Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Dandenong Market – A Slice of History in your Shopping Bag + a Giveaway ($200 Market Voucher)

 

Established in 1866, Dandenong Market is the second oldest and largest market of Melbourne. Often referred to as the Cook’s Market, it has always played a central role in the community – farmers, small business owners and public alike.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

My association with Dandenong Market began in 2013, the year I migrated with my family to Melbourne. Living a stone’s throw away, the market soon became my shopping haven. The vibrant and bustling scenes, fresh produce, spices, friendly vendors calling out their wares were all a reminder of my home in India. And those initial days of newness in a foreign land seemed to diminish away, instead replaced with a sense of belonging.

It’s my weekly trips to the market that has provided a lot of inspiration for the blog in those early days. Even today, a trip to Dandenong Market is enough for me to come back home feeling inspired and bursting with ideas. And that’s largely because of the amazing variety of produce that can be encountered here.

The bustling multicultural community lends a unique charm to the market making it a utopia for food lovers!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The market also conducts free Food Discovery Tours, a perfect way to go behind-the-scenes and get an exclusive glimpse into the everyday workings of a busy market. It also provides a deeper understanding of the produce, sustainability and interesting stories of the traders who runs these businesses.

With over 200 traders, the market is a bustling expanse and private tours like these can be of great help especially when you want to buy the best on offer. There are also different kinds of tours of offer and booking is essential even though the tours operate free of cost. Learn all about the tours and make a booking here.

I was lucky to be taken on a tour by Chef Tim Hollands, who is extremely passionate about Australian produce. In fact Chef Hollands is a well known food consultant and owner of Tim’s Foods and Tim Hollands Catering who is on a mission to introduce fresh Australian produce to the outside world. Food provenance and sustainability are very important to Chef Hollands and I could not have asked for a better tour guide.

Now as I mentioned, the Dandenong Market is huge and bustling with more than 200 traders and it would be impossible to write about each of them. So here is a photographic tribute to some of my favourite traders, shops and cafes to share with you.

(I have provided information regarding each place beneath the photograph, but you can also find more information about the traders here.)

Details of the giveaway for a $200 market voucher at the end of this post.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start the tour with a cup of coffee, shall we? Café Valentina by Melba Coffee is a great place to stop by for a cuppa of your choice. I especially loved the cold drip coffee and you may also like to take home some of their award winning roasted beans.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Hart’s Honey is another favourite of mine and I often stop by to replenish and stock up the honey section of my pantry. Owned by Joza Hart, the stall is very famous for the different varieties of honey like Iron Bark, Mixed Blossom, Red Gum, Leatherwood (from Tasmania) and Manuka (from New Zealand). Hart also stocks creamed honey and honey comb but my favourite is the Orange blossom honey for its citrusy undertones. Do stop by for a chat; Hart is great company and loves to talk about his products.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s a given that you will be shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. Do wander around the different stalls like Luppino Fresh (the oldest trader in the market), S&G Fresh, Alexander Produce etc… to see what’s in season and score a bargain. Markets are all about exploring so refrain from buying all the produce from just one place and rushing out unless you are in a hurry. For me, these braided shallots were the highlight of the day!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam’s Spice and Grocery….the most inspiring space for me in the market. I can easily spend hours here pondering over rows and rows of spices from all around the globe. In fact, most of my spice education happens here. A trip to Dandenong Market is worth it just to visit this store.

All of you know how crazy I am about seafood and Dandenong Market is one of my absolute favourite places to buy fresh seafood. Recommending two shops;

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The first is Hellenic Seafood, owned and operated by the Ganotis family. This is the place for sustainably sourced seafood, extremely high quality produce and my go to store for salmon, red snapper, oysters, mussels, clams etc….

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The second is Schwarze Seafoods, my next favourite because of the sheer variety of seafood available. Especially the place to visit if you are sourcing seafood for traditional dishes from other cuisines like Indian, Asian etc… And to all those who have asked me so many times, I get fresh sardines and mackerel from here most of the time.

There is a great selection of bakeries inside the market and my top two picks would be Baker Boys and Melina’s Bakery & Larder.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Baker Boys is managed by Jawad Zada who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban rule and arrived as a refugee here in 2001. Since he was a baker there, he continued in the same profession here, taking courses and doing apprenticeships to establish himself as a baker here. While you will find all sorts of baked goods in his shop, my absolute favourite are the Afghan style flatbreads with herbs and chilli flakes……a stunning combination with a delicious lamb curry.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Melina’s is my go to shop for sourdough and rye bread. There are so many different styles available especially for those who are interested in artisan breads and European styles. My favourite would be the plain sourdough which makes an excellent base for a rustic and delicious Bruschetta.

Apart from all the fresh produce, deli, meat and seafood traders, Dandenong Market is also home to other shops, a space often referred to as The Bazaar. This place can indeed be a treasure house if you are willing to spend a little time and walk through the rows of clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, toys etc…..

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

One such store is Linda’s Workshop which specializes in fine pearl jewellery. Rows and rows of beautiful pearl jewellery that won’t break your bank!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The Afghan bazaar is actually located in the meat and deli hall because they also stock a huge variety of Middle Eastern groceries but I would recommend looking at the ornate traditional homewares , tea sets and other kitchenware for such bargain prices.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are a book lover, then you must pay a visit to Volkan Books. Owned by Mustafa, this is a very popular space not just to buy books but also to swap and sell books. And if you bump into me there, do come and say hello.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though I have not personally used their services, I was drawn to the beautiful ambience at Christalignment. The staff is trained in supernatural healing, presence therapy, dream interpretations etc…..

If all that shopping and walking around has left you tired, then it’s time to indulge your tastebuds at the Market Square.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start with Saccha for a refreshing glass of cold sugarcane juice. Lez is a veteran of the hospitality industry and he definitely knows to mix his drinks. Opt for the plain freshly squeezed juice or try one of his signature drinks. Highly recommended!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Food from all around the globe is on offer here and some of my favourites include The Grill (for delicious burgers and kransky sausages), Sansan’s Dumpling House (for handmade traditional dumplings, golden pies and soft Chinese buns), Andy’s Mauritian Hut (for dhal puri, curries and vadai/chilli cakes) and Fat Kebabs (for kebabs, Middle Eastern pizzas and the best lahmacun I have ever had).

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you like spicy, rich and bold flavours, then it is PiqNiq Hut that you must head to for delicious Srilankan food. All the traditional favourites like Kothu roti, devilled chicken, goat curry etc…. are available.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Finish off your meal with delicious freshly made doughnuts from the much loved Dandee Donuts, perhaps the most famous of all eateries at the market.

I also had some very interesting conversations, all thanks to the DSLR around my neck.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Like this gentleman from Cairns who is visiting Melbourne and loves the Dandenong Market.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And these two gentlemen who came here 30 years ago from Iran and now call themselves proud Melbournians. It was a joy to see the pride they had in their eyes while speaking of what a welcoming nation Australia is. Let’s keep it that way folks!

I can write forever about Dandenong Market but all good things must come to an end. And we have the giveaway to talk about too;

The folks at Dandenong Market would love to have you and so they are giving away a $200 market voucher to one lucky subscriber.

To enter;

  • Subscribe to my blog using your email id (the subscription box can be found at the top right hand corner on the home page)
  • Sign up to Dandenong Market newsletter here.
  • Leave a comment below stating you have done both.

The competition will run from 15th to 28th March, 2017 and the winner will be drawn on 29th.  Open only to residents of Victoria; the winner will be announced on my social media channels so make sure you are following me.

Good luck folks!

February Favourites

The short and sweet month of the year!

February is a rather charming month, isn’t it? Kicks off with the much anticipated Valentine’s Day which might be the cheesiest and most overrated day but one that makes most of us happy and mushy within. The month is short and I always feel the weekends arrive faster (which is awesome!!). And March is not far behind, which for our household means, celebration time with birthdays galore. But I will talk more of that later….

For now, it’s time to reflect and share the happenings of February!

The month started with a feature and interview for the series, ‘The Foodie Files’. Liz is the creative force behind I Spy Plum Pie and her blog is all about delicious vegetarian recipes, sustainable living, eco friendly products, spice conversations etc…. And if these are the topics that interest you, then you need to head over to her space for sure. Also check out my interview for the series here.

Interview, The Spice Adventuress

We attended ‘White Night Melbourne’ this year, our first in four years. It was a tad bit tricky to be out so late into the night with a little boy but we survived and managed to have quite a gala time too. If you would like to see my photographs from the night, visit my Facebook page.

White Night Melbourne'17

I also got the opportunity to attend one of the Dandenong Food Tours, which is highly recommended to all those who love to experience the vast multicultural cuisine of Australia. These food and cultural tours are a real eye opener and is a great way to sample amazing food and also get an insight into the heart and soul of this suburb. Visit here for more photographs from the tour!

Polish Bakery, Dandenong - thespiceadventuress.com

This Asian style Prawn Omelette is my lunch time indulgence!

Asian style Prawn Omelette - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

And my current favourite drink is the Bonamy’s Cider. Made from 100% whole pressed Tasmanian apples and fermented with white wine yeast, which makes it a refreshing, sweet, clean and crisp cider which to me, tastes like a really good sparkling white!

Bonamy's Cider - thespiceadventuress.com

Speaking of drinks, let me introduce you to The ‘Mojito’ Candle from Ariel’s World.

Ariel, The Mojito Candle - thespiceadventuress.com

This scented candle is absolutely delicious; fresh, herby, minty, lemony…..it’s a very light scent that does not overpower but gently adds a whiff of fragrance to your room. I am not a big fan of heavy scents and so this candle is just perfect.

And it’s not just the scent that makes this candle special. It’s Ariel’s story.

Created by Raylene Barton, Ariel’s world is the journey of her little daughter (Ariel) who happens to have Down’s syndrome. And all her namesake scented products raise money for Down syndrome charities; Down syndrome NSW and LifeStart NSW.

Apart from candles, Ariel’s World also has lip balms and scented diffusers, all of which are individually handcrafted in Australia from eco-friendly products. The quality of the products is amazing and I can talk especially about this ‘Mojito’ candle which comes in a beautifully stylish silver container that adds style to your home décor.

Do check out their page and lend your support to this amazing mother-daughter duo making a real difference to the society.

Other faves of the month:

My skin loves this….

Kiehl's Pure Vitality - thespiceadventuress.com

My favourite sunscreen; because it is light, not oily and works as the perfect base for makeup apart from offering good protection.

I needed this nail paint hack, especially for the bright reds.

I wear a lot of Veronika Maine and I have been eyeing this top for autumn.

A big fan of dainty rings like these.

Travel Porn!

9 things your children need but won’t tell you.

Enchiladas, we all love it but check out this one. Major drooling happening!

This Korean fried chicken burger! Fingerlickin good!

Chocolate doughnuts. Need I say more?

Food Photography with a DSLR and why you need to go beyond the auto mode. Taught by none other than Simi of Turmeric n’ Spice…she hardly needs any introduction.

Mac n’ Cheese with a lot of oomph.

January Favourites

Back to school time for the little champ!

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

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

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

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

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

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

top10-blogger-round-2017

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

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

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

Blog of the month; absolutely drooling over the photographs!

Eyeing these flutes, what do you think?

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

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

This mango daiquiri. Yum!

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

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

And this thoroughly fulfilling and delicious pasta soup.

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

The next Taco Tuesday will feature this.

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

This hot sauce is the bomb!

Have you ever tried the pol sambol? Deliciousness….

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

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

Can I have a dozen of these please?

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

My Favourite Recipes of 2016

What a spectacular year it has been!

So many highs personally and professionally, 2016 has been a memorable year for me. And as we draw to a close, I wanted to share some of my favourite recipes with all of you. While I have enjoyed cooking and writing about every recipe here, there are definitely some favourites. Some of these are personal success stories in terms of a technique or ingredient while others tell personal stories. So sit back and enjoy a pictorial tribute to my top recipes from 2016.

And wishing each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year….Cheers!

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail

The ‘Indian’ Cosmopolitan – a Rooh Afza Cocktail! - thespiceadventuress.com

Breaking all rules with this cocktail……my tribute to Rooh Afza, an extremely popular fruit concentrate in many parts of Asia. The beautiful vibrant colour and the refreshing headiness this drink offers make it perfect for our long summer days.

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

This was the surprise recipe of the year. An experiment with flavours which worked magic on the tastebuds, these toasties are super quick and make the perfect canapé for any party.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Kangaroo meat remains a judgemental topic but I am of the opinion that if sustainably sourced, it has an apt place on the dinner table, especially in Australia. But yes, sustainably sourced is a phrase I would stress on. And if you share my beliefs, then these spiced kangaroo triangles are simply delicious and one I enjoyed creating.

Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls (with Sweet n’ Spicy Dipping Sauce)

Vietnamese Prawns Spring Rolls - The ultimate party snack for kids and adults alike - thespiceadventuress.com

Baked Oysters with Garlic, Curry Leaf and Kashmiri Chilli

Baked Oysters with Garlic, Curry Leaf and Kashmiri Chilli - Soft, plump and juicy oysters are oven baked with a garlic and curry leaf butter emulsion, coriander leaves and Kashmiri chilli powder - thespiceadventuress.com

An attempt at showcasing the subtlety of Indian flavours. There is a myth that Indian food means robust flavours but these oysters will tell you otherwise. A must have this festive season.

Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes

Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes - a savoury kid friendly snack perfect for lunch boxes and parties alike - thespiceadventuress.com

A recipe that got me featured for the second time in Bank of Melbourne’s #socialfeeds cookbook 2016! These savoury muffins are so easy to make and works magic on a brunch table or for a children’s party or perhaps simply as an afternoon treat. Don’t miss to give it a try…

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Comfort in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

This one’s ideal for the harsh winters that will be here in the blink of an eye. Creamy, lush and delicious especially with those crispy bits of bacon and shallots. Heaven in a bowl!

Kashmiri Rista…..Sandwiched!

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

This recipe was all about showcasing traditional Indian flavours in a global style. Rista is an extremely popular meatball recipe from Kashmir, a delicacy that is held in much reverence. But instead of the curry format, I have used it to create a submarine sandwich proving how sturdy yet flexible Indian flavours are.

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa

Mexican Prawn Tacos with Mango Salsa - easy and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

We are huge on tacos; little morsels of deliciousness that are so utterly satisfying. And these Mexican prawn tacos are one of the best you will ever have, if I may say so myself.

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Fresh Herbs and Chillies

Herby and delicious - Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies) - thespiceadventuress.com

A hailstorm followed by loads of fresh herbs is what led to this recipe. But it turned out so damn delicious that I am secretly grateful to the storm for wrecking my urban herb garden.

Filipino style Grilled Barramundi

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

Fish with eggs was not a flavour combination I thought would work till I tried out my version of a Filipino classic. Amazing is the verdict!

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

This one takes a bit of time to get to the table but the effort is so worth it. The famous ‘Chin Chin’ recipe that will give you much delicious comfort during the colder months.

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samlâ Curry

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samla Curry - deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

This is the first time I tried out a Khmer dish and what a delicious experience it was. This creamy, lush and flavourful chicken curry didn’t take too long to become one of our favourite curries ever.

Vegetable Stir fry with Gochujang

Vegetable Stir Fry with Gochujang (Korean Chilli Paste) - thespiceadventuress.com

And my biggest discovery of 2016….gochujang! Love at first taste folks; if you haven’t tried out this magic condiment, then please make it your resolution for 2017.

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Developing this recipe was an eye opener too regarding palm oil and its salient presence in our foods. Do spare a moment to read the article if you haven’t already and a delicious summery icecream cake is the bonus.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries - the most delicious way to say 'I love you' this Valentine's Day - thespiceadventuress.com

This one’s from Valentine’s Day, a dedication to my love story and to all the beautiful readers of my blog. Lush and decadent, this chocolate fudge cake also got featured on Bon Appétit.

 

 

Christmas Gift Guide for the Food Lovers + a Food Hamper Giveaway

I know it’s late for a gift guide but hey, I am sure there are plenty of last minute shoppers out there. And I really wanted to do this for all the food lovers out there who are looking for something unique yet simple and affordable for their food loving friends. And in Australia, we are indeed spoilt for choice.

So without much chit chatting, let’s get onto the task. And remember, there is an amazing food hamper waiting for you at the end of the post; you don’t want to miss out on this one.

The Spice People (Spices & Blends)

Based out of Melbourne, Liz Edgecombe is a passionate spice evangelist and my go to spice expert. We can talk for hours about spices, blends and flavour combinations. I have been personally using their spices and blends for more than 2 years now and vouch for the quality and freshness. In fact, 90% of all the whole spices I use are bought from The Spice People and I also buy many of their unique blends like French Vadouvan Curry, Greek Gyros etc….  So do check out their online store for some great deals and spice up your lives this festive season.

(The Spice People have also kindly sponsored 3 spice packs for the food hamper which you can check out below)

The Spice People (Spices & Blends) - product photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Eat me Chutneys (Chutneys & Preserves)

Most of you would have read my recent post about Eat me Chutneys. An epic social project for rescuing the bruised and unwanted fruits and veggies thereby tackling food wastage. Organic, fairtrade and sustainable, a jar of Eat me Chutneys is a perfect gift for any food lover. Currently, they are even offering complimentary shipping so don’t waste your time!

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

Smoke and Roast (Flavoured Salts)

Are you a fan of smoked and flavoured salts? Then this is a great choice not just as a gift but also to use during this festive season. My favourite is the curry flavoured salt (of course!) which can transform your steaks, lamb ribs or seafood into something magical. Absolutely recommended for the barbeque season. Do check out this recipe that I did using the curry flavoured smoked salt.

Smoke and Roast (Flavoured Salts) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Bondi Chai (Chai Latte)

Got a chai latte lover at home? Then a pack of the Bondi Chai is the best gift you can give this Christmas. It is Australia’s most awarded chai latte and comes in two delicious flavours – Club Cinnamon (my favourite) and Vanilla Honey. With very less sugar and naturally sweetened with Australian honey, the Bondi Chai is also gluten free and Halal certified. While the hubby enjoys this as a traditional chai latte, I enjoy it in my smoothies like this apple pear chai latte smoothie with a touch of cinnamon.

(Bondi Chai has kindly offered 2 packets of their chai lattes to be part of the giveaway hamper)

Bondi Chai (Chai Latte) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Picky  Picky Peanuts

There is no way you will have a party without featuring the nuts (unless you have an allergy). So this festive season, let’s binge on some delicious Australian peanuts from Picky Picky. Such a cool name! Available in 5 different flavours – savoury honey roasted, tangy Mexican salsa, sweet chilli & lime, classic sea salt and sea salt & pepper. Delicious and locally made, these make excellent gifts and also great to serve at parties.

(And one lucky person will get to enjoy all the five flavours as part of the food hamper giveaway)

Picky Picky Peanuts - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Red Rock Olives (Artisan Olive Products)

Situated near the Grampians National Park, Red Rock Olives produces award winning premium quality extra virgin olive oil, artisan vinegars, olives and olive salts. I especially loved the flavour of the olive salts which come in two flavours – classic and chilli infused. A unique hand crafted Australian product that would make a great gift for any food lover. There are also special limited edition gift packages available for the season.

(Red Rock Olives has kindly sponsored one bottle of olive salt as part of the food hamper giveaway)

Red Rock Olives (Artisan Olive Products) - product photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Mork (Specialty Hot Chocolate)

What’s Christmas without hot chocolate? Agreed we have a summery Christmas, but hey there is no specific season for chocolate and we can enjoy it chilled too. Mork needs no introduction; a handcrafted product from the cacao artisans designed for pure sensory pleasure. Check out their range and also special gift packs for the season.

Mork (Specialty Hot Chocolate) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are an excellent gift option for food lovers. While there is no dearth to good cookbooks these days, my favourite picks would be these three;

  1. The Bangala Table (Flavours and Recipes from Chettinad) b y Sumeet Nair, Meenakshi Meyyappan with Jill Donenfeld
  2. Mourad: New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou
  3. Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen by Guy Grossi

Cookbooks - photography - thespiceadventuress.com

The Craft & Co

The Craft & Co. is not a product but a unique space incorporating all facets of food and drinks. A one stop shop located in Collingwood, this place is a haven for local food producers. I could happily get lost here and never want to go back home. An eatery, bar, brewery, deli, distillery, winery, food store etc….. this is the place to go shopping this Christmas. I was there recently for the Christmas market (and have been bombarding all of you with pictures) and came home with so much delicious stuff for my party and unique edible gifts. So if online shopping is not your thing, just head over to Craft & Co to make the most delicious purchases this season.

The Craft & Co. Collingwood - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my best purchases of the day was the Craft & Co. Limoncello made in house in collaboration with the Gypsy Brewing Co. Handcrafted in small batches, each bottle is unique and adapted from a Chef Dom Marzano’s family recipe. A delicious tipple that is best served on ice after a meal or as a cocktail infused with lemon and mint for a summer party.

Craft & Co. Limoncello - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

And the folks at Craft & Co. have also generously offered one bottle of their Nero D’Avola, Heathcote 2015 towards the food hamper that will soon go to one lucky subscriber. This particular wine is slightly different to other Nero D’Avolas because of its unique lightness and smoothness on the palate. A pale beautiful red, it is medium bodied with hints of fresh red berries, plums, savoury spices and baked earth. Pairs well with blue cheese, antipasto and red meat.

Nero D’Avola, Heathcote 2015 - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Artemis Gin

Artemis is not the average bottle of gin that you would pick up in a random liquor store. It is a true artisan product handcrafted in small batches by Derv and Seb in collaboration with The Craft & Co.

In Derv’s and Seb’s words…….. “Artemis Distilled Australian Gin is juniper forward, classic London dry style, complimented by a few local botanicals and our namesake, Artemisia.  It is spicy, savoury, with a kick of citrus and a long finish with clove, nutmeg and ginger.  It is bottled at 44% alcohol, a little above the usual strength, to give the botanicals a little extra punch.  Artemis Gin is perfect in a G&T, sings when combined with Vermouth, which also gets its name from Artemisia, in a Dry Martini or Negroni, and the spices shine when paired with citrus in cocktails like the White Lady or Southside’

This gin was a revelation to my spice loving tastebuds……an explosion  of flavour that can only be truly described by experience. If you decide to buy just one thing this season, let it be a bottle of Artemis.

Artemis Gin - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Melbourne Hot Sauce

The undisputed leader of hot sauces in Australia! There’s a flavour for every taste bud from mild to fiery and when I say fiery, I mean it with flavours like Bhut Jolakia, Spicy Sanchez and Streets of Rage. While I did taste and enjoy the fiery ones, I wasn’t sure of my guests so came home with the milder Chipotle BBQ which has a beautiful sweet n’ spicy smoky flavour great as a dip or as a marinade. Special gift packs are on offer so do check it out.

Melbourne Hot Sauce - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Rum Diary (Spiced Rum)

There’s no way this gift guide will be complete without a mention of this season’s favourite find – the Spiced Rum from Rum Diary. Yet another revelation to my spice loving taste buds, this drink is handcrafted from the finest Caribbean rum and infused with local and native Australian spices. Also launched the pre-batch cocktails in 3 different flavours – Spiced negroni, Spiced old-fashioned and Spiced peach tea spritz. Highly recommended!

That brings us to the end of the gift guide; I agree it was a long one but I wanted to write a bit about each product as these are unique and produced by people who are passionate and take great pride in the work they do.

Rum Diary (Spiced Rum) - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Now onto the food hamper giveaway….

Food hamper giveaway - thespiceadventuress.com

So I have curated one food hamper to give away to one lucky subscriber of mine. The hamper valued at $150 contains some of my favourites (a few were featured above);

  1. The Spice People
  • Dried lemon myrtle leaves (1 pack)
  • French Vadouvan Curry (1 pack)
  • Persian dried rose buds (1 pack)
  1. Bondi Chai
  • Club Cinnamon (200gm)
  • Vanilla Honey (200gm)
  1. Picky Picky Peanuts
  • SeaSalt & Pepper (1 pack)
  • Sweet Chilli & Lime (1 pack)
  • Savoury Honey Roasted (1 pack)
  • Tangy Mexican Salsa (1 pack)
  • Classic Sea Salt (1 pack)
  1. Red Rock Olive salt
  2. Grampians Olive Co. Toscana Organic Extra virgin Olive Oil
  3. T2 Lemongrass & Ginger
  4. Caffe trombetta dal 1890 ORO coffee blend (Italian)
  5. The Alice Tea Co. Spicy Chocolate loose leaf tea
  6. Craft & Co. Nero D’Avola, Heathcote 2015 (1 bottle)
  7. Annabel Trends tea towel

To enter, all that you need to do is;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id
  2. Leave a comment below on what are your plans for this festive season and also your email id to get in touch if you are the lucky one.
  3. Spread the cheer!

Terms & Conditions:

  • You must be 18+ years of age and an Australian resident.
  • The giveaway will be open till Monday 19th, December 2016 midnight and a lucky winner will be chosen and notified on Tuesday morning. The winner must respond within 24 hours or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner will be picked by random draw.

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been chosen.

November Favourites + a Giveaway!

Guys, can you believe 2016 is almost coming to a close?? Gosh…where has all the time gone? I am an year older and none the wiser!

The festive mood has finally kicked in. The Christmas tree will go up this weekend, I have started planning for my Christmas party with friends and there is a lot of joy and cheer in the atmosphere. That’s what I love best about this season – the feeling of joy and of hope that we live in a beautiful world and our lives are all good, inspite of everything.

So on that joyous thought, let’s head into my favourites for the last month but first, the giveaway!

I had the opportunity to meet and interact with the brand, Little Innoscents, at last month’s Kids Bloggers Brunch.  I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see an organic baby skincare range because I have always been extremely careful about taking care of my son’s hair and skin.

Antonette (Director of Little Innoscents) was very kind to provide me with some samples so that I could use and test it out myself before making any sort of recommendation to you guys. I have been using their products for over a month now and completely pleased with it because it is effective, natural, plant based and free from all sorts of nasties.

Little Innoscents Organic Baby Skincare Range - Giveaway Hamper - thespiceadventuress.com

Little Innoscents has been very kind to sponsor one of their best selling hampers to one lucky reader of my blog; the hamper contains;

  • 1 pack Baby Wipes – Ultra soft wipes with plant based ingredients, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E
  • 1 Milky Whites Toothpaste – Fluoride Free and no Artificial Sweeteners. My son’s favourite!
  • 1 Sun Lotion SPF30 – UVA & UVB broad spectrum protection. No preservatives, with zinc oxide as the only active ingredient. Contains Vitamin E, organic Green Tea, Cucumber and Rosehip extract.
  • 1 Hair Fudge – Yet another favourite in our household. My son goes gaga over this as he gets to style his hair looking all dapper. Made with Sandalwood and Orange Infusions, this one is alcohol, SLS and Paraben free which means that there will be no icky residues left behind on the hair.
  • 1 Hair and Body Wash – A refreshing Spearmint & Orange wash which is ideal for sensitive skin and those suffering from eczema. My son smells so good after a bath with this which ensures that there are lots of cuddles afterwards!

Little Innoscents Organic Baby Skincare Range - Giveaway Hamper - thespiceadventuress.com

So if you would like to win a hamper for yourself or to gift to someone this Christmas, then the details are provided at the end of this post.

But before that it is time for my November Favourites:

99 Food Photography Tips; I am practicing each and every one of these and it’s been of incredible help.

A new year is just around the corner and if you need some inspiration, these are the quotes that will do the job.

The power of listening! I need more of that…..

I love makeup but I like to own only a few products, ones I swear by. And the one I am loving at the moment and an all time favourite are these Clinique chubby sticks.

How cute is this drink dispenser; on my wish list and fingers crossed!

And this hanging chair is on the list too! A girl can dream right….

This is Nacho dream come true!

I am not much of a bread lover but these challah buns get me drooling.

Get some pork on your fork!

The perfect Christmas wine but I am partial to this old fashioned too.

These truffles would make awesome Christmas gifts

For days you want deliciousness and nourishment in a bowl

And this chicken dish in on my menu for the weekend

Little Innoscents Giveaway

To be in the running for this giveaway, here’s what you must do;

  1. Subscribe to my blog using your email id.
  2. Like the Little Innoscents Facebook Page
  3. Leave a comment below stating that you have done both and also your email id so that I can get in touch with you if you have won the hamper.

Rules:

The competition runs from December 2, 2016 to December 9, 2016.

The winner will be chosen by a random draw and will be notified on my blog, social media channels and also via email. If the person does not revert back within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

To enter, you have be 18+ years of age and an Australian resident (or you could gift it to any of your friends or family living here).

 

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been drawn.

October Favourites

What a month it has been! October will definitely be a highlight of 2016 for me, an overwhelmingly exciting one that will be a part of my memory forever and one that I will perhaps talk about proudly to my grandchildren some day.

Two weeks ago, I received a Certificate of Merit as part of Victorian Multicultural Commission’s Excellence Awards 2016 in the Media category. An absolute honour is all I can say. This was in recognition of the reporting work I do with Indian Link, Australia’s leading and most awarded Indian community magazine.

If you would like to know more about my work with Indian Link, this is a beautiful article penned by my editor.

VMC Excellence Awards 2016 (Media) - Certificate of Merit - thespiceadventuress.com

VMC Excellence Awards 2016 (Media) - Certificate of Merit - thespiceadventuress.com

This month also saw me conducting my first cooking class ‘The Spice Trail’ in association with Food Social. Hosted at the NEFF Market Kitchen in South Melbourne Market, the class was all about spices and the interesting ways to use it in both traditional and contemporary Indian cooking.

To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. It was sheer exhilaration with a whole lot of nerves at the same time but in the end, totally worth it. Check out more pictures from the event here.

The Spice Trail cooking class - thespiceadventuress.com

The Spice Trail cooking class - thespiceadventuress.com

My favourite quote for the month……because I strongly believe that our realities are the same but it’s our attitude and perspective towards life that makes us winners and losers!

Quote - photography - thespiceadventuress.com

This photograph was taken in my spring garden.

And now it’s time to share with all of you my favourite picks for this month….grab a coffee/tea/wine and enjoy the read.

An Indian cuisine food blog I totally admire and I have been drooling big time over this deliciously healthy black pea curry.

Diwali might be over but these dry fruit samosas are going to come up during my summer entertaining soirees.

Need some barbeque inspiration? Look no further than this….

Naan Pizzas! I know that there are plenty around but this one’s pretty amazing and easy.

I love classic recipes and I think you should never mess with them like this drool drool drool Steak Diane!

With summer promising to be here soon, it’s time to get creative in the drinks department. And when I say creative, I mean this prickly pear margarita!!!

Also this blood orange thyme spritz and this super green turmeric Bloody Mary.

Barware is high on my shopping list this summer and I am totally drooling over this collection.

The best way to get the choicest seafood and meat cuts is to befriend your local fishmonger or butcher. Here are the right questions to ask your butcher; very informative.

Life, Relationships, Travel and Food – all through Anthony Bourdain’s eyes. This man knows it all…..

A Siberian Autumn love story! This lady is one of the most travelled I know and she is such a dear friend.

Women, who we are and what we feel. Guys, this one is for you.

Lusting over this signature Pandora necklace.

How cool is this clutch?

Ciao folks for another month.

September Favourites + The Spice Trail Cooking Class

This month went by at lightning speed for me…so many events and new ventures, none of it anticipated. So plenty of excitement but plenty of butterflies fluttering around in my tummy too…

As many of you would have come across on my social media channels, I am hosting my first cooking class ‘The Spice Trail’ in collaboration with Food Social Australia.  The class is going to be held at the South Melbourne Market on October 15th, 12.00 – 3.00pm.

A medley of spices, herbs and aromatics - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s going to be fun and interactive for sure. I will be demonstrating some basics like making spice blends, building up a curry base etc…. and then some hands on cooking with the guests and finally we all sit down to feast on all the delicious stuff we made together. I promise you, it’s going to be a great experience and I would love to see you guys there. All the details can be found here and check it out soon as spots are filling in fast.

And for a limited time, I am also offering all my subscribers a 15% discount because you guys are just awesome.

The Spice Trail cooking class at South Melbourne Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Earlier this month, I celebrated Onam (a harvest festival celebrated in my hometown Kerala). And since I celebrate it every year without fail, I decided to invite all my girlfriends out here in Melbourne for a traditional feast. Check out this fun video that was created by friend and fellow YouTuber, Shyamali Sinha of Foodie’s Hut.

Onam celebrations in Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Are you a beginner to Indian cooking? Then you might want to take a look at this article in which Indian food bloggers reveal their best tips for anyone taking baby steps into the vast world of Indian cuisine. Yours truly included.

The fact that I am busy means that I end up making this pasta dish often; simple, easy in a jiffy and vegetarian!

Linguine with Asparagus and Tomato - Meatless Monday cannot get more delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

And my favourite quote for the month is;

Quote - thespiceadventuress.com

Source – Pinterest

Now let’s get on to my top picks for this month;

I met Monica through my social media channels 2 years ago and she has remained a dear friend since. She recently launched her own business, Be.GiftingandLiving, an online gifting store which is filled with the most beautiful and pretty things. Do take a look, her space will instantly make you happy from within and with Christmas fast approaching, you might find some great gifts too.

Want to learn food photography from the experts? Then this workshop is where you need to be; I wish I could be there myself.

Slow blogging! Yes, I believe in it and it has worked wonders for me. If you are just starting out or caught in a rut, then please do read this article.

Do  women need their girlfriends? Yes we do and this article tells you why.

This pasta dish is what I am craving now.

Summer is coming and if you have a herb garden like I do, then this article on drying herbs will be very useful.

Drooling over this bowl of yumminess.

Bookmarking these for my Oreo loving son’s birthday.

These potato croquettes! Sigh!

And of course we need a cocktail recipe but this one is for my fellow foodies around the globe because it’s a fabulous fall one.

It’s time to get out of my boots and into these beautiful wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onam Sadya……and memories of a delicious childhood

A delicious childhood……I know that’s not an appropriate adjective at all but that’s exactly what my childhood was like. Great food always for the family and for the zillions of friends who came home to eat my mom’s food.

Just like most people, there are so many memories associated with food from my childhood. But nothing else perhaps is as profound as the Onam sadya; maybe because it came only once a year or maybe because I was always fond of large feasts.

Growing up in a foreign country, the food is how I connected with my birth land. So when I think of Kerala, it is the food that rushes to my mind especially the rather elaborate Onam sadya. I can still remember my mom rising at the crack of dawn to prepare all the delicacies for the feast and me, her little assistant hovering around in the kitchen. As I grew, so did the responsibilities….chopping veggies and washing dishes. While the former was a prize to be conferred upon, the latter I thoroughly disliked even to this day.

After I got married and had my own small family, the Onam sadya was a tradition I continued. While I am deeply spiritual but not religious, there are very few cultural traditions or festivals that are celebrated in our home unlike many Indian families. But the Onam sadya has stayed with us because for me, it was all about sharing a slice of my childhood with my little boy.

This year, I have invited my girl gang to join me in the celebrations and excitedly looking forward to the day. Do you celebrate Onam at home or have friends with whom you celebrate? I would love to hear your stories and memories too….

And here is a compilation of some of the dishes that is traditionally served for the sadya. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not have the entire list but there are quite a few if you need some help preparing for the feast. And if you have nothing to do with this festival, it still doesn’t matter because you get the opportunity to learn a few traditional vegetarian dishes from God’s own country.

Cut Mango Pickle

This is a great example of an instant pickle and with raw mangoes in season, a must have in your refrigerator.

Cut mango pickle (Onam sadya) - an instant pickle made from raw mangoes - thespiceadventuress.com

Puli Inji (Tamarind Ginger Chutney)

A preparation unique to the state, this chutney is all about the balance of flavours. A lipsmacking condiment for the feast.

Puli Inji/Tamarind Ginger Chutney - a classic chutney that forms an integral part of Onam sadya - thespiceadventuress.com

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk)

Succulent melon/gourd pieces simmered in coconut milk and spiced with green chillies. While winter melon is available in some markets, it still might be a tad difficult for everyone to source. Use native Australian cucumbers instead!

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk) - a part of the vegetarian Onam sadya - thespiceadventuress.com

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

A lesser known component of the feast, this yam and plantain curry is more famous in the central parts of Kerala. A creamy texture and spiced with black peppercorns, there is a slight twinge of sourness from the curd which completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - an integral part of the Onam feast - thespiceadventuress.com

Potato ishtew (stew)

Another classic, traditional dish that enjoys its quiet spot on the Onam sadya spread. This is one dish where the potato actually gets sidelined and the coconut takes over. The taste that hits your senses is the warm aroma of coconut oil with the rich sweet creaminess of coconut milk against the subtle hotness from the ginger.

Potato ishtew (stew) - a delicious creamy potato dish made specially during Onam - thespiceadventuress.com

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut)

A staple vegetarian dish which can be recreated in a zillion ways using just about all kinds of vegetables, legumes, meat etc…. For the sadya, a thoran is important but you can make any kind you wish to. I chose beetroot because it’s our favourite.

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut) - a vibrant vegetarian dish that is made during Onam - thespiceadventuress.com

Avial (Mixed vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt base)

The most famous vegetarian dish from Kerala, this medley of vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt sauce is simply to die for!

Avial - Mixed vegetables in a creamy yoghurt coconut sauce - thespiceadventuress.com

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip)

Now you must be wondering what is Thai brinjals doing in Kerala cuisine. Well, it is just my way of using local vegetables. Traditionally a pachadi or yoghurt dip is made using native Malabar cucumbers which is not available here so I substituted it with baby brinjals.

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip) - thespiceadventuress.com

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns)

Essentially a mixed vegetarian curry which is always prepared using black chickpeas, raw plantain and Indian yams. This dish is a true representation of the state as the main flavour components are coconut and peppercorns. It is the Malabar region that gave ‘peppercorns’ aka ‘black gold’ to the world. So the Kootu curry is a befitting tribute to that discovery which changed the course of the world.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

So that brings us to the end of the list…..I know it’s far from complete but as I said, it’s a work in progress.

Happy Onam folks!

 

August Favourites

Next Sunday is Father’s Day……. and this is for the man who is the most awesome ‘dada’ to my little champ.

Father and Son - thespiceadventuress.com

And this…..for my dad, my hero always!

Father and Daughter - thespiceadventuress.com

Source – Pinterest

For those who missed out, a delicious breakfast smoothie to start off the day on a healthy note.

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

And my favourite photograph for the month of August!

Jura coffee machine - thespiceadventuress.com

 

My favourites folder overflowed this month and I had such a hard time picking just a few. But it’s still going to be long, so grab a coffee and enjoy the inspiration.

Does your dad love to wine and dine? Then here are some amazing gift ideas.

One of the less glamorous aspects of recipe development is a lot of hand washing which is why I totally love this nourishing hand wash.

This lady has mastered the art of pampering and I love every single product in her range; this month’s pick is this cleansing oil.

One of the top contenders in my travel bucket list.

What colour is your energy?

Barack Obama…he sure loves kids. Check this out!

This mezze platter is totally my thing.

A quick and delicious weekday dinner; just waiting for my basil to grow again to try this one out.

I ate a lot of these (a lot!) during my uni days.

No one can eat just one.

There can never be too many chicken wings recipes.

This is an interesting collection of traditional Indian dishes; how many do you know?

The fried chicken goes to Asia.

Had to include this in my dinner planning for next week. You will too….

 

 

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