Category Archives: Lamb/Mutton

January Favourites

Back to school time for the little champ!

And that means this mamma, who is extremely poor with time management during holidays, finally gets back to routine and discipline. I am usually a very organized person but I don’t know what gets over me during holidays…not only am I a disorganized mess but also Miss Lazybones.

So after a month or so of late nights and equally late mornings, too much wine and binging on free YouTube movies, I am back to routine. Sigh of relief!

Reminds me that a month has gone by and it’s time to share with all of you what I have been enjoying reading, cooking and obsessing over in January…….

Starting with this breakfast smoothie! The late mornings meant that there has not been much of a smoothie action the whole of last month. So I am super glad that I am back to eating sensibly with my favourite breakfast smoothie; have you tried it? Let me know….

The Breakfast Smoothie - healthy, nourishing and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Though I haven’t been working much, January has been an excellent month for the blog. The traffic has considerably gone up (no clue why!!), landed some new work opportunities and collaborations which I will reveal in the coming months and ‘The Spice Adventuress’ was also chosen as one of the Top 10 Australian blogs 2017 by Australian Good Food Guide.

top10-blogger-round-2017

There’s been no dearth to good reads, recipes and creative ideas on the Internet especially with the beginning of a New Year and the holiday season. So the list is rather long and I strongly recommend grabbing a steaming cuppa….

2017 is the “Year of Gratitude” for me. What are you focusing on this year? Haven’t thought about it…maybe this article will be of help.

Planning….don’t undermine its power. It’s not enough keeping it in your head, put it down on paper and then start ticking off those lists; you will notice the difference. Here’s some help for you!

Blog of the month; absolutely drooling over the photographs!

Eyeing these flutes, what do you think?

Battambang delights….yet another amazing travel article by the Maverick Bird.

Kids will be kids! Hilarious…..and thank God I was born before social media happened.

This mango daiquiri. Yum!

And bookmarking this drink and this too for the colder days.

Couldn’t go past this tomato and bean soup; look at that rich colour.

And this thoroughly fulfilling and delicious pasta soup.

After my cauliflower rice obsession, it’s this tabbouli!

The next Taco Tuesday will feature this.

I need to perfect this delicacy; the most delicious accompaniment for meat curries.

This hot sauce is the bomb!

Have you ever tried the pol sambol? Deliciousness….

Time to drool over seafood (ofcourse!) with this warming crab stew and this sesame shrimp bowl!

Lamb with potatoes is a classic which we all love. But have you tried lamb with beans? Delicious….I tell ya!

Can I have a dozen of these please?

And finally, something for the pork lovers to drool over.

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Phillip Island – Penguins, Farms and Shades of Blue

(Grab a cuppa and read along what me and my family were upto on our short holiday to Phillip Island)

Located about 140km away from Melbourne CBD, Phillip Island is one of the most popular islands of Victoria, Australia.

With about 97kms of coastline, the island offers stunning panoramic views which make it a very popular destination among the locals and tourists alike. In spite of having lived in Melbourne for the past 3+ years, we have never visited the island (I know!) and so when an opportunity presented in the form of friends visiting us from India, we were quick to jump at it.

Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

In spite of having lots to offer, Phillip Island is often viewed as a one day trip and most people would want to tell you that there isn’t much beyond the famous Penguin Parade. Nothing can be far from the truth….this island has so much more to offer for those who look out for experiences beyond the obvious. This is also because most travellers and holiday goers view Phillip Island as a destination to get to and forget the journey that perhaps offers lots more.

We planned a 2 day trip and used Airbnb to book our stay at Blue Poles Holiday House on Thompson Avenue, Cowes. I would highly recommend this house; the location was perfect and it was a beautiful home with all the amenities and a warm, cozy ambience. Quite affordable too.

Since we were travelling with children, our first stop was at the Maru Koala Park, an award winning family run business located on the Bass Highway, Grantville en route to Phillip Island. The farm is home to koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and many other Australian native animals.

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

The park also has a Pirate themed mini golf area, a bit hit with the children and adults alike. This was my first time getting all close up and personal with the kangaroos and joeys. Make sure to pick up a feed box at the counter and have the joeys eating out of your hand. Highly recommended and so much fun with kids.

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Maru Koala Park also offers close encounters with the koalas, joeys, dingoes, reptiles etc… for an extra cost in addition to the general entry. These run daily at specified times so make sure you check before hand on the website before making the ticket purchase.

We opted for the close encounters with koala and joey. What you get is an extra bit of one on one time with the animals along with the keepers. Loads of cuddling, photo opportunities; the staff also click photographs (included in your ticket price) which can be collected at the counter at the end of your visit.

Koala close encounter, Maru Koala Park, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

Joey close encounter, Maru koala park, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

The centre also has a café for those who are planning on spending a considerable time at the park. The food was nothing much to write about, standard fare so give it a miss if you are not too hungry. The options are much better once you reach Phillip Island which is only about 15-20 minutes away.

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

On our way out, we visited the gift shop to bring back some souvenirs…we love collecting fridge magnets from our travels. Overall a great experience, but a tad bit expensive. It would be great if the centre could introduce a package rate for those who want many experiences instead of having to pay full price for each. Having said that, an experience children will love.

The next stop was The Nobbies at Phillip Island, that boardwalk stretch that offers you the most panoramic and spectacular views of the coast. Savour the walk along this stretch taking in the expanse of blue that seems to change shades every few steps. If you walk the stretch in a hurry just clicking photographs and selfies, you have totally missed the point. Spend a few minutes absorbing the beauty in front of you and these visual memories are what will stay with you forever unlike the photographs.

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

As you walk along the boardwalk, do keep an eye out for silver gulls, chicks and sometimes even little penguins. We were lucky to spot two and I even managed to photograph one….

With the Seal Rocks nearby, you can take a cruise to visit Australia’s largest fur seal colony but we had to give it a miss since we had a toddler accompanying us. Also the cruise runs only on specific days and fixed timings so make sure you have a plan and make bookings ahead.

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

And then it was time for the quintessential Penguin Parade, which perhaps put Phillip Island on the tourism map in the first place.

This is definitely once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nothing short of magic to watch hundreds and perhaps thousands of little penguins returning home at sunset to their colonies. A wildlife experience that’s indeed a surreal experience and one that is beyond words.

Have a walk inside the main centre where you can learn and gather lots of information about penguins. There are two souvenir shops for a spot of shopping; I bought home a banksia essential oil infuser and ofcourse fridge magnets.

There are different types of penguin viewing platforms and all that information can be found here. We chose the ‘Underground Viewing’, a world first facility that allows you a bird’s eye view of the penguins returning home.  Some of the little fellas returning home get so curious that they walk right up to the viewing glass.

Penguin Parade, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

You have the advantage of being indoors which is great if you have little ones along. Louise, our ranger for the evening, was such a warm and friendly person who not only provided us with lots of penguin information but also patiently answered my curious 7 year old’s doubts (hard task).

Penguin Parade, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

Seating is limited to 70 people so make sure you book ahead and if you hold a RACV membership, make sure to put the discount to good use.

There are also several eco friendly tours that operate so make sure to check out the website for the details.

Photography is not allowed at the Penguin Parade respecting the natural habitat of these little ones. But I will leave you with this photograph that I managed to click at the Nobbies.

Little Penguin, Nobbies, Phillip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

(I found a lot of people violating the ‘no photography’ clause sneakily getting clicks using mobile phones. Please guys, it is important to remember that we are in their natural environment and what we do can affect and threaten the little penguins)

We had a late start the 2nd day and the first place we visited was the Fisherman’s Co-operative at San Remo.

Fisherman's Co-op, San Remo - thespiceadventuress.com

Yet another region with spectacular views, the Co-op is also the place to stock up on fresh seafood or perhaps indulge in some fishing. Also a great place to relax in the sun; the children have access to clean sand and small pockets of water – a mini beach like experience.

At San Remo, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

Every day at 12.00pm, there is a Pelican Feeding program which we actually missed because we arrived a tad bit late. A walk along the San Remo jetty is highly recommended to enjoy the view and also spot interestingly named fishing boats.

San Remo Jetty, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

I bought back some super fresh duck fish fillets from the shop, a variety I have never tasted before. You could also sit down for a seafood indulgent lunch at the restaurant with this brilliant view as a backdrop.

Back on the road, our next stop was the Djinta Djinta Winery but then that’s another story in itself. Stay tuned!

Lamb Biriyani (Arcot style)

Wishing all my friends and followers a Happy, Blessed and Cheerful Christmas.

I wasn’t too sure if I will get time to post anything on Christmas day as we had originally planned to throw a party for some friends. But that plan got postponed and so we ended up celebrating a quiet, family Christmas this year – just the three of us.

My husband hails from a place called Vellore in Tamil Nadu, India which is ‘famous’ for its biriyani. In fact, no function in any Christian household is complete without a lamb or chicken biriyani. After marriage, the only dish my hubby asked me to learn from his mother is the lamb biriyani she makes…which I did and make quite rather well now.

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This lamb biriyani is prepared in the Arcot style which is famous as a spicy and very flavorsome dish. Lamb is often the meat of choice but chicken can also be used instead. The meat is first half cooked with spices and aromatics; it is then cooked completely along with rice and other whole spices to complete the dish. Like I mentioned, this biriyani is spicy and very flavourful, not really for those with faint-hearted taste buds. And the classic accompaniments for this lamb biriyani is cucumber-carrot raita and oil brinjal (small, baby brinjals prepared with spices)

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So no more talking – let’s get cooking this awesome lamb biriyani.

Ingredients:

For the rice:

1. Long grained rice – 1 kg, washed and drained
2. Red onion – 4-5, sliced thinly
3. Tomato – 4-5, sliced
4. Ginger paste – 1 ½ tbsp
5. Garlic paste – 1 ½ tbsp
6. Bay leaf – 2
7. Clove – 6
8. Cardamom – 6
9. Cinnamon bark – ½ inch
10. Peppercorns – 10
11. Green chillies (whole) – 10
12. Curry leaves – a handful
13. Coriander leaves – 1 cup, chopped finely
14. Mint leaves – 1 cup, chopped finely
15. Curd – 2 tsp
16. Turmeric powder – 1 tbsp
17. Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
18. Salt – to taste
19. Ghee – 3-4 tbsp
20. Oil – 2 tbsp

For the lamb:

1. Lamb/mutton pieces – 1 kg, cut into curry sized pieces
2. Red onion – 1, sliced
3. Tomato – 1 sliced
4. Ginger paste – 1 tsp
5. Garlic paste – 1 tsp
6. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
7. Pepper – ½ tsp
8. Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
9. Garam masala – ¼ tsp
10. Salt – to taste

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Method:

• Pressure cook the mutton pieces (2-3 whistles; meat should be 3/4th cooked) along with the rest of the ingredients and a little water till soft and tender.
• Keep a large non-stick handi (deep-bottomed pan) on medium heat and add ghee and oil.
• Once the oil has become moderately hot, add bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns and crackle
• Then add the sliced onions and sauté.
• As the onion becomes translucent, add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté again.
• Add curry leaves and whole chillies. Saute again.
• Once the onions have turned golden brown, add sliced tomatoes and sauté again for 2 minutes on high flame.
• Turn to medium heat and add chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves.
• As the oil clears, add turmeric powder and red chilli powder.
• Add curd and then lower the heat.
• Next, add the cooked mutton pieces. Measure the broth and add this too to the masala.
• Add the remaining amount of water (water: rice ratio is 2:1 if basmati or long grain rice is used.)
• Add salt to taste and bring to boil.
• Add the washed rice and mix well.
• Turn to high heat and cook covered for 5 minutes.
• Remove lid and mix well, turn heat to low and cook till the rice is done and all the water is absorbed.
• Turn off heat and let sit for a while before removing the lid.
• Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, fried onions and cashewnuts. Serve hot.

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Once again, Merry Christmas to all of you.

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Lamb with Okra

Lamb and potatoes – for many years, I thought that was the only combination that would work in terms of taste and texture. After my marriage into a Tamil Christian household, I realized that lamb can be ‘quite successfully’ teamed up with many vegetables like okra (lady’s finger, drumstick, white radish etc.) And recently, I also discovered that pairing lamb with okra, brinjal or green beans is common in the Meditteranean and Middle Eastern cuisine as well.

My mother-in-law makes and awesome lamb with drumstick dish which I simply love and the recipe below is my interpretation of her dish. I used the lamb/okra combination – my 2 favourite ingredients!

A warm casserole style dish that can be served with steamed rice, rotis, breads….

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Ingredients:

1. Mutton(lamb) – 1 kg
2. Okra – 10, cut in half
3. Vegetable Oil – 4-5 tbsp
4. Onions – 2, sliced finely
5. ginger paste – 1 tbsp
6. garlic paste – 1 tbsp
7. turmeric powder – ½ tsp
8. red chilli powder – 1 tsp
9. garam masala – ½ tsp
10. coriander powder – ½ tsp
11. curd – 1-2 tbsp
12. tamarind water – 2-3 tbsp
13. salt – to season
14. coriander leaves – chopped, for garnish
15. sesame seeds – for garnish


Method:

1.Cook the mutton pieces with salt and keep aside.

2.Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the okra and keep aside.

3.In the same pan, add a little more oil and sauté the sliced onions till golden brown. Add ginger and garlic paste along with turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt and sauté again. Then add enough water.

4.Add the cooked mutton pieces and then add tamarind water and curd. Add water if necessary and cook to bring it all together. Add okra at the end so that it does not become soggy and gloopy. Garnish with coriander leaves and sesame seeds.

Note – If you prefer the meat to be slow-cooked, then add the washed mutton pieces after step 3. Slow cook till the meat is soft and tender and then proceed to step 4.

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Murag (Iraqi Meat Stew)

I have never owned a cookbook in my life simply because I haven’t come across any which has captivated my culinary attention. I found most of the books fanciful with elaborate recipes and perfect photographs, both of which look un-achievable to a home cook like me. But after migrating to Australia, I began scouring the nearby public library for international cook books; especially those which can help me take a glimpse into the food culture of a region or country rather than just a bunch of recipes.

‘The Complete Middle East Cookbook’ by Tess Mallos was the first such find – an elaborate heavy book containing thousands of recipes and information about the culture and food habits of the entire Middle Eastern region. I would probably take a lifetime to try out all the recipes listed in this book but it fascinated me so much that I have decided to purchase one….

Murag literally means meat stew but this is the Iraqi version of the famous Middle Eastern meat stews. A vegetable is usually added to the stew and the popular choices of the region are okra, eggplant, green beans or peas. It is usually served with rice and then the combination is referred to as Timman Murag. (Adapted from the cookbook)

Apart from learning a great meat stew recipe, I also got to discover a new spice blend called Baharat which is used in Middle Eastern cuisine. A new one to add to my spice collection.

murag

Ingredients:

1. Lamb – 1 kg (the original recipe asked for boneless pieces but I used lamb with bones)
2. Vegetable oil – 5-6 tbsp
3. Onion – 2 large, finely chopped
4. Ripe red tomatoes – 2 large, chopped
5. Sugar – 1 tsp
6. Black pepper – to season
7. Salt – to season
8. Baharat – 1 tsp
9. Green beans – 100 gm, cut into half

To make Baharat (mixed spice blend):

1. Black peppercorns – ½ cup
2. Coriander seeds – ¼ cup
3. Cassia (cinnamon) bark – ¼ cup
4. Cloves – ¼ cup
5. Cumin seeds – 1/3 cup
6. Cardamom seeds – 2 tsp
7. Nutmeg – 4
8. Ground paprika – ½ cup

To prepare the masala, combine all the whole spices and grind to a fine powder and then add the ground paprika. Store in an airtight container. Baharat spice blend is also available commercially and can easily be bought at any spice store or Middle Eastern supermarkets.

Method:

• Clean the lamb pieces and keep aside. Heat 3-4 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the meat pieces over high flame. Remove and keep aside.
• Reduce heat, add remaining oil and add the chopped onions. Saute till translucent.
• Add chopped tomatoes, sugar, baharat, salt, pepper and sauté for one more minute.
• Add 2 cups water and bring to boil. Return the meat pieces back to the pan.
• Cook covered under low heat for 1 hour.
• After 1 hour check if the meat pieces are almost done and then add the green beans and cook till the vegetable is done, usually for another 10 minutes.
• Serve with steamed white rice or Khoubiz (Middle Eastern bread)

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