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Tag Archives: chilli

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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Chicken Stir fry (with Chilli, Garlic and Coriander)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

For garnish:

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

Method:

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

 

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

 

 

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice

My love for markets is legendary, especially the local one in my suburb (Dandenong) which I would have mentioned on my blog at least a million times.

Looking back, I think it’s destiny that bought us to this suburb. Amidst all the confusion, loneliness and that strange feeling of newness in a foreign country, it was the local market here that was my refuge. The smell, sights and sounds always reminded me of home because I would get every single ingredient that I needed for my style of cooking which means a lot when you are so far from home. And it’s true that food opens doors where none exists. And for me that door was this blog…..

These days, I don’t visit the market as often as I used to but I am still there at least once every fortnight. It’s my space to get inspired and to re-ignite the creativity and passion I have for food. All the beautiful, fresh produce gives me such a buzz and there are so many ideas that pop into my mind after a trip like this.

And with Christmas almost here, markets are just brimming with such amazing produce and I simply couldn’t go past the seafood section. I had to come back with some fresh Australian raw prawns; don’t waste your hard earned money buying prawns from other countries when you can get some amazingly fresh and delicious prawns caught right here in Australia. Believe me, it’s totally worth those few extra dollars.

After all the shopping, I was only in the mind for a one pot dish and nothing elaborate. And this delicious Indo Chinese style prawn fried rice is what came to mind.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

The Indo Chinese style fried rice is quite different from the traditional Chinese version. It’s a lot more fried where the grains of rice are separate unlike the sticky original version. I wanted a bit of a spice kick and used long dry red chillies for smoky hot undertones.

To get the flavour from the dry red chillies, add it to the cold oil and then heat on low flame. Toss in the prawns with a handful of different vegetables along with perfectly cooked rice and finish off with a dash of soy and tomato chilli sauce.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms long grained rice
  2. 500gms medium sized prawns; deshelled and deveined
  3. 1 large carrot; julienned

This post is bought to you in association with Supreme Seafood so the complete recipe can be found here.

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Chilli Prawn Fried Rice - a simple and delicious one pot Indo Chinese style fried rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Penne with Chilli Squid in a Roasted Tomato Sauce

We tend to eat a lot of pasta dishes during the colder months. I tend to be rather grouchy and lazy when the cold, damp weather arrives which translates into easier, one pot, packed with flavour dishes in the kitchen.

This dish ticks all the right boxes in that regard. It comes together really quickly, doesn’t require a ton of prep work and is the perfect dish to retreat to the couch with especially that Masterchef 2016 has begun. A glass of wine too perhaps, and you would feel grand.

Penne with Chilli Squid in a Roasted Tomato Sauce - simple, delicious and full of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

Roasting vegetables is a great way of intensifying flavours which is why this roasted tomato sauce is just so delicious. Diced tomatoes with onion, garlic and thyme, onto a baking tray and in the oven for 15 minutes; blend and your sauce is ready. How easy is that! And this can be made in bulk and frozen in batches as it works as a delicious base sauce for any kind of pasta dish.

Fresh Tomatoes - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Roasting vegetables - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Given my love for seafood, I chose to play around with squid rings for this recipe but if you don’t eat or like squid, there are tons of other options. Like I always say, the recipe is just a guideline and you must embrace and make it your own. Prawns and lobsters work brilliantly or you can keep it vegetarian with just the mushrooms or your preferred assortment.

It’s interesting how climate affects me and my style of cooking these days. I have noticed that I tend to play around more with chillies when it’s cold than any other spice. So it’s a generous helping of chilli flakes and hot paprika to season the squid rings and mushrooms.

If I want to bulk up the dish and make it for two days (which I sometimes do when I have work commitments), I prepare the sauce and the squid mixture and store separately. Pasta is cooked only at the time of the meal so that it is served warm, straight off the pan which all of us know is the best way to eat it.

Penne with Chilli Squid in a Roasted Tomato Sauce - simple, delicious and full of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

Penne with Chilli Squid in a Roasted Tomato Sauce - simple, delicious and full of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

So here you go; Penne with Chilli Squid in a Roasted Tomato Sauce – an extremely simple pasta dish that speaks volumes of flavour.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gms ripe red tomatoes; quartered
  2. 1medium red onion; diced
  3. 4 large garlic cloves

Find the full recipe here.

Penne with Chilli Squid in a Roasted Tomato Sauce - simple, delicious and full of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

Chettinad Style Grilled Snapper

Today, the Chettinad Meen Varuval gets a grillin!

Meen Varuval aka fried fish….the term cannot get more generic than that. There are a zillion ways for frying fish in India itself (forget about the other cuisines of the world). Now I cannot claim to have eaten all the different types but my excessive fondness for seafood has led me to try a large chunk of it.

The Chettinad style of fried fish is one among the simplest yet more flavourful ones that I have had. The marinade is simple with a few spices and aromatics but the defining flavour comes from the red chilli powder which is obtained by grinding dry round chillies (known as goondu milagu in the native language). These chillies have a sweet smoky flavour and are easily available at most Indian and Asian grocers.

Traditionally fried, but I am grilling this beautiful whole snapper that I picked up at my local farmer’s market. I would totally recommend to marinate the fish ahead of time to let the flavours seep in. You can any kind of fish for this; the traditional favourite is Spanish mackerel or kingfish but I would recommend just about any fish including salmon (just don’t overcook it though).

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Barbecue season will be upon us soon and this grilled snapper can be the perfect centrepiece for your party. A side of salad or grilled vegetables and you have a delicious winner on your hands.

Ingredients:

1. 2 whole red snapper; cleaned and gutted, keeping the head
2. 3 – 3 ½ tsp red chilli powder (made by grinding dry goondu milagu)
3. 1 tsp turmeric powder

Read the full recipe here.

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Recipe developed, styled and photographed for Supreme Seafood.

Oats Kofte in a Chilli Garlic Sauce– Indo Chinese Flavours

The idea for this recipe came out during one of the weekly ritual calls that I make to my mom. It is often a long one; filled with food conversations, ideas, TV shows, rants, gossips, the latest fashion trends etc…. I share more of a girlfriend relationship with my mother rather a daughter one; this caused plenty of problems while growing up but after I hit my 30s, it blossomed into this calm and silent understanding and accpetance of each other.

So now, we don’t tear each other’s head off, we just talk……for hours!

During one of those conversations, my mom mentioned about a cookery competition that she was going to take part in. Oats was the ingredient around which the competition revolved and as the mother-daughter brainstorming went on, the idea of making oats kofte came about. But what next, should we go the Indo Chinese route or should we make a traditional curry with the koftes?

Both of us decided on the Indo Chinese route but her dish turned out be way different from this one. To cut a long story short, her dish didn’t win any prize but we both had a new and rather fascinating dish to add to our culinary repertoire.

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If you are familiar with Indo Chinese flavours, then this dish is no surprise except for the fact that oats is the main ingredient in the koftes.

But if you are new to the term ‘Indo Chinese’, then let me give you a brief intro. During the times of the Indo China war, a lot of migrants from China came across the border and settled in the North Eastern states including West Bengal. The community soon realized that food can be a source of livelihood but the traditional Chinese cooking would not work in India due to lack of certain ingrdients and also preference for bolder flavours especially the fascination with heat and spice. This was the beginning of the modern fusion cuisine which came to be known as ‘Indo Chinese’ or ‘Chindian’. The earliest Indo Chinese restaurants opened in Calcutta and other parts of West Bengal and soon this cuisine spread like wildfire all across the country. Today, Indo Chinese food holds a much coveted spot on the tastebuds of this nation.

For this dish, I have gently toasted the oats with onions and aromatics and then mixed it into boiled potatoes to form the koftes. Since I wanted to keep the dish entirely vegetarian, the koftes are lightly dusted with a mixture of corn flour and all purpose flour and shallow fried.

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The crucial part of the dish is handling the koftes with a bit of tender loving care! Since there is no heavy coating, the koftes have to be shallow fried with care to avoid breakage. And the same rule that applies to all other Indo Chinese dishes; this one too has to be served warm immediately after preparation.

So enjoy delicious oats koftes dunked in sweet and spicy chilli sauce, Indo Chinese style!

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Ingredients:

For the koftes:

1. 1 ½ cups raw oats
2. 1 large potato
3. 1 medium onion; finely chopped
4. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped/grated
5. ½ inch ginger, finely chopped/grated
6. 2 green chilli; finely chopped
7. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
8. 5 raw almonds; finely crushed
9. 2 tbsp cornflour
10. 3 tbsp all purpose flour
11. Salt, to season
12. ¼ tsp red chilli powder
13. 6 tbsp vegetable oil; to shallow fry the koftes

For the sauce:

14. 12 medium garlic cloves; finely chopped
15. 1 inch ginger; finely chopped
16. 6 long dry red chilli
17. 1 ½ tbsp red chilli paste
18. ½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
19. 1 tbsp soy sauce
20. 2 tbsp tomato sauce
21. 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
22. ½ tsp sugar
23. 1 large onion; cubed
24. 1 yellow bell pepper; cubed
25. 1 tbsp cornflour, dissolved in ½ cup cold water
26. Salt, to season
27. 3 tbsp vegetable oil
28. 1 spring onion; both white and green part chopped

Method:

To prepare the koftes:

• Boil the potato, mash and keep aside.
• In a flat pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and saute the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies along with the turmeric powder till the onions are lightly browned.
• Add the crushed almonds and oats; mix well and saute on low heat for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt.
• Remove from heat and allow to cool.
• Add the cooled oats mixture to the mashed potato and mix well to combine.
• Shape into small koftes; keep aside.
• In a plate, mix the cornflour, all purpose flour, chilli powder and season lightly with salt.
• Coat the koftes lightly with the flour mixture (it should be a light dusting on the koftes; excess flour will affect the taste of the koftes making it taste doughy).
• Heat the remaining oil in a flat pan and shallow fry the koftes; make sure you turn the koftes carefully to avoid breakage.
• Drain on a kitchen towel.

To prepare the chilli garlic sauce:

• Heat oil in a large wok and add the cubed onions. Stir fry on high heat for a minute and remove.
• Next, add the cubed bell peppers to the wok and stir fry for 30 seconds; remove and keep aside.
• In the same wok (add more oil if necessary), add the dry red chillies, garlic and ginger. Saute on low heat till the garlic is just starting to brown. (Do this on low heat to infuse the oil with maximum flavour from the garlic).
• Next, add the red chilli paste and Kashmiri chilli powder, saute for about 30 seconds and then add all the sauces along with a pinch of sugar.
• Mix well and taste. The measurements given for the sauces must only be a guidance as the taste can vary according to the brands used. So taste and adjust balance of flavours.
• Next add 1 cup water and bring to boil; add the dissolved cornflour and stir in to thicken the sauce.
• Add the onions and bell peppers and mix well.
• Finally add the koftes and mix through without breaking. Season with salt if necessary.
• Remove and garnish with spring onions.
• Serve warm with fried rice or noodles.

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Southern Fried Chicken with Paprika Wedges

Fried chicken – The ultimate global comfort food!

I remember vividly of a childhood eating my fair share of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken, is there anyone who doesn’t know it!). It was the only form of fast food that was welcome in our house simply for the fact that fried chicken was the only thing that my dad would eat outside South Indian cuisine.

Without going into the debate of health and junk food, I did enjoy the flavours of KFC, at least till I learnt to make a decent version of fried chicken myself. What can get more comforting than biting into a crispy chicken leg that eventually melts in your mouth. And accompany it with fries and ketchup…..greasy but good for the soul!

As my cooking skills strengthened and so did my knowledge of oven cooking, I learnt of ways to achieve a similar texture and flavour of fried chicken without actually deep frying. The fries got replaced with wedges and the store bought mayo slowly gave way to homemade aioli.

And of all the different varieties and styles of fried chicken, this Southern version staunchly remains my favourite just because it has liberal amounts of my favourite ingredient in it….spices.

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Southern fried chicken is another comfort food offering that originated in the US. The chicken pieces are tenderized by marinating in buttermilk and then coated with flour mixed with spices like cayenne pepper. But today, I am adding more crunch to the coating in the form of crushed cornflakes and Panko breadcrumbs. And we have not just cayenne for the chilli kick, but smoked paprika and Indian red chilli powder because I like it hot!

If you have an oven, then ditch the fryers and skillets; spray some oil and oven bake at high temperatures to get the same crispy exterior and your stomach will thank you for it. We also have paprika wedges instead of classic fries to accompany this Southern fried chicken. Homemade mayo and barbeque sauce complete this comfort food package making my weekend a delicious affair.

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Why don’t you make yours delicious too?

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

1. 1 kg chicken; broken into 6 pieces
2. 2 cups buttermilk
3. 3 tbsp barbeque sauce
4. 2 cups crushed cornflakes
5. 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (use ordinary crumbs if you do not have Panko)
6. 3 tbsp wheat flour
7. 1 tbsp smoked paprika
8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
9. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
10. 2 tsp onion powder
11. ½ tsp garlic powder
12. Salt, to season
13. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
14. Vegetable oil

Note – Adjust the spices to suit your heat preference.

For the wedges:

1. 4 medium potatoes
2. ½ tsp paprika
3. ¼ tsp Italian herbs
4. Salt, to season
5. 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

To prepare the chicken:

• Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, pour the buttermilk and barbeque sauce on top. Season with salt and pepper; keep aside for at least 2 hours or overnight as time permits.
• Preheat the oven to 250°C. Line a tray with baking paper and lightly brush or spray with vegetable oil.
• In a bowl, mix the cornflakes, Panko crumbs, flour, cayenne, red chilli, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
• Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk and coat with the cornflakes mixture. Press gently so that the crumb adheres to the chicken and place it on the baking tray. Repeat for all pieces. Make sure that you do not crowd the tray; if necessary, prepare in batches or on 2 trays.
• Lightly spray or drizzle the chicken pieces with oil and bake for 10-12 minutes at 250°C. Then decrease the heat to 200°C and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken and take care it does not burn.
• Flip the chicken pieces over gently, lightly spray or brush with oil and bake again at 200°C for another 15-20 minutes or till done. Check after 10 minutes to see if any pieces are done (the wings may cook faster than the breast pieces) and remove if necessary.

To prepare the wedges:

• Peel the potatoes, cut into wedges (leave the skin on if you wish to) and parboil in salted boiling water for 8 minutes.
• Drain and allow to air dry.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced). Line a tray with baking paper.
• In a bowl, mix the potato wedges with paprika, herbs and lightly season with salt (remember you cooked it in salted water). Drizzle a bit of oil and line the wedges on the tray without crowding too much.
• Roast in the oven for 15 minutes turning once in between or till golden brown and done.

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Dark Chocolate Beef Chili

I am definitely not a winter person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

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

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

Rigatoni Chilli Bolognese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

Chilli Chicken Bites

Yet again, food has opened my world to a whole new bunch of friends in Melbourne.

I have been part of a growing food group called ‘Chef at Large’ on Facebook for quite a while now. A couple of months ago, a bunch of us belonging to the group and residing in Melbourne decided to meet up for a coffee. And the only thing that we knew about each other – food makes our world go around!

And that friendship has blossomed over the months with regular meet-ups, coffees, pot lucks, family gatherings etc….

Our recent meet was a potluck party at a nearby farm where we had a whale of a time sampling each other’s dishes, rambling, laughing….all the good things of life. Apart from all the food and fun, we had also decided to swap an ingredient each and come up with a recipe featuring the same.

I was given the round, dry red chillies, which are hugely popular in the South Indian region. Also known as ‘Gundu Milagu; these chillies are small and round with bright, shiny, deeply red skin. It is extensively used in the Chettinadu style of cooking apart from being used for tempering traditional Indian dishes like dals, sambar and rasam.

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Chillies are always looked upon as a source of heat and very rarely, as a source of flavour. When used in the right manner and the right quantities, you can enjoy the flavour profile of each chilli without making the dish fiery or hot. Today’s recipe, chilli chicken bites, is an example….

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Chilli chicken is a classic Indian starter but I decided to give it my own twist to make it appealing to all taste buds, especially as a snack for children.

The marinade used is a medley of red chillies, cumin, fenugreek, cloves and coriander along with aromatics like ginger and garlic. The chicken pieces can be marinated and frozen for upto a month which makes this dish a handy one when you have parties or gatherings. You could also freeze this in small portions and use in lunch box recipes like I do. Sandwiches, wraps, snacks…..my son loves the chilli chicken bites in his lunch box.

So, here’s the recipe for chilli chicken bites – a classic example of why you should love chillies!

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Ingredients:

1. 1 kg, chicken thigh (boneless); cut into bite sized pieces
2. 5-6 dry red chilli, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes (it will not be spicy, trust me)
3. 5 garlic cloves
4. 1 inch ginger root, peeled
5. ½ tsp cumin seeds
6. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
7. 5 cloves
8. 1 tsp coriander seeds
9. Salt, to taste
10. 3-4 cups Panko breadcrumbs, for coating (use ordinary breadcrumbs if you wish to)
11. Vegetable oil, for frying

Pssst….if you live in Australia, then these chillies are available in Indian stores which specifically sell South Indian or Srilankan ingredients.

Method:

1. Wash and drain the chicken pieces well; keep aside.
2. Soak the chillies in warm water for at least 15 minutes.
3. Dry roast cumin, fenugreek, cloves and coriander seeds.
4. Grind the roasted spices and the softened chillies with a bit of water into a paste.
5. Add the paste to the chicken pieces, season with salt and mix well to combine.
6. Marinate for at least 3-4 hours, more if possible. If you want to freeze for later use, do it at this stage.
7. Heat oil in a deep pan to fry the chicken pieces.
8. Coat each chicken piece in the Panko crumbs and fry till golden brown. Drain on a kitchen paper.
9. Serve hot with dip of choice.

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