Category Archives: Vegetarian

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese

Is there something called ‘too many’ pasta recipes?

Well, not in our household. Pasta recipes are often like that almost one-pot meal that is so quick to put together which is what most of us are looking for on a daily basis. And the non-saucy ones make the perfect leftovers for the next day lunch boxes.

In fact, I make the heavy, sauce based pasta dishes only occasionally. I tend to make pesto a lot, several variations of it, depending on what the herb garden is producing in abundance. I also enjoy roasting tomatoes and bell peppers for a thick sauce which is used along with pasta and other veggies. I use cold cuts, sausages and prawns a lot too as these need much less time to cook when compared to other meats.

While I prefer most of my everyday pasta dishes to go easy on cheese, today’s dish intrigued me as I had never paired goat’s cheese with pasta before. I have had it plenty on a cheese board but never with pasta. And when I came across some delicious Yarra Valley goat’s cheese, I knew I just had to try this dish out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

This is a fairly simple pasta dish with very few ingredients and hence the flavour depends on the quality of spinach and goat’s cheese used. I added some red chilli too, to add another dimension to the overall flavours.

The best type of pasta for a dish like this is the thin noodle like ones, usually referred to as spaghettini. Its light and the perfect shape and texture to absorb flavours especially when there is no sauce or too many ingredients vying for attention.

Let’s get on to the recipe then…and do share your feedback with me if you happen to try it out.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gm dried spaghettini
  2. 3 tbsp olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves; crushed and finely chopped
  4. 1-2 long red chilli (less heat variety; use less or omit depending on heat preferences)
  5. 150gm baby spinach leaves
  6. ¼ cup basil; torn
  7. 150gm goat’s cheese
  8. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water as per packet instructions; drain (reserving ½ cup water) and keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic and chillies; sauté on low heat for a minute.
  3. Then add the spinach leaves and cook on medium heat till just wilted.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with half of the reserved pasta water. Toss on high heat for about a minute.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in the basil and goat’s cheese
  6. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Spinach and Goat’s Cheese - thespiceadventuress.com

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Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy)

Okra/bhindi/ladysfinger – my absolute favourite vegetable. In fact if you ask me what would I like my last meal on Earth to be, I would say chappathi, lentils and okra (just the way my mom makes).

I have loved every single okra preparation I have had till now in my life. Guess I love this veggie so much that even a bad dish wins approval from me. My love for okra is quite legendary at home that my siblings often tell my mom not to ask what I would like to eat (when on vacation) as I would say an okra dish.

While I enjoy every style of okra preparation, one of my all time favourites is the stir fried one with lots of onions, garlic and chillies. This okra/bhindi raita is another favourite of mine; pairs so well with a simple pilaf.

But today, I am sharing an okra dish that I have had only at restaurants till now. Dahi Bhindi or okra in creamy yoghurt based gravy is a popular dish in the Northern parts of India. Best paired with chappathis (Indian flatbread), this dish is an absolute winner if you love okra.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Most people are put off by the slimy texture of okra and there are a few tips by which you can prevent this. The first tip is to wash and dry the okra well. After draining the excess water, I use a kitchen towel to completely dry the okra before cutting it which greatly helps to reduce the slimy texture.

Also, lightly frying the okra before adding it to the gravy helps to prevent it getting slimy. In a non stick or cast iron pan, add the okra pieces and lightly fry with no oil (or with just a tsp of oil) on low heat. I always follow this method if I am using the okra especially for curries or gravies.

Another tip is not to stir the okra around too much while cooking. Always cook on medium heat and stir only occasionally.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms okra/bhindi/ladysfinger, remove head and cut into half
  2. 1 Spanish onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 1 cup thick yoghurt
  7. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  8. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  9. Ground masala
  • ¾ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 3-4 green chillies (adjust according to heat preferences)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 5 shallots/small onion or 1 small red onion; chopped 

Method:

  1. In a non stick pan/kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil and lightly fry the okra till half done. Remove and keep aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients given under the ground masala to a fine paste like consistency and keep aside.
  3. In the same pan that the okra was fried, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it begins to crackle, add the chopped onions. Sauté till softened and translucent.
  4. Then add the ground masala, turmeric powder and season with salt. Cook on low heat till the rawness of the ingredients has gone away and oil begins to appear at the sides.
  5. Beat the curd well and add this to the masala; mix well and add enough water to get thick gravy.
  6. Then add the okra and cook on low heat till done.
  7. Remove from heat and add the coriander leaves; mix well.
  8. Keep for atleast 15 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Note – The gravy can thicken on standing or when refrigerated. Add a little water while reheating to get the desired consistency.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties)

Snacks are a big thing in our home, not store bought but homemade ones that are devoured with much gusto after the boys get back home from school and work.

Snacks are also an important part of every party we hold at home, because we really love the sit down, relaxed, course by course dinner over the buffet style anyday. Hence there are plenty of recipes on my blog for this category but I realised that somehow there aren’t many vegetarian options in the list.

And I often get requests from friends asking for vegetarian snack or appetizer recipes which got me thinking that I need to make more of these. And that’s how these chickpea tikkis happened.

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chickpea is a popular ingredient worldwide, amongst all cuisines, vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike. We also know that it is a really good source of protein which makes it a pretty healthy option too. I love using chickpeas in curries, rice dishes, salads, dips etc…. but this is the first time I have tried out a tikki using it.

This recipe is actually an adaptation of several kebab and tikki recipes that I have made before or read in books. I didn’t want to use potatoes as the binding agent, so instead used soft white bread and flour. Since the latter are in small amounts, the taste and texture of the chickpeas really shines through. And these are grilled with very less oil on a flat nonstick or cast iron pan because it has a crumbly texture.

So let’s get on to making these delicious, super moreish chickpea or chana tikkis/patties, best paired with this mint coriander chutney. And if you try it out, do tag me in your photograph (#thespiceadventuress) so that I can see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups chickpeas; cooked in salted boiling water till mushy
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 2-3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  4. ½ inch ginger; grated
  5. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  6. 1 tsp chaat masala
  7. 1 tsp coriander powder
  8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  9. A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (more if necessary)
  11. 1-2 tbsp white flour
  12. Vegetable oil
  13. 1 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  14. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight; cook in salted boiling water till soft and mushy. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and allow to crackle. Then add the chopped onions, garlic paste and ginger paste. Sauté till the onions are softened and light brown.
  3. Next add the cooked chickpeas, coriander powder, red chilli powder, chaat masala and asafoetida. Season with salt (remember the chickpeas already has salt) and cook on low heat for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat. Allow to cool well before grinding.
  5. Once cooled, grind the chickpea mixture without water. Then add the flour and breadcrumbs and knead to dough like consistency. Add more breadcrumbs till you get the desired consistency.
  6. Slightly grease your palms using oil and shape the chickpea mixture into round patties/tikkis. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes just to firm up but bring back to room temperature before grilling.
  7. Heat oil in a nonstick pan, just enough to coat the surface as we need to lightly grill the patties and not shallow fry. Place the tikkis on the pan and cook well on one side before flipping over. Take care as you flip over as the tikkis have a crumbly texture or it will break.
  8. Serve warm with mint coriander chutney.

Note – Another way of enjoying these tikkis or patties is by crushing it between a pav; add a dollop of chutney and you have another version of your favourite vada pav. Or go Western by crushing it lightly between a slider bun and add some greens and your favourite mayo for a vegetarian slider.

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps

Not sure about all of you, but I am terribly late with my ‘back to school’ shopping.

As I have been away on holidays, I did not really have a chance to take stock of what are the new purchases I will need to make for Adi to get ready for school. And now, I just have a week left.

And while I will be scrambling to get the uniforms, shoes, bag etc…. I am so glad that the lunch box situation has been sorted, all thanks to Smash Enterprises.

My association with Smash began 2 years ago when I was introduced to the brand at a bloggers’ conference and I haven’t looked back since. And for the past two years, I have been reviewing their products and new launches during the ‘back to school’ period.

Check out my earlier posts here and here (there are some easy lunch box recipes too).

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash Enterprises is an Australian owned brand; and all their products are not just reliable and durable but designs that focus on reducing wastage. Moreover the products are BPA free, which is an extremely important factor for me.

There are so many choices when it comes to picking out the right type of lunch box for your child, based on individual needs and eating habits. Highly customizable products in varied sizes and shapes, that’s what I like best about Smash.

Smash products are sold at most of the big retailers like Coles, Woolworths, Officeworks, BigW, David Jones, Masters and Target. You can view the latest product catalogue, to see the entire range and also find out where the products retail as some of the designs are unique to certain stores.

One of my favourite products (and Adi’s too) is the Smash Box, also called the dual lunch box.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

It has a very simple yet practical design that is not just durable but also easy to dismantle and clean everyday. The twin compartments make it easy to segregate the different food items and there is also a sandwich belt to hold those unruly ones in place (how much I need that!). It also comes with a yoghurt container which we use a lot and also plenty of room to hold other nibbles like cheese, biscuits, fruits etc…

Smash also stocks small add on, multipurpose containers in several shapes and colours that can be used to pack food items like dips, pasta etc….

The lunch boxes also come with suitable bags which have the unique BLUE iQ mould resistant and antibacterial lining. It is free from BPA, Phthalate. lead and PVC. Also has an easy swipe clean design which is so practical for easy daily maintenance. Also available in so many colours and designs for that fun factor for children. Adi has chosen the ‘Camo’ design this time; apparently he is done with cartoons and Camo is the new cool!

Apart from the dual lunch box, some of the other popular designs are the bento box and this year’s launch, the Bento switch up which has removable dividers  that make it all the more easier to customize your child’s lunch box.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash also has a great collection for adult lunch boxes and I love the grown up designs and colours. Again really practical and reliable solutions for everyday use.

And now for the recipe….

Wraps are one of our go to school lunches. Adi loves the convenience of eating these while out and about on the playground; it’s non fussy and convenient. And I love the fact that there are a zillion fillings that I could think of for the wraps so that it does not become boring and repetitive.

I also find that wraps are an easy way to get him to eat all sorts of veggies; as long as it’s flavourful, he is not picking out ingredients. So today, we have this super delicious but easy veggie wraps using paneer or the Indian cottage cheese with assorted veggies.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

A really rich calcium source, paneer is often used in traditional Indian dishes but it is equally great to be eaten raw. Just make sure that you get good quality paneer and soak it in lukewarm water for 5 minutes to get super soft texture that is great as a salad topping or in wraps like this.

The only seasoning I have used is a touch of cumin and dukkah; both of which adds loads of flavour.

Do share your back to school experiences, any great brands you have discovered and your child’s favourite lunch box recipes.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - thespiceadventuress.com

Paneer Veggie Wraps

Ingredients:

  1. Whole meal Wraps (substitute with tortillas/Indian flat breads/pita pockets)
  2. 100 gms paneer (soaked in lukewarm water for 5 minutes); sliced lengthwise
  3. 1 yellow bell pepper; sliced lengthwise
  4. 1 tomato; remove the pulp and slice lengthwise
  5. 1 Lebanese cucumber; sliced lengthwise
  6. ½ tsp crushed cumin
  7. 1 tsp dukkah
  8. Salt; to season
  9. 1 avocado
  10. 1 lime

Method:

  1. In a bowl, add the paneer, cucumber, tomatoes and bell pepper.
  2. Season with salt, cumin and dukkah; toss gently to mix.
  3. Scoop the avocado into a non reactive bowl; add the juice of half a lime and mash well using a fork. Season with salt, taste and add more lime juice if necessary.
  4. Heat a whole meal wrap and spread the avocado smash on top.
  5. Place a handful or two of the paneer veggie mix and roll tightly into a wrap.
  6. Cover the bottom half with some foil which makes it easy for your child to eat.

Back to School with Smash + a Recipe for Paneer Veggie Wraps - 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

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties

On a slightly chilly evening, about two months ago, I sat down with my pen and diary to plan out the blog posts leading up to Christmas. There was so much I wanted to cook and post, especially traditional dishes like roasts, cakes, cookies etc…..

And somehow I just never did any of those which I had planned so meticulously. Instead I found myself cooking whatever my heart fancies based on a spur-of-the-moment idea or ingredient. In short, bid goodbye to my best laid plans.

If this had happened a year back, I would have become super stressed about the whole thing and worried about blog stats, traffic etc… etc…. But 2016 taught me the biggest lesson of all; to enjoy what I do above all else and the rest will fall into place. I found my unique voice in terms of food and photography, a space I am very comfortable in. No more comparisons with what others are doing anymore. I learnt to say no to the zillions of emails that have nothing to do with my vision for the blog and learnt to embrace the differences that make me stand different in the crowd. Inner peace and clarity….at last!

Moving onto my recipe for the day; I was actually looking for inspiration to create a vegetarian canapé for my Christmas party, something I could prep ahead of time and just assemble on the day of the party. Browsing through Pinterest, I found quite a few versions of the avo toasties which sort of got me thinking along those lines and ta da……the idea for these delicious Mushroom and Hummus toasties took shape.

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

I loved how these toasties turned out and the minute I got the approval from the boys, I knew it had to go on the blog. So here you go guys…..a very delicious vegetarian starter that can be enjoyed in any season.

P.S.: The sun dried tomato hummus makes an excellent dip…in fact, I am planning on making an extra batch of the hummus for the party which will go on the cheese board. And my little boy loves it slathered in his pita roll.

Sun dried Tomato Hummus - a delicious dip for the festive season - thespiceadventuress.com

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

Ingredients:

(Makes about 20 toasties depending on the length of the baguette)

For the hummus:

  1. 1 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  2. ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes (with the preserved oil)
  3. 2-3 tbsp tahina (sesame seed paste)
  4. 3 medium garlic cloves
  5. 1 lemon
  6. Salt, to season
  7. 3-4 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

For the toasties:

  1. 1 baguette (I used the sesame seed crusted one for extra flavour); thinly sliced
  2. Olive oil
  3. 200gms white mushrooms; sliced
  4. 200gms brown mushrooms; sliced
  5. ½ inch ginger
  6. 1 tsp paprika
  7. Juice of ½ lime
  8. ½ tsp dried thyme
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 2-3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  11. 1 cup sun dried tomato hummus

Method:

To prepare the hummus:

  1. Boil the chickpeas with a bit of salt till well done and lightly mushy. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Add the garlic cloves and the juice of ½ lemon to a food processor or blender and whizz.
  3. Then add the sundried tomatoes along with the preserved oil and 2 tbsp tahina. Blend well for at least 2 minutes.
  4. Next add the boiled chickpeas with a pinch of salt and blend well till smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust with lemon juice, salt and tahina if necessary.
  5. Remove to a bowl, create little depressions with the back of your spoon and add the olive oil on top.

Note – The texture of the hummus is better when preparing the chickpeas from scratch as opposed to using tinned ones. But if you are pressed for time, you may use the tinned chickpeas too.

If using the hummus as a dip, add more olive oil and garnish with black olives and a pinch of paprika.

To prepare the toasties:

  1. Preheat the oven (fan forced) to 180°C
  2. Line a baking tray with oven proof paper and place the baguette slices; drizzle with olive oil lightly and bake till light golden brown. Takes about 8 minutes depending on the oven. Remember that the slices only need to crisp up.
  3. Remove and keep aside.
  4. To prepare the mushrooms, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the mushrooms. Cook on high heat for a minute and then add the grated ginger. Continue to cook for another minute and then reduce heat. Add the paprika, dried thyme, juice of ½ lemon and season with salt. Remove and keep aside.
  5. To assemble the toasties, spread a little bit of the hummus over a baguette slice and spoon some mushrooms on top. Do this for all the slices.
  6. Arrange on a platter and garnish the toasties with chopped coriander leaves and a touch of paprika.

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

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

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

Mushroom & Sundried Tomato Hummus Toasties - a delightful vegetarian canape for the festive season - 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 Turmeric, Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - 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 Turmeric, Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - 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

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