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

 

Moroccan Carrot Soup

I have always been a huge fan of soups and it’s made round the year in my home. But during winter, the frequency increases manifold. After all, what can be more comforting than a steaming hot bowl of soup on cold, wintry nights!

While I make a lot of soups at home, many of the recipes do not make it to the blog. But with increasing requests from readers, especially during this season, I have decided to update the blog with more recipes, both vegetarian and non vegetarian. Starting with this delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup….

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Carrot is a much loved vegetable in our home. It’s one I can get Sam to eat without any fuss and as for Adi, he behaves like Bugs Bunny around it. Even though I have made carrot soup plenty of times, I have never tried the Moroccan style before. But the memory of having it at one of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants has always stayed in my mind. The spices used to flavour the soup make it a standout and really intensifies the sweetness of the carrots.

Then I came upon a carrot soup recipe by Rebecca Katz, which calls for saffron as a special ingredient. Now that was interesting and I really wanted to give it a try to experience what saffron adds in terms of flavour to a soup like this.

And it turned out beautiful. A tiny pinch of saffron is enough for a dish like this or it will overpower the flavours completely and totally ruin it. But in the right amount, it works magic along with the other spices to make this the best carrot soup ever.

Kept the garnish simple and traditional, with sourdough croutons, coriander leaves and a pinch of paprika.

And before we get on to the recipe, here are five of my all time favourite soups….

Potato and Parsnip Soup

Beer and Cheddar Soup

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup with Brown Mushrooms

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg carrot; cut into chunks
  2. 1 onion; diced
  3. 1 celery stick; diced
  4. 3 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 tsp ground cumin
  6. ½ tsp ground coriander
  7. 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  8. 1 dried bay leaf
  9. Salt, to season
  10. A pinch of saffron (soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk)
  11. 1 litre vegetable stock
  12. 1 tsp lemon zest + lemon juice

To garnish:

  1. Sourdough croutons
  2. Sweet paprika
  3. Coriander leaves

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat oil and add the onions, celery and carrots. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes with regular stirring.
  2. Then add the bay leaf, cumin powder, coriander powder, chilli flakes, saffron with milk and vegetable stock. Season with salt and mix well to combine.
  3. Bring to boil and then simmer gently till the carrots are completely cooked (takes about 20-25 minutes).
  4. Cool slightly and add the lemon zest. Blend into a soup like consistency using a stick blender. If using a mixer, blend in batches.
  5. Return to heat and add half of the lemon juice. Taste and add more if necessary. Also add water to get the desired consistency if the soup feels too thick.
  6. Serve warm garnished with croutons, fresh coriander leaves and a pinch of sweet paprika.

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne)

Supernormal requires no introduction to the food lovers of Melbourne.

Showcasing a modern Asian (heavily leaning towards Japanese) menu, Supernormal has become an iconic Melbourne institution situated on Flinders Lane where many of the best dining spots of the city can be found.

I was catching up with girlfriends for lunch (a great place for that), and we were eagerly looking forward to some great food and drinks.

The space inside is expansive; plenty of seating options yet not with an overcrowded feel though the restaurant is packed at most given times. The kitchen bar is the main focal point where the chefs seamlessly go about their tasks without being loud and obtrusive. There is also plenty of seating along the bar if that’s what you fancy. But we were there for a sit down, slow lunch and the staff was so kind to give us a table with a window view, for an almost secluded feeling.

Supernormal has a small but really good drinks menu, especially when it comes to cocktails. The Asian inspiration can be found here too and we ended up tasting 4 different cocktails.

Umeshu Spritz (Choya classic umeshu, lemon, Prosecco) – light and refreshing, this one has citrusy flavours and really clean on the palate, especially for those who prefer light cocktails or if you plan to have more than a drink.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Blossom Riddle (Don Julio tequila, cassis, pineapple, lime) – this drink is slightly stronger, one for the tequila lovers. But extremely balanced out with the tangy sweetness from the lime and pineapple.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

Tiger Uppercut (Ketel One vodka, ginger, almond, bitters) – a great vodka cocktail I have tasted in a long time. The ginger adds a touch of freshness making it extremely easy and balanced on the palate.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Shaddocks Path (Johnnie Walker Black whisky, grapefruit, lemon) – another stronger one, this celebrated the whisky in a really good way. I was apprehensive about the combination of grapefruit and whisky but again, the balance is key and it was a great drink that paired really well with the lamb.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne)  - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu at Supernormal is designed to be shared among a few people. So the idea is to order 1-2 dishes from each course and share. The staff are super friendly so don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations or even to explain the dishes to you.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

We started with Kimchi (cabbage, daikon and cucumber) from the Snacks section. A classic that has such a fine balance of sweet, sour and spicy…perfect to open up your taste buds for what’s to follow.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the raw bar, we got a few Sydney rock oysters; this one needs no explanation – a generous squeeze of lemon and straight into your mouth!

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Since I had heard much about the New England lobster rolls at Supernormal, that’s what we tried next from the Dumpling and Bao section of the menu. And I can easily say that it’s the best lobster roll I have so far had. I would highly recommend it.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we tasted was the Smoked Mussels, Potato & Salted Duck Egg from the Plates and Vegetables section. I was slightly apprehensive about this one as I really couldn’t fathom the flavours and what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised, the smokiness from the mussels paired beautifully with the potatoes and the crunch from the iceberg lettuce was a great textural point.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Meat and Fish, we chose the Slow Cooked Xinjiang Lamb served with sesame seed flatbread and a side of Sautéed Greens with fried garlic and chilli. That lamb was just heavenly; tender and juicy with a spicy gravy perfect to go with the flatbread. Again a dish that I would highly recommend.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

For dessert, we wanted something light so opted for the Kakigori – Japanese shaved ice, toffee apple and hibiscus. It was an interesting dessert especially the flavour combination. I liked it because it was refreshing, light and not too sweet.

Supernormal (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

In a nutshell, the dining experience at Supernormal was amazing. Great food, ambience and service; it’s a definite must visit in Melbourne.

Supernormal

180 Flinders Lane
Melbourne Vic 3000

Phone no: 03 9650 8688
info@supernormal.net.au

Timings:

Sunday to Thursday: 11am – 11pm
Friday And Saturday: 11am – midnight

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me and my girl gang.

Supernormal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder)

There is only one thing I enjoy about winter; and that’s food!

Nothing else gets me excited about 6-8 months of burying myself in a hundred layers.

So every year as late autumn sets in, my meal plan becomes all about hot, nourishing soups, slow cooked meat and vegetarian stews, rich curries and of course the saucy pastas. There’s something so comforting and gratifying that moreish, rich flavours can do to your soul.

And one such dish on repeat is this Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks, taken a notch up in flavour with the rustic and flavourful Srilankan roasted curry powder.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

A slow cooked stew is one of the easiest dishes to make. There aren’t many ingredients or steps to follow but you need time on your side. If you have a slow cooker, then time to get it out. Since I don’t have one, I use the traditional stove top method itself.

Ask your butcher to give you tender lamb shanks and get it trimmed at the bone end; easier to fit into standard size pots and also much better  in terms of appearance.

The Srilankan curry powder is what makes this stew so insanely delicious. An extremely versatile spice blend with so much intensity, it instantly adds the something ‘extra’ that makes a dish high on the flavour quotient. Once you start using this spice blend, you might not really miss the Indian garam masala.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

This stew can be made using any cut of meat (best with meat on bones though) , not necessarily lamb shanks. But cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.

So let’s get cooking these delicious Lamb Shanks with Srilankan curry powder. And if you make it, do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your photographs so that I can see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 lamb shanks (bone shaft end trimmed)
  2. 2 medium red onion; chopped
  3. 4 medium garlic cloves
  4. 2 celery sticks; sliced
  5. 1 large carrot; chopped
  6. 2 large ripe tomato; chopped
  7. 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  8. 2 dried bay leaf
  9. Olive oil (enough for searing the meat)
  10. 1 ½ tbsp Srilankan curry powder (recipe given below)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  13. 1 litre beef/chicken stock

Method:

  1. In a large, deep bottom vessel, heat enough oil to sear the lamb shanks in batches. Sear 1-2 shanks at a time, remove and keep aside.
  2. In the same oil, add the bay leaf, garlic and onions; sauté till the onions are softened (not browned).
  3. Then add the celery and carrot; sauté for another minute.
  4. Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté for another minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste, roasted curry powder and mix well to combine. Next add stock; mix and bring to boil.
  6. Add the lamb shanks; season with salt and pepper. Mix and then cook covered on the lowest heat till the shanks are juicy and tender (fall of the bone consistency). Check in between and stir through if necessary.
  7. Serve warm with crusty bread and salad on the side.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

Srilankan roasted curry powder:

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

Method:

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

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

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

May Favourites

Yet another glorious month has passed by, one that bought along plenty of joys and plenty of little moments to rejoice. It was not without its fair share of challenges, but looking back, I can feel only happiness and gratitude at the life I have been blessed with.

Technically autumn, but May was a crazy month when it came to weather. Plenty of rain and cold, gloomy days meant that we needed warm, delicious comforting food on our plates. And the best was this Risotto with Dried Mushrooms and Bacon Crumbs. Absolute yumminess!

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Leftover rice is perhaps a very common ingredient in most households and there are quite a few quick recipes on the blog to use it, after all we don’t want to waste food right. All of these recipes are made frequently in my kitchen whenever I have leftover rice to create something delicious for the next day’s lunch box.

One such dish is the Stir fried rice with Salami, Sun dried Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Herbs. Not a combination that’s common, but I promise it’s really delicious. It’s quick to make and Adi loves it in his lunch box with some cucumber sticks on the side.

Stir fried Rice (with salami, sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers and herbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Speaking of food, did you read my review about the new South Indian menu launched at The Rochey, Fitzroy? Absolutely chuffed that the cuisine of my hometown would make it to a mainstream modern Australian pub. It’s definitely a small world out there, especially when it comes to food.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Hearts ( Chargrilled with Recheado and a sweet and sour spicy sauce) – One of the highlight dishes of the day for me. Absolutely loved the flavours, that perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy; absolutely divine. And highly recommended.

Also, we got to meet Mickey Mouse!

Adi had the most exciting time at the launch of Disney on Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic. The spectacular show returns this year to Melbourne during the school holidays and we are so excited to watch it; it’s our first time.

If you have plans to go, then waste no time in booking the tickets…selling out like hot cakes.

Disney on Ice Launch Party - thespiceadventuress.com

Now getting to last month’s favourites; everything that inspired me be it food, drinks, lifestyle, travel, words or even beauty.

This sangria is different to any I have seen or tasted before. But I am going to try it only when summer returns to Down Under.

These drumettes are fingerlickin’ sexy!

I would say the same for this chicken dish too.

Crack, slurp, mix…..those words define it all.

I am not gonna miss the noodles in this one.

Totally love her Instagram handle; has the most delicious food with some stunning photography too.

A lesser known fact about me is that I binge watch beauty and fashion videos on YouTube. In fact, I hardly watch any cooking channels but I have all the info about the who’s who of the beauty blogging business. And one of the channels I am absolutely loving at the moment is this luxury blogger. She’s sassy, bold and one hell of a woman.

 

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala

#UglyDelicious

No, I am not talking about the Netflix show that has become so popular; instead about today’s dish – a Keralan style robust, peppery mutton or goat masala.

And if you are wondering why the hashtag, it’s because I find it such a harrowing experience shooting dishes like these that don’t look very pretty or appealing but is just damn delicious that I still want to share it with all of you.

I always struggle when it comes to taking photographs of Indian dishes, especially curries. Most of them are of a certain colour tone and to make it look interesting and appealing, there is a constant effort needed to style it well or add the right garnishes to make the dish pop.

I am sure the more skilled photographers would not feel this way, but I am still grappling with the technique that clicking pictures of this Mutton Pepper Masala was quite a challenging one. After various styling efforts on a day that my creativity was not at its best, I settled for these shots. Not my best but you know what…the flavours of this mutton dish make up for the not so delectable photographs.

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala - thespiceadventuress.com

As mentioned in the title, this is a Kerala style mutton preparation. You are likely to find a lot of variations of this dish. This particular recipe is one I learnt from my mother, but adapted slightly to suit our taste buds.

The predominant flavour is that of the black peppercorns; you can adjust the quantity to suit your preferences but there must be enough used to get that pepper hit. Mutton or goat is best for this dish but a good cut of lamb with some fat running through it would also be equally delicious.

I feasted a lot on this dish after I gave birth to my son; the red meat helps with boosting protein and iron quantities which is need post pregnancy. And black pepper is believed to be a great cooling agent and also has many other medicinal properties.

Best paired with parottas (Kerala style layered flat breads) but goes equally well with rice and dal.

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms mutton (boneless); cut into small pieces (you can use meat with bones too)
  2. 1 ½ tbsp whole black peppercorns
  3. 1 green chilli
  4. 5 garlic cloves; grated
  5. 1 inch ginger; grated
  6. 2 large red onion; finely sliced
  7. 1 medium ripe tomato; finely sliced
  8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  9. 2 ½ tsp coriander powder
  10. ½ tsp fennel powder
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  13. 3 sprigs curry leaves
  14. Salt, to season
  15. 4-5 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

  1. Grind the black peppercorns, garlic, ginger and green chilli into a fine paste with a little bit of water. Add this to the washed mutton pieces; season with salt and add one sprig of curry leaves. Mix the masala well into the mutton and keep aside for at least 1 hour (longer if time allows).
  2. Heat oil in a large deep bottom pan and add the sliced onions. Sauté till the onion are caramelized to a light brown colour.
  3. Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté till the tomatoes are completely broken down and mushy.
  4. Then add all the spice powders and mix well to combine. Sauté till the whole mixture comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides. A few drops of water can be added if the mixture feels too dry.
  5. Add the marinated mutton to this along with one sprig of curry leaves; mix well to combine. Add 2 cups water (taste and season with salt if necessary) and cook till the mutton is almost done. (You can also use a pressure cooker for cooking the mutton but add less water).
  6. When the mutton is almost done, increase heat and reduce the excess gravy if any to get a thick masala like consistency. But if you prefer the gravy, remove from heat and garnish with the remaining curry leaves.

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne)

Kerala cuisine in a modern Australian pub!

Surprised? I am…..

I constantly crib about how poorly Indian cuisine is represented in Melbourne with just a handful of restaurants that serve decent fare. And also none when it comes to South Indian food except for plenty of dosa serving restos that are often a disappointment.

So the new South Indian menu at The Rochey came as a huge surprise.

The Rochey has been an iconic part of Fitzroy for many years now but recently went through a whole revamp in terms of food and drink, both of which has been taken up several notches. Mischa Tropp from ‘WeareKerala’ has designed the new menu which showcases regional Kerala cuisine at its best, with some snippets from the Goan cuisine too.

The ambience at Rochey is typical Fitzroy (the architecture is so unique there), retro with contemporary influences but also with the industrial touch that the suburb does so well. While the front portion is the dedicated pub space, there is a cozy dining area towards the back. There is also a beer garden and a party space if you are looking to hold events.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The new drinks menu at Rochey deserves mention too. There are the classics given that it’s a pub, but there are also some interesting cocktails and new wines, beers etc…. on the list, some of which are specifically included keeping in mind the flavours of the new menu.

I was fortunate to try out a couple of wines that were exceptional and paired extremely well with the flavour profiles of the new South Indian menu.

(I have outlined the specifics of each wine beneath the photographs)

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Harvest Pinot Gris (2017 / Adelaide Hills SA / Organic) – Produced by a Grower’s Cooperative with a strong sense of giving back to the community, this Pinot Gris is easy on the palate, luscious with generous guava, lemongrass and white tea aromatics.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Some Young Punks ‘Monsters, Monsters Attack!’ Riesling (2015 / Clare Valley, SA) – Highly recommended if you are going to try out the fiery fish curry on the menu. A really sweet Riesling with racing acidity and brilliant florals, it is a treat after your tastebuds have been attacked from all the spices.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yangarra Estate PF Shiraz (2017 / McLaren Vale, SA / biodynamic / preservative free) – Made without additives of any kind, this Shiraz is a treat for the palate. Fresh, medium bodied yet vibrant, it’s an easy one that can be enjoyed young.

The food menu, as I mentioned, is largely based on the cuisine of Kerala. But there are also dishes from the Goan cuisine. And it’s a classic example of old meets new. While some dishes are traditional, staying true to the roots, others are a modern interpretation of the flavours of Kerala and Goa.

(As with the drinks, all the details of the dish will be outlined under each photograph)

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Egg Bonda (boiled egg & onion masala fried in a sourdough batter) – a classic tea time snack from Kerala. Traditionally a chickpea based batter is used but here, a sourdough batter has been used. The flavour was good especially from the caramelized onion masala used in the stuffing. But I would have preferred some sort of chutney or dip to go alongside the bondas. And if you have children with you, they are gonna love it.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Hearts ( Chargrilled with Recheado and a sweet and sour spicy sauce) – One of the highlight dishes of the day for me. Absolutely loved the flavours, that perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy; absolutely divine. And highly recommended.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Choris (Goan Chorizo with Onion Masala) – A twist on the Goan classic. A great snack if you are dropping in just for a drink or an excellent starter to start your meal. Another one the kids are gonna love.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Confit Parsnips (with Kashmiri Chilli Crumb and Shiso) – perhaps the dish that intrigued me the most on the menu which is why I had to try it. It’s unlike anything I have eaten before yet feels so familiar. For those who are familiar with the classic combination of tapioca and spicy dry coconut powder that is a staple in Kerala might be able to draw references to this one. And I totally loved the ingenuity of this one.

For the mains, it’s best to get an assortment of dishes and share which is the best way to enjoy regional Indian cuisine. We ordered a selection of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes; also got rice, flaky bread and pappadoms to accompany. Quite chuffed the traditional red rice (Rose Mata) was served instead of the regular white rice; has a different texture and so much healthier than the white. The flaky bread or parotta as called in Kerala is a delightfully flaky creation that’s perfect to mop up the curries.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Girija’s Cabbage Thoran (Stir fried cabbage, coconut and curry leaves) – a classic vegetarian dish from Kerala. If you have looked at my blog before, you would know how much I love thoran and all the incredible dishes that can be made from the basic style. The cabbage thoran is perhaps the most common rendition and in my opinion, the most delicious way to eat cabbage. A must try!

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Kadala (Brown chickpeas with roasted spices and coconut) – Another classic (you are going to hear that word a lot!). This curry that is just resplendent with spices and coconut makes it extremely loved in Kerala and beyond. Again done to perfection and as authentic as it can get. I would have loved to have some appams on the menu which pairs best but the flat breads are equally good too.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Roast Beef (Slow cooked beef neck in a rich Kerala style gravy) – Now where do I even start with how much this dish means to me. I was ready to be super critical of this one, but all that I can say is that Mischa and his team has done a fabulous job with this. Absolutely tender beef cooked in that classic aromatic spicy gravy that’s so unique to Kerala cuisine.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Fish Nadan (Freakin Spicy Keralan fish curry) – Yes guys, this is freaking spicy and not for the faint hearted. Even with the hardcore spice eating Indians, this dish stands out for its heat. But don’t let that prevent you for trying it out because it’s sensational and unlike any other fish curry you have ever eaten before. And pair it with the Monsters Attack Riesling that I mentioned above; it’s a match made in heaven.

To summarize, it’s the best Keralan food that I have eaten at a restaurant in Melbourne. Enough said!

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’

202 Johnston St
Fitzroy, Vic, 3065

Phone no: 03 9419 0166
Website: http://rochey.com.au/

Timings:

Mon-Thu: 2pm– late
Fri-Sat: 12pm–3am
Sun: 12pm–11pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest at The Rochey, but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

Rochester Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie

I have been getting a lot of requests to re-start the everyday smoothie series which used to be quite popular on my Facebook page last year.

It’s not that I have not been drinking any smoothies lately. And smoothies are not a fad or trend I follow; in fact I have been having smoothies’ way before it became ‘popular’. It’s just that I generally stick to a few recipes or rather combinations for my everyday breakfast, all of which are already documented on the FB page so there was nothing different I was making.

I love using oats in smoothies, in the natural raw form. Not a big fan of oats porridges but I really enjoy using oats in smoothies because it adds the necessary carbs yet the smoothie has a light texture which is very important for me.

One of my favourite combinations using oats is this ‘Breakfast Smoothie’. But this time at the market, there were some absolutely fresh berries for sale and I couldn’t resist picking up some blackberries and raspberries. And inspired by the colourful smoothie bowls that I have been seeing on Instagram, I was tempted to try out an oats smoothie using the berries.

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

I like to add nuts to my everyday smoothies so there’s always a selection in my pantry and for this one, I used whole almonds. Chia seeds are another favourite that finds its way to most of the smoothies I make. I don’t add any sort of sugar but if I absolutely must, it’s always honey as a sweetener. Also I tend to use milk in my smoothies instead of yoghurt simply because I like the taste of milk better.

And also I don’t like my smoothies super thick so I do add some water to get it to the drinkable consistency.

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

Are you a fan of smoothies? I would like to know which are your favourite combinations…so do drop a line below so that I can try it out too.

Ingredients:

  1. ½ cup oats
  2. A handful of blackberries
  3. A handful of raspberries
  4. 1 tsp chia seeds
  5. 1 tbsp almonds
  6. 1 cup milk
  7. Water (as needed)

Method:

  1. Blend all the ingredients together with water (if needed).
  2. Enjoy.

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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