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Category Archives: Mains

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise

School holidays are here again. And for me, that means to take a semi-break; to slow down a bit on the work front and do only the absolute necessary stuff and not take up any demanding projects.

Even with menu planning, the focus is on easy to put together dishes that would free up time to spend with Adi and also take him to different holiday activities. How are you spending the school holidays? Do let me know in the comments below if you have any exciting activities or holiday trips planned…

When it comes to easy to put together meals, tacos always make it to the list. There are a zillion options and with a bit of prep, you have an amazing meal for the whole family to sit down and enjoy together.

Today, I am making these delicious Beef steak tortillas along with homemade avocado salsa and chilli mayonnaise.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

The best thing about using a good quality porterhouse steak is the fact that it is not just delicious, but cooks really fast. While I generally like to cook my steak medium rare, I have gone for well done this time since Adi was having it too and he prefers it so. But well done does not have to mean dry; if you sear both sides of the steak on a grill pan and then finish off in the oven, then you get a really juicy well done steak. And always allow to rest before slicing.

And for that extra flavour, a simple spice rub was used for the steaks which really add to the deliciousness.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

Usually for our tacos, we go with a guacamole or avocado crema and a separate salsa (like this mango salsa when mangoes are in season or a spicy Poblano salsa). But this time, made the process simpler with an avocado salsa. I used a nearly ripe avocado; the creaminess of the avo coats all the other ingredients when tossed through which gives the satisfaction and deliciousness of both a guacamole and salsa rolled into one.

Finally coming to the mayonnaise, if you have ever tried homemade mayo or aioli, you will never want to eat the store bought ones again. Agreed buying it is convenient and provides a better shelf life, but there are always a long ingredient list of substances that is not the best for your body. While it might seem difficult initially, making a mayonnaise at home is easy and once you get the hang of it, you will be more than happy to make a weekly batch.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

So let’s get cooking these delicious beef steak tortillas with avocado salsa and chilli mayo….

Ingredients:

  1. 2 large Porterhouse steaks
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Olive oil; for grilling
  4. 1 packet mini tortillas
  5. Fresh coriander leaves; to serve
  6. Lime wedges; to serve
  7. Shredded lettuce; to serve

Spice rub:

  1. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. 1 tsp fennel seeds
  4. 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  5. Olive oil

Note – Reserve some of the spice rub before making the paste to sprinkle over the final tacos.

Avocado Salsa:

  1. I semi ripe avocado; diced
  2. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tomato; finely chopped
  4. Lime juice, as required
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 1 tsp pickled jalapenos; finely chopped
  7. 1 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped

Chilli Mayonnaise:

  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. Salt, to season
  3. 1 bird’s eye chilli (add more according to preferences)
  4. 1 small garlic clove
  5. 1 lime
  6. Vegetable oil

Method:

  1. To prepare the spice rub, dry roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds on low heat till aromatic. Cool and blend to a coarse powder. Mix the dried Italian herbs and enough olive oil to make a coarse paste.
  2. Place the steaks on a plate, season with salt and rub the spice paste on both sides. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. To prepare the chilli mayo, grind the garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle. Add the egg yolk and the juice of half a lime to a processor and blend till smooth. Slowly add the oil in a thin trickle, processing at the same time till the thick, emulsified consistency of the mayo is achieved. Add the chilli paste, season with more salt and lime juice if necessary and process for a few more seconds. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate till use.
  4. To make the salsa, add all the ingredients to a bowl and toss well.
  5. To grill the steaks, oil and heat the grill pan to smoking hot and place the steaks. Cook on both sides for 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness for medium rare. (For a well done yet tender steak, preheat the oven to 180°C before grilling. Grill for 2 minutes on either side and then finish off cooking in the oven for another 2-3 minutes). Rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  6. Lightly warm the tortillas and place all the components on a serving
  7. To assemble a taco, spread some chilli mayo on a tortilla, add some lettuce followed by steak pieces. Top with avocado salsa, coriander leaves, sprinkle a pinch of the spice rub followed by a generous squeeze of lime.

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

Beef steak Tortillas, Avocado Salsa, Chilli Mayonnaise - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

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Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

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

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

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

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

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Lucknowi (or Awadhi) style Kofta Pulao

 

 

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto)

A Christmas feast for two!

Or three, as in our case…..

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto) - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s not always possible to prepare a huge feast especially if you are a small family and want to spend the day just with yourselves, by choice or circumstance. And today’s dish is just perfect for that; it’s indulgent yet easy to put together with limited portions that you are saved the headache of addressing leftovers.

Back in India, Christmas was always with the extended family and that meant a large feast that the whole family would pitch in to prepare. But when we moved to Melbourne, we hardly knew anyone and the first two years, spent Christmas just by ourselves. Well I am not complaining at all because we love our company; the three of us together can make any meal festive.

But I always felt challenged about the menu.

While I would desire to roast a whole turkey or chicken or perhaps a leg of lamb roast, the thought of eating leftovers day in and day out already made me shy away from the idea. And that’s when I started to put together meals like this that had the classic elements yet portioned for our family’s needs.

I have also used sage extensively in today’s recipe as my herb garden is doing well this summer and I have a lot of sage growing currently.

Sage has a warm, musky and earthy essence, which makes it perfect to be paired with cured meats, veal, pork, lamb etc…. It also has many medicinal properties, the best of which is its antioxidant capacity. Grows easily in pots especially during the warmer months, sage is definitely a great herb to grow in your garden.

Sage - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Herb garden - thespiceadventuress.com

In today’s recipe, I have used sage as part of the marinade to flavour the pork fillets and also added it to the burnt butter for the mashed potatoes.

There are so many different styles of making mashed potatoes but this one adapted from Half Baked Harvest’s blog uses crème fraiche and sage brown butter. I loved the flavour that crème fraiche imparted to the potatoes, creamy and slightly tangy and not as heavy as using regular cream. And that final addition of brown butter made these mashed potatoes so luxurious and decadent.

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of our favourite vegetable sides is grilled asparagus and this time, I decided to grill and then toss it through some parsley pesto that I had in the freezer. Finished off with crushed walnuts and it turned out to be one of the most delicious sides ever.

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto) - thespiceadventuress.com

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto) - thespiceadventuress.com

I guess that’s enough explanation; let’s get on with the recipes for Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto)

Ingredients:

Pork fillets:

  1. 1 large pork fillet; cut into 2 cm medallions
  2. 10 large sage leaves; finely chopped
  3. 2 medium garlic cloves; grated
  4. 1 lemon; juice and zest
  5. 2 tbsp olive oil + extra for grilling
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Freshly crushed black pepper; to season

Mashed potatoes:

  1. 800gms potatoes (choose a variety suitable for mashing); peeled and cubed
  2. 2 medium garlic cloves
  3. 1 cup whole milk
  4. 1 cup crème fraiche
  5. 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Freshly crushed black pepper; to season
  8. 6-7 fresh sage leaves

Grilled Asparagus:

  1. 2 bunches asparagus; ends trimmed
  2. 1 ½ tbsp parsley pesto
  3. Chilli flakes
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Olive oil, for grilling
  6. A handful of walnuts; crushed

Note – To make the parsley pesto, simply substitute basil with parsley. But if you would like to have a recipe for the same, please comment below.

Method:

Pork fillets:

  1. In a glass bowl, mix the sage, garlic, juice and zest of 1 lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix and marinate the pork fillets for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
  2. Heat a pan (I used a cast iron pan but you can use a stove top or bbq grill for the same) and add olive oil. When the pan’s smoking hot, place the pork fillets (reduce heat to medium) and cook for 4-5 minutes on one side before turning. Cook for another 1-2 minutes and remove. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. Take care not to crowd the pan and cook in batches.

Mashed Potatoes:

  1. Cook the potatoes and garlic in salted boiling water till the potatoes are cooked well and tender enough to mash.
  2. Drain and add the potatoes back to the pan. Mash and keep aside.
  3. In another pan, melt butter and add the sage leaves. Cook the butter on low heat constantly stirring till the butter has taken on the golden brown hue. Keep aside.
  4. Return the mashed potatoes to heat and add the milk and crème fraiche. Stir through and mash well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Once you have got the desired consistency (add more milk if necessary), add half of the brown butter with sage and mix through.
  5. Remove to a serving bowl and pour the remaining brown butter with sage on top.

Grilled Asparagus:

  1. Brush the grill pan with olive oil and heat till smoking hot.
  2. Grill the asparagus for a minute and remove to a bowl.
  3. Add the parsley pesto and season with salt if necessary. Toss well.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and crushed walnuts on top.

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto) - thespiceadventuress.com

Pork fillets (with sage, lemon and garlic), Mashed potatoes (with sage, brown butter) and Grilled Asparagus (with parsley pesto) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms

Of course pasta has to make its appearance into my weekly menu. But this is the first time I am trying out a mascarpone based sauce.

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms - thespiceadventuress.com

A no-brainer recipe and a great alternative to Bechamel sauce especially if you want a creamy one without the heaviness of a Bechamel. Also the process of making the Mascarpone sauce is much easier in comparison.

This dish could just be spaghetti and mascarpone sauce without the addition of anything else. But I wanted more flavour, something more meaty yet nutritious so mushrooms were the natural choice. And mushrooms lend itself very well to a creamy sauce like this one. Perfect for a busy day or when you need to feed a crowd with minimal fuss!

Do you make pasta often? What’s your favourite way to eat pasta?

Here are a few other suggestions if you are fond of pasta like my family….

  1. Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese
  2. Pasta with Kale, Bacon and Mushrooms
  3. Penne with Tuna (in Chilli Oil)
  4. Spaghetti with Chicken Sausages in White Sauce
  5. Pasta stir fry with Asparagus, Broccoli, Peppers and Snow Peas

So let’s jump straight in to the recipe for Spaghetti, Mascarpone sauce and Mushrooms…

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 200 gms spaghetti
  2. 15gms unsalted butter
  3. 250gms mascarpone cheese
  4. ½ cup milk
  5. ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Freshly crushed black pepper; to season
  8. 3 tbsp olive oil
  9. 1 ½ cups assorted mushrooms
  10. 1 garlic; grated
  11. 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  12. ¼ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped (reserve some for garnish)
  13. A handful of walnuts; coarsely crushed
  14. Grated parmesan; to serve

Method:

  1. Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water as per packet instructions and keep aside.
  2. In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the grated garlic followed by the mushrooms. Stir fry on high heat and season the mushrooms with salt and chilli flakes. Keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, melt butter and add the mascarpone cheese. Mix well; add the milk to loosen up the sauce followed by the Parmesan. Season with salt and black pepper; cook till all the ingredients are combined to get a smooth sauce. Add the spaghetti, mushrooms and parsley; toss well to combine.
  4. Serve hot with chopped parsley, crushed walnuts and grated parmesan.

Spaghetti, Mascarpone Sauce, Mushrooms

 

 

 

Fiji style Crab Curry

Some days the words just don’t come….

And it’s usually when my mind is overwhelmed and I am so busy trying to achieve a zillion things in a short period. Pretty much how I feel currently with the holiday season coming up soon.

I hardly get overwhelmed or stressed over personal and emotional happenings; pretty sorted that way. But when it gets to physical things like working, events to attend, parties to plan etc… that’s when I feel so beat up and tired. And that’s exactly the current state of affairs. There are so many recipes to test, shoot and write, so many events to attend (in spite of saying yes only to a quarter of the invites), Christmas parties to plan, a trip to India early next year for my brother’s wedding which means a whole lot of wedding shopping to do…the list goes on.

Since I have nothing more to say apart from how crazy things are at the moment, I will just get on with today’s recipe – a Fiji style Crab Curry.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

With Fiji being so close to Australia in terms of geography, there are so many people I know who are from the island. But when it comes to food, I am totally clueless. I do know that Fiji cuisine is heavily influenced by the various migrants and settlers so it’s totally normal to see an Indian curry sitting beside a native dish. And seafood is an integral part of the diet due to the coastal topography.

I found the recipe for this Fiji style crab curry in my recipe journal (basically a bunch of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers that I used to collect way before the food blogging journey). And so I have no clue whom to credit the recipe to. In fact I am not even sure if it’s the most authentic or traditional way of making crab curry in Fiji.

The original recipe called for large mud crabs to make this curry, but I decided to use blue swimmer crabs as these are in season and also because I love the flavour of these..so sweet and delicious.

Blue swimmer crab - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Medium thick milk from freshly grated coconuts is the best to make this Fiji style Crab Curry, but canned coconut milk will work just fine too (tends to be slightly more sweet than fresh coconut milk). The crabs are broken down so that the flavour from all the spices and aromatics seeps into every nook and crevice of the claws and body which makes this curry a delicious delight. And of course, ensure there are plenty of napkins around, there’s no neat or demure way to eat crabs.

In traditional Fiji cooking, a hot masala powder would be used but sourcing that would be difficult for most people, hence I used garam masala  which is quite similar to the hot masala. If you live in Australia, there are plenty of stores that stock Fijian products so you can use the hot masala itself.

In spite of all the spices, this is a very mild and light curry that’s perfect for the warmer days. It’s creamy yet light and soupy, sweet yet with a hint of spice that’s best enjoyed over a bowl of steamed white rice.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Fiji style Crab Curry

So let’s get cooking a delicious pot of this Fiji style Crab Curry…

Ingredients:

  1. 3 blue swimmer crabs
  2. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  3. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  4. 1 inch ginger; julienned

Recipe developed for Supreme Seafood, so find the full recipe on their website..

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf

Ancient grains, lentils, pulses have all gone through a revival of sorts in the recent years with a large section of the world waking up to its benefits, not only to preserve these ancient ingredients but also sick and tired of what the processed food culture is doing to our health and well-being.

As I mentioned in my post on French Green Lentils, I had been pretty one-dimensional in my knowledge or use of grains, lentils and pulses. India has always had a rich agricultural heritage when it came to this food category but many of our households have not embraced it well in the modern times. And while my mom did try to introduce us to a large variety of these, I was quite the difficult to please kid who loved food but had very strong likes and dislikes.

While I was easy with vegetables and fruits, I always found it hard to embrace different types of grains or lentils. As my food knowledge grew over the years, especially after getting exposed to different cuisines, I realized that it was the taste of the dish that was putting me off a particular ingredient than the taste or texture of the ingredient itself. For eg: I would love a particular type of lentil in a salad but not in a traditional Indian style lentil curry.

Thus began the quest to discover and experiment with different cuisines, recipes etc… that will help me not just to embrace these ingredients again but genuinely enjoy the experience too.

And that’s how a packet of freekeh ended up in my pantry….

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf - thespiceadventuress.com

Freekeh is an ancient grain that is made from green durum wheat. It is highly nutritious and a great source of protein apart from being rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins and minerals like manganese. Freekeh is often referred to as green wheat as the grains are harvested when young and green which makes it higher in nutrients when compared to mature wheat grains.

Freekeh is extremely popular in North African, Meditteranean and Middle Eastern cuisines often used in salads and stews. But these days, freekeh has become more versatile in its use including the use of freekeh flour to make breads, pasta etc…

I decided to keep it simple and use it in a pilaf which makes it an excellent replacement for rice. The idea for a pilaf came about since I had a similar dish in a restaurant before. And a bit of research later, I found an Ottolenghi recipe for a freekeh pilaf which seemed to fit the bill. But of course I had to tweak it to suit my tastebuds and also included chicken to make it a one pot, wholesome dish. Feel free to omit the chicken if you want to keep it vegetarian.

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf - thespiceadventuress.com

Freekeh is available as whole and cracked grains; I have used the cracked variety as I preferred the texture better. These grains are easy to cook and require very less time.

Note – The colour of my pilaf is slightly darker due to the meat stock used; but if you use a chicken or vegetarian stock, then the final colour of the dish will be much lighter.

So let’s get cooking this delicious Freekeh Pilaf, with caramelized onions, garlic, diced chicken and flavoured with paprika, cumin, all spice and cinnamon. Drizzled with a garlicky lemony yoghurt dressing, this is a delicious one pot meal under 30 minutes.

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup cracked freekeh
  2. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  3. 2 tbsp olive oil
  4. 2 medium brown onion; finely sliced
  5. 2 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  6. 250gms boneless chicken thigh; diced
  7. ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  8. ½ tsp all spice powder
  9. ½ tsp smoked paprika
  10. 1 tsp crushed cumin
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  13. 3 cups stock
  14. A handful of dried barberries
  15. 2 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
  16. 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  17. Olive oil; to drizzle while serving

Yoghurt sauce:

  1. 1 cup plain yoghurt
  2. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  3. 1 tsp lemon juice
  4. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Soak the cracked freekeh for 5 minutes and then wash thoroughly under running cold water. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Soak the dried barberries and toast the pine nuts. Keep aside for serving.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add the onions and garlic; sauté till the onions are softened and light brown.
  4. Add the diced chicken pieces and cook on medium heat till almost done.
  5. Then add all the spices and the drained freekeh; mix well to combine.
  6. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. (If using store bought stock, make sure you taste and add salt as the stock often contains salt).
  7. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to lowest and cook covered for 15 minutes or till all the stock has been absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes.
  9. To prepare the yoghurt sauce, add the plain yoghurt to a bowl along with grated garlic and lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary and season with salt. Keep aside.
  10. Remove the lid and allow the pilaf to cool for another 3-5 minutes.
  11. To serve, garnish with barberries, parsley, pine nuts. Drizzle the yoghurt sauce on top followed by the olive oil.
  12. Tuck in!

Freekeh Chicken Pilaf

 

 

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry

Curry for change!

The ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign is back, and I am very honoured to be collaborating again with Opportunity International Australia for their annual fundraising project. In its third year (you can view details of the previous years here and here); the campaign aims to raise funds to help families in developing countries build income-generating businesses.

A bit of background info for those who are hearing about Opportunity International Australia and the Great Australian Curry campaign for the first time…

Opportunity International Australia provides small loans to families in developing countries to steer them towards a path of financial independence and thereby a better quality of life. Founded in the 1970s by David Bussau, Opportunity has come a long way since offering innumerable families a new lease of life.

Opportunity works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes. And the ‘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

But why curry?

Most of Opportunity International Australia’s work is concentrated in the Asian countries and a curry is perhaps the most iconic dish to have come from the region. And Australia loves curry – Vindaloo, Rogan Josh, Massaman, Thai green curry…the list is endless.

This year’s campaign was launched last week with a Curry Cook-off between veteran Chef (and MasterChef judge) Ian Curley and MasterChef 2017 winner, Diana Chan.

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

Chef Ian Curley said that he is looking forward to cooking up a curry with Diana. “It’s one way we can give a hand up to families less fortunate than ours. It’s important for us to not lose focus of how lucky we are, just the simple fact of where we live. I’m very blessed to have a healthy family and to live In Australia with the opportunity to do the work I love.”

Diana agrees too and she says that it will be an honour to share space and cook alongside Chef Curley. “I am so impressed with the work that Opportunity does to help families end poverty. “I also love that I can contribute towards the same through my cooking skills.”

Oppoyle Prawn Curry

There are so many different ways through which you can participate in this year’s Great Australian Curry Campaign;

Plan a Curry Night – Time to dig out your favourite recipes and invite your friends and family for a curry feast at home. Be generous and plan the entire dinner yourself or make it a curry potluck (so much fun!); even better would be a curry cook-off. If cooking is not your forte, head out for a curry night to your favourite restaurant and let the professionals feed you.

Create a Fundraiser – Once you have planned out the night, set up a fundraiser page and encourage everyone to make a donation. The fundraiser page can also be set up without hosting any curry event. All the details for setting up the page can be found here.

Spread the Word – Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to show support by making a donation or host their own curry fundraising event.

And this year, the Great Australian Curry campaign has another proud supporter – Herbie’s Spices, the artisan Australian spice business.

Since all of you get my fascination for good quality spices, I was thrilled when Herbie’s Spices gifted all the spices that I needed to create this lipsmacking delicious Kerala style Prawn Curry. This is not the first time I am using Herbie’s Spices; it has been one of my go to brands whenever I need to stock up my spice pantry.

The first 20 people to sign up to host a Great Australian Curry fundraiser will win a ‘Flavours of India Spice Kit’. Also Ian and Liz Hemphill, who established Herbie’s Spices 21 years ago, will also give out ‘Pantry Spice Kits’ and their ‘Herb and Spice Bible—Third Edition’ as prizes for an upcoming Facebook competition promoting the campaign,” Learn more and participate in the competition here.

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

Ian Hemphill is enthusiastic to be giving a boost to the Great Australian Curry. “As most spices originate from developing countries, we’re keen to support a campaign that strives to improve the lives of people in these spice-producing communities.

Speaking of spices, here is a deliciously creamy and coconuty Kerala style Prawn Curry that you can make for your fundraising curry night.

This year, I wanted to make a seafood curry. Seafood, especially prawns is hugely popular during the spring-summer months in Australia leading up to Christmas and New Year. And I also wanted to make a curry that is light yet packed with flavour that’s perfect for our warm days.

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

The title ‘Kerala style Prawn Curry’ is rather generic because there are so many different styles of making seafood curries in Kerala. This particular one is more popular in central Kerala, as coconut milk is used liberally in curries making it light yet so creamy, coconuty and packed with flavour. As for spices, I have kept is simple again and used spices that are familiar to most people.

I used tiger prawns for making this curry and if you can source it fresh, then I highly suggest you do so because then this dish is nothing short of an indulgence. And pair it with steaming hot long grained rice; that’s all you need. Maybe some pappadoms on the side….

So let’s get cooking this fingerlickin’ good Kerala style Prawn Curry….

Kerala style Prawn Curry

But before that, here are a few curry recipes for hosting your Great Australian Curry fundraising campaign….

  1. Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samlá Curry
  2. Massaman Curry
  3. Duck Kurma
  4. Jaffna style Goat Curry
  5. Hyderabadi Shahi Macchi Kurma (Fish in a Creamy, Saffron induced Yoghurt Curry)

Kerala style Prawn Curry

Ingredients:

  1. 800 gms tiger prawns; deveined and deshelled (but retain shell at the tail end)
  2. 3 tbsp coconut oil + 1 tbsp for tempering
  3. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  4. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  5. 2 small red onions; finely sliced
  6. 1 tsp ginger paste
  7. 5 green chillies (whole)
  8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  9. 1 tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  10. 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. Salt, to season
  13. ½ tsp Freshly milled black pepper
  14. 2 dried Kashmiri red chillies
  15. 4-5 sprigs curry leaves
  16. 400ml coconut milk

Method:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a deep pan (use an earthenware pot, if you have one).
  2. When the oil gets warm, add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle.
  3. Then add the fenugreek seeds, half of the curry leaves and green chillies.
  4. Next add the ginger paste and sliced onions; sauté till the onions are softened and translucent.
  5. Then add the turmeric, chilli, black pepper and coriander powder; mix well to combine and reduce heat to avoid the spices from burning.
  6. Add the cleaned prawns and 300ml coconut milk (reserve the remaining). Season with salt and mix well. Bring to boil and then simmer gently on low heat till the prawns are cooked.
  7. Once the prawns are cooked, add the remaining coconut milk and mix well. Adjust seasoning and remove from heat.
  8. In another small pan, heat coconut oil and add the remaining curry leaves and dry red chillies. Fry for a few seconds and add this to the prepared prawn curry. Keep covered for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  9. Enjoy over steamed long grain rice.

And let’s not forget to join hands and support Opportunity International Australia’s commitment to help fight poverty. Start your own Great Australian Curry fundraising campaign today!

Opportunity ‘Great Australian Curry’ Campaign + a Recipe for Kerala style Prawn Curry- thespiceadventuress.com

 

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in association with Opportunity International Australia and all the spices were kindly gifted by Herbie’s Spices.

 

Tandoori Chicken Burger

It’s that time of the year again when the sun’s shining bright and we welcome the season wholeheartedly with barbecues and backyard parties.

I love spring and summer! No matter how hot it gets, I love this season because it’s all about the outdoor life. The late sunsets and balmy evenings are perfect for outdoor parties. Our new home has a beautiful backyard and deck space so can’t wait to have friends over for some great food and conversations.

And when we speak of barbecues, burgers are a hot favourite especially if you have kids around. I like to make the burgers from scratch as there’s more control of the type and quality of meat and also the flavour and seasonings that go into it.

While I have experimented with pork, lamb and beef burger before, this is the first time with a chicken burger; a recipe I wanted to perfect as a lot of our friends do not eat other meats except chicken. And of course my love for spice blends came to the fore with this one too and hence a ‘Tandoori Chicken Burger’

Tandoori Chicken Burger - thespiceadventuress.com

Now the tandoori masala is a wet marinade which does not really work with a burger. So I made a dry spice blend incorporating many of the spices and herbs that traditionally go into making a tandoori masala. The dry spice blend was added to the chicken mince to flavour and season before being shaped into burger patties.

This dry tandoori blend is a really versatile one. Of course you can add it to yoghurt and make the tandoori marinade for grilling veggies, fish or meats. But I end up using this dry marinade as a seasoning agent for so many dishes including curries. And when it comes to this particular recipe, the flavoured mince can again be used to make meatballs, koftes etc….

Tandoori Chicken Burger - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I wanted to keep the flavours on the traditional side, the accompaniments were tomato chutney, mint coriander chutney, pickled onions along with sliced tomatoes and butter lettuce.

Note – Recipe for mint coriander chutney can be found here.

So let’s get grilling these delicious Tandoori Chicken Burgers….

Ingredients:

Tandoori Spice Blend:

(The excess can be stored in an airtight container; keeps fresh for 3 months)

  1. 2 tsp turmeric powder
  2. 4 tsp red chilli powder
  3. 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  4. 2 tsp coriander powder
  5. 2 tsp cumin powder
  6. 2 tsp chaat masala
  7. ½ tsp dried mango powder
  8. 1 tsp dried garlic granules (or use garlic powder)
  9. 1 tsp dried ginger

To prepare, mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. No salt has been added to this spice blend unlike most commercial ones so keep that in mind while using it as a spice rub or marinade.

For the burger patties:

  1. 500gms chicken mince
  2. 1 ½ tbsp tandoori spice blend
  3. 2 tbsp fresh coriander; finely chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Oil, for grilling
  6. 4 Brioche burger buns
  7. Tomato chutney
  8. Mint coriander chutney
  9. Pickled onions
  10. Butter lettuce
  11. ½ Lebanese cucumber; sliced
  12. 1 tomato; sliced

Method:

  1. In a glass bowl, add the chicken mince, tandoori blend, coriander and salt. Mix well to combine and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Shape into 4 large patties (you may shape into smaller sized patties based on your preference) and keep aside.
  3. Spray oil on a stove top grill (the burgers can be cooked on a barbecue too) and place on medium to high heat. When the grill is really hot, place the burger patties and hold down with the spatula for a few seconds. Repeat for all four.
  4. Flip over after 1-2 minutes and repeat till the burgers are done. Remove and keep aside.
  5. Cut the brioche buns in half and grill.
  6. To assemble, spread tomato chutney on one side and mint coriander chutney on the other side. Place the butter lettuce leaves and then place the burger on top, followed by the tomato slice, cucumber and pickled onions.

Tandoori Chicken Burger - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamb Curry with Haricot Beans

As I had mentioned on my FB page a few days ago, we were crazy busy the whole of last week shifting homes. Things are still a little crazy even now as we are yet to settle down in the new home, in the process of opening out the boxes, arranging, rearranging and all of that jazz.

While the packing part is stressful and not enjoyable at all, I really enjoy the unpacking phase in the new home. I love decorating and doing up my home interiors, so it’s like having a whole new palette to play with.

Since I knew that there is not much cooking that will be happening over the next couple of days, I decided to test and shoot some recipes beforehand (the first time I have actually planned out my work ahead of time). Usually it’s always spontaneous but this year, I have been really working on my time management skills which are great when you have a home based business.

One of the dishes that I had tested out was this delicious Lamb curry with Haricot beans.

Pairing lamb or goat curry with lentils, vegetables etc… are quite common in Indian cuisine. And a great example of that would be Dhansak, a much revered mutton preparation amongst the Parsi Zoroastrian community. A fusion dish that combines elements of Persian cuisine and Gujarati cuisine, Dhansak has come to symbolize the essence of Parsi cuisine.

Not an adaptation, but this lamb curry with haricot beans was definitely inspired by Dhansak; firstly for the lamb and pulses combination and secondly because of the use of Dhansak masala, a really flavourful aromatic spice blend that makes this lamb curry absolutely spectacular.

Lamb Curry with Haricot Beans - thespiceadventuress.com

I have cooked with haricot beans before but always in a vegetarian dish like a stir fry with grated coconut or in combination with other vegetables like potatoes. This is the first time I paired it with lamb and it turned out to be such a great combination.

Haricot beans are also called by other names like Navy beans, Boston beans, pea beans etc… These are small, oval, white coloured beans that have a mild, smooth and creamy flavour when cooked. If you are not too fond of the bigger sized beans, this is a great replacement to make baked beans for breakfast, in stir fries, curries or salads. High in protein and gluten free, haricot beans are definitely a healthy addition to your pantry.

As I mentioned earlier, I used the dhansak masala as the spice blend to make this curry. It’s a really flavourful and aromatic blend that has become another valued addition to my spice collection. Have fun with it and do not restrict to using it in just this curry but as you would use garam masala or any other blend.

So let’s get into the recipe now; and if you do make this recipe, do tag me #thespiceadventuress so that I can see your creations too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Dhansak Masala:

  1. 100 g dry coriander seeds
  2. 50 g fenugreek seeds
  3. 50 g mustard seeds
  4. 50 g cumin seeds
  5. 50 g dried bay leaves
  6. 20 gms cardamom
  7. 20 gms cloves
  8. 1 large cinnamon bark

Method:

Dry roast the whole spices on a hot tawa/flat pan till aromatic (take care not to burn). Cool slightly and then blend into a powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make the curry:

Ingredients:

  1. 800gms lamb shank meat (boneless); cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 3-4 tbsp oil
  3. 2 large onions; finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  5. 3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  6. 1 inch ginger root; grated
  7. 2 large tomatoes; finely chopped
  8. ¾ ths cup haricot beans (washed and soaked overnight)
  9. 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp coriander powder
  11. 2 tbsp dhansak masala
  12. Salt, to season
  13. ½ cup milk
  14. Fresh coriander leaves; for garnish

Note – Any cut of lamb can be used but boneless is best for a recipe like this.

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large deep bottom pot.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter and then add the garlic and ginger. Sauté till the rawness has disappeared and then add the onions.
  3. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the onions have softened and lightly browned at the edges. Then add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are broken down and mushy.
  4. Add the chilli, coriander and dhansak masala; mix well to combine.
  5. Add the haricot beans and lamb pieces. Add 3 cups water, season with salt and mix well.
  6. Bring to boil and then lower heat; cook covered on low heat till the lamb is just about done.
  7. If you prefer more gravy, add more water or if you prefer thicker gravy, increase heat and reduce the gravy.
  8. Finally add milk, mix well and adjust seasoning.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves
  10. Serve warm.

Note – Adding the milk lends creaminess to the gravy, a much better alternative to adding cream or yoghurt. It is optional and can be skipped.

Lamb Curry with Haricot Beans - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini)

Pan grilled Lamb Cutlets with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini – this was the mains I served for my Christmas in July family dinner.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

If you had already checked out the Potatoes with Smoked Salmon recipe that I posted last month, you would be aware that I had collaborated with ALDI Australia to create a Christmas in July feast. And as I mentioned in the previous post, there was no intention to share the recipes here as it was a social media/photography project. But with so many readers asking for the recipes, I thought of posting it here rather than sending screen shots as this is quite a lengthy one with so many different components.

The best thing about this dish is that each individual component is a dish within itself. The red pepper cashew puree can be paired with any sort of grilled meat, fish or vegetable. The charred broccolini with a hint of spice makes an excellent side and the couscous salad is so hearty and fulfilling that it can be a delicious salad or a light lunch at your next barbecue or summer party.

It’s important that you cook the lamb cutlets right as it’s very easy to overcook these and dry cutlets are not at all nice. Depending on the thickness, 1-2 minutes on each side and then rest for another 5 minutes to get the perfect cutlets. You can also sear for a minute on high heat and then finish off the cooking in the oven. Either way, it’s best medium rare for a juicy, delicious texture.

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini) - thespiceadventuress.com

The roasted red pepper cashew puree is an absolute must try. Believe me; you do need this recipe in your life because it’s so delicious and versatile. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any sort of grilled meat, seafood or veggies but it can also be a great dip. I have used it like a pesto before with pasta and grilled veggies; the result was brilliant.

So let me stop rambling and get on to the recipes as there are quite a few. And enjoy it as a wholesome dish as I served it or make components that you enjoy making the dish truly yours.

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini)

Lamb Cutlets

Ingredients:

  1. 10 lamb cutlets; frenched
  2. 4 tbsp olive oil
  3. ½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
  4. 1 tsp paprika
  5. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Prepare a marinade with the olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Place the lamb cutlets in a bowl, pour the marinade over and rub well to coat all the pieces. Keep for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Heat a pan till smoking hot (I like to use either a grill or a cast iron pan) and place the lamb cutlets (cook in batches). Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Cook all the cutlets in this manner.

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree

(Adapted from thevintagemixer.com)

Ingredients:

  1. 4 red bell peppers/capsicum (whole)
  2. 3 medium garlic cloves
  3. ½ cup raw, unsalted cashewnuts
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 1 tsp chilli flakes
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. Juice of ½ lemon

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced)
  2. Line a tray with baking paper and place the peppers inside. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast for about 40-45 minutes at 200°C (might vary according to oven) till the skin of the peppers have blackened.
  3. Remove and cover with a cloth for about 5 minutes; this makes it easier to peel off the skin.
  4. Once the peppers have lightly cooled, remove the skin, pith and seeds.
  5. Place in a food processor along with cashewnuts, garlic, chilli flakes, salt, lemon juice and 3 tbsp olive oil. Blitz well and add more olive oil as needed to get a smooth puree.

Note – If you want a really smooth puree, you can strain the sauce but I skipped the step.

Charred Broccolini

Ingredients:

  1. 2 broccolini bunches
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Chilli flakes
  4. 1 small garlic; finely sliced
  5. 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Slice each broccolini into 3 pieces (2 stalk pieces + 1 floret)
  2. Heat olive oil in a stove top grill (pan can also be used) and when really hot, add the broccolini stalks and garlic. Cook for a minute on high heat.
  3. Then add the florets, chilli flakes and season with salt.
  4. Toss on high heat for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Serve warm

Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup couscous
  2. 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  3. 1 Lebanese cucumber; finely chopped
  4. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  5. 1 tomato; finely chopped
  6. 1 red/yellow bell pepper; finely chopped
  7. ½ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
  8. 5-6 olives; finely sliced
  9. 50gms feta
  10. Salt, to season
  11. 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  12. Juice of 1 lemon
  13. Freshly milled black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the couscous as per packet instructions.
  2. To make the dressing, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small capped container. Shake vigorously and keep aside.
  3. Once the couscous is cooked, use a fork to separate the grains. When cooled, add the remaining ingredients and toss well.
  4. Add the crumbled feta and dressing just before serving (or the salad will go soggy), mix again and serve immediately.

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lamb Cutlets (with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Puree, Couscous Salad and Charred Broccolini) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

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