Category Archives: Chicken

Mexican Hot Pot

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

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

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

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

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

For the hot pot:

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

Avocado Crema:

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

Toppings: (adapt to individual preferences)

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

Method:

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

Mexican Hot Pot - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

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Chicken Meatball Salad

Do you cook with your children?

Not the once in a while ‘school holiday’ cooking but do you involve your kids in your everyday cooking and food related activities?

From a very early age, I made sure that I got Adi interested in food and cooking. Initially it began with taking him to the market where I taught him to identify the different fruits and vegetables. I would encourage him to touch and feel the produce or ask him to pick out some for our shopping basket. In fact, Adi learnt the different colours and his initial 1, 2,3s…. at our local vegetable shop.

As he grew older and learnt to read and write, I made sure he was with me for most of our weekly grocery shopping trips. He learnt more about the different fruits and vegetables, also learning how to pick out fresh produce but at the same time, I encouraged him to pick out wobbly and misshapen ones that are still fresh indirectly teaching him about food wastage.

And now he is my favourite shopping partner. Not just with the veggies but he is also quite well versed at picking out most ingredients at the supermarket, choosing the deli meat every week for his lunch box etc…

I have also consciously involved Adi in household chores from cleaning, arranging his room and toys, helping me out in the kitchen etc… Initially he wouldn’t be interested but now he sees it as a responsibility and he understands that he needs to do his share too.

Now there are so many advantages to this but above all, I wanted him to develop two important life skills – learning to cook so that he is not dependent on anyone for his needs and also helping him understand that the kitchen, cooking, cleaning etc… is not just a woman’s job.

I wouldn’t claim to be a perfect mom (that phrase doesn’t exist!), but consciously incorporating certain rules or principles has made him a largely responsible and flexible child. It has been hard and there were plenty of times when I lost patience especially because I started very early on, when he was about 2 years of age. But I had the belief that it was the right path which will show results after a few years. And it did…

Adi is 9 years old now, a happy boy who enjoys food and not a fussy eater at all. He enjoys doing his chores, has a flexible disposition, responsible and accountable; all those years of gently steering him from behind seems to have had a positive effect so far.

I am not writing this to brag; every child is unique and has both strengths and weaknesses. Adi has his share too. But I write this for the many young parents who struggle either due to lack of knowledge or think that they have time to rectify certain things when the child is older. And food always seems to be an issue, especially getting the child to make healthy food choices as he grows up.

You have to start really young with children that it almost becomes a way of life for them because it’s so hard to change ways later. And we most definitely can’t raise our kids like our parents did because the needs of this generation are way different. Agree there are some traditional values that remain same but largely our lifestyles have changed which means our parenting must too.

Today, we are making one of Adi’s favourite salads – a Chicken Meatball Salad.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, it’s easy to get him to eat veggies and salads are a regular feature at our dinner table. But once in a while, we make this chicken meatball salad which doubles up as his school snack the next day.

Whenever we make this salad, Adi’s job is to help me roll out the meatballs and also preparing the dressing (he loves the shake shake part) and finally tossing it all up.

The meatballs are simple and are great as a snack. So I always double up the quantities and freeze some to have as an after school snack later in the week. And with meatballs, you can do so much….add it to pastas, a curry base or sandwiches.

The salad is a beautiful medley of our favourite veggies and herbs. Use what’s in your refrigerator or the combinations that your children like to eat.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  1. 500gms chicken mince
  2. 1 slice white bread (soaked in ¼ cup milk)
  3. 2 sprigs rosemary
  4. 1 tbsp fresh parsley; finely chopped
  5. 1 tsp sweet paprika
  6. 1 tsp lemon zest
  7. Salt, to season
  8. Black pepper, to season
  9. Vegetable oil; for shallow frying the meatballs

For the salad:

  1. Salad greens
  2. ½ punnet cherry tomatoes; halved
  3. 1 Lebanese cucumber; diced
  4. 1 yellow bell pepper; diced
  5. A handful of olives
  6. 3 bread slices; to make croutons
  7. 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil; for dressing
  8. Regular olive oil; for shallow frying the meatballs
  9. Lemon juice
  10. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and tear into smaller pieces.
  2. Add this to a large bowl along with the chicken mince, rosemary, parsley, paprika, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and shape the mixture into even sized meatballs. Keep aside and allow to rest while you assemble the ingredients for the salad.
  3. In a large salad bowl, assemble the salad leaves and veggies.
  4. To prepare the dressing, add the olive oil to a small jar with a tight lid. Add the juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt. Shake vigorously to get an emulsion; taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large pan and shallow fry the meatballs in batches.
  6. Add the meatballs to the salad; pour the dressing and toss together to combine.
  7. Serve immediately.

Chicken Meatball Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Chicken Wonton Soup

Anthony Bourdain is no more.

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

It’s been an incredibly hard one to digest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get back to today’s recipe.

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

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Fix Feast Flair

Ingredients:

For the wontons:

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

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

For the broth:

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

Method:

To make the wontons:

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

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

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Tandoori Chicken Thighs (with Grilled Vegetables and Couscous)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe:

Tandoori marinade:

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

For the chicken:

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Grilled vegetables:

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

Couscous:

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

Method:

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

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

For garnish:

  • Lemon wedges
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves; finely chopped

To assemble:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks

Time management has always been a roller coaster ride for me. Some weeks, I am organized, motivated, super productive and all the good stuff but other weeks, it just drowns and overwhelms me completely. And this is not something that has happened post my blogging/self-entrepreneurial journey; it has always been the case.

Last week was one of the latter. I have no clue what went wrong but nothing was really getting accomplished. My mind was not in the right space, a wavering mish mash of random thoughts that left me emotionally drained for no reason at all. And soon the writing work was getting piled up which left me all the more frustrated.

Unlike many people who say that cooking is a stress buster, I cannot bring myself to even boil water if I am not in the right mood. But takeaways do not sit too well with me so I had to force myself into the kitchen. Instead of elaborate meals, I opted for no fail recipes that required minimal prep time, one pot meals etc…. and these chicken drumsticks fit perfectly.

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks - thespiceadventuress.com

Fried chicken is an all time comfort food. If crunch is the end result of dunking anything in oil, then it wins my heart…always. And if it’s savoury, then all the better.

So as the name of the dish goes, these are fried chicken drumsticks with some Asian flavours going on. You can use any part of the chicken; I went ahead with drumsticks because it had been a while since we had it. The only difference from any regular fried chicken is the Asian style marinade in which the drumsticks are marinated before going through the flour-egg-flour routine.

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are not a fan of the flour coating, then use breadcrumbs instead. And if you can find Panko, then all the better for the crunch. Remember that you only need a light dusting of the flour or the outer coating can be quite floury and gluggy. And get that oil temperature right before frying the chicken if you need the crunchy deliciousness.

If oven baked is your preference instead of deep frying, then I suggest the breadcrumbs as I feel the texture is better with crumbs than flour.

So there you go; so many options to make these delicious fried chicken drumsticks. And please do tag me #thespiceadventuress if you are posting on any social media; gives me great joy to see your creations.

Sichuan peppercorn salt - thespiceadventuress.com

Sichuan peppercorn salt - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 8 medium sized chicken drumsticks
  2. 3 tbsp soy sauce
  3. 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  4. 2 tsp sesame oil
  5. 2 tbsp sriracha (can be replaced with any chilli sauce)
  6. 3 tsp crushed ginger
  7. ½ tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  8. ½ cup cornflour
  9. ½ cup plain flour
  10. 2 eggs, beaten
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Vegetable oil; for deep frying
  13. Sichuan pepper-salt
  • 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 50gms salt

Method:

  • To prepare the Sichuan salt, toast the peppercorns in a pan (without any oil) on low heat for about 2 minutes. Shake the pan constantly to avoid burning the peppercorns. Remove and allow to cool. In the same pan, lightly heat the salt for about 30-40 seconds and then add to the peppercorns. Using a mortar and pestle (or grinder), crush well to get the Sichuan peppercorn salt. If you prefer a fine powder, you may sieve this but I like to use it a bit coarse.
  • To prepare the marinade for the chicken, mix all the sauces, wine vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and pepper. Add the chicken and mix well; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or longer if possible. Taste and season with salt only if required.
  • Combine the corn flour with the plain flour in a bowl. Add ½ tsp Sichuan salt to the flour and mix well.
  • Beat the eggs well in another bowl.
  • Remove the excess marinade from the chicken and then coat lightly with the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour before dipping in the beaten egg. Return back to the flour mixture for another light dusting and keep aside.
  • Heat oil for deep frying and fry the drumsticks in batches till golden brown and crispy. (Remember if the oil is too hot, the outside will brown up quickly without cooking the chicken inside properly).
  • Serve hot with Sichuan pepper salt.

Asian style Fried Chicken Drumsticks - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander)

‘Time Flies’ is an age old adage but the supersonic speed at which the flying is happening in my life currently leaves me so lazy to cook. Too many work and personal assignments that leave me completely drained of time and energy that the everyday meals has become such a chore.

And more often than not, it is not the actual cooking that takes time but rather than the planning of ‘what to cook’! So I decided to pull out my cookbooks (the few that I have) and find inspiration amongst the pages.

Today’s recipe is adapted from ‘The F-Word’!

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander) - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Yup, you heard it right. This fantabulous book by Mita Kapur is one of my most treasured ones because it is more than just recipes. It is a glimpse into Mita’s food crazed family and her constant juggles as a working mother. The recipes are from around the world with no borders whatsoever and perfectly suit my style of cooking. I have written more about this book here, if you would like to have a read.

And one of my all time favourite recipes from the book are these Malai Kebabs (minced chicken patties with spices, aromatics and cream).

This time, given the time situation, I chose a simple chicken stir fry. Just a handful of ingredients stir fried in a wok topped over rice or noodles; makes an amazing dinner in no time at all.

Chillies are a key ingredient and I have used both Thai red chillies and large green ones. The original recipe has much more heat but with a 7 year old at home, I had to tone down the heat factor. But it depends on what you like; adjust the number of chillies accordingly.

Always use boneless thigh fillets for making stir fries as the meat is much more tender and juicy while the breast meat often tends to go dry. And of course the wok, never undermine the importance of this cooking vessel in getting that perfect stir fry. A good quality wok is a must have in your kitchen!

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms boneless chicken thigh fillet; cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 3 Thai red chillies; chopped
  3. 3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves (with roots); chopped
  4. 4 garlic cloves
  5. 2 large green chillies
  6. 2-3 tbsp fish sauce
  7. 2-3 tbsp oyster sauce
  8. 4-5 tbsp vegetable oil
  9. Salt; to season

For garnish:

  1. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; chopped
  2. 1 spring onion (leafy part); sliced

Method:

  • Using a mortar and pestle, pound the red chillies, garlic and coriander leaves into a coarse paste; keep aside.
  • Heat 3-4 tbsp oil in the wok and add the chicken pieces. Stir fry the chicken pieces on high heat till 3/4ths done and remove.
  • In the same wok (add a bit more oil if necessary), add the pound chilli mixture and sauté on low heat for about a minute. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce and whole green chillies; also return the chicken pieces to the wok.
  • Stir fry on medium heat till done; add salt only if necessary.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and spring onions
  • Serve hot.

 

Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander) - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt

What a newsworthy month it has been! And while the headlines continue to shock and stir us, the social media is filling up with delicious treats that promise us much joy and hope this festival season.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have no plans whatsoever for Christmas or New Year; in fact we haven’t thought or discussed about it as a family. There will be some sort of celebration and most likely a quiet one with just a couple of close friends….that’s our style of entertaining.

I have always been picky and choosy about my friends. And while during my teens, that was seen as a disadvantage (my parents used to get a tad bit worried that I walked around lonely with a book in hand most of the time), it eventually turned out to be the biggest strength of my life. My ability to choose just a handful of good people as friends ensured that I was always surrounded by positivity.

And luckily I am married to a person who shares that idealogy though it took him a while to get that. He had a zillion friends only to discover that when life dealt him a series of blows, there was hardly anyone to turn to. So now we have our chosen few, friends who are non-judgemental, accept us the way we are and shares a common thread of mutual respect and understanding not confined by social norms. And I know, plan or not, we will celebrate this holiday season with a couple of them.

While I am getting busy developing, testing and photographing new recipes leading to the festive season, the reality of everyday dinners is always on the horizon. So when Maraya, who is one of the super moms behind the popular blog ‘Stuff Mums Like’ reached out to me for a guest collaboration, I was thrilled.

While there were a zillion ideas buzzing in my head, I zeroed in on tacos….I mean, who doesn’t like tacos. I am sure it’s a fave at every home. And this recipe is bound to be a big hit with the kiddos; my 7 year old adores it. And if there are any leftovers, you can convert it into a wrap or add it to the salad bowl for a delicious lunch the next day.

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Also, don’t forget to make an extra batch of the fajita seasoning; a very handy blend in your spice cupboard.

Fajita Seasoning - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. Mini wheat tortillas
  2. 500gms skinless chicken thighs; cut into thin strips
  3. 1 orange bell pepper; cut into strips

This is a guest post in collaboration with Stuff Mums Like, so kindly head over to their website for the full recipe.

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Chicken Fajita Tacos with Minty Cucumber Yoghurt - simple, easy to make and feeds a crowd - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled Chicken Skewers (with Fresh Herbs and Chillies)

I have a small balcony garden at home, not too many plants but I do grow most of the herbs and a few leafy greens. And the hailstorm that we experienced last week was not very complimentary to my gardening efforts. Since I do not have too much space inside my apartment to move all the plants, I decided to be selective and move in only the curry leaves and basil along with a few other ornamental ones. But with the wind raging all day, all my herbs took a real beating. And then the hail started!

Hailstorm in Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I wasn’t sure if the plants were going to survive, I cut off all the herbs and thus ended up with a huge amount of parsley and a bit of coriander, mint and some rosemary too.

I didn’t want the herbs to just wilt off in the fridge especially the parsley so decided I must do something delicious with it. Chimichurri came to my mind immediately especially since I have made it before. I had some chicken thigh fillets stocked too so the decision was made; I will grill the chicken and have it with the chimichurri. But tweaking is something I love to do and what I finally ended up with was these absolutely gorgeous Grilled Chicken Skewers with fresh herbs and chillies.

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

Veered away from the traditional chimichurri as I was thinking of a marinade and not a sauce. So I wanted more flavour which is why the fresh red chillies and ginger ended up in it. Along with the freshness from the parsley, coriander and basil, this marinade has the depth of flavour from the aromatics and that mild kick from the chillies. Long red chillies which are not very fiery are best for this style of marinade.

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

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

The chicken skewers turned out so good that I decided to share it with all of you. An extremely easy dish to make, hardly any prep work except for chopping up some herbs and a very affordable one too especially if you grow herbs. Perfect for an easy and healthy weekday dinner.

We had these grilled chicken skewers Middle Eastern style served up on my trusted wooden board. So pita bread, chicken skewers, garlic dip, tzatziki, olives and a green salad. Even better the next day to take to work….just put it all into the pita and roll it up for a delicious wrap for lunch. Winner, isn’t it!

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

Hope all of you enjoy these grilled chicken skewers (with fresh herbs and chillies). And if you make it, I would so love to see it so please tag me in all your pictures using #thespiceadventuress. Have a great weekend folks!

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

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

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms chicken; cubed into even sized pieces
  2. 2 heaped tbsps herb marinade
  3. Salt; to season
  4. Juice of half a lemon
  5. Bamboo skewers

Herb Marinade:

  • 1 cup parsley; finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil; finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  • ½ inch ginger; grated
  • 1 ½ fresh red chillies (long variety); seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • Salt; to season

Method:

  • Soak the bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes to prevent burning.
  • To prepare the herb marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and add the olive oil. Season with salt.
  • Place the cubed chicken pieces in a bowl and add the marinade, salt and lemon juice. Mix well to combine.
  • Skewer the chicken pieces and allow to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Heat a grill pan (or frying pan) to high and place the skewers on top. Since olive oil is already added to the marinade, no extra oil is required.
  • When grilled on one side, turn over, baste with more marinade and cook. Repeat till you get good caramelization all over and then finish off in the oven (another 2-3 minutes). You can continue to baste with the marinade as required.
  • Serve warm with dips, salad and pita bread.

Note – The marinade can be prepared in bulk; stays well in the refrigerator for upto 3 days and upto a month if  frozen.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Cambodian (Khmer) Chicken Samlá Curry

I have been quite ignorant about Cambodian or Khmer cuisine till very recently. Somehow the cuisine of this tiny country never featured in my vast list of Asian cooking.

When we have never travelled to or know much about a region, we often make the mistake of generalizing the cuisine of that land. I made the same mistake too of generalizing Cambodian cuisine with its Thai and Malaysian counterparts. But as I am learning (more frequently these days), that is not true. Just like the cuisine of India or for that matter, any other large country or continent, the cuisine of a region can vary widely from its neighbouring lands inspite of using similar ingredients.

So my first brush with Khmer cuisine happened via a friend and avid travel blogger Svetlana of Maverickbird. This girl has travelled around the world (mostly solo!) and if you are nurturing the travel bug within you, then you must check out her blog.

The last time she was in Cambodia, she decided to attend a Khmer cooking class. Now Svetlana is a big fan of eating but not really of cooking and apart from having a great culinary experience, she enrolled in the class so that she can get me some authentic traditional recipes from the region. Well, what can I say about such friends except that I am damn lucky!

Are you planning to travel to Cambodia or want to know more about Khmer food? Then check out Svetlana’s article.

I will have to be content with just cooking Khmer food for now since travel is not on the cards yet. But the most awesome aspect of living in Australia (yes, I have said this before) is the availability of most ingredients that enables me to recreate most of these recipes at home.

So today, I am going to teach you a classic dish from Cambodia – Chicken Samlá Curry.

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

Some of the ingredients that are central to Khmer cooking are lemongrass, wild lime/kaffir lime, pepper, shallots, coconut, galangal, thai red chillies etc…. Like I mentioned before, all of these are central to many other Asian cuisines also but it is the way these ingredients are bought together that makes the cuisine of Cambodia unique.

The Chicken Samlá curry is basically a soupy kind of curry and one that is found quite commonly in Cambodia. It is either served as a soup or as a stew poured over rice. The thick, soupy coconut milk broth is what makes a Samlá stand out. It strongly reminds you of the Thai yellow curry but the flavours are different.

Lemongrass is the key ingredient in this curry and the primary flavour and aroma that greets you. I have made a few modifications to the recipe in terms of ingredients and measurements to suit my preferences which I think is important to make any dish a pleasurable experience for you. Instead of dry Thai chillies, I have used fresh ones and also more than what the traditional recipe calls for. It does not make the dish hot or spicy but adds more depth and flavour to match the sweet richness of the coconut milk.

Shrimp paste is another key ingredient of this dish and I know your whole neighbourhood will smell it too. You could omit it but then you won’t be getting the real deal. But yes…the smell!!!

It is the unique blend of spices and aromatics (traditionally called the kroueng) that forms the base of this dish. The flavours are created here; you could choose to pound away in a mortar and pestle if you have the time and patience (a great stress busting exercise too) or a grinder will do the job in a fraction of the time. And since you will be spending a certain amount of time making this, I strongly recommend making a large batch and freezing in portions for quick weekday meals. I mean making everytime from scratch is great, but who really has the time anymore.

Kroueng or Cambodian curry paste - aromatic and fragrant - thespiceadventuress.com

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

Enough talking; let’s go ahead and re-create this deliciously creamy, highly aromatic and fragrant Cambodian Chicken Samlá Curry. And if you happen to try it out, make sure you tag me #thespiceadventuress in your social media posts so that I may see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 whole chicken (approx 1.2 kg); cut into medium sized pieces
  2. 3-4 lemongrass stalks
  3. 1 tbsp lemon flesh
  4. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  5. 3 tbsp chopped galangal
  6. 6 large shallots; coarsely chopped
  7. 6 large garlic; chopped
  8. 8 fresh Thai red chillies
  9. 1 ½ tbsp shrimp paste
  10. 2 cups thin coconut milk
  11. 1 cup thick coconut milk
  12. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  13. Salt, to season
  14. ½ tsp sugar

Note – The proportion of all the spices and aromatics is approximate and should be adjusted according to the size and freshness of the ingredients and also your taste preferences.

Method:

  • To prep the lemongrass, cut off the tough and dry roots and top ends. Peel off the outer tough layers and use only the soft part of the stalk. You will need approximately 3-4 stalks (depending on the freshness) to get about 1 ¼ cups of chopped lemongrass.
  • If using a blender, place all the ingredients from 2-8 and grind to a fine paste. If you are using a mortar and pestle, then add each ingredient, crush well and then follow with the next ingredient till the whole mixture comes together to a fine paste like texture. If you have a small mortar and pestle, then you can grind the ingredients in separate batches and then finally mix all together in a bowl.
  • Place the shrimp paste on a piece of aluminium foil; spread it out evenly and then fold the foil into a small packet. Place on a medium hot tawa or pan for 2-3 minutes, turn over and heat for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, open the packet and crumble the shrimp paste into the prepared curry paste and mix together.
  • Heat the oil in a deep pan; add the curry paste and cook on low heat till the rawness of the ingredients goes away and oil begins to separate from the curry paste. This will take at least 8-10 minutes and sometimes more. But this is the step that is most crucial to the flavour of the overall dish so be patient and let the heat do its job.
  • Next add the chicken pieces and cook on medium heat for about 6-7 minutes without adding any water or coconut milk. Take care to stir at constant intervals so that the spice paste does not get burnt or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the thin coconut milk, season with salt and add sugar; cook on medium heat till the chicken has become tender.
  • Then add the thick coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes; remove from heat.
  • Serve warm with rice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Note:

  • If you want the dish to be more soupy, you may add more coconut milk.
  • You may also add vegetables to this dish.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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