Category Archives: Side Dishes

Salmon Kebabs

Today’s recipe was the result of a happy accident.

Salmon Kebabs - thespiceadventuress.com

I had actually set out to make salmon cutlets or croquettes for a client. And the plan was to make a version similar to these Kerala style beef cutlets. So I minced the salmon, added the sautéed onion spice mixture and rolled it into round balls before doing the customary egg breadcrumb routine. But something important came up and I had to go out only to return late,  just in time for dinner. There was not enough time to coat and crumb and then deep fry; and I needed to make something quick with the salmon mixture for dinner.

While shaping the mixture, I realised that since salmon is an oily fish, it held shape pretty well and didn’t really need any other binding agent. So I flattened out the prepared balls into small patties and shallow fried in a pan. The result was these delicious Salmon kebabs. I had struck gold!

Salmon Kebabs - thespiceadventuress.com

And ofcourse, I had to share the recipe with all of you. Because these kebabs are delicious, really simple to make and can grace your dinner tables in so many different ways. Have it as a starter/appetizer, serve it as a canapé topped with relish or chutney or serve it on a bed of salad for a simple light lunch. You can also make slightly bigger patties and have a salmon burger or slider.

The salmon mixture is great for making croquettes too just as I had initially intended.

So let’s get cooking these delicious Salmon Kebabs which is best paired with this tangy mint coriander chutney.

Ingredients:

  1. 1-2 salmon fillets; skinless (weighing approximately 300gms)
  2. 1 red onion; finely chopped

Click here for the full recipe….

Salmon Kebabs - thespiceadventuress.com

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

If you follow me on Insta stories, you would have seen my weekly cookbook series. I do not have a huge collection but a handful of old, new and trusted ones that I cook from often. And last week, I had spoken to you about ‘The Food & Wine Lover’s Guide to Melbourne and Surroundings’.

Whenever we take a holiday in and around Melbourne, I always try to incorporate a bit of food wine experience into it. A visit to a farm, local food store, farmer’s market, restaurant or winery….something unique that celebrates the region. And this book has come handy on so many occasions for this purpose.

The book also features a few recipes from Chefs, restaurants and food producers of different regions. This salad really stood out to me because of the combination of flavours. Tomato and mozzarella is a classic combination but the addition of fire roasted bell peppers, watercress and the mustard dressing takes it to a whole new level.

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

What I loved most about this dish is that it can be served as a salad or as a side dish to grilled fish, meat or perhaps some grilled paneer/tofu. It’s warm and so full of flavour that makes it a delight even during the colder months. We enjoyed it as a salad with our Indian thali and also as a side with grilled fish, both times equally enjoyable and delicious.

This salad is all about the freshness and quality of ingredients. And using different varieties of tomatoes makes it all the more delicious. If you have a local deli nearby, then that’s probably the best place to get your hands on the buffalo mozzarella. I prefer fire roasting over oven roasting whenever possible; that burnt smoky flavour is hard to replicate completely inside an oven. But you can roast the bell peppers any way you wish to. Roast just enough to char the outsides but the flesh inside still has a bite to it.

Roasting bell pepper - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Enough said! Let’s get on with the recipe….

Ingredients:

  1. 1 heirloom tomato; sliced
  2. 1 ox heart tomato; sliced
  3. 1 medium red bell pepper
  4. 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  5. 1 large mozzarella ball
  6. ½ cup picked watercress
  7. 1 tsp seeded mustard dressing
  8. Olive oil
  9. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  1. Roast both the bell peppers over an open flame till nicely charred all around. Cover with a cloth for a few minutes before peeling off the skin (this makes the process easier). Deseed the bell peppers and slice into thin strips. Alternatively, oven roast the bell peppers and then do the same.
  2. Cut the mozzarella ball into wedges and keep aside.
  3. In a bowl, add the sliced bell peppers, mustard dressing and watercress.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan and flash fry the sliced tomatoes for a few seconds, season with salt.
  5. Cool slightly and add the tomatoes to the bell peppers along with the mozzarella wedges.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss lightly.
  7. Serve immediately.

Fire roasted Bell Peppers, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Methi Dana ki Sabzi (Indian style Fenugreek Seeds Stir-Fry)

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a friend’s home for a  girls’ lunch meet-up where I came across one of the most interesting dishes using fenugreek seeds.

My friend was so excited to serve this dish because none of us had ever heard of or seen this preparation before. Many of the girls thought it was a lentil dish but I did figure out that it was fenugreek seeds from that mild hint of bitterness. Though I use fenugreek seeds a lot in my cooking, it has always been as a spice and never as the main ingredient.

Fenugreek seeds - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

And even before the thought entered my head, my girlfriend had decided that I must share it on my blog. Love it when people get so excited about my work and want to share unique and amazing recipes with me for the blog. Deeply indebted for having friends who are always willing to share their knowledge.

This is a traditional dish from India, commonly prepared in some parts of North India. I haven’t seen anything like this from the southern part of India or from any other part of the world; please correct me if I am wrong.

Now the reason why fenugreek seeds are generally used sparingly is because of its mildly bitter taste. But when I tasted this dish, it was hardly bitter….just a mild aftertaste if you eat the stir fry on its own and almost none if paired with rotis.

Methi Dana ki Sabzi (Indian style Fenugreek Seeds Stir-Fry) - thespiceadventuress.com

And my friend told me that’s because the fenugreek seeds are first boiled in a particular manner, washed thoroughly and then used for the stir fry. The recipe is an extremely simple one and the only care to be taken is in the cooking and washing of the seeds which I have outlined below.

So please do give it a try, it’s a really unique and interesting way to consume fenugreek seeds.

(Thanks a lot to my friend, Alka who not only taught me how to make this dish but also came home the day I was making it to ensure it turns out perfect. Also my hand model for the day!)

Methi Dana ki Sabzi (Indian style Fenugreek Seeds Stir-Fry) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. ½ cup fenugreek seeds/methi
  2. 1 small red onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tsp ginger; grated
  4. 1 tsp garlic; grated
  5. 1 green chilli; chopped
  6. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  7. A pinch of hing/asafoetida
  8. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  9. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  10. ½ tsp coriander powder
  11. ¼ tsp garam masala
  12. Salt, to season
  13. 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  14. Coriander leaves; chopped for garnish

Method:

  1. Pour 5 cups of water into a saucepan and place over low to medium heat.
  2. When the water has become slightly warm, measure out the fenugreek seeds using a spoon or measuring cup and add to the water (do not touch the seeds with your hand or wash it before adding)
  3. Bring to boil and then simmer till the seeds are cooked. If you want to check if the seeds are cooked, use a spoon to remove a few from the water and discard after checking. The fenugreek seeds will plump up lightly and the water also turns dark while cooking. The seeds are cooked when it has become soft but still has a bite to it (it might still taste slightly bitter at this stage).
  4. Once cooked, place the saucepan with the seeds in it under a trickle of running water. Do not disturb or touch by hand. You can see that the water begins to run clear after some time. When the water runs completely clear, strain into a colander and keep aside.
  5. To prepare the dish, heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. As it begins to splutter, add the asafoetida followed by the chopped onions. Sauté for a minute and then add the chillies, garlic and ginger. Sauté till the onions are lightly browned.
  6. Add the turmeric, red chilli, coriander powder and garam masala. Mix well and tip in the fenugreek seeds. Season with salt and cook till the extra moisture from the seeds have dried out.
  7. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  8. Keep the dish for at least 30 minutes before having it.

Note – As I mentioned, the only care that needs to be taken is not to touch the seeds by hand at any point till the dish is done. A lot of dishes on the internet using the fenugreek seeds are prepared by soaking the seeds overnight, wash and then use for cooking. I tried out this method too but found that though the seeds do not taste bitter after soaking, it does develop a bitter taste once cooked.

Methi Dana ki Sabzi (Indian style Fenugreek Seeds Stir-Fry) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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

Omelette Brochettes

We are big time egg lovers and go through quite a few cartons every month. In fact, if its egg curry bubbling on the stove, my son would sniff it a mile away and come running all excited about dinner.

All forms of egg dishes are welcome in our home and fried runny yolk eggs are a hot favourite of the kiddo for weekend brunches. We are lucky that so far, there has been no restrictions at school too because Adi really loves egg sandwiches in his lunch boxes.

Even though there are plenty of different egg dishes I cook, I was still on the hunt for new ones especially that cater to the after-school-hunger-pangs category. With a growth spurt happening, Adi comes home from school totally ravenous and needs something really substantial. And that’s how I came across a similar recipe for Omelette Brochettes in a cookbook called ‘Mini Treats’ by Hinkler Publications.

Omelette Brochettes, a simple and delicious snack - thespiceadventuress.com

This one’s pretty simple to make, almost like a frittata. Though I have used onions, bell peppers and ham, any combination of meats or veggies can be used depending on your preferences.

It’s a really easy and simple dish to make and one you can make in bulk which also makes it as an excellent starter choice especially for children’s parties. If you are a light eater like me, it makes a delicious lunch option too when paired with a simple green salad.

I have not used cheese in this recipe, somehow I don’t like the texture too much if I have to refrigerate and then re-heat it later. But I would,  if I was making it for a party or to have immediately afterwards.

Omelette Brochettes, a simple and delicious snack - thespiceadventuress.com

Omelette Brochettes, a simple and delicious snack - thespiceadventuress.com

Do try it out and let me know if you enjoyed it and don’t forget to tag your creations with #thespiceadventuress while posting on social media so that I can see it too. Happy cooking!

Ingredients:

  1. 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 cup whole milk
  3. 12 large eggs
  4. 1 onion; finely chopped
  5. 8 ham slices; chopped
  6. 2 mini red bell peppers; finely chopped
  7. ½ tsp red chilli flakes
  8. 3 tbsp parsley leaves; finely chopped (reserve a bit for garnish)
  9. ½ tsp dried Italian herbs (a mix of dried oregano, thyme and rosemary)
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan forced).
  • Line an oven pan (32x26cm) with baking paper. (You can also use a square or rectangle cake tin).
  • Heat olive oil in a pan and add the chopped ham; sauté for about 2-3 minutes and then add the onions.
  • Once the onions are softened and translucent, add the bell peppers. Season with salt and allow to cool slightly before adding to the egg mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the chilli flakes, dried herbs, parsley and the cooled onion ham mixture. Season with salt and pepper and whisk well.
  • Pour into the pan and cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes or till the egg has set.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before turning it out of the pan. Cut into squares and serve with your favourite sauce.

Omelette Brochettes, a simple and delicious snack - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled Prawns with Herbs and Chillies

For all the prawn lovers out there!

Grilled Prawns with Herbs and Chilli, simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Personally, I find prawns the easiest yet the most indulgent seafood to cook and eat. Not just for the fact that it cooks super fast but also for its ability to absorb all sorts of flavours in minimal time. Agreed, prawns are slightly more expensive when compared to your regular fish fillets, but there’s so little you need to do to it for a delicious dinner on your table in no time at all.

In our home, prawns are most often cooked for mid week dinners. And that’s because, by Wednesday, I get into the when’s the weekend coming mode and I really need something to get me going. Sometimes, it’s a nice glass of wine or perhaps a late night movie (for which I curse myself the next day morning) and sometimes, it’s an indulgent plate of food. And prawns fit perfectly in that mid week indulgent category.

While I need that mid week luxury, I am not willing to work too hard for it. So today’s recipe, grilled prawns with herbs and chillies is just perfect.

Grilled Prawns with Herbs and Chilli, simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

All you really need for this dish is a bunch of herbs, which makes it also a good dish to use up leftover herbs that let it go bad in the refrigerator. When I have an excess amount of herbs (I grow quite a few at home), I usually chop it all up finely, mix with a generous amount of olive oil and freeze for future uses like this dish. So that’s another tip for you!

So that’s it really, mix the prawns with the herb oil emulsion, a touch of chilli flakes to spice things up and then grill it. Top it over a big bowl of salad or a quick rice or noodle stir fry for a delicious and indulgent midweek dinner.

Grilled Prawns with Herbs and Chilli, simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 350gms tiger prawns; deshelled (leave tails intact) and deveined
  2. 1-1 ½ tsp chilli flakes (adjust to heat preferences)….

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood, so head over to their website for the full recipe.

Grilled Prawns with Herbs and Chilli, simple and delicious - 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

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

Onam is almost here, just another week to go and most households which celebrate this festival must have begun the preparations.

For those who have not heard of this festival before, Onam is an annual festival that is celebrated in the state of Kerala, South India. The whole state comes together irrespective of caste, creed and religion and every household celebrates it albeit in a small manner. Without going into the specifics, one of the most important aspects of this festival is the feast, also referred to as the Onam sadya.

The sadya is traditionally served on a fresh banana leaf and includes at least 24-28 dishes, sometimes even going as high as 64. Every year I try and add a few recipes to the list here and hopefully, some day I will have the entire compilation. So the next two posts here will be about this ‘delicious’ festival since I will be celebrating it this year too just as I have done for the past 35 years of my life.

Today’s dish is called kaalan (I know it’s a hard one to pronounce for all those who do not know the language) or a yam and plantain curry with coconut, yoghurt and peppercorns. This recipe might sound quite similar to avial but the taste is very different due to the vegetables used and also the texture and consistency.

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

A couple of days ago, I was on the phone learning how to make this dish from my mom. Even though I am familiar with the consistency of this dish, she kept stressing about its importance. In her words, ‘the consistency must be that if you throw a spoonful of the curry at a wall, it must stay put and not slide down’….. Sigh. Mothers have such a unique way of recipe telling!

Now I am not going to advise you to do the same. Just make sure that the curry is thick enough yet not too dry and the secret to getting that is a spoonful of ghee that you must add at the end. Though other spices are also added, the predominant flavour is that of peppercorns. A slight twinge of sourness from the curd completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup yam; diced
  2. 1 raw plantain; diced
  3. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  4. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  6. 1 tbsp black peppercorns (adjust to preferences)
  7. 1 green chilli
  8. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  9. ½ cup natural thick curd/yoghurt
  10. 1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  11. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  12. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  13. ½ tsp fenugreek/uluva seeds
  14. 2-3 dry red chilli
  15. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  16. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Add the diced yams, red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder and salt to a pan; add 1 cup water, bring to boil and cook covered till the yams are completely cooked to a consistency where it can be mashed. Add more water if necessary but not too much; remember that a thick mash is what is needed at the end. (You can use a pressure cooker also).
  2. In another pan, cook the diced plantain with the remaining turmeric powder, water and salt till just done so that the pieces are cooked but still have a bite to it.
  3. Grind the coconut, black peppercorns, green chilli, and cumin along with curd to a fine paste. If the curd is a bit sour, add a pinch of sugar too.
  4. Once the yam is cooked well and mashed, add the plantain to this along with the ground paste. Simmer on low heat till mixed thoroughly. Add the ghee and continue to mix on low heat till the thick consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  5. For the tempering, heat coconut oil and crackle mustards seeds. Add the fenugreek seeds, dry red chilli and curry leaves.
  6. Pour this over the top of the prepared curry, remove from heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

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

 

 

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

A taste of home!

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

The flavours of Kerala can throw a real surprise to those who are not familiar with the state. The style of cooking and choice of ingredients can be so varied from region to region inspite of it being such a small state in terms of topography.

Most people associate Kerala with non vegetarian food, which is understandable given the state’s fixation with seafood and beef. But the land also has a vast repertoire of vegetarian dishes, many of which are practically unheard of like today’s Kootu Curry. A disclaimer here…..there are a few versions of this dish that can be found across the state but the recipe that I am sharing with all of you comes from the Malabar region (which in my opinion is the most delicious!)

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

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

Black peppercorns - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

I am yet to find the Indian variety yams in any of the Melbourne markets, most often I find the other Asian varieties. Now if you are not looking for the exact traditional recipe, you may use that though the taste will vary slightly. Or you could get these traditional Indian ones, which are available frozen in most Indian stores.

The Kootu Curry is also an integral part of the Onam sadya (the banana leaf feast which Kerala is famous for); it’s one of the several dishes that make up the feast. But for everyday purposes, this is best served as a side to steamed rice and dal. To complete, add some pappadums!

So add these ingredients to your shopping list so that we can get cooking Kootu Curry or Kerala style black chickpeas, plantain and yam curry with coconut and peppercorns.

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

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup black chickpeas; washed and soaked overnight
  2. 1 medium sized raw plantain; cut into large chunks
  3. 100gms yam; diced
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  6. ½ cup grated coconut
  7. 1 ½ – 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 large garlic cloves
  9. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  10. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  11. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  12. 2 dry red chilli
  13. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. To a pressure cooker, add the black chickpeas with 1 ½ cups water, season with salt and cook till ¾ ths done.
  2. In another pan, cook the plantain along with red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder, salt and 1 ½ cups water till done. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Add the diced yams to the black chickpeas and cook till the yams are lightly mushy (use the back of the ladle to mash the yams if necessary). Then add the drained plantain and mix well to combine.
  4. Coarsely crush the grated coconut, peppercorns and garlic in a mortar and pestle or grinder and add this to the cooked chickpeas. Add the remaining turmeric powder and mix well to combine.
  5. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Cook in low heat for 1-2 minutes and remove.
  6. To temper, heat coconut oil in a small pan and crackle the mustard seeds. Then add the curry leaves and dry red chilli. Pour this over the prepared chickpeas and mix well to combine.
  7. Keep covered for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Enjoy with a bowl of rice and dal/lentils.

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

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala)

My Instagram journey has so far been a highly delightful and inspiring one. I have been able to interact with a wonderful bunch of creative friends there and some wonderful human beings too. And a friend that fits that bill is Natasha (or Nats, as I sometimes call her). Nats is known as @thegutlessfoodie to the Insta folks and if you are curious as to why that name, check out her profile.

Apart from being such a darling, Nats has a whacky sense of humor that always brings a smile to my face. And if you follow her, you would get truck loads of inspiration for everyday dishes. Like I did, for this Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with my special East Indian Bottle Masala).

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is my adaptation of Natasha’s dish since I added mustard leaves and also used my special East Indian Bottle Masala to spice up the curry.

Mustard leaves are super healthy greens that are used extensively in North Indian cuisine especially states lying near the Himalayan belt. I wanted to try and grow these in my balcony garden but that meant trying to grow it in a pot. An experiment that yielded good results.

The only thing about growing mustard leaves in a pot is that you get only baby leaves and not the large one that is typical when grown on the ground. Also, since I was trying to grow it the first time, I planted the seeds in a small pot; next time I would try in a larger pot to see if the size of the leaves get bigger. If you live in an area where you can easily find mustard leaves in the market, then go ahead with that or substitute with any other greens if growing it in your garden is not an option for you.

Anyway, I found that the baby leaves tasted more refreshing than the larger mature ones which meant that I could use it for garnishing my salads and also in pasta dishes. In fact, I was planning on a salad when Natasha’s chickpea curry caught my attention.

For my East Indian Bottle Masala story, you need to read this post (which also tells you another delicious way to use this spice blend).

East Indian Bottle Masala - a traditional spice blend from Eastern India - thespiceadventuress.com

This chickpeas and mustard leaves curry is a simple, everyday dish that can be paired with flatbreads or rice and with a simple salad on the side. How I love these simple yet delicious and healthy almost one-pot meals that are just so comforting and nourishing at the same time.

The leaves wilt quickly even when added right at the end of the dish so you will hardly notice it in the photographs. But it’s there peeps…all the goodness and flavour is there.

Ok, so let’s get cooking….

2

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup mustard leaves (roughly chop if you are using the bigger ones)
  3. Coconut spice mixture
  • ½ tsp crushed cinnamon
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 tbsp roasted gram flour/garbanzo bean flour/besan
  • ½ tsp almonds; crushed
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tbsp East Indian bottle masala
  1. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 star anise
  3. 2 dry bay leaf
  4. 1 black cardamom; crushed
  5. 2 medium red onions; finely chopped
  6. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  7. A pinch of asafoetida
  8. 1 tbsp tomato paste
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped

East Indian Bottle Masala:

  1. 12.5 gms dry Bedki chilli
  2. 12.5 gms dry Kashmiri chilli
  3. 45 gms turmeric powder
  4. 30 gms coriander seeds
  5. 14 gms cumin seeds
  6. 10 gms white sesame seeds
  7. 10 gms poppy seeds
  8. 7.5 gms fennel seeds
  9. 25 gms mustard seeds
  10. 2.5 gms black cumin/shahjeera
  11. 3 green cardamom
  12. 5 cloves
  13. 2.5 gms black pepper
  14. 3 gms cinnamon bark

Method:

  1. To prepare the bottle masala, dry roast all the spices till aromatic and fragrant. Cool and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight bottle or container and use as necessary.
  2. To prepare the coconut spice mixture, grind all the ingredients given under No.3 with a little bit of water to make a thick paste.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a pressure cooker (or pan if you don’t have a cooker). Add the star anise, cardamom and bay leaf; after a few seconds when the spices have becomes fragrant, add the chopped onions.
  4. Sauté till light brown and then add the red chilli powder. asafoetida, tomato paste and coconut spice paste. Cook on low heat till the masala comes together and the rawness of the spices and coconut have gone.
  5. Then add the chickpeas and cook till done (around 2-3 whistles would be enough if using a pressure cooker).
  6. Finally, add the mustard leaves, stir through and remove from heat. Since these are baby leaves, it does not require any cooking time but if you are using the bigger ones, you may need to cook it for about a minute.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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