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Category Archives: Mains

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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Asian style Chicken Fried Rice

First of all, a big apology for putting up this post so late. Many of you have been asking the recipe for this Chicken fried rice for a while now and I have been chirping away the phrase, ‘it will soon be on the blog’ to all.

It’s just that too many things have been going on, both personally and professionally. Sitting down to write out the recipe has taken me the longest time. But today I was determined to get the post published so that all of you can try out this absolutely lipsmacking Chicken fried rice.

On the personal front, most of you would be aware of the Kerala flood situation and the trail of destruction and devastation it has left behind. While my own family was affected less, there have been members of the extended family and friends, many of whom had to be evacuated and put up in shelter homes and many others who have lost everything they have including homes, businesses, properties, agricultural land etc….

It’s a difficult time that everyone’s going through back home. Almost the whole of last week was spent in just trying to communicate with family and in many instances, it took us almost 4-5 days just to establish communication with our loved ones. Work was the last thing on my mind so except for some client projects, I hardly updated the blog.

Getting back to today’s dish, this Chicken fried rice is one of the best I have ever made. It’s totally different to the Indo Chinese style or the typical Chinese style that I often make at home. Adapted from a Marion Grasby recipe, this is more of a modern Thai style chicken fried rice.

It’s quite simple to put together but the flavours are incredible and I loved the fact that turmeric is a key ingredient which adds so much depth and flavour to the rice. Another key ingredient is belachan or shrimp paste, adds that umami hit which really comes through in the final dish.

I usually have a menu plan ready by the end of each week for the following one, so whenever there’s fried rice on the menu, I try and prepare the rice a day ago as the texture of one day old rice works best. But don’t fret about it if you can’t find the time; just make sure you prepare the rice first, drain and spread out to cool before going ahead with the remaining dish.

This chicken fried rice is all about the toppings and condiments too. Fried eggs, fresh coriander, cucumbers, fried shallots, sambal oelek all create this wonderful texture and layers of flavour to the final dish. Requires no other side dish to go along, but you can indulge yourself by adding a stir fry to accompany.

So let’s get cooking this Thai inspired chicken fried rice; and if you make it do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your social media posts so that I can see it too. Or leave a comment below; I love hearing from all of you.

Asian style Chicken Fried Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 5 cups cooked medium grained rice
  2. 4 eggs
  3. Vegetable oil; (for frying the eggs and making the rice)
  4. 500 gms chicken thigh (skinless & boneless); thinly sliced
  5. 1 large brown onion; finely sliced
  6. 3 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  7. 1 long red chilli; finely sliced
  8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  9. 1 ½ tsp shrimp paste
  10. 3 baby bok choy; slice the light green part and tear the leaves coarsely
  11. 3 tbsp soy sauce
  12. 2 tsp kecap manis (sweet soy)
  13. Salt, to season
  14. Fried shallots
  15. 4-5 sprigs fresh coriander leaves
  16. Sambal oelek, to serve
  17. Lebanese cucumber; to serve

Method:

  1. Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a large wok till smoking hot. Add the chicken pieces and season lightly with salt. Cook till the chicken is just about done; remove and keep aside.
  2. In the same wok (add more oil only if necessary), add the onions, garlic, chillies and sauté on medium heat till the onions are softened.
  3. Lower heat and add the shrimp paste and turmeric. Break down the shrimp paste using the back of the ladle and mix well to combine. Cook for about 1 minute till it gets aromatic.
  4. Next add the cooked chicken pieces along with the light green stalks of the bok choy; toss and stir fry for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the cooked rice, soy sauce and kecap manis. Toss well to combine and finally add the bok choy leaves. Mix well and stir fry for about a minute.
  6. Once the rice is done, fry the eggs to your individual preferences.
  7. To serve, place the fried rice in a bow and top with fried egg, cucumbers, coriander, sambal oelek, shallots and kecap manis.
  8. Tuck in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes)

I am not much of a gadget freak especially when it comes to my kitchen.

Now it’s true that I have a few extra equipments due to the nature of my work (many of which were sent to me for professional reasons) but I am pretty old school and prefer to use only a few basic ones. And instead of buying the latest appliances, I would rather invest in high quality knives and cookware that are better for my family’s long term health and also for the environment.

But having said that, there was one appliance that I have wanted to buy for a long time now; a modern pressure cooker.

If you are from India, you would understand how integral a pressure cooker is to our cooking. I cannot imagine a day without using the PC in some form or the other. After moving to Australia, I became less dependent on the PC as I started experimenting with slow cooking, baking, roasting etc… but the pressure cooker held a very special place in my kitchen.

Once the blog started, many of the pressure cooker recipes would make it here. And one of the constant questions I would get from my non Indian audience is about the Indian pressure cooker and how they can adapt those recipes to suit their modern versions. The Indian PC is an alien appliance to all of them and they find it quite intriguing and exciting.

That’s when I became aware of the fact that what the rest of the world calls PC is quite different in appearance and performance to the Indian version though the basic technology is same. I started researching more about the modern version especially when my Indian one began to give problems and there was no way I could get it repaired here. I don’t travel to India often so the first time, I had to ask my parents to courier a spare part (the courier charges turned out triple the cost of the original part).

And while all this research was going on, I got the biggest surprise when I was sent the Philips Deluxe All-in-One-Cooker for a collaboration. My wish was granted triple fold, because this premium appliance can pressure cook, slow cook, bake, sauté…basically multi cook including making yoghurt!

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

What I love most about this appliance is that it is a multi cooker which means I can use a lot of functions, some of them for the same dish itself. For eg: I can sauté and then pressure cook or sauté and slow cook or do all three if necessary. There is an add ingredient option which means mid way pressure cooking, I can open and add ingredients which is absolutely fantastic. There are pre programmed options for lentils, poultry, rice, beef/lamb etc… which means I don’t need to worry about undercooking or overcooking the dish.

One of my favourite curries to make using the pressure cooker is this simple Chicken drumlette curry with potatoes. It’s a super simple mid week curry that needs very little time especially since drumlettes are used. Just basic spices and aromatics, this is a rustic curry that can be paired with any kind of bread or rice. Any sort of curry tastes better when meat on the bone is used. And drumlettes are super affordable, easy to eat and tastes absolutely delicious when cooked in a curry sauce like this.

Note – This chicken drumlette curry can also be made in a traditional PC or slow cooked on the stovetop.

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms chicken drumlettes (skinless)
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 1 inch cinnamon bark
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 3 green cardamom
  6. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  7. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  8. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  9. Masala paste
  • 1 medium red onion; cubed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 fresh coriander leaves (stalks and root included if available)
  1. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  2. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  3. 2 tsp coriander powder
  4. ½ tsp garam masala
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 2 potatoes; cubed
  7. Coriander leaves; for garnish

Method:

  1. Select the Sauté/Sear function for 12 minutes (lid open); add oil and the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin seeds)
  2. As the spices begin to sizzle, add the curry leaves followed by the onions; mix well and sauté for 5 minutes till the onions turn light brown.
  3. Then add the ground masala; mix well and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. There will be some amount of spluttering so stir continuously.
  4. Mix the spice powders (turmeric, red chilli, coriander and garam masala) in 2-3 tbsp water and add this to the masala. Mix well to combine and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt. Also add 2 cups water and mix well to combine.
  6. Select the Pressure cooker (poultry) function and close the lid. Set the timing for 15 minutes, pressure at 40.
  7. After 5 minutes, select the add ingredient function. Open the lid once pressure has dropped and add the potatoes. Mix well and add more water if you desire more gravy.
  8. Close lid and continue pressure cooking process for the remaining 10 minutes.
  9. Once cooking is complete, open lid and garnish with coriander leaves.

Note:

Traditional PC – The steps remain same but cooking times will change. More water is release when cooking chicken in a traditional PC, so add only 1 cup water.

Stove top – Follow the same steps. After adding the chicken pieces and water to cook in Step 5, bring to boil and then simmer on low heat till the chicken is half done. Then add the potato pieces and cook covered till both the chicken and potatoes are cooked through and tender.

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata

Social media can be such a wonderful medium if you use it constructively. In spite of all the negativity that surrounds it, it’s a wonderful tool to communicate, work and meet new people if you use it in a positive manner.

I have made some amazing friendships and relationships over the years through social media; people who I would never have met otherwise. While many are still virtual friends, there have been others where the virtual relationships were quick to transform into real life friendships too.

This week, I got the opportunity to meet Natasha (@thegutlessfoodie) while she was on holiday in Australia. I have known Natasha for about 2 years now; our paths crossed on Instagram and we have remained in touch ever since. What drew me to her posts was not her medical condition and her inspiring life story (though there’s much to learn from that), but her sense of humor and positivity. Her food posts always bought me joy and put a smile on my face; and of course encouraged me to embrace wholesome homemade food always.

We spent a lovely evening with each other and our families, such a joy when you meet a virtual friend and realise that the love and respect you had for each other was not just an Internet thing but a genuine one. It’s a sigh of relief when that happens because more often than not, we always project the better side of us on social media without realizing that there’s more to each other’s life.

And while I wish we had more time to spend with each other, it was a great experience meeting her; one that is going to be cherished forever.

Time now to get to today’s recipe….

Peperonata is a classic Italian accompaniment. Often takes it place on the antipasti platter and is a great topping with bread and a good quality extra virgin.

Initially that’s how I wanted to try out this recipe. But as I was reading it, the flavours delighted me and I wanted to use it as an accompaniment with a protein for a complete meal. And of course, salmon came to mind as anything to do with roasted peppers are a delightful addition to seafood.

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

Peperonata is an extremely simple side to prepare that can be made ahead of time if you are prepping for a party. This dish is all about the bell peppers so make sure you pick plump red ones which have the right amount of sweetness required. The peppers are first roasted for that smoky flavour and then sautéed off with onions, tomatoes and spices. But what really adds another level of flavour is the basil pesto.

Since the Peperonata is loaded with flavour, there’s not much that needs to be done to the salmon. Keep it simple with a marinade of turmeric and paprika. And of course, take care while cooking to get that crispy skin which is the best part of the salmon.

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

A healthy meal with really robust flavours, this dish is easy to prepare which makes it ideal for both weekdays and when entertaining too.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 Salmon fillets (with skin)
  2. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  3. 1 tsp paprika (or Kashmiri chilli powder)

Find the full recipe on Supreme Seafood website..

Pan fried Salmon with Peperonata - thespiceadventuress.com

 

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively

2018 has been such an exciting year for me on the work front. So many interesting opportunities and collaborations have come my way this year, most of which has pushed me clearly beyond my comfort zone but enabled me to take my food dreams one step further.

And one such exciting opportunity has been this collaboration with Feastively.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

Feastively specializes in fresh meal boxes that are designed to help you cook a delicious dinner in three easy steps and just 15 minutes. Based on the meal plan and dishes that you choose on a weekly basis, all the prep work is done, packaged and delivered to your home.

Earlier this year, the company got in touch with me to find out if I would be interested in transforming some of my signature recipes from the blog into a fresh meal box format. I was surprised but couldn’t be more excited. This was almost like cooking personally for all of you (nothing could give me greater joy)!

Since I had tried out Feastively meal boxes last year, I was already aware of the quality of their meals. And I was quite impressed with the taste of many of their dishes. But making the decision was still hard because I wanted to be sure that my recipes delivered the same flavour as how I would cook at home, when it gets transformed into a fresh meal box.

But Feastively provided me with the kind of support to enable this and make the project a reality. A lot of testing and tweaking has taken place behind the scenes on their end as well as mine to ensure that each signature dish that is showcased has my stamp of approval and will deliver in terms of freshness, quality and flavour.

And finally the day has arrived; Indian Kheema Masala (Beef Mince with Potatoes, Peas and Rice) is now available through Feastively.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

One of the most popular recipes on my blog, I am so glad this was the first dish that made it to the meal box. If you were to make this dish from scratch, it will easily take 45 minutes to an hour. But now with the Feastively fresh meal box, all that you need to do is three easy steps and dinner ready in 15 minutes.

The whole spice infused caramelized onion and aromatic base is what takes the longest to cook in an Indian dish like this which has already been prepared for you. All that you need to do is cook the potatoes, peas and beef mince, add it to the mildly spiced sauce followed by yoghurt to get a delicious beef mince masala in no time at all. Serve it with a side of steamed rice for a hearty, flavoursome dinner. A glass of red would just make it perfect.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

It’s pretty simple to use Feastively. First, you opt for a meal plan based on the size of your family. And then add the recipes from the week’s list to your plan. The recipes are changed on a weekly basis so that there is something new to try and boredom doesn’t kick in from eating the same dishes. The dishes are also spread out across several different cuisines, all of which are Aussie family favourites.

The biggest advantage of using a fresh meal box service like Feastively is not just the amount of time you save but also the fact that it is way healthier than your local fast food or takeaway. There are no preservatives or additives, just fresh and seasonal ingredients prepped and put together for you to reduce cooking time.

While the Indian Kheema Masala is the first one to be launched, there are others being tested which will soon be introduced into the weekly menu. And if you have any dishes or recipes from the blog that you would like to see on Feastively, please do comment below and we will try our best to incorporate it.

So please do try it out and let me know your feedback; it would mean a lot to know what you think about the dish.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

 

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake

The almost ‘one tray’ bakes and roasts are fast becoming a favourite in our home.

While it’s warm, hearty and comforting during winter, it’s also very easy to put together. That’s why I have been trying a lot of these nowadays. Today’s dish is a sausage and potato bake but with Spanish flavours to add that extra oomph of flavour.

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a very simple dish but a really flavourful one. So it’s important to get sausages that are of top notch quality. Don’t go for the generic supermarket ones, the kind you tend to buy for backyard barbecues. Instead go for the gourmet ones that are prepared from top quality mince and also seasoned well.

For this dish, I chose chorizo since it’s the best for a Spanish style bake.

Instead of a sauce, I went with a sautéed onion bell pepper mixture that was flavoured with paprika, garlic and turmeric as the accompaniment to the sausages and potatoes. Baking it all together in a pan not only makes it easy but increases the overall flavour of the dish.

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

This Spanish style sausage and potato bake can be had as a meal on its own but I added a side of saffron rice and paired it with a nice Tempranillo. Looks fancy but actually a really simple dish.

Ingredients:

  1. 6 chorizos
  2. 4-5 Kipfler potatoes; cut into wedges
  3. 2 red onion; finely sliced
  4. 2 red bell pepper; pith removed and finely sliced
  5. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  6. 2 garlic cloves; finely sliced
  7. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  8. 2 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  9. 1 can diced tomatoes
  10. ½ cup kalamata olives
  11. Salt, to season
  12. 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley; finely chopped

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Heat olive in a pan and add the onions. Sauté on high heat for 2 minutes and then add the garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes or till the onions and peppers are softened.
  3. Add the turmeric powder and smoked paprika; mix well to combine.
  4. Then add the diced tomatoes and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and add the potatoes and sausages to the pan. Mix well to combine so that the sausages and potatoes are coated well with the onion pepper mixture.
  5. Transfer to a baking tray and arrange in such a way that the sausages and potatoes are on top for even cooking.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove to turn the sausages and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes till the potatoes are roasted well.
  7. Remove and add the olives and parsley.
  8. Serve warm with saffron rice

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

Spanish style Sausage and Potato Bake - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Hot Pot

It’s been one of those crazy weeks where nothing goes to plan. There’s no particular rhyme or reason but I couldn’t stick to a routine most of the days which makes me feel overwhelmed and uninspired. And its work that often gets affected and when I mean work, it’s often food, cooking and the associated bits and bobs.

I am not one of those people who say, ‘the kitchen is my happy place; when I am upset or stressed I go into my kitchen and cook to make me feel good again.’ Nope, that’s not me at all. I simply can’t cook or to be honest, detest getting into the kitchen when I am down. When I am feeling low, I can mess up even the most basic of dishes. Most people don’t believe me when I say it but that’s the real honest truth. I can burn water if I am not in the right frame of mind.

Today’s recipe was actually prepared last week. It was developed for a client but all of us loved it so much that I decided to post it here too. Especially since it fits the bill as a winter warmer dish.

The Mexican hot pot is one of those dishes that require a bit of prep but then the whole dish comes together in no time at all. It’s warm, comforting, hearty, delicious and perfect for sharing. And it makes the perfect weeknight meal or weekend indulgence.

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

This hot pot is all about the broth that has been infused with Mexican flavours. I used chicken as the protein, but it can easily be substituted with any other meat, fish or even vegetables of your choice. To maximize the flavour of the broth, the onions, tomatoes and bell peppers were roasted and then blitzed. Roasting helps to intensify and draw out flavours, a step that’s totally worth it.

Rice is optional, but I wanted this Mexican hot pot to be a complete meal so rice was part of the bowl. A totally customizable dish, it is best served as different components like the broth with chicken, rice, coriander, lime, avocado crema, tortilla strips, pickled onions, jalapenos etc…. Allow everyone to assemble their own bowls, building up the flavours to their preference.

And before we get onto the recipe, here are some of our all time Mexican favourites;

  1. Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa
  2. Chicken Tinga Tacos with Roasted Poblano Salsa
  3. Byron Bay Guacamole
  4. Fish Tacos with Pickled Slaw

Ingredients:

For the hot pot:

  1. 1 large Spanish onion; diced
  2. 1 large red tomato; diced
  3. 2 fresh jalapeno; sliced
  4. 1 large red bell pepper; diced
  5. 2 garlic cloves; peel on
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 400 ml crushed tomatoes
  8. 2 litre chicken stock
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  11. ½ tsp cumin powder
  12. 1 tsp dried oregano
  13. 4 chicken thighs (boneless); finely sliced

Avocado Crema:

  1. 1 ripe avocado
  2. ½ cup plain yoghurt
  3. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  4. Juice of ½ lemon
  5. Salt, to season

Toppings: (adapt to individual preferences)

  1. Steamed white rice
  2. Pickled red onions
  3. Fresh jalapenos; finely sliced
  4. Fresh coriander leaves
  5. Lime wedges
  6. Lebanese cucumber; cut into long strips
  7. Fried tortilla strips (cut 1-2 tortillas lengthwise using a scissors and fry in oil till crisp)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a roasting/baking tray, add the diced onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapeno and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and mix well to coat. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes till the veggies are lightly roasted and soft. Remove and cool lightly.
  3. Remove the peel of the garlic and add all the roasted veggies to a blender. Add the crushed tomatoes and blend well.
  4. In a large stock, add the blended mixture along with chicken stock. Then add the paprika, cumin and oregano. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Bring to boil and then simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and cook on high heat till the chicken is tender and cooked through. This should take only about 5 minutes as the chicken pieces are finely sliced.
  6. Meanwhile prepare all the toppings.
  7. To make the avocado crema, blend the avocado, yoghurt, garlic, salt and lemon juice till you get a smooth consistency. (Makes an excellent dip with nachos or any other crisps).
  8. To serve, lay out the chicken broth, toppings and avocado cream. Let each person assemble their bowl based on preferences.

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Chicken Wonton Soup

Anthony Bourdain is no more.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think that this is the way I would pay tribute to him on my blog. I have always wanted to write about Bourdain, his books, travels, shows and the stories of food cultures that he bought into our lives. But somehow I never put those thoughts to paper and now this….

It’s been an incredibly hard one to digest.

I have never been so profoundly distressed about someone’s death, especially someone who has not been a part of my personal or real life. He was not family or a friend, just a celebrity I watched on TV, so I couldn’t even fathom why I experienced that numbing ache, that overwhelming sense of sadness that sits heavy in my chest everytime I think of it.

But the truth is that he was one of those rare souls who had touched my life (and I realise so many others too) at a much deeper level.

Yes, Bourdain was all about the food, travel and culture. At least that’s how I identified with his books and shows initially. All the more, because I have always been an advocate for food…without borders, a belief or philosophy on which my blog has been founded too.

But as I got to read and watch him more, I realised that I connect with him so deeply because of our inherent restless, angry souls. His journey has been so different to mine yet somewhere I felt a sense of ‘this guy gets what I feel’ most of the time.

A restlessness to explore the world through food…..he did it through his travels; I do it through this blog. And sometimes that passion can be a burden too, because you are often misunderstood. I remember reading somewhere that most of his friends couldn’t get his relentless need to talk about food and cultures which made conversations difficult at times. And that’s a feeling I totally relate to; people around who simply can’t get my passion or think I am not doing anything worthwhile with my life.

There’s been much discussion about mental health, depression etc…. in the online world after his death but I am not going to talk about it. Not because I don’t think it’s important; because today I want to remember him again only for his love for travel and respect for food and cultures.

And I know these few lines can never completely convey the respect I have for Bourdain’s work….

Let’s get back to today’s recipe.

Dumplings, dimsims, wontons…we are just crazy about these at home. Steamed, pan fried, deep fried, we love it in all forms. But one of my personal favourites especially during winter is the wonton soup.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

I order it a lot while eating out at Asian restaurants but this time, I wanted to make it at home. I am not a pro when it comes to shaping wontons so I just followed this video which was really informative.

Not a complicated recipe at all but a tad bit time consuming making the wontons. But it was totally worth it as I made enough to freeze for another comforting weeknight dinner.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

The broth is light and simple but really flavourful and the only way to get that is to use a really good quality stock, store bought or homemade. I added the long red chillies (less heat), plenty of garlic and ginger along with soy and sesame oil to get a well balanced and moreish broth. I could just drink this broth all day long…..

This chicken wonton soup is like a hug in a bowl. It only takes minutes to prepare the broth and the wontons are boiled in the broth itself. I also added some bok choy at the end to finish off. You can add mushrooms, radish or any vegetables/greens of your choice. I wanted it to be all about the wontons, hence kept it simple.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Fix Feast Flair

Ingredients:

For the wontons:

(Makes 50 wontons; makes extra which is suitable for freezing)

  1. 50 Wonton wrappers
  2. 500 gms chicken mince
  3. 2 spring onions (only bulb); finely chopped
  4. 2 large garlic cloves; grated
  5. 1 ½ tbsp hoisin sauce
  6. ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  7. 1 tbsp sriracha
  8. ½ tsp black pepper powder
  9. Salt, to season

For the broth:

  1. 1 litre chicken stock
  2. 1 large red chilli (less heat variety)
  3. 5 -6 ginger slices
  4. 2 garlic cloves; finely sliced
  5. 2 tbsp soy sauce
  6. ½ tsp sesame oil
  7. ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
  8. 1 bunch bok choy (ends trimmed and leaves separated)

Method:

To make the wontons:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the chicken mince, onions, garlic, hoisin, oyster, sriracha, pepper and salt. Mix well to combine and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  2. For making the wontons, check out this video. I made the tortellini shaped ones since it was the easiest and most preferred one for me. To create this, place about 1 ½ tsp chicken mixture in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Wet the tip of your finger in a small bowl of water and run along the edges of one half of the wrapper. Fold the wet edges over to the dry edges to get a triangle shape and press to seal. Next tuck in the two edges towards each other to get the tortellini shape.
  3. Prepare all the wontons and keep stored in an airtight container. The wontons can dry out fast so place in the container as you make each one.
  4. To make the soup broth, add the stock to a large pan. Next add the chillies, sliced ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Bring to boil and add the required number of wontons. Cook for 4 minutes; then add the bok choy and cook for one more minute.
  5. Serve immediately.

Note – The broth is best made fresh, but if you intend to store it, then remove the ginger slices before doing so or it could turn slightly bitter on sitting.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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