Tag Archives: Coconut milk

Fiji style Crab Curry

Some days the words just don’t come….

And it’s usually when my mind is overwhelmed and I am so busy trying to achieve a zillion things in a short period. Pretty much how I feel currently with the holiday season coming up soon.

I hardly get overwhelmed or stressed over personal and emotional happenings; pretty sorted that way. But when it gets to physical things like working, events to attend, parties to plan etc… that’s when I feel so beat up and tired. And that’s exactly the current state of affairs. There are so many recipes to test, shoot and write, so many events to attend (in spite of saying yes only to a quarter of the invites), Christmas parties to plan, a trip to India early next year for my brother’s wedding which means a whole lot of wedding shopping to do…the list goes on.

Since I have nothing more to say apart from how crazy things are at the moment, I will just get on with today’s recipe – a Fiji style Crab Curry.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

With Fiji being so close to Australia in terms of geography, there are so many people I know who are from the island. But when it comes to food, I am totally clueless. I do know that Fiji cuisine is heavily influenced by the various migrants and settlers so it’s totally normal to see an Indian curry sitting beside a native dish. And seafood is an integral part of the diet due to the coastal topography.

I found the recipe for this Fiji style crab curry in my recipe journal (basically a bunch of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers that I used to collect way before the food blogging journey). And so I have no clue whom to credit the recipe to. In fact I am not even sure if it’s the most authentic or traditional way of making crab curry in Fiji.

The original recipe called for large mud crabs to make this curry, but I decided to use blue swimmer crabs as these are in season and also because I love the flavour of these..so sweet and delicious.

Blue swimmer crab - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Medium thick milk from freshly grated coconuts is the best to make this Fiji style Crab Curry, but canned coconut milk will work just fine too (tends to be slightly more sweet than fresh coconut milk). The crabs are broken down so that the flavour from all the spices and aromatics seeps into every nook and crevice of the claws and body which makes this curry a delicious delight. And of course, ensure there are plenty of napkins around, there’s no neat or demure way to eat crabs.

In traditional Fiji cooking, a hot masala powder would be used but sourcing that would be difficult for most people, hence I used garam masala  which is quite similar to the hot masala. If you live in Australia, there are plenty of stores that stock Fijian products so you can use the hot masala itself.

In spite of all the spices, this is a very mild and light curry that’s perfect for the warmer days. It’s creamy yet light and soupy, sweet yet with a hint of spice that’s best enjoyed over a bowl of steamed white rice.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Fiji style Crab Curry

So let’s get cooking a delicious pot of this Fiji style Crab Curry…

Ingredients:

  1. 3 blue swimmer crabs
  2. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  3. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  4. 1 inch ginger; julienned

Recipe developed for Supreme Seafood, so find the full recipe on their website..

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Milk Pudding with Roasted Peanut Praline

Every once in a while, I go through a distressing and disappointing ‘blog comparison phase’. I am sure many other just-getting-there bloggers also suffer from the same disease (yes, it is a disease!)

It always starts off as reading and skimming through other well-known and top-notch blogs, simply as a way of getting inspired and motivated. But a few minutes into it makes me feel so disappointed and my head gets filled with what I have not achieved or will I ever get there. Instead of getting inspired and proud of my accomplishments, I get severely depressed wondering if I am doing anything right at all. I start finding faults by the dozen, even when there really aren’t any.

And quite ironically, in this past one year of blogging, every time this seed of self-doubt enters my being, I receive some kind of a blog/food related boost to reassure that ‘all is well’.

Last week was one of those self-questioning phases. Call it cosmic or divine intervention, I got a massive boost to my blogging ego when I was featured as one of the top 10 bloggers to look out for in 2015 as part of a cover story for SALT, a premium food, wine and hospitality ezine. Read the story here.

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It is an immense boost to your confidence when someone else places trust in your abilities. And though I have already mentioned my gratitude, I take a moment again to thank all at FBAI and SALT, especially Mr. Elson Sequeira, the editor-in-chief for this wonderful opportunity.

And what more, Elson even pushed this ‘savoury’ girl to publish her first ‘sweet’ recipe for the ezine, which is also our recipe for the day.

Today’s recipe is a coconut milk pudding with roasted peanut praline. This is one of those no-brainer dessert recipes which can be made in a jiffy. This one’s from my mom, who passes along simple dessert recipes especially when I am hosting a party.

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This coconut milk pudding is extremely light and just mildly sweet; the perfect finish to a big meal. It is a delicious dessert on its own but top it with a peanut praline and you have a winner on your hands. And if you don’t prefer peanuts, use any type of nuts that you would like or maybe some chopped mangoes….the options are endless!

So here’s a light yet indulgent Christmas dessert with creamy coconut milk pudding topped off with a crunchy sweet and caramelly roasted peanut praline.

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Ingredients:

For the pudding:

1. 1 medium sized coconut (around 600gm), grated
2. 600 ml plain milk
3. 2 tbsp gelatin powder
4. 2 cups raw sugar

For the praline:

5. ½ cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
6. 1 cup caster sugar
7. 1 cup cold water

Method:

1. Blend the grated coconut with milk. Strain through a muslin or cheesecloth to extract all the milk. This would yield approximately 1 litre of milk.
2. Add the sugar and mix well to dissolve. I have used 2 cups of raw sugar but the quantities might vary if you are using ordinary white sugar. So add 1 cup of sugar, dissolve, taste and add more as required. The milk should taste very sweet at this stage as the sweetness will decrease once the pudding sets.
3. Dissolve the gelatin powder in ¼ cup water using the double boiling technique. Cool slightly and add to the milk mixture.
4. Pour into glasses or any container you wish and refrigerate to set the pudding.
5. Roast the peanuts in a pan, cool and chop roughly. Spread on a baking sheet and keep aside.
6. To make the praline, add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup cold water to a pan and place over medium heat. Stir till the sugar dissolves and bring to boil. Stop stirring and boil till the sugar takes on a nice, golden colour. Remove from heat at this stage. (Sometimes, the sugar crystallizes around the edge of the mixture while boiling, use a pastry brush dipped in cold water and brush around the edges of the mixture to prevent the caramel going grainy).
7. Pour the mixture carefully over the chopped peanuts. Set aside to cool for at least 15-20 minutes. Chop roughly and store in an airtight container.
8. Spoon the peanut praline over the pudding just before serving.

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Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup

Today, I am going to talk about a topic that is increasingly becoming important to me – buying locally.

When I started off my life in Australia as a new migrant, my shopping habits were similar to scores of others – buy decently good products at the lowest price possible without a care where or how the product is sourced. But as my life evolved here, especially as my blogging journey took off, I started to become more aware of where my products came from, especially the produce and food I eat.

The benefits of buying local produce are immense. To start with, it is an immense boost to the local economy. It is giving back to the community, to the farmers, who toil so hard and relentlessly to bring us the best food possible.

It is about eating healthy; local and seasonal produce are much fresher and likely to have lesser chemicals than the ones bought in from other countries.

It is about supporting local and small business owners who are being forced to shut up shop due to the pressure of competing with foreign businesses and not finding enough customers for their produce.

I know that locally sourced produce can sometimes be slightly more expensive and there is no dearth for cheap imports too. And I also know money is important to all of us. But if you are willing to look around, attend local farmer’s market than big chain supermarkets or food stores, you will find plenty of produce for reasonable prices that fit right into your budget.

And sometimes, it is ok to spend a few extra cents or dollars; look at the long term and not the short term benefits. So which ever part of the world you live in, take a little effort to find out where your food comes from and do your bit to support local farmers and businesses.

So, that’s what I did for this recipe; visited the nearby farmer’s market and bought a couple of locally grown small pumpkins and potatoes.

Today’s recipe is a rich, creamy, luscious, Scandinavian pumpkin and potato soup flavoured with coconut milk, toasted sesame seeds and red chillies.

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

A simple and easy to make soup with robust flavours; you could call it a winter soup as it is a hearty and warming dish. But for me, it works in all seasons; I could enjoy a bowl of soup at any time of the day in any season.

For me, the highlight of this soup is the toasted sesame seeds, chillies and coriander leaf garnish. Silky smooth, creamy, sweet pumpkin and potato soup, flavoured with nutty sesame seeds, fiery chillies and the freshness of coriander leaves.

Recipe Courtesy – Le Creuset, The Scandinavian Way to Cook

Here’s how you prepare Scandinavian pumpkin and potato soup;

Ingredients:

1. 500gm small pumpkin, diced
2. 3 large potatoes, diced
3. 4 garlic cloves, peeled
4. 2 medium red onions, diced
5. 2 tbsp olive oil
6. 2 tsp thyme
7. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
8. 2 cups fresh coconut milk
9. 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
10. 2 tbsp lemon juice
11. 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
12. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
13. Salt, to taste
14. Freshly milled black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan and lightly fry the diced pumpkin, potato, garlic and onions. Add thyme and chopped green chilli. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add coconut milk and enough water to just cover the vegetables and slow cook for 40-50 minutes till the vegetables are tender and soft.
3. Toast the sesame seeds and keep aside.
4. Cool and blend the soup. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. (Make sure to taste the soup before seasoning and add accordingly.)
5. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, red chilli and coriander leaves.
6. Serve hot with bread of choice.

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Potato ishtew (stew)

Another classic, traditional dish that enjoys its quiet spot on the Onam sadhya spread. For decades, like most Mallus, I called this dish potato ishtew (well, that’s how this dish is known everywhere in Kerala!) Finally, it dawned on me that its stew and ‘ishtew’ was just another example of how Mallus would copy something from others and make it truly their own. But what’s in a name? This dish is still called ishtew and served with a lot of pride just like we do everything in Kerala.

An extremely simple dish to prepare. This is one dish where the potato actually gets sidelined and the coconut takes over. The taste that hits your senses is the warm aroma of coconut oil with the rich sweet creaminess of coconut milk against the subtle hotness from the ginger. Works wonderfully with steamed rice but perhaps, the best accompaniment is soft appams.

potato stew

Ingredients:

1. Potato – 2, peeled and diced
2. green chilli – 2, slit
3. onion – 1 small, diced
4. ginger – 1 inch, chopped finely
5. salt – to season
6. thick coconut milk – ½ cup
7. coconut oil – 1 tsp

Method:

• Cook potatoes with slit green chillies, diced onion, sliced ginger and salt in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles.

potatoes with ginger and onion

• Mash slightly and add thick coconut milk.
• Heat coconut oil and pour on top.

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How do you celebrate Onam in your household?

Olan

This dish is an inevitable part of every Onam sadhya (feast) and is made traditionally using white gourd or winter melon (kumblanga). But in spite of frantically searching in the farmer’s market or Indian stores, I couldn’t find this vegetable anywhere. So I decided to use native Australian cucumbers which had no physical resemblance to white gourd but did have taste similarities. (All an effort to get some comfort from the homesickness I feel when I am away from my family on Thiruonam).

This is an extremely easy recipe, one that comes together in no time at all. A delicious camaraderie of sweet creaminess from the coconut milk and the spicy coolness of cucumbers and green chillies.

Note – The recipe has not been tweaked in any way; only the vegetable has been changed not the method. The other variation to this dish is the addition of black-eyed beans/vanpayar. If you want to prepare the traditional version, then use 1 cup of white gourd and ½ cup beans and follow the same recipe.

olan

Ingredients:

1. Native Australian cucumber – 1 cup, peeled and deseeded, cut into thin slices.
2. Green chillies – 2, slit
3. Curry leaves – a handful
4. Coconut milk – thick 1st milk
5. Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
6. Salt – to season

Method:

• In a pressure cooker, add the thinly diced cucumber (or white gourd and beans), green chillies, curry leaves and salt. Cook for 2 whistles without adding any water.

boiled cucumber

• Open and place back on flame and add 1 cup thick coconut milk. Take off flame as it just begins to boil. (Add more milk if you want a runnier consistency)
• Transfer to a dish and add 1 tbsp of coconut oil on top to finish.

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Coconut Rice

My association with Tamil Nadu started from my undergraduate years, then the postgraduate years and finally culminated in a life long journey, having married a Tamilian. The cuisine of this state is highly varied just like its rich history and culture. Apart from the idli/dosa/sambhar trio, the next popular dish of the region has to be its variety rice prepartions. Tomato rice, sambar rice, coriander rice, tamarind rice, lemon rice….the list is endless!

My favourite among all these is the coconut rice (blame it on my Mallu roots!). The rich, creamy texture of the grated coconut mixed with rice and tempered with spices is heavenly and I love to eat this dish like a true non-vegetarian – with chicken curry. But for vegetarians, the classic combination is fried potatoes.

Coconut rice is a simple dish which can be done in seconds and works well with leftover rice. Easy, delicious and highly affordable!

Coconut Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

1. Rice – 2 cups, cooked
2. Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
3. Split urad dal/Vigna mungo/white lentil – 1 tsp
4. Chana dal/Bengal gram – ½ tsp
5. Dry red chilli – 2-3
6. Curry leaves – a handful
7. Hing/asafetida – a pinch
8. Coconut – scraped or grated, ½ cup
9. Oil – 1 tbsp
10. Ghee – 1 tsp
11. salt – to season

Method:

• In a large kadai, heat oil and ghee.
• Add all the ingredients except coconut and rice and mix well.
• Next, add the scraped coconut and sauté for a minute till the rawness goes. Do not overcook or allow the coconut change colour. Season with salt if necessary.
• Turn to low heat and add the cooked rice; mix well without breaking the rice.

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