Category Archives: Beef/Veal

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus)

Father’s Day came early for us this year!

Though we are not big on celebrating days like this, my job as a food blogger means that often I end up creating a special dish or menu either for the blog or for other websites. So when ‘Stuff Mums Like’ got in touch with me for a Father’s Day recipe, I thought of coming up with a dish that I know Sam would love.

And nothing better to tickle his taste buds than a juicy steak with the works!

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) - the ultimate Father's Day recipe - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is pretty simple inspite of a long title. It’s delicious, very satisfying and extremely easy to prepare even for a novice cook. All you need is a wee bit of time, patience and loads of love.

Before getting onto this delicious steak recipe, a sneak peek into our Father’s Day gift this year.

When Jord watches reached out to me couple of weeks ago for a media campaign, I was both apprehensive and excited. Surely stepping out of my comfort zone here (but it’s time, literally and figuratively), also it seemed to be the perfect gift to celebrate the man in my life.

Jord specialises in hand crafted, all natural wooden watches. Featured here is ‘Ebony and Iron’ from the Hyde series, a classic and elegant dark wood strap with sapphire crystal glass. Sam has been using it everyday for about a month now, so that I could share an unbiased review with all of you. And he couldn’t be happier! (Though the sizing chart on the website is spot on, we had requested extra links so it was taken to a watch shop to size it perfectly. But that’s just us.)

Ebony and Iron, Hyde series, Jord Watches - the perfect Father's Day gift - thespiceadventuress.com

And the best part…you can now win a $100 gift card towards a Jord watch of your choice. Click here to participate in the contest; ends 08/27/2017 11:59pm. Everyone who participates but did not win will receive a consolation prize of $25 off gift code.

Giveaway open worldwide!

Now let’s get back to the steak.

I used Scotch fillets but you may use any cut; just make sure that the cooking times are adjusted accordingly.

Instead of the classic mash, I opted for the smashed potato salad which is so creamy and delicious but requires only half the effort and time. Hardly any butter, instead it’s buttermilk that lends creaminess to this salad along with a lot of punchy flavours from the red wine vinegar and mustard. And a generous sprinkle of herbs to complete….

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) - thespiceadventuress.com

As for the red wine jus, it’s the simplest sauce but one with loads of flavour and meatiness that perfectly complements the steak. I would strongly recommend the use of homemade stock if possible.

And when you have an indulgent dish like this, you need the perfect wine to match – The Barkly Durif 2010 Rutherglen from Campbell Wines . Rich, complex and deeply textured with the taste of intense fruits lingering on your palate, this is one of the best reds I have had in a long time. Great for cellaring too!

Barkly Durif 2010 Rutherglen from Campbell Wines - thespiceadventuress.com

So go on and check out the recipe for Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) on Stuff Mums Like and a Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures in your life. And if you make this dish, do tag me #thespiceadventuress so that I could see it too.

Ingredients:

(Serves 3)

  1. 3 x 200gm Scotch fillet
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Get the full recipe here...

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) - thespiceadventuress.com

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Moroccan Lamb Chops + Snippets from my Early Easter Party

It was an early Easter party for us this year. Actually totally unplanned; it was meant to be a barbecue party with a few friends which eventually turned out to be sort of an Easter lunch.

Succulent - thespiceadventuress.com

Before we get to the party and the recipes, let me share with you the story of my Weber and how it came into our lives. Way back in 2013, when I had just started blogging, I came across a giveaway hosted by Kikkoman in association with Weber. The prize pack was the new Kikkoman condiments being released that year along with a Weber Q200.

And on a lark I participated (I enter a lot of giveaways guys and its pretty common knowledge amongst my friends) and won!

The prize pack arrived and the interesting bit is that we were living in an apartment at that time where the Weber could not be used. And it stayed in a box for the longest time till we moved homes late last year. So finally the Weber that I got in 2013 was inaugurated in 2016 for a Christmas party. So naturally we are very excited to use it after waiting all these years that every party planned eventually ends up as a barbecue themed one.

There were a few recipes I had scheduled to be developed and photographed for the blog as well as clients and two of these fit in perfectly for the party menu. So the idea of a casual get together turned into an early Easter party. And coupled with other dishes, we soon had a feast on our table.

So here’s what I had on the menu for the day…

For starters, we had Cajun sausages and grilled corn.

The recipe for Cajun sausages has been there on the blog for the longest time and is a favourite in our home. It’s quick to put together and hence features regularly on our weekend entertaining.

No barbecue would be complete without grilled corn and we had it the classic way, rubbed with butter, lemon and chilli powder (substitute with paprika for less heat).

Cajun sausages, a delicious party starter - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled corn with butter, lemon and chilli - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had two meat dishes – Moroccan lamb chops and the Middle Eastern style beef kofta platter.

I have been dying to try out Noha’s beef kofta recipe for the longest time and this seemed to be the perfect occasion for it. No adaptations or tweaks; just followed the recipe as such. And yes, good quality beef mince with a bit of fat is highly recommended.

If you aren’t already following her, please do for all the deliciousness she puts up on her space.

Middle Eastern beef kofta platter - thespiceadventuress.com

Coming to Moroccan lamb chops, I had to share it with you guys because it’s simple, tastes awesome and everytime I have made it, it’s been a big hit.

Lamb chops with a bit of fat attached is recommended especially while grilling because it helps keep the meat moist and tender. The marination is simple and is best done a day ahead. I have frenched the lamb chops because it looks nice and pretty that way but you don’t strictly need to.

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Our choice of wine for the day was the Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015, a really balanced wine on the palate with hints of cherries, dark berries and savoury forest floor spice. I loved the fact that the tannins are not overpowering and has a delicate finish, thus pairing beautifully with grilled Moroccan lamb chops.

Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015 - thespiceadventuress.com

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Cooking with Alia

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg lamb chops; frenched
  2. ½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley; finely chopped
  3. ½ cup fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  4. ½ cup fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
  5. Salt; to season
  6. ½ cup olive oil
  7. 3-4 garlic cloves; grated
  8. 1 tbsp paprika
  9. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp cumin seeds; crushed

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix the herbs and spices with olive oil.
  • Add the lamb chops; season with salt and allow to marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight if possible.
  • Grill on high heat on both sides till done.
  • Enjoy!

And finally it was time for dessert. I had created an Easter themed icecream cake as a guest post for Stuff Mums Like. Since it was a warm day, the icecream cake made the perfect dessert to end our happy meal.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

An extremely simple one, this cake consists of three different icecream layers on a base of cookie crumble. Store bought icecreams were used; saves time and great for parties. Choose whichever flavours you prefer and the number of layers too. A totally customizable cake, it’s great for birthday parties too especially if you are hosting one at home for children.

The addition of the chocolate nest and chocolate filled Easter eggs add that special touch of festivity.

So hop over to their website for the full recipe.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

Massaman Curry

It’s Friday guys! Time to put up the tired feet and get some much needed rest or catch up time with family and friends. Not so much for me as we are currently house hunting and the whole thing is slowly beginning to get on my nerves. We just can’t seem to find a decent place especially with the zillion demands we have. Hopefully something comes up soon and then the herculean task of moving houses will begin. Telling you guys, I have amassed a ton of props and I know I am going to freak out during the packing and shifting process.

I am sure you will hear me whining more about that later but for now, let’s just feast on this deliciously comforting Beef Massaman Curry.

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

If you are familiar with Thai food, then you would have definitely heard of Massaman curry. It’s a staple curry from the region and often made with chicken, with beef and lamb not being far behind.

Massaman curry has a very interesting history to it. Also known as Matasaman curry, it is believed that this dish was introduced to Thailand by Persian merchants and soon became an integral part of the Thai Muslim cuisine. Infact, historical writers believe that the name Massaman could also have been originated from the word ‘Mussulman’ which is another word for Muslim. But there are many others who believe that it is more of a Southern Thai dish with influences of Malay and Indian cooking since the curry relies heavily on the use of spices and coconut.

Traditionally, this curry was always made using chicken given the Islamic dietary laws. Beef and mutton were also popular but hardly ever made with pork. But in the West, you can find all sorts of protein being used including pork. Personally, I prefer lamb or beef; hence I have made a Beef Massaman Curry today.

The recipe I have used today has been adapted from the Chin Chin cookbook (remember the copy I won for last year’s Social Feeds competition). The recipe is not just detailed out well but more importantly; there is also a recipe for making the Massaman curry paste from scratch. Now this paste is where the magic lies – a medley of spices and aromatics blended together to create a spicy, sweet and heavily aromatic blend.

Massaman Curry Paste - a spicy and highly aromatic curry paste from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

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

Let me tell you straight ahead, this is not your ordinary quick fix weekday dinner. The Massaman Curry takes time, effort and a whole lotta love to make it from scratch. But believe me guys, it’s so worth it. And when you make the curry paste, make sure you prepare a larger quantity and freeze in small batches.

Coconut cream is another main component of the Massaman curry. Though I generally prefer to use homemade coconut milk, the weather at the moment made me quite lazy so I used store bought ones. Also look out for coconut cream rather than milk when you are buying for that thicker and creamier consistency.

The braising liquid for the beef is another crucial step for this dish. The meat is just so tender and once strained, this flavourful liquid becomes the stock for the curry. The whole recipe is about adding layer after layer of flavour to yield that rich, sweet and spicy curry that warms your souls and tummies.

Do not get put off by the long list of ingredients or steps involved. Prepare the curry paste one day ahead so that you have enough time on the day of cooking the curry. Substitute with lamb shanks or chicken or even mixed vegetables with tofu for a vegetarian version. Make it folks, I promise you will love it.

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

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

Ingredients:

Massaman Curry Paste

(yields more than 2 cups)

  1. 60gms large dried red chillies, seeded; soaked in warm water and roughly chopped
  2. 1 medium red onion
  3. 1 ½ heads garlic
  4. 1 large galangal knob
  5. 3 stalks lemongrass (only the pale part)
  6. 4-5 coriander roots with a bit of stalk
  7. 60gms roasted peanuts
  8. 1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
  9. ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  10. ½ tbsp cloves
  11. ½ nutmeg
  12. 3/4th tbsp mace powder
  13. 1 large cassia/cinnamon bark
  14. 3 green cardamom

For the braising liquid:

  1. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 large knob galangal; roughly chopped
  3. 1 stalk lemongrass (pale part); roughly chopped
  4. 2 large red chillies; seeded and sliced
  5. ½ red onion; chopped
  6. 300ml coconut cream
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  9. 1/3 cup fish sauce
  10. 100gms palm sugar

For the curry:

  1. 1 kg beef (chuck steak); cut into 5-6 large pieces
  2. 1 cup kecap manis
  3. 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  4. 200ml coconut cream
  5. 5-6 tbsp massaman curry paste
  6. 2 shallots; diced
  7. 70gms pineapple; diced
  8. 1 tbsp palm sugar
  9. 2 tbsp fish sauce
  10. 2 large potatoes; boiled and cubed
  11. 1-2 tbsp tamarind water
  12. ½ cup toasted peanuts; crushed
  13. Crispy shallots; for garnish
  14. Coriander leaves; for garnish

Method:

Massaman curry paste:

  • Blitz the chillies, onion, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, roasted peanuts and coriander root to a coarse paste.
  • Grind the spices and add this to the paste along with a good pinch of salt.
  • Blitz again to get a smooth paste (you may need to add water).
  • Freeze in small batches.

To make the curry:

  • Marinate the beef pieces in kecap manis for a few hours or overnight.
  • Wipe off the excess sauce and keep aside to be braised.
  • To get the braising liquid going, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large vessel and add the onions, chilli, lemongrass and galangal. Cook to release the aromas for a couple of minutes and then coconut cream, water, stock, fish sauce and palm sugar.
  • Bring to boil and add the beef pieces to this. Cover and slow cook on the lowest heat possible till the beef has become really tender (took me about 1 ½ hours). Alternately, braise in the oven at 150°C till the meat is tender.
  • Meanwhile, 2 tbsp oil and coconut cream along with a good pinch of salt in another heavy based pan. As the cream separates and the oil starts to split, add the massaman curry paste and cook on high (with frequent stirring) for about 10 minutes. The aroma as the paste starts to cook is so aromatic. Reduce heat a bit and continue to cook the curry paste with frequent stirring till the oil starts to separate. Takes a fair bit of time so be patient.
  • Once the meat has cooked, allow the pieces to cool in the liquid, remove and cut into bite sized pieces. Strain the braising liquid and reserve the stock.
  • In another pan, heat the remaining oil and cook the shallots till golden. Add the pineapple pieces and continue to cook until it has softened and cooked out. Then add the palm sugar to get a caramel like mixture.
  • Add this to the curry paste and continue to cook till the oil starts to separate again. At this stage, add half of the strained braising liquid along with the fish sauce and tamarind water. Taste and season with salt if necessary; also balance out seasoning with fish sauce, tamarind water etc….
  • Add the boiled potatoes and the beef pieces and simmer on low heat. Add the remaining braising liquid and simmer till the meat and potatoes have warmed through.
  • To serve, spoon into a large bowl and garnish with crushed peanuts, crispy shallots and coriander leaves.

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

 

 

 

 

Grilled Steak (with curry flavoured smoked sea salt) with Chimichurri Salsa and Fennel Salad (dressed with strawberry port wine vinaigrette)

Quite a mouthful title, isn’t it?

It had to be because today’s post is my dedication to the farmers and food and wine producers of the panoramic Yarra Valley.

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Travel, for me, is not about just visiting a destination. It is about the whole experience of discovering what that place has to be offer, albeit at a small level. It is about bringing back not just memories but also intimate knowledge about the culture, food and life of that region. So when I got this amazing opportunity to visit Yarra Valley as part of the regional food group tour, I bought back some incredible food products and wine using which I created today’s recipe.

From the Gateway Estate, I bought home this bottle of strawberry port wine which I used to make the salad dressing. I really wanted to bring back some dry aged steak but unfortunately travelling by public transport didn’t allow me that luxury.

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While walking around the regional farmer’s market at Yering Station, I came across the Smoke and Roast stall. Getting to hear about my fascination with spices and the like, the owner offered me a sample of their signature curry flavoured smoked sea salt which I have used in today’s recipe as the spice rub for my steak. I also bought a pack of their original smoked sea salt and this gorgeous looking salt container.

While I have used plenty of smoked sea salts before, I have never come across a curry flavoured one. Bang on flavour; totally recommend this one for your spice pantry.

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I also picked up a bottle of Yering Station ‘Old Beenak Road’ Shiraz 2013. A single vineyard wine, I could not have asked for a better pairing to my steak. It was rich yet velvety and smooth with the hint of ripe blackberry fruit and peppercorn spices. The wine tasting session did improve my knowledge and helped me pick a really good bottle.

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Our final stop in the journey was at the Locavore Studio from where I didn’t bring back a product but rather recipes and cooking skills. I learnt to cook the perfect steak and also picked up a great chimichurri salsa recipe, both of which are put to use today.

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Usually I photograph the food for the blog beforehand for optimal light conditions. But today, I am inviting you to our dinner table – no unwanted props or stylized food; this is how we eat whenever I make something special at home.

So come along on this delicious journey……

Ingredients:

For the fennel salad:

1. 2 cups mixed salad leaves
2. 1 fennel (white bulb); sliced lengthwise finely
3. 1 small red bell pepper; sliced lengthwise finely
4. 1 small red onion; sliced lengthwise finely
5. Fennel fronds; for garnish
6. For the vinaigrette:
• 4 tbsp strawberry port wine
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Salt, to season
• Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you do not have strawberry port wine, use vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic or any other port wine. Orange juice is also a great one to experiment with.

For the chimichurri salsa:

1. 1 cup fresh continental parsley leaves; finely chopped
2. 1 cup fresh coriander; finely chopped
3. 3-4 fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
4. 1 garlic clove; crushed and finely chopped
5. 2 tbsp strawberry port wine (red wine vinegar can also be used)
6. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
7. Salt, to season
8. Dried chilli flakes; a pinch (or more to suit your preferences)

For the steak:

1. 3 Scotch fillet steaks (the best quality you can buy)
2. Smoked curry flavoured sea salt rub
3. Olive oil
4. Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Note – If you cannot get the smoked sea salt rub, use any spice rub of your choice or just salt and pepper.

Method:

To prepare the salad:

• Cut all the vegetables and place in a bowl. Refrigerate till serving time.
• To prepare the dressing, mix all the ingredients given under vinaigrette. Vigorously shake well to form an emulsion and keep aside.
• Dress the salad just before serving (remember to shake the vinaigrette again) and garnish with fennel fronds.

To prepare the chimichurri:

Combine the chopped leaves, garlic, port wine, olive oil, salt and chilli flakes. Taste and adjust balance if necessary. Refrigerate till serving time.

To prepare the steak:

• Heat the grill to smoking hot; most people make the mistake of not heating the grill enough so make sure its smoking hot.
• Crush the smoked sea salt lightly (the salt crystals were chunky).
• Rub olive oil onto both sides of the steak well and then rub the smoked sea salt all over the steak.
• Place the steak pieces on the grill lengthwise; after a minute turn the steak breadthwise on the same side to get the nice criss cross marks. Half a minute later, flip the steaks over and repeat the same (almost one minute each). This is an approximate time for a medium done steak.
• Remove and rest for 1-2 minutes before serving.

Note:
• If you prefer medium well, then place in the oven at 180°C for 2-3 minutes.
• Timings are always an approximate as the cooking times will vary according to the cut and quality of meat that you are using. So go by the feel of the meat and cook to your preferences.

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Dark Chocolate Beef Chili

I am definitely not a winter person.

Huddling (and sometimes getting lost) inside layers of clothing is not my idea of fun at all. I hate having to wear jackets all the time, running up huge electricity bills and totally getting blamed for it, washing dishes after dishes in the cold tiled kitchen (a food blogger nightmare!), existing on mugs and mugs of coffee that I turn into a caffeinated zombie half way through the day….

But if there’s one thing I love about this crazy weather, it’s my one pot, rich, spicy warmers in the forms of stews, curries and now this chili….

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Chili or Chili con carne is a Tex Mex delight; in fact it is the official dish of Texas. At its heart, a chili con carne is a rich meat stew with hot chili peppers and tomatoes. To add or not add beans to a chili is a matter of much debate and you can choose to make it however you wish to. I had a tin of black beans languishing in my pantry so in it went.

Dark chocolate in a chili is not very common but you will be surprised at the depth of flavour that a bit of chocolate can add to this beef chili. It has to be dark chocolate and not the sweetened milk ones as it would make the dish too sweet. You do not get to taste the chocolate as such but there definitely is a balance, a meeting of flavours that happens which makes this dish a delicious treat.

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And of course, what’s a chili without some chilli? Used in a couple of different varieties, the chilli is what makes this dish a real winter warmer. You can play around with the quantities to suit your tastes; mine can’t be anything but hot.

Beef is the meat of choice but if you do not eat beef, then lamb would be a good substitute. You really do not need any other accompaniments with a chili con carne; just a bowl of it topped with jalapenos and plenty of grated cheese.

So, here’s how you make a comforting pot of dark chocolate beef chili to warm your insides on a cold winter night!


Ingredients:

1. 1 ½ kg beef mince
2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
3. 1 can crushed tomatoes
4. 3 medium tomatoes; finely chopped
5. 1 can black beans (optional or use any variety you prefer)
6. 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
7. 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
8. 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
9. 3 red jalapenos; finely chopped
10. 2 tbsp red chili powder
11. 1 tsp cumin powder
12. 2 tsp red chilli flakes
13. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
14. ¼ cup melted dark chocolate
15. 1 tsp brown sugar
16. 2 tbsp tomato sauce
17. Salt, to season
18. Black pepper, to season
19. 1 red jalapeno; sliced for garnish
20. Cheddar, grated for garnish

Instructions:

1. Keep all your ingredients chopped and ready to go.
2. In a large heavy bottom pan, brown the ground beef.
3. Next add the onions and brown for a couple of minutes.
4. Then add all the other ingredients and mix well to combine. Add less seasonings if you wish to and build up as you go.
5. Simmer on low heat for around 45 minutes; check and stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings especially the sweet: spice balance.
6. Serve hot with sliced jalapenos and grated cheddar.

Note: If you prefer a thinner chili, add stock or if you prefer the tomatoey flavour, then add an extra can of crushed tomatoes.

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A big thanks to ‘Two Red Bowls’ for sharing this wonderful recipe.

Rigatoni Chilli Bolognese

The saga of one pot meals continue especially after the loooong weekend. Well, it was a quiet Easter for us this year; just the three of us catching up on….us!

We did everything we enjoyed (read lazing around). Which included this big pot of Bolognese made from scratch!

Well, making Bolognese is not rocket science; it’s become an everyday dish in almost all Australian households. But most people make the mistake of using bottled sauces for the same. I agree it’s convenient, we are all pressed for time but pause – have you ever thought how many chemicals you would have consumed in just one meal?

And speaking of flavour, the store bought sauce doesn’t stand a chance against a pot of deliciously bubbling, rich and vibrant homemade bolognese.

Now coming to today’s dish, the Rigatoni Chilli Bolognese is a twist to the classic we have all come to love.

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The reason for using rigatoni – I am not a big fan of spaghetti. I can’t be bothered to perfectly twirl the delicate strands of spaghetti around my fork for every single mouth. The rigatoni is robust and big, perfect to soak up my rich chilli bolognese, it’s all about comfort.

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This chilli bolognese is all about flavour, deep and rich. Slow-cooking is the best way to extract and get those robust flavours. And a hint of chilli to warm your insides on a cold, rainy day.

So picture this…..on my favourite spot on the couch with a bowl of hot steaming and delicious chilli bolognese in my hand, a glass of red by my side, and my favourite movie running.

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Are you drooling by now? Then you know what you ought to do!

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gm rigatoni
  2. 150 gm bacon, chopped
  3. 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  4. 1 dry bay leaf
  5. 1 cup red wine
  6. 1 beef stock, dissolved in 1 cup water
  7. 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  8. 6 fresh basil leaves
  9. ¾ th cup chilli sauce (adjust to heat preferences)
  10. 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  11. 1 kg lean beef mince
  12. Sugar, a pinch
  13. Salt, to season
  14. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
  15. ½ cup olive oil
  16. Parmesan, as much as you wish

Method:

  1. In a large heavy bottom pan, heat the oil; brown the mince in batches and keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the bacon and fry for about a minute.
  3. Add the bay leaf and garlic; sauté till the garlic is just beginning to brown.
  4. Add the red wine and cook on low heat till the alcohol burns off completely; about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Then add the beef stock along with the rosemary and basil; bring to boil.
  6. Next, add the chilli sauce and crushed tomatoes along with 1 cup water. Add sugar and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook covered on low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the mince and continue to cook covered for another 30 minutes. Add water if the mixture looks dry.
  9. Cook rigatoni in boiling salted water till al dente or follow packet instructions.
  10. Drain the pasta reserving a cup of liquid.
  11. Add to the bolognese along with the reserved liquid. Mix well to combine.
  12. Serve warm with grated Parmesan.
  13. Tuck in!

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What’s your comfort food? Do share your story……

Beef Stroganoff

My first experience of Russian cuisine was aboard an Aeroflot flight. We were on holiday in India and missed our return flight back to Dubai. Since there were no available tickets for the next few days on a direct flight, we decided to take an indirect route – from Kerala to Mali Island and from Mali to Dubai via an Aeroflot tourist flight.

The roundabout journey was nothing short of an adventure for me, then a gawky 13 year old. All through the journey, I fantasized of all kinds of adventures happening to us courtesy the innumerable Nancy Drew books I had devoured by then. Well, there weren’t any major adventures except for the ones in my head and to cut a long journey short, let me get to the part of the Russian food.

Aboard the Aeroflot flight, amidst a bunch of Russian tourists (who could not stop raving about my mum’s silk sari), I had my first taste of Russian cuisine; more precisely, Beef Stroganoff. And my opinion…..yuck! It’s so bland. Little did I know at that age, that airlines food anyway tastes bland irrespective of the cuisine.

Fast forward many many years later, I started seriously learning and experimenting with foreign cuisines especially ones I had pushed away earlier. And the first name that came to mind was Russian and the beef stroganoff. I realized that the abundant usage of spices had influenced my taste buds so much that I was ready to believe that food which did not use many spices was bland. But then, I tried stroganoff a couple of times in a few restaurants in Madras and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavour in it minus any heavy spices.

Australia produces the best beef in the world; there is so much flavour in the meat itself that makes it perfect for this beef stroganoff recipe. A traditional Russian dish that has seen many variations over the years, beef stroganoff has an interesting history as told by Tanya on her blog (she is of Russian heritage).

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So, here’s beef stroganoff – a classic Russian dish; tender pieces of beef and rustic brown mushrooms coated in a rich, earthy gravy flavoured with cream and spiced with freshly milled black pepper.

Recipe Courtesy – Adapted from a recipe by Samantha Jones

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Ingredients:

1. 4 tbsp olive oil
2. 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3. 250 g brown mushrooms, halved
4. ½ cup plain flour
5. 700 g lean beef stir-fry strips
6. 1 cup homemade stock
7. 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
8. 2 tbsp light sour cream
9. Salt, to season
10. Freshly milled black pepper, I used a generous amount as stroganoff loves black pepper

Method:

1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick pan over a high heat.
2. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and lightly coat the beef strips in the flour.
3. Sear the beef strips in two batches and keep aside.
4. Add 1 tbsp oil to the same pan, add the mushrooms cooking for 4 minutes or until tender, and set aside.
5. Add 1 tbsp oil to the same pan, add onion and cook for 3 minutes.
6. Return the beef pieces to the pan and add in stock and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil.
7. Reduce to low heat and allow to simmer till the beef has cooked well and the sauce has thickened enough. Check in between and add more stock if necessary.
8. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.
9. Remove from heat and stir through sour cream.
10. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

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The tweeting bug seems to have bitten me too. If you are on twitter, drop in and say hello @vanyadhanya.

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Extra Tender Meatballs

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The joy of cooking for your child is priceless. There is so much love and care that goes into making every meal – you wouldn’t think of feeding your child anything less than the best, would you? And I believe this is why every single person remembers and praises his mum’s cooking. It is not the taste, recipe or ingredients but the love a mother adds to every meal she prepares for her child.

And like every other mum, it is the same purity and love that I too add to every meal I cook for my little boy. It is a joy to cook for Adi (as we will call him); he appreciates and loves to eat all kinds of food. I must admit that I am one of the luckiest mums as Adi is not at all fussy about food. Though he has some clear favourites (which include dosa, chutney, pasta etc…), he is quite happy to finish whatever is placed on his plate.

After I got into the blogosphere, he has become my favourite assistant helping me with photography, fetching props and sometimes even modeling – a role he takes on ‘rather seriously.’

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And for this Mother’s day, I have decided to do things a little different. I want to dedicate this day to thank my son for making me feel the most loved and proudest mama in the world. Thank you Adi – Happy Mother’s day.

Meatballs are every child’s favourite – easy, fuss free snacks and a great way for mums to hide stuff. Well, today I am not hiding anything. Just like the name suggests, these are the most tender and juiciest meatballs I have ever had. A great snack, starter, lunch box addition; make it a meal by adding it to pasta, rice or smash it in pita breads to make a meatball sandwich.

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You ought to try out this recipe – I am sure it will put a big smile on your child’s face.

Recipe Courtesy – Food 52

Ingredients:

1. Ground beef – 500 gm
2. Red onion – 1 large, finely chopped
3. Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
4. Dry breadcrumbs – ¼ th cup
5. Worcestershire sauce – 2 tsp
6. Parmesan cheese – ¼ cup, finely grated
7. Mayonnaise – 2 tbsp
8. Egg – 1 large, beaten well
9. Salt – to season
10. Freshly milled black pepper – to season
11. Dijon mustard (optional) – 1 tsp
12. Olive oil

Method:

• In a pan, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil and add the chopped onion and garlic. Season with salt and sauté on medium heat till the onions are soft and light brown. Set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine all the other ingredients except egg and browned onions. Mix well to combine but do not overwork the mixture. Finally add the egg and onions and mix through gently.
• Shape the mixture into 1-1 ½ inch meatballs. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
• Preheat oven to 180°C. In a pan, heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil and brown the meatballs for a couple of minutes.
• Place the meatballs in a baking tray, cover with foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and bake longer if necessary.
• Serve with tomato sauce or dip of choice.

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Beef Podi……a celebration of Central Travancore flavours

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The region referred to as Central Travancore in Kerala comprises of the three districts, Alappuzha (Alleppey), Kottayam and Pathanamthitta. The cuisine of this region is quite unique to the rest of the state and boasts of some of the best and well-known dishes that have put Kerala on the world culinary map. But the dishes from this region are not for the faint-hearted; loaded with spices and a generous use of coconut, most recipes are drop-dead fiery but lip-smacking.

I had never had this dish before and was quite excited when I saw it on Maria’s blog, http://www.mariasmenu.com, (a must visit if you love Kerala cuisine). Like I already titled, it incorporates all the familiar tastes and flavours of the central Travancore region. The flavour is quite similar to beef ularthiyathu (another famous beef dish from the region) but the texture is totally different as the beef is cut into thin, long strips and sautéed dry with a spice-infused coconut powder.

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I followed the recipe exactly as written by Maria; her recipes are usually fool-proof and do not and should not be tweaked in any manner. So without much ado, let’s get cooking this spicy, coconuty beef podi.

Ingredients:

1. Beef – 500gm, cut into thin, long strips
2. Red chilli powder – 1.5 tsp
3. Coriander powder – 2 tsp
4. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
5. Onion – 2 medium, finely chopped
6. Grated ginger – 1 tsp
7. Grated garlic – 1 tsp
8. Freshly ground pepper – 1 tsp
9. Coconut oil
10. Salt – to season
11. Curry leaves – 3-4 sprigs

To roast and grind:

12. Grated coconut – ¾ cup
13. Black peppercorns – ½ tsp
14. Fennel seeds/perinjeera – ½ tsp
15. Fenugreek seeds/uluva – ¼ tsp
16. Cardamom – 4
17. Cloves – 5
18. Cinnamon – 1 inch bark
19. Shallots – 6 large, sliced finely (if using medium, use 8-10)

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Method:

• Dry roast the ingredients from 12-19 on low heat till golden brown. Cool a bit and grind to a fine powder.
• Marinate the beef pieces with ingredients 2-8. Season with salt and mix well. Keep aside for at least 2 hours.
• Pressure cook the beef along with the marinade and 1/4th cup water for 3 whistles (I use Australian beef which is quite tender and hence needs to be cooked only for a short while. If you are using Indian beef, you may need to cook for a longer time). Open and cook on high flame till the water dries out completely.
• Heat 3 tbsp coconut oil in a pan and add the cooked beef to the pan. Stir on medium heat for a minute and then add the ground coconut spice powder. Add the curry leaves and cook slowly on low heat till the beef is roasted well and the roasted coconut powder starts falling off the beef.
• Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot.

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Dr. Moffat’s Beef Madras

My desire to savor and prepare global cuisines stems largely from the travel bug inside me. Both I and my husband are avid travelers though we really haven’t seen/travelled as much as we like. But we are always planning about the next trip; both of us love visiting places and experiencing the culture, traditions, history and culinary delights of the region. Right now, having just migrated to a new country, we have put our travel dreams on hold for a while. And this is why I am constantly looking for international cookbooks in the library – books which will not only give me a glimpse into the food but also the history and culture of a particular region or country.

During my last trip to the library, I came across a cookbook focusing on Botswana and sub-Saharan African food culture. The book ‘Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook’ by Stuart Brown weaves the different foods from the region as a narrative through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe, a colourful lady detective who believes in being ‘traditionally built’. Now I scoured through the book wanting to re-create a dish from the region but to my surprise, this is the dish that caught my attention the most – A Madras beef dish in an African cookbook. It’s a small world indeed!!

There is no way I was not going to make this dish at home…and so here it is. This beef dish is spicy, tangy and sweet – the typical Madrasi flavours! And this is the first beef dish I have done in my life which uses tamarind.

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Ingredients:

1. Diced beef – 500 gms
2. Fresh coconut – 1 cup, grated
3. Ginger – 1 tbsp, grated
4. Onion – 2 large, sliced finely
5. Tamarind concentrate – 1 tbsp
6. Cumin powder – 1 tsp
7. Coriander powder – 2 tsp
8. Smoked paprika (if not, use kashmiri chilli powder) – 2 tsp
9. Tomatoes – 2 ripe, diced
10. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
11. Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
12. Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed
13. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
14. Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
15. Curry leaves – a big handful

Method:

1. Blend coconut, tomatoes, ginger, mustard seeds and tamarind into a paste.
2. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the onions and garlic till light brown.
3. Add the spices and cook till the rawness goes and oil clears.
4. Add curry leaves, beef, coconut mixture and enough water to cook the beef.
5. Close the lid and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours till the beef becomes tender and juicy. Stir occasionally and check for water content. The final dish must have a thick gravy consistency.

Note – You can prepare this dish in a pressure cooker also. Carry out steps 1-4 in a PC, close the lid and cook for 4-5 whistles or more till the beef is tender. Add only 1 cup water if cooking in a PC.

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