. Whole meal Wraps (substitute with tortillas/Indian flat breads/pita pockets)
  2. 100 gms paneer (soaked in lukewarm water for 5 minutes); sliced lengthwise
  3. 1 yellow bell pepper; sliced lengthwise
  4. 1 tomato; remove the pulp and slice lengthwise
  5. 1 Lebanese cucumber; sliced lengthwise
  6. ½ tsp crushed cumin
  7. 1 tsp dukkah
  8. Salt; to season
  9. 1 avocado
  10. 1 lime


  1. In a bowl, add the paneer, cucumber, tomatoes and bell pepper.
  2. Season with salt, cumin and dukkah; toss gently to mix.
  3. Scoop the avocado into a non reactive bowl; add the juice of half a lime and mash well using a fork. Season with salt, taste and add more lime juice if necessary.
  4. Heat a whole meal wrap and spread the avocado smash on top.
  5. Place a handful or two of the paneer veggie mix and roll tightly into a wrap.
  6. Cover the bottom half with some foil which makes it easy for your child to eat.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

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