Category Archives: Mains

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks

Time management has always been a roller coaster ride for me. Some weeks, I am organized, motivated, super productive and all the good stuff but other weeks, it just drowns and overwhelms me completely. And this is not something that has happened post my blogging/self-entrepreneurial journey; it has always been the case.

Last week was one of the latter. I have no clue what went wrong but nothing was really getting accomplished. My mind was not in the right space, a wavering mish mash of random thoughts that left me emotionally drained for no reason at all. And soon the writing work was getting piled up which left me all the more frustrated.

Unlike many people who say that cooking is a stress buster, I cannot bring myself to even boil water if I am not in the right mood. But takeaways do not sit too well with me so I had to force myself into the kitchen. Instead of elaborate meals, I opted for no fail recipes that required minimal prep time, one pot meals etc…. and these chicken drumsticks fit perfectly.

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks - thespiceadventuress.com

Fried chicken is an all time comfort food. If crunch is the end result of dunking anything in oil, then it wins my heart…always. And if it’s savoury, then all the better.

So as the name of the dish goes, these are fried chicken drumsticks with some Asian flavours going on. You can use any part of the chicken; I went ahead with drumsticks because it had been a while since we had it. The only difference from any regular fried chicken is the Asian style marinade in which the drumsticks are marinated before going through the flour-egg-flour routine.

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are not a fan of the flour coating, then use breadcrumbs instead. And if you can find Panko, then all the better for the crunch. Remember that you only need a light dusting of the flour or the outer coating can be quite floury and gluggy. And get that oil temperature right before frying the chicken if you need the crunchy deliciousness.

If oven baked is your preference instead of deep frying, then I suggest the breadcrumbs as I feel the texture is better with crumbs than flour.

So there you go; so many options to make these delicious fried chicken drumsticks. And please do tag me #thespiceadventuress if you are posting on any social media; gives me great joy to see your creations.

Sichuan peppercorn salt - thespiceadventuress.com

Sichuan peppercorn salt - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 8 medium sized chicken drumsticks
  2. 3 tbsp soy sauce
  3. 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  4. 2 tsp sesame oil
  5. 2 tbsp sriracha (can be replaced with any chilli sauce)
  6. 3 tsp crushed ginger
  7. ½ tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  8. ½ cup cornflour
  9. ½ cup plain flour
  10. 2 eggs, beaten
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Vegetable oil; for deep frying
  13. Sichuan pepper-salt
  • 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 50gms salt

Method:

  • To prepare the Sichuan salt, toast the peppercorns in a pan (without any oil) on low heat for about 2 minutes. Shake the pan constantly to avoid burning the peppercorns. Remove and allow to cool. In the same pan, lightly heat the salt for about 30-40 seconds and then add to the peppercorns. Using a mortar and pestle (or grinder), crush well to get the Sichuan peppercorn salt. If you prefer a fine powder, you may sieve this but I like to use it a bit coarse.
  • To prepare the marinade for the chicken, mix all the sauces, wine vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and pepper. Add the chicken and mix well; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or longer if possible. Taste and season with salt only if required.
  • Combine the corn flour with the plain flour in a bowl. Add ½ tsp Sichuan salt to the flour and mix well.
  • Beat the eggs well in another bowl.
  • Remove the excess marinade from the chicken and then coat lightly with the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour before dipping in the beaten egg. Return back to the flour mixture for another light dusting and keep aside.
  • Heat oil for deep frying and fry the drumsticks in batches till golden brown and crispy. (Remember if the oil is too hot, the outside will brown up quickly without cooking the chicken inside properly).
  • Serve hot with Sichuan pepper salt.

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Moroccan Lamb Chops + Snippets from my Early Easter Party

It was an early Easter party for us this year. Actually totally unplanned; it was meant to be a barbecue party with a few friends which eventually turned out to be sort of an Easter lunch.

Succulent - thespiceadventuress.com

Before we get to the party and the recipes, let me share with you the story of my Weber and how it came into our lives. Way back in 2013, when I had just started blogging, I came across a giveaway hosted by Kikkoman in association with Weber. The prize pack was the new Kikkoman condiments being released that year along with a Weber Q200.

And on a lark I participated (I enter a lot of giveaways guys and its pretty common knowledge amongst my friends) and won!

The prize pack arrived and the interesting bit is that we were living in an apartment at that time where the Weber could not be used. And it stayed in a box for the longest time till we moved homes late last year. So finally the Weber that I got in 2013 was inaugurated in 2016 for a Christmas party. So naturally we are very excited to use it after waiting all these years that every party planned eventually ends up as a barbecue themed one.

There were a few recipes I had scheduled to be developed and photographed for the blog as well as clients and two of these fit in perfectly for the party menu. So the idea of a casual get together turned into an early Easter party. And coupled with other dishes, we soon had a feast on our table.

So here’s what I had on the menu for the day…

For starters, we had Cajun sausages and grilled corn.

The recipe for Cajun sausages has been there on the blog for the longest time and is a favourite in our home. It’s quick to put together and hence features regularly on our weekend entertaining.

No barbecue would be complete without grilled corn and we had it the classic way, rubbed with butter, lemon and chilli powder (substitute with paprika for less heat).

Cajun sausages, a delicious party starter - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled corn with butter, lemon and chilli - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had two meat dishes – Moroccan lamb chops and the Middle Eastern style beef kofta platter.

I have been dying to try out Noha’s beef kofta recipe for the longest time and this seemed to be the perfect occasion for it. No adaptations or tweaks; just followed the recipe as such. And yes, good quality beef mince with a bit of fat is highly recommended.

If you aren’t already following her, please do for all the deliciousness she puts up on her space.

Middle Eastern beef kofta platter - thespiceadventuress.com

Coming to Moroccan lamb chops, I had to share it with you guys because it’s simple, tastes awesome and everytime I have made it, it’s been a big hit.

Lamb chops with a bit of fat attached is recommended especially while grilling because it helps keep the meat moist and tender. The marination is simple and is best done a day ahead. I have frenched the lamb chops because it looks nice and pretty that way but you don’t strictly need to.

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Our choice of wine for the day was the Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015, a really balanced wine on the palate with hints of cherries, dark berries and savoury forest floor spice. I loved the fact that the tannins are not overpowering and has a delicate finish, thus pairing beautifully with grilled Moroccan lamb chops.

Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015 - thespiceadventuress.com

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Cooking with Alia

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg lamb chops; frenched
  2. ½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley; finely chopped
  3. ½ cup fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  4. ½ cup fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
  5. Salt; to season
  6. ½ cup olive oil
  7. 3-4 garlic cloves; grated
  8. 1 tbsp paprika
  9. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp cumin seeds; crushed

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix the herbs and spices with olive oil.
  • Add the lamb chops; season with salt and allow to marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight if possible.
  • Grill on high heat on both sides till done.
  • Enjoy!

And finally it was time for dessert. I had created an Easter themed icecream cake as a guest post for Stuff Mums Like. Since it was a warm day, the icecream cake made the perfect dessert to end our happy meal.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

An extremely simple one, this cake consists of three different icecream layers on a base of cookie crumble. Store bought icecreams were used; saves time and great for parties. Choose whichever flavours you prefer and the number of layers too. A totally customizable cake, it’s great for birthday parties too especially if you are hosting one at home for children.

The addition of the chocolate nest and chocolate filled Easter eggs add that special touch of festivity.

So hop over to their website for the full recipe.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

Baked Clams

Clams………do you find it delicious? The answer should be yes if you are taking the time to read through this post.

I love it! But then I love all sorts of seafood which includes all sorts of shellfish too. And clams are high on the favourites list….

Clams are little morsels of deliciousness; there’s not much you need to do but today I have gone all out to re-create this English summer classic.  It’s light but flavoursome from the butter, cream, cheese and white wine. Please don’t start counting calories; let’s just tuck in without any remorse whatsoever.

I found the most amazing fresh clams at the Hellenic Seafood Store inside Dandenong Market. By the way, have you read my previous post? If you haven’t, you need to because it is a guide to some of the best stores in the market and there is also a $200 voucher waiting for a lucky reader.

Clams - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Usually I prepare this South Indian style clams dish but this time, I thought of trying out this recipe. I am a big fan of white sauce, cheese, wine etc… etc…. (Yup you get the picture!). And this recipe for baked clams from an old Rachel Allen cookbook just seemed perfect.

It’s a pretty simple dish actually and extremely easy to prepare even though there are a few steps. It’s important to get your hands on really good quality fresh clams; very little time needs to be spent on cleaning and it also affects the taste.

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

These baked clams will not take you much time which makes it perfect even for a weekday indulgence. A bottle of crisp white wine and some sourdough bread is all you need. But a salad would be a great idea too if you want to balance out the richness of the dish.

So let’s dig in this deliciously creamy and indulgent Baked Clams!

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg fresh clams (weight with shells)
  2. 20gm unsalted butter
  3. 20gm plain flour
  4. 2 tbsp shallots; finely chopped
  5. 1 ½ tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  6. 120ml dry white wine
  7. 100ml water
  8. 200ml double cream
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  11. 40gm unsalted butter
  12. 40gm Cheddar cheese (you may use Gruyère too)
  13. 25 gm white breadcrumbs

Method:

  • Wash the clams well under cold running water. If there are any clams which will not shut when tapped on the shell, then discard those as it might not be fit to eat.
  • To prepare the roux, heat butter in a pan and add the flour when the butter has melted. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes taking care that the flour and butter does not burn. Remove from heat and keep aside.
  • In a large pot, place the clams, shallots, parsley, wine and water. Cook on high heat allowing the liquid to boil for a couple of minutes and all the clams have opened.
  • Remove the clams one by one from the pot and place in another bowl. If there are any unopened ones, allow more time to cook which will open up the shells. But if any remain closed even after cooking a few minutes, then discard those. Sieve the remaining liquid through a muslin cloth to remove any remaining grit.
  • Return the strained liquid back to heat, bring to boil. Then add the cream slowly and stir well; allow to boil and then add the roux to thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the remaining butter, cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • To assemble, place the clams in an oven proof dish, pour the sauce all over the clams and then add the crumb mixture evenly on top. Place in a hot oven or under a hot grill for 1- 2 minutes or till the crust is golden.
  • Serve warm

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

Baked Clams - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander)

‘Time Flies’ is an age old adage but the supersonic speed at which the flying is happening in my life currently leaves me so lazy to cook. Too many work and personal assignments that leave me completely drained of time and energy that the everyday meals has become such a chore.

And more often than not, it is not the actual cooking that takes time but rather than the planning of ‘what to cook’! So I decided to pull out my cookbooks (the few that I have) and find inspiration amongst the pages.

Today’s recipe is adapted from ‘The F-Word’!

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander) - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Yup, you heard it right. This fantabulous book by Mita Kapur is one of my most treasured ones because it is more than just recipes. It is a glimpse into Mita’s food crazed family and her constant juggles as a working mother. The recipes are from around the world with no borders whatsoever and perfectly suit my style of cooking. I have written more about this book here, if you would like to have a read.

And one of my all time favourite recipes from the book are these Malai Kebabs (minced chicken patties with spices, aromatics and cream).

This time, given the time situation, I chose a simple chicken stir fry. Just a handful of ingredients stir fried in a wok topped over rice or noodles; makes an amazing dinner in no time at all.

Chillies are a key ingredient and I have used both Thai red chillies and large green ones. The original recipe has much more heat but with a 7 year old at home, I had to tone down the heat factor. But it depends on what you like; adjust the number of chillies accordingly.

Always use boneless thigh fillets for making stir fries as the meat is much more tender and juicy while the breast meat often tends to go dry. And of course the wok, never undermine the importance of this cooking vessel in getting that perfect stir fry. A good quality wok is a must have in your kitchen!

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms boneless chicken thigh fillet; cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 3 Thai red chillies; chopped
  3. 3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves (with roots); chopped
  4. 4 garlic cloves
  5. 2 large green chillies
  6. 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
  7. 2-3 tbsp oyster sauce
  8. 4-5 tbsp vegetable oil
  9. Salt; to season

For garnish:

  1. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; chopped
  2. 1 spring onion (leafy part); sliced

Method:

  • Using a mortar and pestle, pound the red chillies, garlic and coriander leaves into a coarse paste; keep aside.
  • Heat 3-4 tbsp oil in the wok and add the chicken pieces. Stir fry the chicken pieces on high heat till 3/4ths done and remove.
  • In the same wok (add a bit more oil if necessary), add the pound chilli mixture and sauté on low heat for about a minute. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce and whole green chillies; also return the chicken pieces to the wok.
  • Stir fry on medium heat till done; add salt only if necessary.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and spring onions
  • Serve hot.

 

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander) - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Back to School with Smash Lunch Boxes + a Recipe for Easy Lunchbox Pasta Stir Fry

I think life has become a series of shopping lists, one after the other. Still getting over the effects of the Christmas list and it’s time already for the ‘back to school’ list. Sigh!

But in all fairness, life must go on and so does the shopping list. And one of the top spots in the back to school list is always reserved for a new lunch box.

Now we all agree that the lunch box is such an integral part of the school life. Apart from the fact that it is a source of nourishment and good health for our little ones, it is also an integral part of school memories. I can recollect so many fond memories when it comes to school lunches and so will all of you.

So presenting to you my favourite brand of lunch boxes from Smash. I discovered this brand two years back and haven’t looked back ever since. In fact, I even wrote a blog post about it last year; there is also another easy lunch box recipe so do check it out.

Back to school with Smash - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash is an Australian brand so that means they totally understand our needs and requirements better. All the products are BPA free and extremely durable and reliable. In fact, all the lunch boxes, drink bottles from last year are still in great condition and the only reason I would change is because I received these samples to test out. (The old ones will be donated to the local Red Cross, and I strongly urge you to do so too if your old ones are in reasonably good condition)

The new designs out this year are so bright and colourful making it real fun for the kids. Our favourite happens to be this one shown below…of course it has to be blue because Adi is in that phase where ‘pink is for girls’. I like how the compartments are divided in this model and also the fact that there is an outer insulated case (removable) which also has the new Blue IQ antibacterial lining. The wipe-clean formula helps to keep the case clean devoid of any sort of mould or mildew, smells fresh and also protects the life of the lunchbox.

Smash lunchbox and outercase with Blue IQ antibacterial lining - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash has an extensive collection so there are plenty of choices for all sorts of lunch requirements. I love the add-on containers in various sizes, shapes and colours which mean that the food can be kept divided. The yoghurt container is so cool; it keeps it chilled and my son absolutely loves his during summer. The tube shaped box for wraps and rolls are so cool too.

Back to school with Smash lunch boxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Back to school with Smash lunch boxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Back to school with Smash lunchboxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash has a good collection for the grownups too especially taking into account the male/female preferences. I remember my hubby cribbing about the lack of ‘male’ colours till we started using Smash. Now he has his favourite blue and brown case which I must admit is really cool.

I also love the ‘Soup, Salad, Smoothie’ containers that were launched this year. Extremely thoughtful designs; for eg: the salad container has a separate portion for the dressing which means goodbye to soggy salads for lunch. I have been using these containers a lot while travelling too. Sturdy and great for road trips.

Smash products are available easily at many department stores and leading supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths, Officeworks, Target, Kmart and David Jones.

Smash office lunchbox collection - thespiceadventuress.com

Now that we have chosen the perfect lunch box, let’s go ahead with the perfect lunch too – a delicious easy to make Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables.

For those who are new to Mortadella, it is basically an Italian sausage or luncheon meat that can be purchased from a deli. Often had as a cold cut like ham or salami in a sandwich, but I am going to lightly stir fry it for this recipe. If you do not have Mortadella, you can substitute it with ham, salami, sausages or any other kind of meat. Or even skip it all together if you want a vegetarian version. The only thing to remember while purchasing from a deli is to ask the staff to cut it into a thick chunk instead of thin slices.

Apart from the fact that this dish is ready in less than 30 minutes, I also like the fact that there is no sauce involved which makes it a great lunch box option; tastes great even when it has gone a bit cold. I usually prepare this pasta stir fry for dinner which doubles up for the next day’s lunch for all of us. One dish for everyone in the family…..

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 300 gms pasta curls
  2. 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  3. 200 gms Mortadella (cut into a single thick chunk); diced
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves; chopped
  5. 1 large red onion; diced
  6. 1 cup mushrooms; diced
  7. 1 red bell pepper; diced
  8. 1 zucchini; diced
  9. 1 ½ tsp chilli flakes (adjust to preference)
  10. 1 tbsp mixed dried Italian herbs (a mix of oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions in salted boiling water and keep aside; reserve a little pasta water too.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan and add the chopped garlic; sauté on low heat for a few seconds and then add the diced Mortadella; stir fry on high for a minute.
  3. Next add the onions and mushrooms; continue to stir fry for another 30 seconds. Finally add the zucchini and bell peppers; mix well to combine and season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and Italian herbs. Reduce heat and cook for a few seconds.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with ½ cup past water and mix well to combine.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy; or ensure it’s cooled well before packing into lunch boxes.

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post has been brought to you in collaboration with Smash Enterprises but the opinions expressed and recipe are entirely mine.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice

My love for markets is legendary, especially the local one in my suburb (Dandenong) which I would have mentioned on my blog at least a million times.

Looking back, I think it’s destiny that bought us to this suburb. Amidst all the confusion, loneliness and that strange feeling of newness in a foreign country, it was the local market here that was my refuge. The smell, sights and sounds always reminded me of home because I would get every single ingredient that I needed for my style of cooking which means a lot when you are so far from home. And it’s true that food opens doors where none exists. And for me that door was this blog…..

These days, I don’t visit the market as often as I used to but I am still there at least once every fortnight. It’s my space to get inspired and to re-ignite the creativity and passion I have for food. All the beautiful, fresh produce gives me such a buzz and there are so many ideas that pop into my mind after a trip like this.

And with Christmas almost here, markets are just brimming with such amazing produce and I simply couldn’t go past the seafood section. I had to come back with some fresh Australian raw prawns; don’t waste your hard earned money buying prawns from other countries when you can get some amazingly fresh and delicious prawns caught right here in Australia. Believe me, it’s totally worth those few extra dollars.

After all the shopping, I was only in the mind for a one pot dish and nothing elaborate. And this delicious Indo Chinese style prawn fried rice is what came to mind.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

The Indo Chinese style fried rice is quite different from the traditional Chinese version. It’s a lot more fried where the grains of rice are separate unlike the sticky original version. I wanted a bit of a spice kick and used long dry red chillies for smoky hot undertones.

To get the flavour from the dry red chillies, add it to the cold oil and then heat on low flame. Toss in the prawns with a handful of different vegetables along with perfectly cooked rice and finish off with a dash of soy and tomato chilli sauce.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms long grained rice
  2. 500gms medium sized prawns; deshelled and deveined
  3. 1 large carrot; julienned

This post is bought to you in association with Supreme Seafood so the complete recipe can be found here.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt

What a newsworthy month it has been! And while the headlines continue to shock and stir us, the social media is filling up with delicious treats that promise us much joy and hope this festival season.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have no plans whatsoever for Christmas or New Year; in fact we haven’t thought or discussed about it as a family. There will be some sort of celebration and most likely a quiet one with just a couple of close friends….that’s our style of entertaining.

I have always been picky and choosy about my friends. And while during my teens, that was seen as a disadvantage (my parents used to get a tad bit worried that I walked around lonely with a book in hand most of the time), it eventually turned out to be the biggest strength of my life. My ability to choose just a handful of good people as friends ensured that I was always surrounded by positivity.

And luckily I am married to a person who shares that idealogy though it took him a while to get that. He had a zillion friends only to discover that when life dealt him a series of blows, there was hardly anyone to turn to. So now we have our chosen few, friends who are non-judgemental, accept us the way we are and shares a common thread of mutual respect and understanding not confined by social norms. And I know, plan or not, we will celebrate this holiday season with a couple of them.

While I am getting busy developing, testing and photographing new recipes leading to the festive season, the reality of everyday dinners is always on the horizon. So when Maraya, who is one of the super moms behind the popular blog ‘Stuff Mums Like’ reached out to me for a guest collaboration, I was thrilled.

While there were a zillion ideas buzzing in my head, I zeroed in on tacos….I mean, who doesn’t like tacos. I am sure it’s a fave at every home. And this recipe is bound to be a big hit with the kiddos; my 7 year old adores it. And if there are any leftovers, you can convert it into a wrap or add it to the salad bowl for a delicious lunch the next day.

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Also, don’t forget to make an extra batch of the fajita seasoning; a very handy blend in your spice cupboard.

Fajita Seasoning - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. Mini wheat tortillas
  2. 500gms skinless chicken thighs; cut into thin strips
  3. 1 orange bell pepper; cut into strips

This is a guest post in collaboration with Stuff Mums Like, so kindly head over to their website for the full recipe.

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Kashmiri Rista……Sandwiched!

If you have travelled through Kashmir or have been lucky enough to eat at a Kashmiri wedding, then you would have definitely come across Rista.

Rista is a famous meatball preparation that holds a prestigious place in the Kashmiri wazwan. For those who don’t know what a wazwan is, it is the elaborate traditional feast of Kashmiri cuisine. A multi course, non-vegetarian meal that has become symbolic of the culture of this magnificent region.

Always made using lamb/goat, Rista is a delicious, aromatic and rich meatball curry with a classic deep red colour from the Kashmiri chillies and saffron – two ingredients that are available everywhere these days yet, must be an integral part of your shopping list when visiting Kashmir.

Rista is a traditional dish and involves a bit of prep work like most traditional dishes. The key components of this dish are the lamb mince itself (though in Kashmir, it is most likely to be goat mince, especially from the leg part), chilli water and shallot paste; it is the unique combination of these ingredients that makes this dish special. The mince is traditionally beaten with a wooden pallet to attain the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture but that might not really work out in our modern kitchens where a food processor would ‘almost’ do the job.

Though traditionally this dish would be in a curry format i.e. with semi thick gravy, I decided to give it my own spin.

Kashmiri Meatball Sub with Baby Spinach, Pickled Shallots and Jalapenos – yes, that’s how I transformed the Kashmiri Rista.

Kashmiri Rista - a traditional meatball preparation from Kashmir in a new format - thespiceadventuress.com

I haven’t touched or altered the recipe of making the Rista in any manner and I want to preserve its originality. Only the sauce gets simmered down till it just about coats the meatballs. Shallots are a vital ingredient of Kashmiri cuisine and hence being used in a pickled form to add the sour, salty punch and to cut through the richness. Fresh spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers add a healthy, vibrant freshness and texture to the sandwich…and of course, the jalapenos for that extra kick of heat.

If you do not fancy a subway, you can still follow the recipe and enjoy a delicious and authentic version of Kashmiri Rista. But for those who don’t mind a bit of experimentation in the kitchen, try out my version of the Kashmiri Meatball Sub with Baby Spinach, Pickled Shallots and Jalapenos.

Kashmiri Rista - a traditional meatball preparation from Kashmir in a new format - thespiceadventuress.com

And once again thanks to an amazing friend, Supriya (my expert on Kashmiri cuisine) for teaching me yet another classic from the region. I also learnt the Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs) and the classic Mutton Roganjosh from her, both of which you need to check out.

Ingredients:

For the Rista:

(Yields 12-13 meatballs)

  1. 500gm lamb mince (with at least 25%fat content)
  2. 1 whole egg
  3. 4 cups water
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  6. 5-6 tsp kashmiri chilli water
  7. ½ tsp garam masala
  8. 1 ½ tsp shallot paste
  9. 2 tsp saffron water
  10. 2 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  11. ½ tsp shahi jeera/caraway seeds

For the sandwich:

  1. Crusty bread rolls (3 meatballs per sub which makes around 4 subs)
  2. A handful of baby spinach
  3. 2 semi-ripe tomatoes, cut into even discs
  4. 1 cucumber, sliced finely
  5. 1 cup pickled shallots
  6. 2 fresh jalapenos, sliced finely into discs

Notes:

To make Kashmiri chilli water, soak 10-12 dried Kashmiri chillies (stems and seeds removed) in warm water for at least 30 minutes. Grind well with water and sieve to get the vibrant red chilli water. Can be refrigerated upto 2 weeks or store frozen as cubes for upto an year.

To make shallot paste, roast 10 – 12 shallots in a pan with a tbsp of oil till light brown. Grind to a paste with as little water as possible. Excess can be refrigerated and stored for upto a week or frozen and used upto a month.

Method:

  1. To make pickled shallots, slice the onions, add 1 tbsp salt, a pinch of sugar and 1 tbsp vinegar. Keep for at least 10 minutes; mix the shallots by hand and then squeeze out all the liquid from the onions.
  2. To prepare the meatballs, add the lamb mince along with one egg to a food processor (If you are adding fat separately, make sure it is added cold). Season lightly with salt and blend for a minute or two. Wet your hands and remove the mince mixture onto a plate.
  3. Place a pan with 4 cups of water on the stove to boil. Begin to roll the meatballs as the water starts to heat up.
  4. Wet your hands lightly to roll the meatballs easily; add each meatball into the water as soon as you roll it.
  5. As the meatballs begin to cook, you will notice the fat begins to leach out into the water which turns it cloudy (this is an important step). Move the meatballs around in the pan to ensure that it cooks evenly on all sides.
  6. Once the meatballs are looking springy or have begun to rise to the surface (this should happen in 5-6 minutes), add the turmeric powder.
  7. Then add the chilli water (do not get worried about the quantity as this does make the dish spicy) and garam masala.
  8. Next, add the shallot paste followed by saffron water. Taste and season with salt; cook for another 1 minute.
  9. Remove the meatballs carefully into a bowl and continue to cook the sauce to reduce and thicken the consistency. You need just enough sauce to coat the meatballs and also to drizzle a bit in the sandwich. Once this consistency has reached, return the meatballs to the pan, mix and remove from heat.
  10. In another pan, heat ghee and add to the meatballs; cover immediately and keep for 5 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, assemble the other components of the sandwich.
  12. Place all the different vegetables and meatballs in separate bowls so that each person can make his own sub – a fun way to bring family and friends together.

Even though it might look like a whole lot of steps, this is an easy to make recipe once you have all the ingredients at hand.

Bon Appétit!

Kashmiri Rista - a traditional meatball preparation from Kashmir in a new format - thespiceadventuress.com

Filipino style Grilled Barramundi

An Indian interpretation of a traditional Filipino dish known as Fish Sarciado.

When I first came across this recipe, I found it a bit strange as it mentioned the use of eggs. Now I have never paired fish and eggs or eaten a similar combination before so it all sounded weird. But still the flavours struck a chord because it reminded me of this tomato egg chutney.

Not being one to turn down a challenge, I decided to give it a go but with my own tweaks because the original recipe sounded a bit bland to my bolder tastebuds. So out came my spice jars and a few experiments later, I had a winner on my plate.

Traditionally whole fried fish is used, often as a way of giving leftovers a new life. But I decided to grill the fish as it is a healthier choice. You also have the option to grill it on the stovetop, use an oven or a barbie….more choices.

Barramundi - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Filipino style Grilled Barramundi - an Indian interpretation of a traditional Filipino dish - thespiceadventuress.com

Marinating the fish with a spice paste definitely adds more flavour especially when you are using a whole barramundi. At the same time, I didn’t want it to be overpowering to take away from the main flavours either. So a simple marinade using Kashmir chilli powder (more colour, less heat), pepper and cumin mixed in oil was used to coat the fish.

If you are preparing this dish for a party or get together, I would suggest marinating the fish the day you buy it and then refrigerate or freeze depending on when you will be using it. This allows time for the flavours to penetrate well especially for a fleshy fish like barramundi.

The rest of the dish comes together very easily and is best done just before serving as it tastes best when served warm. I love whole fish preparations when feeding a crowd and it always creates quite a drama when presented as the centre piece at the table. Gets everyone talking and reaching out for their favourite bits; the communal feeling that is best experienced over food.

Filipino style Grilled Barramundi - an Indian interpretation of a traditional Filipino dish - thespiceadventuress.com

Don’t be put off by the fish and eggs pairing, do try it out and let your tastebuds make the decision.

Recipe adapted from apronandsneakers.com

Filipino style Grilled Barramundi

Ingredients:

  1. 1 whole barramundi (approx 800gms); cleaned, descaled and gutted
  2. Marinade for fish
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder

This post is bought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood so find the full recipe here.

Filipino style Grilled Barramundi - an Indian interpretation of a traditional Filipino dish - thespiceadventuress.com

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

Srilankan roasted curry powder - thespiceadventuress.com

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

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

Ingredients:

  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

Method:

  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

Method:

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

Method:

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 - thespiceadventuress.com

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