Category Archives: My Food Philosophies

Duck Kurma (Supporting the Great Australian Curry Campaign)

Curry for change!

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

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

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

Opportunity International Australia works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes in developing countries including India. And the ‘Great Australian Curry’ campaign is a great way by which food lovers like us can contribute in a meaningful manner towards poverty and diminishing its impact.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

Wet spice paste:

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

For the curry:

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

Method:

To prepare the wet spice paste:

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

To make the curry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The ‘Hummus’ Revolution (with recipes for Beet Hummus & Kashmiri Chilli Hummus)

Hummus, a simple rustic chickpea dip that has somehow bridged geographical, cultural and religious borders. Today it graces our dinner tables in a zillion avatars, from simple to gourmet.

I love hummus, not just for its soul-satisfying taste, but because it is a taste of my childhood. Growing up in the Middle East, there was no way you could avoid this condiment. And it was such an integral part of the food we ate, because hummus was one of the very rare dishes that my dad would eat outside the traditional Kerala cuisine. So it made its appearance constantly sitting unassumingly alongside a platter of kebabs and tikkas.

And when we returned back to India, it was one of the main things that we missed; so much that my mom would request every friend who travels from Dubai to get her a bottle of tahini (which was very difficult to source in India at that time).

Today, we aren’t just talking about hummus as a dip, but as a medium for social and religious cohesiveness…..and it’s through the #spreadhummusnothate campaign spearheaded by Lina J, an award winning food blogger and the creative force behind ‘The Lebanese Plate’.

I have been following Lina’s work on Instagram for quite a while now and I really appreciate the work that she is doing to spread awareness and help address unwanted social and religious stigmas we have as a society. So here are excerpts of an interview with Lina and the significance of the #spreadhummusnothate campaign.

The first question and perhaps the most relevant one to this conversation….Where were you born? Are you an Australian?

I was born & brought up in Sydney.

Why #spreadhummusnothate? Could you tell us what led you to take up this campaign?

This campaign came about after coming across the hashtag #spreadhummusnothate. I felt there was increasing negativity towards people from diverse backgrounds & especially people of Muslim faith. I used the hashtag online but really felt that I needed to take it off line into our everyday lives in order for it to have a lasting effect. This is when I came up with creating opportunities for everyday Australians to sit & converse with everyday Australian Muslims & literally ‘spread hummus’ together.

You are an award winning food blogger but is that the only reason why you chose ‘food’ as the medium to express your opinions?

I don’t even think of myself as ‘award winning’ to be honest!

Working with & around food naturally led me to use it as the basis for this campaign. I think we tend to take for granted the power of food, not just as something to nourish the body, but also as a tool to bring people together.

 Is it a single person initiative or do you have a team working along with you in this campaign?

It is just me really. I have certainly had people help here and there along the way, but mostly just something that I have been pushing on my own.

What is the primary message that you want to spread through this campaign? And how do you go about it?

That all it takes is one conversation (over food) to break down barriers. I hope that people will be able to see that although we have some difference, we actually have a lot more in common. Life isn’t about agreeing with or being exactly like the next person, it’s about understanding & respecting our differences & still be able to converse in a positive way.

 How has the response been so far?

I would say 99% of response to this campaign has been quite positive, which really gives me hope.

I have seen on your Instagram account that you host events in relation to the campaign? How are these done and is it open to the public?

The events have been smaller gatherings up until this stage. I am currently in some collaboration talks with some lovely people who really want to help take this to the next level, where hopefully there will be more opportunities for a wider range of people to attend such events. There’ll be more detail soon about these events on my social media.

What are the different ways in which anyone who interested in this campaign be of help?

A number of people have helped spread the word, which is really important! But a number from my Insta family have assisted in providing goods for the #SpreadHummusNotHate Brunch, cake & desserts, meat & poultry, fresh fruit & veg. Couldn’t thank these people enough for their support.

And on a lighter note, you have become the ‘queen of hummus’ platters with all sorts of flavours including beautiful looking ones like the beet hummus. But which is your favourite?

I do love the Beet hummus, especially topped with a marinated feta, but at the end of the day, the original hummus will always be my favourite!

Do check out her blog and Instagram page (for some amazing photography and mouthwatering food).

Of course, I cannot leave you without sharing any hummus recipes so there are two delicious ones today. First, it’s the super gorgeous beet hummus recipe, one of Lina’s favourites which she has kindly shared with all of us. And second will be my signature hummus recipe with Kashmiri chilli (you will love this!)

So let’s #spreadhummusnothate

Beet Hummus

Beet hummus - thespiceadventuress.com

Photograph courtesy – thelebaneseplate.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  3. 250g roasted beetroot
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 3 cloves garlic
  6. ¼ tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tbsp  tahini paste
  8. 1/3 to 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  9. olive oil for serving
  10. 1 tbsp Persian feta (optional, for serving)

Method:

  1. Beginning the night before, soak the dry chickpeas in a bowl of (approximately) 3 cups water with the teaspoon of bicarb. The chickpeas will need to soak overnight and will double in size.
  2. The following day, rinse chickpeas and place in a pressure cooker (see note) with plenty of fresh water. Lock the lid and turn to the LOW pressure setting. Once it comes to pressure (mine begins to whistle when at full pressure), turn heat to low and cook for a further 20 minutes. Take pressure cooker off heat and allow the pressure to release and cool naturally. This may take a further 30 minutes or more depending on the type of pressure cooker you have.
  3. As the chickpeas are cooking, preheat oven to 200ºC and prepare beetroot for roasting. Cut off greens and scrub beetroot thoroughly. Using a large enough piece of baking paper, wrap beetroot loosely and enclose by folding both ends into the middle and folding up ends to create a bag. Place paper bag with beetroot on an oven tray and into the oven. Roast for approximately one hour, or until beets are soft and cooked through. Remove from oven; allow to cool before peeling skin.
  4. Once pressure is released from the cooker, drain away as much liquid as you can leaving only chickpeas behind. You will find that the chickpeas look mushy, but do not fret…that’s exactly how you want them! I find using the pressure cooker softens and almost melts away the chickpea skin that you don’t need to remove them.
  5. Place the garlic, salt and cumin into a mortar and pestle and crush to create a paste. Set aside with the lemon juice.
  6. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blend until a smooth puree is formed.  Add the beetroot and continue to whiz until you have a vibrant puree.
  7. Add tahini, garlic, salt and cumin paste and blend some more. While processor is on, add 1/3 cup of lemon juice in a steady stream. Stop to scrape down sides and taste for more lemon juice.
  8. Serve with Persian feta and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

NOTE: If you do not own a pressure cooker, use a large saucepan instead. Add chickpeas to pot with plenty of cold water and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour until chickpeas are very soft.

Kashmiri chilli Hummus

I used dried Kashmiri chillies for this recipe which can be easily found in any Indian/Asian store. These chillies have a beautiful deep red colour but very less heat when compared to other varieties.

Kashmiri chilli hummus - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  3. 3-4 Kashmiri chillies (soaked in warm water)
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 1 tbsp  tahini paste
  7. Juice of 1 lemon
  8. 1 tbsp thick greek style yoghurt
  9. olive oil for serving
  10. Dried chillies (for garnish)
  11. Green olives (for garnish)

Method:

  1. The first step (just as in the beet hummus) is to soak the chickpeas overnight with bicarb. Canned chickpeas can be used if you are really rushed for time but soaking and cooking the chickpeas yourself makes a big difference to the taste.
  2. Next day, rinse the chickpeas well and cook in a pressure cooker or pan till well done and lightly mushy. Season the chickpeas with salt while cooking.
  3. While the chickpeas is cooking, soak the Kashmiri chillies in warm water for at least 15 minutes or more if possible.
  4. Using a blender, grind the chillies, garlic and a pinch of salt to a coarse paste.
  5. To this add the drained chickpeas (reserve a little for garnish), tahini paste, yoghurt and half the lemon juice. Blend till a smooth consistency is achieved (you may need to scrape down the sides in between). Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as required.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and serve with olive oil. Garnish with the cooked chickpeas, sliced olives and crushed dried chillies.
  7. Enjoy

Kashmiri chilli hummus - thespiceadventuress.com

Chutney Shenanigans with Eat Me Chutneys

When you open a bottle of Eat me Chutneys, you not only open a bottle of deliciousness but also sustainability, fairtrade and social ethics.

Meet the Chopras – the tour de force behind this epic social project.

Jaya Chopra is Mom and the self-professed chutney queen who along with her husband (who is often dubbed the labelling machine but is actually the herb grower for the project and her son Ankit Chopra, the corporate world drop out turned Michelin trained chef.

Most of you who have been following my blog for a while know how much I appreciate and encourage small local businesses like these. So it’s not fair that only I get to enjoy these gorgeous chutneys; let me share their story with you folks too.

Eat Me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

The logic behind Eat me Chutneys is a simple one. Rescue all those bruised, overly ripe or what-we-call-ugly fruits and veggies from local vendors and convert it into lip smacking chutneys and preserves. But in the process, they manage to do a whole lot of other things which is what makes this company rather unique.

Now you guys know that I will not make a recommendation without trying out the product. So I purchase two chutneys from the range – Tomato + Kaffir Lime and ofcourse, Tamarind + Fig Chutney.

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

And yes, both of it appealed to the chutney lover in me but I must say I am bit partial towards the tomato one because that’s one of my favourite chutney flavours (can’t help it!). We enjoyed the chutneys in many different ways – with regular Indian meals, as a topping, sandwich spread, on the cheese board etc…

Delicious lamb burger with Tomato Kaffir Lime chutney, veggies and caramelized onions -thespiceadventuress.com

Delicious lamb burger with Tomato Kaffir Lime chutney, veggies and caramelized onions

After school Ham and Cheese Jaffles with Tamarind Fig Chutney - thespiceadventuress.com

After school Ham and Cheese Jaffles with Tamarind Fig Chutney

The story of Eat me Chutneys began when Ankit’s mom decided to kickstart her retirement plan of making and selling her signature Tamarind + Fig chutney. What started as basic research for procuring their raw produce eventually turned into a project for understanding where the ingredients were coming from and who were growing it. And eventually they made the switch to Fairtrade and organic – in fact, their tamarind chutney is Australia and New Zealand’s first and only fairtrade chutney!!

Impressive, isn’t it? Excerpts from my interview with Ankit……

Research for a project like this would have been immense; how did you go about it?

More than research, we’d like to refer to it as following our intuition and exploring things that make sense to us.  Looking for organic alternatives for sugar and spices was not because we wanted to craft organic chutney from the get go.  It was more to do with our belief that organic/biodynamic farming are better alternatives to conventional farming and ultimately better for the planet.  Similarly in other facets of the business, having a core value behind every decision makes us follow through with our research very easily in spite of the time it might take.  Everything just happened organically .

A Michelin-trained chef making chutneys is not the most common sight. Do you think the chef training has helped you in this journey?

The discipline, thought process and techniques that I learnt in the kitchens in Paris especially at the 3 starred Michelin restaurant I trained at is all somehow creeping into the chutney jars.  In addition, the work ethic of the chefs in France is crazy.  Whilst the world around us sees plenty of chefs jump onto book and TV deals some of the chefs I worked for, never left a single service.  Pure poetry!  However, something even more important is the work ethic that mum and dad have instilled in us – that wisdom passed down generations; those old school ways of doing things and the buy once and use it for a long time attitude.  These somehow round up what makes Eat Me Chutneys, the little adventure it is.

‘She is mum and she is the Chutney Queen’ – so how is it working with the queen bee?

In fact, I’ll extend the question to how is it like working with mum and dad, as co-founders of Eat Me Chutneys.  Of course with mum, I’m learning the art of handling spices with restrain.  She’s been passed down our heirloom recipes that I am lucky to learn.  As for Dad, he still grows herbs for our chutneys and so the appreciation for growing our own food comes from him.  These two things easily make it bloody exciting for me and at times downright entertaining.

Are all recipes developed by your mum or do you don the Chef’s hat from time to time?

Most chutney recipes are in development phase for weeks till we settle on something that we all think is epic.  We may start with a French technique for say 30kgs of quinces and end up using one or two spices to go in it.  Or we may start with a style of preservation that mum’s mum taught her and the French training in me will morph it to something quite funky.  It’s all a bit of everything and there is no set process either.  Happy days.

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

Where do you source the ‘wonky’ yet gorgeous produce from?

We work with numerous farmers that provide all the gorgeous produce for the chutneys – without epic produce there will be no chutneys.  So really the heroes are the farmers.

Fairtrade is a term that we hear quite often these days. But most of us aren’t still aware of what it truly means or its significance in everyday life. Can you elaborate a bit and what makes Eat Me Chutneys a Fairtrade business?

Fairtrade is about stable prices, decent working conditions and the empowerment of farmers and workers in developing nations – it’s about supporting the development of thriving communities and protecting the environment in which they live and work.

Much the same way that we as manufacturers are required by Fairtrade certification system to hold up to complete transparency in our supply chain and annual audits, the Fairtrade farmer co-operatives that supply the ingredients are held to equally high standards of transparency.  This is what makes the Fairtrade movement thrive.

For our Tamarind chutneys since all ingredients were imported we spent nearly a year exploring where the ingredients were actually coming from, how the farmers behind these ingredients were being treated etc.  This research phase allowed us to switch to Fairtrade and organic equivalents and in the process made our Tamarind chutneys Fairtrade certified – only company in Australia/New Zealand with certified Fairtrade chutneys.

What were the challenges that you faced in this journey?

Like any other small business, we’ve had our fair share however one that is worth highlighting is when we started out we called our chutneys, rescued chutneys.  This took some dialogue and conversations with our customers to explain what we meant by rescued.  It’s been a glorious journey and more than challenges they’ve all been learning experiences.

While there are several stockists in Sydney, there are only a couple in Melbourne? Any particular reason for this?

Nope, just that we are a small team and it’s easier to reach out to folks in Sydney and go meet them personally.  We love meeting everyone that is ever involved with our jars of goodness.  We visit all farmers and meet all potential stockists to ensure we all care for similar things.  There’s School of Life, Craft and Co and The Epicurean folks that have our chutneys in their shops.  Yay!

Why is it small local businesses find it so hard to retail at mainstream stores or supermarkets?

Ah, this is a fun one.  Perhaps the big stores are not for everyone.  A company’s ethos will dictate where they might want to head and how.  Some companies are perfectly ok to stay niche and never go to the supermarkets.  Other than that, the sheer scale of fulfilling their orders and working on their terms can be daunting I’m sure .

There are so many unique flavours in your range. Which is your best selling one? And which is your family favourite?

Without missing a beat, it will have to be mum’s Tamarind + Fig chutney!

Eat me Chutneys - thespiceadventuress.com

Could you tell us a bit about your cooking classes and what is the best way to get more information about the same? Are these held only in Sydney?

Education plays a huge part in our tiny company.  Mum’s a primary school teacher by day and she also runs volunteer taste sessions at numerous primary schools whilst I run chutney demo classes with councils here in Sydney.  It allows us to show people how chutneys are one way of converting the season’s bounty (no matter how ripe or wonky it might be) into something delish, it lets people ask questions, debate and discuss the food system with us and even suggest a flavour combination or two.  Such fun!

What are the future plans? More products or expansion plans?

It’s all about food waste and how we can use business to tackle this – lots more chutneys and lots more classes and simply lots more fun.

Words of advice to new and upcoming small business entrepreneurs especially those choosing the sustainable route?

Good things take time and awesome even longer – it took us nearly a year of calling folks around the world, trying to translate from say Singhalese to English using Google translator to finally arrive at a point when we got the tamarind chutneys Fairtrade certified.  Nothing amazing is quick and overnight, ever.

Good Palm Oil vs. Bad Palm Oil + a Recipe for Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake

Today, we are going to have an important conversation regarding palm oil. And even though the recipe might sound like a more interesting read, I would encourage all of you to spend a few minutes and read through this post.

Do you use palm oil? I bet most of you would answer ‘no’ to that.

The truth is that most of us still remain largely unaware of the fact that palm oil is an integral part of our daily lives. Often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, it is a main ingredient in almost 50% of our supermarket goods ranging from biscuits, cookies, chocolates, margarine, sauces, condiments etc… The raw materials derived from palm oil are also a main component of more than 70% of the cosmetics and household detergents we use.

Surprised? I sure was but what was even more surprising or rather shocking was the fact that many of the everyday products that I purchase for my household was made from ‘bad palm oil’.

Does your cookies have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Does your icecream have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil is not about health; it is more about sustainability and protecting our forests and ecosystems.

And it is my own lack of awareness that made me want to collaborate with RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and take part in the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign.

This global campaign which was launched on 23rd Sept in Australia aims to raise awareness around good and bad palm oil and why it is important for each one of us to make an informed choice everytime we reach out for our favourite lipstick or biscuit.

To quote, ‘at RSPO, we believe that achieving 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is not only a realistic ambition but a vital one too. The production of ‘bad’ palm oil is rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and ecosystems causing air pollution to rise and putting many species at the risk of extinction. If grown sustainably, ‘good’ palm oil can benefit local communities with fair working conditions and help protect valuable species and forests.’

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil - thespiceadventuress.com

I was happy to read that there are a lot of companies, both Australian and global, who have pledged to use sustainable aka good palm oil. They are certified RSPO producers and the products carry the trademark so that ordinary customers like you and me can make the right choice. But these numbers are not enough; more work needs to be done and there has to be higher visibility and transparency. And this can come only through our informed choices. It is the consumer’s voice that eventually leads to change, albeit one small change at a time!

Read more about the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign here and also watch Jessica Dance’s knitted food videos which spread this valuable message.

I did spend a lot of time looking through this list of Australian companies to understand more about who are certified and also to find out if my favourite products are indeed doing their bit. There were a few nasty surprises but there was good news too.

And when it was time to create a recipe for today, I chose Arnott’s; incredibly happy that one of our favourite brands believes in sustainability and also exhibits a strong social responsibility. Arnott’s ANZ is not only a member of RSPO but also works with a third party NGO so that they can trace their supply back to the mill. All the palm oil used in their products are sourced from Peninsular Malaysia, regions that are meant for agricultural cultivation and does not result in deforestation, peat destruction or exploitation of workers. You can read more about the company’s corporate and social responsibility here.

And when we think of Arnott’s, we think of Tim Tams – the Aussie icon! And what a delicious icon it is!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tams are much loved in our household (I am sure it’s the same for you). Even a non-biscuit lover like me is extremely fond of this chocolicious delight. And now I am relieved that I do not have to feel too guilty about eating these.

So I decided to create a summer treat using these and packed the hubby off to the nearest Coles to get me a few packets. My mind was torn between the dark chocolate and chewy caramel but imagine the surprise to find the new mango flavoured ones. I am guessing these are limited edition for the season so grab a few packets before they disappear from the shelves.

And a few experiments later…..here we have a delicious frozen treat to beat the sunny days!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams with a no churn Vanilla Icecream Cake!

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

Drawing inspiration from the cheesecakes, I blitzed the Tim tams and used it as the bottom layer. And though icecreams are traditionally made using eggs, I used a simple eggless version so that a lot more people can enjoy making this. The texture of this is somewhere between a traditional icecream and a semifreddo.

This is an extremely versatile recipe and just about any Tim Tam flavour can be used. Can’t find Tim Tams where you live, buy your favourite pack of biscuits (just make sure it is RSPO certified). You could also add other ingredients to the icecream for eg: some fresh berries for a more fruity flavour especially if you are using a chocolate flavour base.

Mango flavoured TIm Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

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

An easy peasy summer dessert which is a sure hit with children too; you can get them to help you make this infact. Comes together in no time at all especially for this party season. A very light and delicious ending to any kind of meal.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pack mango flavoured Tim Tams (use any flavour you wish to)
  2. 400ml full cream milk
  3. 400ml condensed milk
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 250ml double/thick cream (chilled)
  6. ½ tsp good quality vanilla essence

To decorate:

  1. ½ pack mango flavoured Tim Tams
  2. Dark chocolate shavings
  3. Cake Sprinkles

Method:

  • Line the bottom of a round springform cake tin (20cm) with baking paper.
  • Crumble the Tim Tams in a food processor and add this to the cake tin. Press down well using a spoon or ladle to form a tight base. Refrigerate.
  • Add the milk, condensed milk and salt to a pot; bring to boil and then simmer gently till you get the consistency of a thin custard. Make sure you keep a close eye stirring often or else the mixture can bubble over. Remove from heat and allow to cool down completely and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Beat the chilled cream to get soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence and then gently fold in the chilled condensed milk mixture till combined well.
  • Pour this over the Tim Tam mixture in the baking tin and freeze for at least 4 hours or till completely set. Remove from the cake tin onto a serving stand.
  • To decorate, I lined the edges of the icecream cake with chocolate shavings. Added 2 Tim Tams to the top and a handful of sprinkles. Just let your creative juice flowing and decorate it however you wish to.

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

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

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in collaboration with RSPO. But all the opinions, recipe, photographs and the decision to use Arnott’s biscuits is entirely mine. 

 

 

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry

Curry and Australia are inseparable, all thanks to the multicultural diaspora of this beautiful country. But can a curry change the world?

Maybe not. But a curry can definitely help and contribute towards putting food on another family’s table. Isn’t that ironic? Yes, it is and that is why we need to join hands with Opportunity International Australia in its annual fundraising campaign ‘Great Australian Curry’ to help and raise funds to help give a hand up to families living in poverty.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

I had collaborated with Opportunity International last year on their fundraising ‘Food for Thought’ campaign, which gave me an insight into how this organization works. As I mentioned in last year’s post, I am not a big believer in giving away a few dollars (or more) to an NGO or charity organization and think I have done my bit for the society. I like to be involved in campaigns where I know the exact reach of that money and if it is being used in a truly positive manner i.e. is there at least one person whose life I have touched in a positive way.

Opportunity works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes. And this year’s ‘Great Australian Curry’ campaign is a great way by which food lovers like us can contribute in a meaningful manner towards poverty and diminishing its impact.

Opportunity International Australia - Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

This year’s campaign is extra special because it is being backed by three-time Olympic gold medallist, Stephanie Rice and former Australian test cricketer and fast bowler, Michael Kasprowicz.

Michael Kasprowicz said: “I recently visited Opportunity’s work in Delhi, India. Seeing firsthand the impact of small loans, empowering parents to meet the needs of their children, was so rewarding. Kids can dream of becoming whatever they want in the future, whether it be sportspeople or teachers, because they know their parents can afford to give them an education. It’s the way it should be.”

Stephanie Rice invited Australians to get behind the Great Australian Curry. “By simply getting together with some friends and family and cooking up your favourite curry, we can help raise much needed funds and give people in Asia a hand-up,” she exclaimed.

The ‘Great Australian Curry’ was officially launched last week with a fun curry cook-off between Stephanie and Michael. You can watch all the action here and get inspired to cook up some curry.

Great Australian Curry cook-off with Stephanie Rice and Michael Kasprowicz - thespiceadventuress.com

So how exactly can you help?

Plan – Decide on which curry you would like to cook (that’s where I come in with ideas and recipes) at home or maybe a fun cook-off with friends/colleagues or simply head over to your nearest curry offering establishment sometime in October or November.

Set up your goal – Start your unique fundraising page here and mention the goal you would like to achieve.

Donate and spread the word – Get everyone you know onboard and encourage them to not only share the curry with you but also contribute towards this campaign to help families living in poverty in Asian countries like Philippines, Indonesia, India etc….

Ofcourse I cannot leave you guys without a curry recipe so today I have a very special dish for you – the Jaffna style goat curry.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Adapted from a Peter Kuruvita recipe, this curry is a rather simple one. And with this, I added yet another spice blend to my collection – the Srilankan roasted curry powder. Garam masala has taken a backseat forever!

In traditional Srilankan cooking, two forms of spice blends are common – the roasted and the unroasted variety. While the former is reserved for the rich curries and nonvegetarian dishes, the latter is milder and for seafood and vegetarian dishes (exceptions ofcourse). The key to a good roasted curry powder is getting your hands on good quality whole spices and then roasting it yourself. The roasting is taken right to the edge without burning it, so watch over it diligently.

I read up a lot of recipes and articles on how to make both the versions and ended up using this one I found on YouTube; seemed the most basic and authentic version. Also just as with many traditional spice blends like the garam masala, the Srilankan roasted curry powder also varies slightly between households.

Unroasted Srilankan curry powder - thespiceadventuress.com

Srilankan roasted curry powder - thespiceadventuress.com

The Jaffna goat curry uses both the roasted and unroasted curry powder which is liberally used to marinate the meat along with a few other aromatics and thin coconut milk. Another interesting thing about the recipe is that it only uses the thin and not the thick coconut milk so you still get that rich dark curry opposed to the creamy coconuty one.

As I mentioned, this is an adaptation of the traditional curry (which uses blood and offals); I have not done both, choosing to keep it simple and easy to make by all.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

And before we get on to this recipe, here are five other curries that would be perfect to host the ‘Great Australian Curry’

  1. Thai Massaman Curry
  2. Indian style Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry
  3. Cambodian (Khmer) style Chicken Samlâ Curry
  4. Gosht Durbari (Lamb Curry slow cooked with Yoghurt, Fried Onions and Spices)
  5. Burmese style Prawns with Tomatoes Curry

Jaffna Goat Curry

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg goat curry pieces (with bones)
  2. 1 tbsp Jaffna unroasted curry powder (recipe given below)
  3. 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  4. 5 green cardamoms; crushed
  5. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  6. 1 cinnamon stick
  7. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  8. 1 ½ tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to heat preferences)
  9. 2 tbsp Srilankan roasted curry powder (recipe given below)
  10. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  11. 200ml thin or 2nd extract coconut milk
  12. Salt, to season
  13. 4-5 shallots; finely sliced
  14. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  15. 1 inch ginger; grated
  16. A few sprigs of curry leaves
  17. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

  1. In a large pot, add the goat curry pieces along unroasted curry powder, cumin powder, cardamoms, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, roasted curry powder, tomato paste, salt and thin coconut milk. Mix and keep aside for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in another vessel (earthenware if you have) and add the curry leaves, shallots, garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Then add the marinated goat pieces into this, season with salt and mix well to combine. If there is extra marinade in the first pot, add a little water to it and rinse it out into the curry so none of that lovely flavour is lost. Add more water to the curry if necessary and cook covered on low heat till the goat pieces are tender and falling off the bone. Stir occasionally and add water if more gravy is required.
  4. Garnish with curry leaves and serve warm.

Note – It is best to make this curry ahead and let it sit for a while for the flavours to develop.

Ingredients for unroasted curry powder:

  1. 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. ½ tbsp fennel seeds

Method:

In a grinder, add all the whole spices and grind to get a fine powder. Store in an airtight container and use as required.

Ingredients for Srilankan roasted curry powder:

  1. 3 sprigs curry leaves
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. ½ tbsp fennel seeds
  4. 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  5. 10 dried chillies
  6. ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  7. 5 cloves
  8. 5 green cardamom
  9. 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon (not cassia)
  10. 2 dry bay leaf

Method:

Note – Roasting the spices has to be done in steps as some of the spices need to be roasted longer than the others. Some versions of this blend also use fenugreek, mustard and pandan leaves.

Add the coriander seeds to a pan and allow to roast on low heat for about a minute and then add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Roast for another 15 seconds and then add the curry leaves. Mix regularly and keep the heat low to avoid burning the spices. Continue to roast for another 30 seconds and then add the chillies. Allow to roast for a minute and finally add the fennel and cumin seeds. Roast for another 15-30 seconds and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and then grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

Celebrating the ‘Great Australian Curry’ with a Delicious Jaffna style Goat Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Culinary Tales – Sharing the stories of Asylum Seekers through Food

Refugees, asylum seekers – words that seem to be used in a negative connotation quite often these days.

Let’s just pause for a minute and allow our minds to wander to a situation where we would have to leave behind our country, our families and everything that we have known quite abruptly, not by choice but by fear.

In spite of making an informed choice and migrating for ambitious reasons, I personally have experienced the trials, uncertainties, loneliness that accompanies settling down in a new country, culture and society. How much more would it be for those who come knocking at our borders asking for a safe home?

And even when allowed to enter into our country, how difficult would it be for them to adjust, adapt and find employment.

Culinary Tales is a unique social enterprise that employs the medium of food to help refugees attain work experience. And they do this through employing them to help run cooking classes where they not only gain the much desired work experience but also share their food and stories with a wider community.

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Here is an excerpt from my interview with the team at Culinary Tales and ENACTUS.

  1. Culinary Tales is a brilliant cause and concept. How did it all start? Was it the vision of one person or is there a story behind this project?

Culinary Tales was developed by Enactus Sydney early in its establishment. One of the most noticeable social issues recently has centered upon refugees; the Enactus Sydney team particularly noticed the lower employment rates of the refugee community. Targeting chefs particularly, Enactus Sydney began by offering refugees the chance to run their own cooking classes in Sydney. As well as being a source of income, refugees develop employability skills through training programs that the team hopes to extend employment opportunities. After seeing its success, the Culinary Tales program has continued to develop.

  1. What is the role of Enactus in this project?

Enactus is a student-run organisation that allows students establish social enterprises to address current societal needs. Culinary Tales was developed by the University of Sydney Enactus team, which has also developed the Pop Up Project and Mudansa.

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  1. Empowering the refugees who arrive in Australia and providing them with life and work skills is an extremely important issue especially at the moment. How does Culinary Tales help in this process?

Through Culinary Tales, refugees are able to run cooking classes offered to the general public and Sydney high schools that are fully funded by Enactus. Refugees undeniably bring value with their knowledge of traditional cooking methods and practices. Through these classes, refugees are able to gain work experience as well as stronger community ties by sharing cultural experiences. Several training programs are in place to help refugees develop professional and business skills necessary to assist them in running classes smoothly. The Culinary Tales team is also open to helping refugees find further employment.

  1. At a ground level, how do you go about choosing the people you want to work with? Do you have tie-ups with other refugee empowerment organizations for this?

As cooking classes focus on traditional home-cooked cuisines, Culinary Tales is able to be very flexible in its selection process. The skills of current refugees range from professional levels to people simply with a passion for food. Refugees have been sought through other community and asylum-seeker centres and organisations including the Jesuit Refugee Service and Settlement Services International.

  1. Do you work with refugees from all countries? What are the common cuisines taught at your cooking school?

Culinary Tales’ refugee chefs are from several countries as reflected in the wide range of cuisines on offer. Currently Fijian, Japanese, Lebanese, Indian and Nepalese cuisines are on offer.

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  1. What are the key skills that are imparted to the refugees who take part in the cooking classes?

Refugees are able to develop strong communication, interpersonal and business development skills by gaining first-hand experience in running their own cooking classes.

  1. You conduct a unique food program for schools. How did this come about and what exactly do you hope to achieve with this venture?

After seeing the success of the classes offered to the general public in developing stronger levels of cultural awareness, the Culinary Tales Schools Program was offered to Sydney high schools teaching food technology. General public classes are largely targeted at adults and a key solution in reducing the enigmas associated with refugees by the public is providing high school students with the opportunity to appreciate different cultures. Classes generally involve a presentation by the refugee about his/her culture – lifestyle and traditional food – and several meals are taught. Culinary Tales hopes that refugees are able to develop a stronger sense of belonging while improving students’ cultural awareness.

  1. Can you provide more information on your catering programme?

The catering program is offered to the general public and businesses that wish to order traditional cuisines. Food is prepared and cooked by refugees and customers are also given vegetarian options as in our general classes.

  1. Where are the locations where these cooking classes are conducted?

Cooking classes are currently offered at the Living and Learning Centre at Lane Cove, NSW. The Schools Program is held at the schools for convenience.

  1. What is the best way to know about future cooking classes or how can one get involved in your project?

Further information about classes and catering can be found at: http://www.culinary-tales.com/.

To get involved in Culinary Tales, simply contact us by email: culinarytales@sydneyenactus.org or through the Enactus Sydney website: http://enactussydney.org/.

Dhanya 4

Culinary Tales is indeed a brilliant concept that not only provides a fair opportunity to the asylum seekers to re-build their lives in a foreign country. It also helps us to really understand and hear their stories and also learn to cook traditional and authentic dishes from other parts of the world.

So if you are a food lover and reside in Sydney or visiting the city, do make it a point to attend one of these classes which is sure to be an enriching experience. And also do remember Culinary Tales while looking for catering services for your next party.

Youth Food Movement – It’s Time for Change!

We all talk about food; every single day. And in the recent times, there has also been quite an emphasis on the ‘farm to table’ concept. But still our knowledge of where our food comes from remains a mystery to most of us, especially the youth.

With the world becoming smaller in terms of trade, food today enjoys a global status. While our knowledge of ingredients, cooking techniques, food from around the globe etc…seems to have increased, our knowledge of the actual food chain and the processes involved seems to have diminished.

And that is exactly what Joanna Baker and Alexandra Baker decided to change when they began the ‘Youth Food Movement’ four years ago.

YFM is a nationwide volunteer-led organization that runs food education projects for the Australian youth.

‘We aim to build the skills, knowledge and experience that young people have around food. More than that, we empower them to take those skills, knowledge and experiences out into the world and create the food system that they believe in.’

Excerpts from my interview with Thea Soutar, National Community Manager and Sydney Chapter Leader of YFM;

Youth Food Movement – How did this concept take birth?

YFM was born out of a university assignment. Not that it was the assignment itself, but our two co-founders, Joanna Baker and Alexandra Baker met during a university tutorial and soon realized they shared each other’s passion for food, and drive to help build a better system. YFM Australia was founded 4 years ago as a way for young people to come together, talk about the problems they – and Australia – face in the food system and actually do something about it.

What is YFM’s core philosophy?

Our approach is based on the belief that peer-to-peer learning – yep that’s young people teaching and sharing with other young people – is the most powerful way to create change.

We aim to make complex issues around food accessible, tangible and human. Above all, we create projects which appeal to young people’s sense of play. We’re also not prescriptive – we don’t believe in telling young people what to think or how to think – we simply advocate for the importance of understanding your food and making your choices count.

Westside Kitchen 2015-6

What do you intend to achieve through this movement?

The vision of this movement is a healthy and secure food future. And when we talk about health, we don’t just mean healthy bodies, we mean the health of our farming communities, and the health of environment too. Because it’s not possible to have the health of one, without the health of the others.

Educating our youth about food in its entirety could hold the answer to our country’s food problems. How exactly do you achieve this, at a ground level?

At a ground level, we create food education projects for young people. Our organization is essentially run by a hugely passionate, dedicated, hard-working group of young people who think that we can work towards something better. They run on the ground projects, in town halls, in pubs, in kitchens, which connect their friends and peers with where their food comes from. By creating young communities that care about food, we believe we can help build that vision.

What are the current and ongoing projects?

We just wrapped up everything with our last big project, BeefJam, and are beginning to plan out some exciting new plans in the Sydney team. We can’t tell you more than that at the moment before we’ve made official announcements, but you can expect more Meet the Makers, some food mapping projects and farm tours in the not too distant future.

Westside Kitchen 2015-5

Beef Jam sounds like an extremely interesting project. Could you give us more details about it and what the organization hopes to achieve with this project?

BeefJam was a project we ran with Target 100, an initiative that represents Australian cattle and sheep farmers, to help young Australians understand how their beef reaches their plates and how the red meat system really works. We took young producers and consumers on a crash course of the Australian beef supply chain and give them 48hrs to reshape the way we grow, buy and eat our red meat.

Why did we do it? Our approach to shakin’ up the food system for the better – and there are many ways to do this – are about two things. Firstly, to open up honest dialogue between farmers (and those who represent them) and consumers, so that as young people we can help support the food system we want. And secondly, it’s to use the energy of young people to channel that dialogue into action. So that ultimately we don’t just talk about change, we actually do it. That’s what BeefJam is all about.

We want to share with producers the things that drive our beliefs, our motivations for getting up in the morning, and what we value. Equally, we want to understand the realities of how food in Australia gets to the table. We’d like a firsthand experience of how farmers manage their animals, how they are caretakers of the land and how we, as informed consumers, share some of the responsibility. Summarised in one word, we want transparency, and we want this information freely available to our community.

No movement can be without its fair share of challenges and obstacles. What are the issues YFM faces in achieving its goals?

Our issues are many of the typical issues faced by a not-for-profit – we always need to make sure we have the funding we need to roll out our projects and the resources to make them shine. We’re also regularly inundated with interest from young people wanting to get on board – sometimes more than we can even deal with. It’s always a challenge to make sure everyone has a really positive and affirming experience of volunteering, but it’s a challenge we love to have.

What is the best way for anyone to get involved with YFM or be a volunteer?

Young people can sign up to be a part of the movement and volunteer from our website. We’ll direct them to their closest chapter so they can find out more about what it’s all about. Check out our website for more details or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to learn more about our work and get the latest updates.

Westside Kitchen 2015-111

Disclaimer – This is not a sponsored post; this is an endeavour to get the Australian youth more involved in the food system and contribute positively towards a healthier tomorrow.

‘Food for Thought’ Campaign + a Review of Babu Ji, St. Kilda

Even though my blog started out purely as a recipe based one, over the past two years I have become more and more interested in all aspects of food like restaurants and dining out, growing your own food, local markets, regional food producers, farming stories etc…..

But recently when I was invited to the launch of the ‘Food for Thought’ campaign, an initiative by Opportunity International (Australia), it was taking a step towards one of my food philosophies – using food as a medium not just for sustenance but for the greater good of the world.

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

Opportunity works through a unique system of microfinance, community development, training, local presence, technology and rural outreach programmes. And now the company has launched its unique ‘Food for Thought’ campaign which allows us foodies to contribute in a meaningful manner towards poverty and diminishing its impact.

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For the launch of the ‘Food for Thought’ campaign, a small group of food and lifestyle bloggers, writers and social workers met at Babu Ji, a contemporary Indian restaurant located at The George Building
4–6 Grey Street, St Kilda.

Our host for the evening was Andrew Philp, Director of Philanthropy and the evening began with a short session of how Opportunity works and its rationale behind the ‘Food for Thought’ campaign.

I do not believe in mindless charity; giving away a few dollars here and there is not my idea of helping anyone in need. The money has to reach the right hands and be used to improve lives at a grassroot level, only then can there be progress. And this is why the work that Opportunity does appealed to me; it is not just another charity donating money and supplies. Instead, it helps families to set up a business or get employment by funding small loans which ensures that the people who receive the money do not take it for granted which is very important for real progress.

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So how does food play into all this?

Aussies love their food and we don’t need any more explanation on that front. We love spending time with our family, friends and even strangers bonding over good food.

‘Food for Thought is a great platform for people to come together to help others. Here in Australia we are so fortunate to share in the diverse cultures and cuisines available to us, so why not share your favourite meal with family, friends and colleagues and make a difference at the same time.’

So the campaign runs like this; host your own foodie event with your near and dear, whether it is a backyard barbecue, a Mexican fiesta, a curry night or a footy match party. Set a fundraising goal and help Opportunity raise $100,000 which translates to providing at least 1000 families with the opportunity to start a small scale business. You do not have a raise a huge amount (we are all struggling with personal stuff to dish out hundreds of dollars!); as little as $70 is enough to change a family’s life.

So be generous this season and let’s lend a helping hand to those in need while having a joyous occasion with our loved ones.

I am planning my foodie event soon and you will hear all about it on my social media channels.

Now, before we get to the giveaway part, I have to tell you all about the food we had at the launch event. I have often cribbed about the lack of ‘real’ Indian food here but that was before I stepped into Babu Ji.

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The food was brilliant; there’s no other word for it. And when I mean contemporary, it does not mean modern Indian cuisine. It means traditional Indian dishes using local produce served in an extremely beautiful manner and tastes absolutely delicious. The spread that Babu Ji put up for us was huge and there is not one dish that I can fault (that’s big coming from me because I am usually super critical of Indian food).

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Achari Fish Tikka (my favourite dish from the day), stuffed mushrooms and Gilafi Kebab

Achari Fish Tikka (my favourite dish from the day), stuffed mushrooms and Gilafi Kebab

Naan with a delicious dal, butter chicken, palak paneer and the works.....

Naan with a delicious dal, butter chicken, palak paneer and the works…..

And if you like your beer, then Babu Ji offers a unique experience of choosing your own craft beers from the chiller. This is wonderful news for the beer lovers as there are some real good ones to go along with the excellent food.

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I will definitely be revisiting this restaurant and will surely post a review. For now, here are a few shots of some of the dishes that we had that day…..

And now for the giveaway….

To celebrate the launch of ‘Food For Thought’, Opportunity has teamed up with renowned Melbourne (Babu Ji) and Sydney (Subcontinental) restaurants to offer you the chance to win dinner and drinks for four, on the house plus meet the chefs.

The prize for the Melbourne competition is food and drinks at Babu Ji up to the value of $300.
The prize for the Sydney competition is a banquet dinner for 4 people at Subcontinental and selected matching wines chosen by the restaurant. Not available Fridays or Saturdays.

Take my word for it; you want to win this one as I can personally vouch for the food especially at Babu Ji.

So to take part in the competition, you need to do two things….

1. Follow ‘The Spice Adventuress’ Facebook Page.
2. Visit the Food for Thought campaign page to register your details. All the terms and conditions of the competition can also be read here.

This competition is now closed and winners have been notified.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was invited as a guest to the launch event and the giveaway is sponsored by Opportunity International. But all the opinions and thoughts are entirely mine.

 

Babu Ji Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Q & A with Emma Macey-Storch, Director and Producer of Meet + Eat Documentary Series

Food can be much more than a basic survival tool for mankind. It can be a medium to show love, say welcome, spread joy, build friendships and above all…..bridge cultural, geographical and religious differences.

What makes Australia the ‘culinary destination’ of the world? It is the multiculturalism; the diverse way of life here. It is the sense of community that we have in spite of having come from around the globe; it is our ability to intermingle and live together harmoniously that makes Australia one of the happiest and most liveable places on Earth.

Yet, this country faces a serious threat today from divided communities, misguided anger, religious and cultural differences. The same things we celebrated as a nation and was our real strength stand threatened today.

So can food really make a social change? Yes, it can….says Emma Macey-Storch with her latest documentary series, Meet + Eat!

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Emma is the Creative Director (VIC) of the not for profit organization, Curious Works. She is the Director/Producer of the Meet + Eat online documentary series which explores the charming and compelling stories of people from two of Australia’s most culturally rich and diverse regions of Australia: Hume in Victoria and South Western Sydney – where you can walk down the street and meet the world.

Sit down, share a meal and have a yarn – that’s what this documentary is all about. But at its heart, Meet+Eat is about celebrating diversity. Meet the truck drivers, musicians, comedians, teachers and grandmothers of these places. Over the series, you hear their stories of immigration, identity, personal challenges and personal victories.

Here are the excerpts from my interview with Emma Macey-Storch and the wonderful work that she and her team have been doing through this documentary;

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Could you tell us a bit about your background, education, family, your work with Curious works etc…?

I grew up in Melbourne to a British father and an Australian mother who always had an interest in travelling and photography. It’s no shock that eventually after doing a couple of degrees and further studies in teaching, jewellery, music, fashion and fine art that eventually I found my love for filmmaking.

I have now been a Director/Producer of documentary, animation and fiction projects in the UK and Australia for 16 years. In a previous incarnation I headed up an organisation called FILM 15 Productions in Wales in the UK where I specialised in skills development and the production of 73 short films with the local community. The project I ran developed the talent of many young people aged between 8-28 who previously were unemployed or struggled at school. Many now work in the industry on everything from TV soaps to major feature films at Pinewood Studios.

I have done a lot of different types of filmmaking – everything from a national animation project called Animation Tank in Wales (that taught literacy skills to primary school children through the making of animations) to a ‘short’ Bollywood inspired film called Dream Girl that involved 165 people from a local community in Wales working with veteran Bollywood actor Mayur Raj Verma (Muqaddar Ka Sikandar and Love in Goa).

Since returning to Australia I have been working as the Creative Producer for CuriousWorks and have been responsible for working with the community in Hume and a great team of budding filmmakers to create the beautiful content for the Meet+Eat (VIC) series.

How did the idea of Meet + Eat come about? What was the main motivation/inspiration?

The concept of Meet + Eat is the brainchild of award-winning media arts organisation CuriousWorks, who have made it their mission to share the rarely-told stories of multicultural Australia. Using the slogan ‘Visit another Australia’, they develop long-term relationships with these communities, encouraging them to celebrate their diversity and share it with the wider nation.

Meet + Eat is a really good way to open the doors to these kinds of stories. Not only do the Meet + Eat films give us a deeper understanding of diversity in Australia and what culture really means to everyday people, but also a quite surprising and inspiring insight into what happens behind closed doors in the Hume neighbourhood.

The series covers stories of immigration, displacement, identity, inter-cultural exchange, personal history, dance, cooking, music, human rights, youth violence, neighbourhood memories and is often a catalyst for the creation of great friendships.

And why food as a medium to bring communities together?

Often when we think about sitting down and having a meal we think of our family and our friends. There is no doubt that food is a great ice breaker and is the one thing all cultures have in common. In Meet + Eat the meal each family cooks for each other comes from their cultural background or has some personal significance to them, so this we believe that this immediately encourages a deeper and more personal conversation with the other party.

One of my favourite moments in the entire Meet+ Eat series is when Helen from Greece reveals a huge lamb spit roast and 20 members of her extended family to Maria (from Samoa) Until that point Maria had never been invited to dinner by another family in Australia in the 12 years since she had arrived. Maria was so moved by the experience. When people from her workplace watched the film she suddenly had so many invites she couldn’t keep up. What this episode (Princess and the Bird) illustrates is how easy it is to forget simple acts of kindness to new arrivals, work colleagues or our neighbours. Food is a very meaningful way to connect to other people.

But not every episode uses food as the main connecting factor. In Fields of Dreams, what unites Dhammika and Nayana is their passion for dance. The food was incredible at their dinner but it was the dance that connected them to each other in a very joyful way. They danced for hours – and they talked as they danced and learnt about each other’s cultures through presenting their dances to each other.

Is there any particular reason for focusing or basing these documentaries in Hume?

Hume is considered one of the most diverse communities of Melbourne with over 100 different known cultural groups now living in Hume. This made the perfect demographic for our project and provided us with a way to promote the benefits of cultural diversity to a wider audience through sharing their stories.

One of the most interesting aspects for me personally is also around the way the area has been portrayed negatively in the mainstream media for decades. I really liked the idea of creating good news stories for Hume and showcasing the amazing talent and exceptional lives of these residents. There are definitely some stereotype breakers in Meet + Eat.

Every documentary has two families of two different communities coming together. Was this a random choice or were each pair chosen with a purpose?

 

The selection of families wasn’t random at all. For me as a Director/Producer I was looking for some meaningful connection between the two families that meet and some theme or lesson we could take from their shared experience. There is a lot of gut feeling that goes into the selection process. At first I just try and join in community activities and meet people. Once I have some ideas I tend to try and get to know the families as individuals before I decide what story I want to tell. For example one of the other episodes this year, Wild at Heart, saw three elderly farmers who are running the last dairy farm of Craigieburn meet with a family from Pakistan who are living in the suburban part of Craigieburn. Traditionally the rural communities and the people living in the new developments don’t mix and there is a little bit of tension around the impact the new suburban sprawl is having on the rural community. What I knew about the Pakistani family is that they had a very heartbreaking experience that caused them to feel displaced and promoted their move to Australia and the old Farmers are feeling displaced from their way of life because of progress. I felt this offered an incredible opportunity for us to look at the idea of displacement from several angles and challenge the perception that displacement is a refugee issue. It is about touching that common human experience in the films and offering up a narrative that enables us to see our neighbours in a different light and feel positive about cross cultural connections.

With Dhammika and Nayana, I really admired how pro active they both are in their community and how they both use dance to bring people together. It’s totally infectious what they do and brings a great deal of happiness to those who take part! In many ways, I believe our society is becoming more isolated despite people living more and more in the big cities. You don’t see kids out that much and the days of street parties are far and few between. I think the story of Giddah in Indian society and Dhammika and Nayana’s drive to reconnect people through their cultural dances is absolutely inspiring!

What was your personal experience and has it changed anything for you doing this documentary series?

I think the entire crew would agree with me when I say that we were as much on a journey of discovery as our subjects. During filming we very much had our own Meet + Eats with the subjects. In lunch breaks there would be lots of conversations and especially with Nayana and Dhammika we were invited to stay on for dinner after filming for a 5 course meal. It’s been a gorgeous experience I don’t think you can go into making a documentary series like this and not expect to form a deep connection with the subjects involved or learn something about yourself.

We of course also have a big responsibility to our subjects as well because they are sharing very personal and private experiences with us and trusting us to put it together into something that truly represents them and the story they wanted to share. About 65% of the footage we film with the subjects doesn’t make the final cut, so effectively we get to take away our own secret long cut version of the film in our memories.

What do you aim to achieve or what do you think has been achieved with this documentary?

There are very different types of outcomes that are achieved by making these films with the Hume community.

On a grass-roots level, I think people are a bit scared to get to know other people – be it at work or people that live around them. I think all the Meet + Eat films attempt to inspire openness to cultural diversity in Australian society and encourage people to maybe take that first step to reach out to somebody new. At public screenings it is very common for people to say to me afterwards that the films made them realise that they don’t know their neighbours and maybe they should make more of an effort.

Also for the subjects the act of making the documentary is what actually brings them together and in turn becomes the catalyst for their families and their extended networks to connect to each other. This is community building on a basic level and one of the aims we had as an organisation.

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Sharing stories, sharing food, sharing your interests and sharing your culture is very powerful and I think as a global community there should be much, much more of it.

To watch the online versions of the films you can visit http://www.meeteat.com.au or click on the documentary titles below;

1. Fields of Dreams
2. On the Line
3. Wild at Heart
4. Symphony for Two Rivers
5. Princess and the Bird
6. Deer and the Fawn

 

 

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