Category Archives: Mains

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder)

There is only one thing I enjoy about winter; and that’s food!

Nothing else gets me excited about 6-8 months of burying myself in a hundred layers.

So every year as late autumn sets in, my meal plan becomes all about hot, nourishing soups, slow cooked meat and vegetarian stews, rich curries and of course the saucy pastas. There’s something so comforting and gratifying that moreish, rich flavours can do to your soul.

And one such dish on repeat is this Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks, taken a notch up in flavour with the rustic and flavourful Srilankan roasted curry powder.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

A slow cooked stew is one of the easiest dishes to make. There aren’t many ingredients or steps to follow but you need time on your side. If you have a slow cooker, then time to get it out. Since I don’t have one, I use the traditional stove top method itself.

Ask your butcher to give you tender lamb shanks and get it trimmed at the bone end; easier to fit into standard size pots and also much better  in terms of appearance.

The Srilankan curry powder is what makes this stew so insanely delicious. An extremely versatile spice blend with so much intensity, it instantly adds the something ‘extra’ that makes a dish high on the flavour quotient. Once you start using this spice blend, you might not really miss the Indian garam masala.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

This stew can be made using any cut of meat (best with meat on bones though) , not necessarily lamb shanks. But cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.

So let’s get cooking these delicious Lamb Shanks with Srilankan curry powder. And if you make it, do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your photographs so that I can see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 lamb shanks (bone shaft end trimmed)
  2. 2 medium red onion; chopped
  3. 4 medium garlic cloves
  4. 2 celery sticks; sliced
  5. 1 large carrot; chopped
  6. 2 large ripe tomato; chopped
  7. 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  8. 2 dried bay leaf
  9. Olive oil (enough for searing the meat)
  10. 1 ½ tbsp Srilankan curry powder (recipe given below)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  13. 1 litre beef/chicken stock

Method:

  1. In a large, deep bottom vessel, heat enough oil to sear the lamb shanks in batches. Sear 1-2 shanks at a time, remove and keep aside.
  2. In the same oil, add the bay leaf, garlic and onions; sauté till the onions are softened (not browned).
  3. Then add the celery and carrot; sauté for another minute.
  4. Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté for another minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste, roasted curry powder and mix well to combine. Next add stock; mix and bring to boil.
  6. Add the lamb shanks; season with salt and pepper. Mix and then cook covered on the lowest heat till the shanks are juicy and tender (fall of the bone consistency). Check in between and stir through if necessary.
  7. Serve warm with crusty bread and salad on the side.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

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Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala

#UglyDelicious

No, I am not talking about the Netflix show that has become so popular; instead about today’s dish – a Keralan style robust, peppery mutton or goat masala.

And if you are wondering why the hashtag, it’s because I find it such a harrowing experience shooting dishes like these that don’t look very pretty or appealing but is just damn delicious that I still want to share it with all of you.

I always struggle when it comes to taking photographs of Indian dishes, especially curries. Most of them are of a certain colour tone and to make it look interesting and appealing, there is a constant effort needed to style it well or add the right garnishes to make the dish pop.

I am sure the more skilled photographers would not feel this way, but I am still grappling with the technique that clicking pictures of this Mutton Pepper Masala was quite a challenging one. After various styling efforts on a day that my creativity was not at its best, I settled for these shots. Not my best but you know what…the flavours of this mutton dish make up for the not so delectable photographs.

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala - thespiceadventuress.com

As mentioned in the title, this is a Kerala style mutton preparation. You are likely to find a lot of variations of this dish. This particular recipe is one I learnt from my mother, but adapted slightly to suit our taste buds.

The predominant flavour is that of the black peppercorns; you can adjust the quantity to suit your preferences but there must be enough used to get that pepper hit. Mutton or goat is best for this dish but a good cut of lamb with some fat running through it would also be equally delicious.

I feasted a lot on this dish after I gave birth to my son; the red meat helps with boosting protein and iron quantities which is need post pregnancy. And black pepper is believed to be a great cooling agent and also has many other medicinal properties.

Best paired with parottas (Kerala style layered flat breads) but goes equally well with rice and dal.

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms mutton (boneless); cut into small pieces (you can use meat with bones too)
  2. 1 ½ tbsp whole black peppercorns
  3. 1 green chilli
  4. 5 garlic cloves; grated
  5. 1 inch ginger; grated
  6. 2 large red onion; finely sliced
  7. 1 medium ripe tomato; finely sliced
  8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  9. 2 ½ tsp coriander powder
  10. ½ tsp fennel powder
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  13. 3 sprigs curry leaves
  14. Salt, to season
  15. 4-5 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

  1. Grind the black peppercorns, garlic, ginger and green chilli into a fine paste with a little bit of water. Add this to the washed mutton pieces; season with salt and add one sprig of curry leaves. Mix the masala well into the mutton and keep aside for at least 1 hour (longer if time allows).
  2. Heat oil in a large deep bottom pan and add the sliced onions. Sauté till the onion are caramelized to a light brown colour.
  3. Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté till the tomatoes are completely broken down and mushy.
  4. Then add all the spice powders and mix well to combine. Sauté till the whole mixture comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides. A few drops of water can be added if the mixture feels too dry.
  5. Add the marinated mutton to this along with one sprig of curry leaves; mix well to combine. Add 2 cups water (taste and season with salt if necessary) and cook till the mutton is almost done. (You can also use a pressure cooker for cooking the mutton but add less water).
  6. When the mutton is almost done, increase heat and reduce the excess gravy if any to get a thick masala like consistency. But if you prefer the gravy, remove from heat and garnish with the remaining curry leaves.

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs)

It’s ironic that close on the heels of a khichdi, I write about a risotto.

Not that there’s much of a similarity in origin or technique of preparation, but the fact that both are grain based with that unique consistency somehow puts it in the same category for me.

For those who thought Italian cuisine is all about pizzas and pastas, risotto can come as a bit of a surprise. Even at a fancy restaurant, the risotto still remains a rustic, comforting dish; quite true to its origins.

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

A risotto is best kept simple. In fact it would be a sin to crowd it with many ingredients. A single hero ingredient, a flavourful broth and the right kind of rice is what a risotto is all about. Of course cheese, if you must!

While Arborio is the variety of rice that most of us are familiar with, it is actually other varieties like Carnaroli, Vialone Nano etc… that are more popular in Italy. I have had risotto made with Carnaroli rice before and the texture is much better when compared to Arborio.

Even though Carnaroli is available in selected stores in Australia, I still went with Arborio as that’s the variety that’s easily and more economically available for most.

Dried mushrooms, simply because of its intense umami hit. It has that really earthy flavour that makes you want to keep eating. I soaked the dried mushrooms in the chicken stock to soften it again and the resulting broth was just mind blowing….

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

The bacon crumbs was really an afterthought, perhaps because I love bacon so much and somehow finds a way into many of the dishes I make at home. Not really a main ingredient in this risotto, but rather a garnish just to add another dimension of flavour…..more of that salty, delicious umami hit that makes this risotto the most ideal dish to huddle with on a cold night.

While a great risotto might require practice and experience, I believe a good risotto is achievable by most. As I mentioned, the stock is really important and a homemade stock is the most ideal. Use a store bought one only if you are truly busy yet crave a generous helping of this risotto.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-7)

  1. 2 cups Arborio Rice
  2. 150gms dried mushrooms
  3. 2 litre homemade chicken stock
  4. 2 ½ tbsp unsalted butter
  5. 2 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 small white onion; finely chopped
  7. 1 cup dry white wine
  8. 200 gms bacon ( I used streaky bacon); finely chopped
  9. Salt, to season
  10. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  11. 2 tbsp parsley leaves; finely chopped
  12. Grated parmesan; for garnish

Method:

  1. Reconstitute the dried mushrooms by soaking in the chicken stock for 15 minutes. Remove from the liquid and chop into small pieces.
  2. Finely chop the bacon by hand or using a food processor. In a small pan, add the bacon pieces and cook on low heat (no oil required as the bacon has plenty of fat) till the bacon has browned well but not burnt. Drain the fat using a strainer to get crispy bacon crumbs.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat half of the butter and olive oil; add the onions and sauté till soft.
  4. Then add the mushrooms and cook for another minute or two.
  5. Next add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. When the rice gets a little toasty and begins to make a crackling sound, reduce the heat and add the white wine.
  6. Cook, while stirring continuously till almost all the wine has been absorbed.
  7. Next add one cup of broth and cook (stirring continuously) till the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add another 2 cups of broth and continue to cook. Repeat, adding 1-2 cups of broth and cooking till the rice has reached the al-dente stage.
  8. Then add the remaining butter and season with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  9. Serve warm with grated parmesan, bacon crumbs and parsley

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens

Khichdi – the comfort food of one half of the Indian population!

I say this specifically because khichdi is not a dish that is popular in my hometown, Kerala. And hence I was not aware of its existence for a very long time.

My first tryst with khichdi happened somewhere along the Pune-Mahabaleshwar route. We were living in Pune at that time and were visiting the hill station when we stopped at a roadside dhaba for a quick meal. Sam suggested that I try the khichdi (he had already developed a taste for it, thanks to his office mates) and hesitatingly I did. But oh boy, it was a revelation.

The rich, spicy, almost creamy consistency of rice and lentils with that generous drizzle of ghee made my tastebuds sing with joy.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

And while I consumed many plates of khichdi during my stay in Pune, I never ventured to cook it in my kitchen till about 2 years ago.

I think it’s the memory of that taste that encouraged me to make a khichdi at home. It’s no rocket science, but often we need a motivation or purpose to try out something new.

At its heart, a khichdi is nothing but rice and lentils cooked together, mashed and then tempered with spices. But that tempering is what makes all the difference. It can be as simple or as complex as you want and in my opinion, the whole flavour profile of the khichdi depends on it.

My version of the khichdi is not the most traditional but neither a fusion. It is perhaps an amalgamation of various styles based on flavours and spices that I like best.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi is an extremely healthy dish because of its powerful combination of carbs and proteins. Usually prepared with just one type of lentils, but my version has a mixture of lentils and pulses along with some sort of greens like spinach, fenugreek or even carrot greens, as I have done today.

You can either make a mix of the lentils from what you have at home or pick up a packet of the soup mix like I do. Or use just one type of lentil; it’s totally your wish. When using a soup mix, it’s best to soak it overnight so that the cooking process is much faster.

How many of you use carrot greens as an ingredient? It has gained a lot of attention with the raw food movement and is often found as an ingredient in salads, pesto etc…. But I also love to use it in my dal (lentil) preparations just the way I would use spinach. Beetroot leaves can also be used this way but needs to be cooked more than the carrot greens.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I pressure cook the lentils and rice for time constraints, I always slow cook for a good 15-20 minutes after adding the tempering. A bit of extra time only helps intensify the flavours which I really want from my plate of khichdi. And a final drizzle of hot ghee is an absolute must!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup mixed lentils; washed and soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup medium grain white rice
  3. Carrot greens (I used the greens from 4 small carrots); chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Ghee/clarified butter; for serving
  6. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. For tempering:
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway/shahi jeera seeds
  • 2 dry red chilli
  • 3 large shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 large ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ inch piece of jaggery or ½ tsp raw sugar

Method:

  1. Wash the soaked lentils and rice together. Add to a pressure cooker or deep bottom pan and cook well with enough water (remember to season with a pinch of salt). The lentils and rice must be cooked enough to be able to mash well.
  2. In another pan, heat ghee and oil; add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  3. Then add the cumin and caraway seeds; as it begins to crackle, add the dry chillies and shallots and sauté till softened.
  4. Then add the garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have turned light brown.
  5. Next add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes have softened and turned mushy.
  6. Then add all the spice powders and jaggery; sauté till the whole masala comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides.
  7. Meanwhile mash the lentils and rice using the back end of a ladle or potato masher.
  8. Add the chopped greens along with the masala to the lentils and mix well; season with salt if necessary.
  9. Add more water if necessary and cook on the low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish off with the chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve warm with a drizzle of ghee on top.
  12. Tuck in!

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese

Is there something called ‘too many’ pasta recipes?

Well, not in our household. Pasta recipes are often like that almost one-pot meal that is so quick to put together which is what most of us are looking for on a daily basis. And the non-saucy ones make the perfect leftovers for the next day lunch boxes.

In fact, I make the heavy, sauce based pasta dishes only occasionally. I tend to make pesto a lot, several variations of it, depending on what the herb garden is producing in abundance. I also enjoy roasting tomatoes and bell peppers for a thick sauce which is used along with pasta and other veggies. I use cold cuts, sausages and prawns a lot too as these need much less time to cook when compared to other meats.

While I prefer most of my everyday pasta dishes to go easy on cheese, today’s dish intrigued me as I had never paired goat’s cheese with pasta before. I have had it plenty on a cheese board but never with pasta. And when I came across some delicious Yarra Valley goat’s cheese, I knew I just had to try this dish out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a fairly simple pasta dish with very few ingredients and hence the flavour depends on the quality of spinach and goat’s cheese used. I added some red chilli too, to add another dimension to the overall flavours.

The best type of pasta for a dish like this is the thin noodle like ones, usually referred to as spaghettini. Its light and the perfect shape and texture to absorb flavours especially when there is no sauce or too many ingredients vying for attention.

Let’s get on to the recipe then…and do share your feedback with me if you happen to try it out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gm dried spaghettini
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves; crushed and finely chopped
  4. 1-2 long red chilli (less heat variety; use less or omit depending on heat preferences)
  5. 150gm baby spinach leaves
  6. ¼ cup basil; torn
  7. 150gm goat’s cheese
  8. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions; drain (reserving ½ cup water) and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and chillies; sauté on low heat for a minute.
  3. Then add the spinach leaves and cook on medium heat till just wilted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with half of the reserved pasta water. Toss on high heat for about a minute.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in the basil and goat’s cheese
  6. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew

There is so much ‘noise’ in our lives these days.

An avalanche of incessant chatter that creeps into our everyday lives in the form of social media, Whatsapp groups, gimmicky news channels and tabloids. And it requires a conscious effort to stay amidst all this noise, yet be able to hear your ‘voice’ loud and clear!

My life revolves around the digital world and social media is one of the most effective tools I use on a daily basis for work. So it requires all the more effort to stay quiet, yet make sure my work gets seen and heard without adding to the noise.

I have no tips and strategies because I struggle with it too. And the only way I steer clear is by using the digital medium responsibly. Consume only what is relevant and speak only when I really have something to say. Not when others think I must speak…..

And of course, mute and log out are my favourite buttons.

On that note, let’s get to today’s recipe – a warm, comforting bowl of Indonesian style spicy braised fish stew.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Adapted from ‘smor ikang’, an Indonesian style fish stew, this dish is a hearty and comforting one. A one pot meal with succulent barramundi cubes in a flavourful broth and rice noodles to accompany. The key spice in this stew is mace, which lends a pungent yet sweet flavour that pairs well with the fish. You may also add a mix of seafood like squid, prawns etc….

The cooking time is considerably less as it is a seafood stew unlike the meat ones which take a fair bit of time. This fish stew almost feels like an Asian noodle soup and makes a great one pot meal for the whole family. Its light yet so flavourful…a huge pot of this on a cold, wintry night would be just amazing.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 3 barramundi fillets; cut into cubes
  2. 2 medium potatoes; cut into small cubes
  3. 5-6 Asian shallots/small onion; finely chopped

Find the full recipe here.

Indonesian style Spicy Braised Fish Stew - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

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

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

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice

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

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

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

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

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

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

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

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

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

For the cauliflower:

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

Method:

For the Salmon:

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

For the rice:

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

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

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous)

‘Busy’ would be too small a word to describe the frenzied state of activity in my life these days.

As many of you would be aware, my parents are here visiting us for a few months. It’s the last couple of weeks so most days seem like an extended holiday. Lots of short trips coupled with shopping expeditions mean I hardly get time to sit down for a blog post though my folders are overflowing with tons of delicious recipes.

So without much talking, I am gonna jump straight to the recipe today – Tandoori Chicken Thighs served with Grilled Veggies and Couscous.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my absolute favourite things to do at the moment is introduce my parents to cuisines from different parts of the world. They are in awe at the kind of food that’s available in Melbourne, the beautiful produce and ingredients from around the globe.

I came up with this dish just to showcase how a simple Indian marinade can be used in a slightly contemporary way but still appealing to their Indian tastebuds.

Tandoori needs no introduction at all; it is a global favourite and has staunchly become the face of Indian cuisine in most countries apart from the curry ofcourse.

Even though most of us might not have a traditional tandoor at home, it’s quite easy to prepare it on a barbecue grill, oven or even on a stove top grill depending on the kind of protein or vegetable that is being cooked.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

I always make the tandoori marinade from scratch. Not a big fan of store bought masalas and moreover, the marinade is super easy to make. Many versions call for the addition of gram flour but I use only yoghurt which I feel imparts more flavour without that doughy taste to the coating.

For this dish, I have used the tandoori marinade for both the chicken thighs as well as the vegetables. While I cooked the thighs on a barbecue grill, I used a regular stove top grill for the veggies. Couscous pairs beautifully with a dish like this; it’s light and fluffy texture is a perfect accompaniment to the chicken and veggies. And a drizzle of the tangy mint coriander chutney completes the dish perfectly.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

(Recipe for the mint coriander chutney can be found here.)

Recipe:

Tandoori marinade:

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup thick curd
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • ¼ tsp black salt/kala namak
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • ¼ tsp dry ginger powder
  • Salt, to season
  • 2 garlic cloves; grated
  • 1 inch ginger; grated
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped

Method:

In a bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk well to get a smooth consistency.

For the chicken:

Ingredients:

  1. 5 chicken Maryland/thighs; score lengthwise
  2. 1 cup tandoori marinade
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Vegetable oil, for barbecue

Method:

  • In a bowl, add the required tandoori marinade to the chicken thighs. Season with salt (remember the marinade has salt) and rub the marinade well into the chicken. Keep refrigerated for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • Fire up the barbecue and grill the chicken pieces till done.

Grilled vegetables:

Ingredients:

  1. 1 red onion; cut into cubes
  2. 1 red bell pepper; cut into cubes
  3. 1 medium zucchini; cut into cubes
  4. 1 punnet baby corn
  5. 1 small broccoli; florets separated
  6. 1 small fennel bulb; cut into cubes
  7. ½ cup tandoori marinade
  8. Salt, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for grilling

Method:

  • Place all the vegetables in a bowl, add the marinade and season with salt if necessary. Mix well and keep for at least 1-2 hours.
  • Heat a stove grill to high, brush with oil and grill the veggies in batches. Remember to grill on high to get the char but still keep the crunchy texture.

Couscous:

  1. 2 ½ cups couscous
  2. 2 ½ cups water
  3. Salt; to season

Method:

Add 2 ½ cups boiling water to 2 ½ cups couscous (1:1 ratio), season with salt, cover and keep aside. After 10 minutes, use a fork to lightly fluff up the couscous.

Note – Do check packet instructions as the ratio of water to couscous can sometimes vary.

For garnish:

  • Lemon wedges
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves; finely chopped

To assemble:

  • Place the couscous in the middle of a large platter and arrange the grilled veggies around it. Garnish with half of the coriander leaves
  • Place the chicken thighs on another platter, garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with lemon wedges and mint coriander chutney.

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign)

Curry for change!

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Great Australian Curry – an annual fundraising campaign by Opportunity International Australia is back and this is my second year of pledging support for the cause.

(You can view details of the previous campaigns here and here.)

Opportunity International Australia works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes in developing countries including India. 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.

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This year’s campaign was officially launched last month with a spicy cook-off between Stephanie Rice (Triple Olympic gold medallist) and Courtney Ferdinands (Finalist, My Kitchen Rules) on one team and Michael Kasprowicz (former Australian Test Cricketer) and Valerie Ferdinands (Finalist, My Kitchen Rules) on the other team.

It’s a great cause and with curry being a favourite at most Australian homes, it’s so easy to organize a small fundraiser in your home or office. Invite a couple of your friends home for a dinner (plenty of delicious curry recipes on the blog to help you with the cooking) and organize a small fundraiser of your own. Or perhaps arrange a curry potluck in your office where you can pitch in with your colleagues to raise a target amount. Remember that even the smallest amount can go a long way in being a helping hand to those in need.

Robert Dunn, the Opportunity Chief Executive Officer, said that last year the campaign was able to raise $108,000 which was used to help out 1500 families start small businesses and provide a livelihood. ‘We hope to help even more families this year through the generosity of Australians.’

And if cooking is not your thing, you can still make a donation and show support.

For more information about the campaign; visit the fundraising website, Great Australian Curry.

There are also many exciting prizes up for grabs this year to encourage you to start a campaign.

“The first 20 people to set up a fundraiser on Opportunity’s website will receive Rick Stein’s mouth-watering cookbook, ‘India’. The book features a wealth of simple curry recipes that’ll come in handy for your Great Australian Curry events. The colourful cookbook features the best recipes from Rick Stein’s Indian odyssey in search of the perfect curry.

There is also a writing competition and the prize is a signed copy of renowned Sydney Quay chef Peter Gilmore’s cookbook ‘Organum’. Peter’s book delves into the four essential ingredients for the perfect dish “nature, texture, intensity and purity. Just tell us in 25 words or less why taking part in the Great Australian Curry is important to you. Details of this competition are on the Great Australian Curry website.

And while you can find lots of delicious curry inspiration on my blog, here’s another one to get you started…Chettinad style Duck Kurma.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Today’s recipe comes from the Chettinad region in South India, which is famous for its cuisine especially curries.

Kurma is a type of curry preparation that was bought to India by the Mughals. While it has evolved much over the years, the kurma is essentially a rich creamy curry and can be both vegetarian and non vegetarian.

However in the Chettinad region, the kurma is prepared slightly different as the cream gets replaced by coconut which is blended with poppy seeds, cashewnuts and other spices to form a rich and flavourful curry. Personally, it’s this kurma preparation that’s my favourite as I am not too fond of cream based curries.

I have veered away from the usual proteins, opting for duck instead of chicken or lamb as it’s a delicious meat that pairs beautifully with the spices and coconut. And also because we get such high quality duck meat in Australia.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Note – Use any meat of choice or replace with eggs or mixed vegetables/paneer/tofu for a vegetarian option.

Ingredients:

Wet spice paste:

  1. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 2 tsp fennel seeds
  3. 2 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 3 fresh green chillies; broken in half
  5. 2 tsp white poppy seeds
  6. 10 raw cashewnuts
  7. 7 garlic cloves; crushed
  8. 2 tbsp roasted Bengal gram (split)
  9. 1 ½ inch ginger; crushed
  10. 60gms fresh grated coconut

For the curry:

  1. Whole duck (approximately 1.1kg); cut into curry sized pieces
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 2 inch cinnamon bark
  4. 4 green cardamom
  5. 1 large onion; finely chopped
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. 2-3 sprigs curry leaves
  8. 2 large ripe tomatoes; pureed
  9. 2 tsp red chilli powder
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

To prepare the wet spice paste:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and add the cumin, fennel seeds and green chillies. Then add the poppy seeds, cashews and garlic; sauté for a few seconds.
  2. Next add the Bengal gram, coconut and ginger. Mix well and sauté for a minute or two till the coconut turns a little toasty but not too brown.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Blend with just enough water to get a wet paste.

To make the curry:

  1. Heat the remaining oil in a large wok/kadhai and add the cinnamon and cardamom followed by the onion. Sauté till the onions are softened and turn light brown.
  2. Next add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and curry leaves; mix to combine.
  3. Add the tomato puree and season with salt. Cook on medium heat till the mixture comes together and you can notice oil appearing at the sides of the masala.
  4. Next add the wet spice pasta and mix well to combine. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat stirring continuously.
  5. Add the duck pieces; mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add 1-2 cups water (depending on how much gravy you prefer) and bring to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently till the duck pieces have cooked perfectly and the gravy has thickened. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  6. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This duck curry is delicious with hoppers, flatbreads, rice, pita breads etc… I paired it with steamed rice, flat breads, a green salad and my favourite tomato chutney.

Enjoy…but don’t forget to take part in the fundraising too. A little help from us can go a long way to help out another family in need.

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign) - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post was bought to you in association with Opportunity International but all the opinions and musings are mine.

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