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Tag Archives: condiment

The ‘Hummus’ Revolution (with recipes for Beet Hummus & Kashmiri Chilli Hummus)

Hummus, a simple rustic chickpea dip that has somehow bridged geographical, cultural and religious borders. Today it graces our dinner tables in a zillion avatars, from simple to gourmet.

I love hummus, not just for its soul-satisfying taste, but because it is a taste of my childhood. Growing up in the Middle East, there was no way you could avoid this condiment. And it was such an integral part of the food we ate, because hummus was one of the very rare dishes that my dad would eat outside the traditional Kerala cuisine. So it made its appearance constantly sitting unassumingly alongside a platter of kebabs and tikkas.

And when we returned back to India, it was one of the main things that we missed; so much that my mom would request every friend who travels from Dubai to get her a bottle of tahini (which was very difficult to source in India at that time).

Today, we aren’t just talking about hummus as a dip, but as a medium for social and religious cohesiveness…..and it’s through the #spreadhummusnothate campaign spearheaded by Lina J, an award winning food blogger and the creative force behind ‘The Lebanese Plate’.

I have been following Lina’s work on Instagram for quite a while now and I really appreciate the work that she is doing to spread awareness and help address unwanted social and religious stigmas we have as a society. So here are excerpts of an interview with Lina and the significance of the #spreadhummusnothate campaign.

The first question and perhaps the most relevant one to this conversation….Where were you born? Are you an Australian?

I was born & brought up in Sydney.

Why #spreadhummusnothate? Could you tell us what led you to take up this campaign?

This campaign came about after coming across the hashtag #spreadhummusnothate. I felt there was increasing negativity towards people from diverse backgrounds & especially people of Muslim faith. I used the hashtag online but really felt that I needed to take it off line into our everyday lives in order for it to have a lasting effect. This is when I came up with creating opportunities for everyday Australians to sit & converse with everyday Australian Muslims & literally ‘spread hummus’ together.

You are an award winning food blogger but is that the only reason why you chose ‘food’ as the medium to express your opinions?

I don’t even think of myself as ‘award winning’ to be honest!

Working with & around food naturally led me to use it as the basis for this campaign. I think we tend to take for granted the power of food, not just as something to nourish the body, but also as a tool to bring people together.

 Is it a single person initiative or do you have a team working along with you in this campaign?

It is just me really. I have certainly had people help here and there along the way, but mostly just something that I have been pushing on my own.

What is the primary message that you want to spread through this campaign? And how do you go about it?

That all it takes is one conversation (over food) to break down barriers. I hope that people will be able to see that although we have some difference, we actually have a lot more in common. Life isn’t about agreeing with or being exactly like the next person, it’s about understanding & respecting our differences & still be able to converse in a positive way.

 How has the response been so far?

I would say 99% of response to this campaign has been quite positive, which really gives me hope.

I have seen on your Instagram account that you host events in relation to the campaign? How are these done and is it open to the public?

The events have been smaller gatherings up until this stage. I am currently in some collaboration talks with some lovely people who really want to help take this to the next level, where hopefully there will be more opportunities for a wider range of people to attend such events. There’ll be more detail soon about these events on my social media.

What are the different ways in which anyone who interested in this campaign be of help?

A number of people have helped spread the word, which is really important! But a number from my Insta family have assisted in providing goods for the #SpreadHummusNotHate Brunch, cake & desserts, meat & poultry, fresh fruit & veg. Couldn’t thank these people enough for their support.

And on a lighter note, you have become the ‘queen of hummus’ platters with all sorts of flavours including beautiful looking ones like the beet hummus. But which is your favourite?

I do love the Beet hummus, especially topped with a marinated feta, but at the end of the day, the original hummus will always be my favourite!

Do check out her blog and Instagram page (for some amazing photography and mouthwatering food).

Of course, I cannot leave you without sharing any hummus recipes so there are two delicious ones today. First, it’s the super gorgeous beet hummus recipe, one of Lina’s favourites which she has kindly shared with all of us. And second will be my signature hummus recipe with Kashmiri chilli (you will love this!)

So let’s #spreadhummusnothate

Beet Hummus

Beet hummus - thespiceadventuress.com

Photograph courtesy – thelebaneseplate.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  3. 250g roasted beetroot
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 3 cloves garlic
  6. ¼ tsp ground cumin
  7. 1 tbsp  tahini paste
  8. 1/3 to 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  9. olive oil for serving
  10. 1 tbsp Persian feta (optional, for serving)

Method:

  1. Beginning the night before, soak the dry chickpeas in a bowl of (approximately) 3 cups water with the teaspoon of bicarb. The chickpeas will need to soak overnight and will double in size.
  2. The following day, rinse chickpeas and place in a pressure cooker (see note) with plenty of fresh water. Lock the lid and turn to the LOW pressure setting. Once it comes to pressure (mine begins to whistle when at full pressure), turn heat to low and cook for a further 20 minutes. Take pressure cooker off heat and allow the pressure to release and cool naturally. This may take a further 30 minutes or more depending on the type of pressure cooker you have.
  3. As the chickpeas are cooking, preheat oven to 200ºC and prepare beetroot for roasting. Cut off greens and scrub beetroot thoroughly. Using a large enough piece of baking paper, wrap beetroot loosely and enclose by folding both ends into the middle and folding up ends to create a bag. Place paper bag with beetroot on an oven tray and into the oven. Roast for approximately one hour, or until beets are soft and cooked through. Remove from oven; allow to cool before peeling skin.
  4. Once pressure is released from the cooker, drain away as much liquid as you can leaving only chickpeas behind. You will find that the chickpeas look mushy, but do not fret…that’s exactly how you want them! I find using the pressure cooker softens and almost melts away the chickpea skin that you don’t need to remove them.
  5. Place the garlic, salt and cumin into a mortar and pestle and crush to create a paste. Set aside with the lemon juice.
  6. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and blend until a smooth puree is formed.  Add the beetroot and continue to whiz until you have a vibrant puree.
  7. Add tahini, garlic, salt and cumin paste and blend some more. While processor is on, add 1/3 cup of lemon juice in a steady stream. Stop to scrape down sides and taste for more lemon juice.
  8. Serve with Persian feta and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

NOTE: If you do not own a pressure cooker, use a large saucepan instead. Add chickpeas to pot with plenty of cold water and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour until chickpeas are very soft.

Kashmiri chilli Hummus

I used dried Kashmiri chillies for this recipe which can be easily found in any Indian/Asian store. These chillies have a beautiful deep red colour but very less heat when compared to other varieties.

Kashmiri chilli hummus - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  3. 3-4 Kashmiri chillies (soaked in warm water)
  4. Salt, to season
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 1 tbsp  tahini paste
  7. Juice of 1 lemon
  8. 1 tbsp thick greek style yoghurt
  9. olive oil for serving
  10. Dried chillies (for garnish)
  11. Green olives (for garnish)

Method:

  1. The first step (just as in the beet hummus) is to soak the chickpeas overnight with bicarb. Canned chickpeas can be used if you are really rushed for time but soaking and cooking the chickpeas yourself makes a big difference to the taste.
  2. Next day, rinse the chickpeas well and cook in a pressure cooker or pan till well done and lightly mushy. Season the chickpeas with salt while cooking.
  3. While the chickpeas is cooking, soak the Kashmiri chillies in warm water for at least 15 minutes or more if possible.
  4. Using a blender, grind the chillies, garlic and a pinch of salt to a coarse paste.
  5. To this add the drained chickpeas (reserve a little for garnish), tahini paste, yoghurt and half the lemon juice. Blend till a smooth consistency is achieved (you may need to scrape down the sides in between). Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as required.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and serve with olive oil. Garnish with the cooked chickpeas, sliced olives and crushed dried chillies.
  7. Enjoy

Kashmiri chilli hummus - thespiceadventuress.com

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Spicy Aubergine Chutney

Cheese platters are my thing!

I find it an utterly satisfying and relaxing experience to bring out my beautiful boards, pop on some delicious varieties of cheese (atleast one new type each time) and then fill up the platter with figs, grapes, crackers, cold cuts and chutneys. And of course, pop open a really good bottle of white….and unwind on a Friday evening.

It’s been a while since I had indulged this way; the past couple of weeks were work hectic which combined with poor time management skills left me thoroughly exhausted and drained out. So mid last week, I was a lady on a mission – to create a delicious platter experience for my small family catching up over some much needed ‘us’ time.

I always stock up on small batch chutneys in my pantry, both homemade and others that I pick up while travelling or from local businesses. But this time, I realized that I had run out of most of them and what was available wouldn’t really go well with the platter I had in mind. So what do you do? Just make one yourself….

Out came my cookbooks and my eyes fell on one which I had borrowed from a friend and totally forgotten about. The title, ‘The Preserving Book’ by Lynda Brown – just perfect! To cut a long story short, I narrowed in on this Spicy Aubergine (Eggplant/Brinjal) Chutney for two reasons. First, I loved the play of spices in this one and second; aubergines do not feature in my favourite list of vegetables so this would be an interesting way of eating it.

Spicy Aubergine Chutney - deliciously sweet and spicy - thespiceadventuress.com

I got a bit lucky while shopping for aubergines at my local veggie store. Found baby aubergines, the deep dark purple variety quite commonly used in India especially in South India. They were ripe and just perfect for the chutney. Remember to get really ripe vegetables when making chutney, also forget about the most beautiful and polished looking ones. (The food waste statistics of Australia scare me so I make it a point to pick up assorted shapes and sizes of vegetables especially if I am going to cut it up for the dish. How do the looks matter?)

A good chutney is all about balance and the perfect play of flavours so while the measurements that I have outlined would give you a delicious end product, I strongly urge you to taste along the way and make adjustments as I did while adapting the recipe from the book.

Apple cider vinegar and a dash of tomato paste add acidity which is counterbalanced by the sweetness form the raw sugar and sultanas. While there are other spices involved, what makes this chutney truly unique in flavour are the Nigella seeds and ginger.

Baby Aubergines - Food styling and photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Aubergine Chutney - deliciously sweet and spicy - thespiceadventuress.com

This chutney can be left to mature in flavour for a month before using and if preserved in the right manner, will last upto a year. So a great option if you are making in bulk. But I am a small batch person so prepared just 2 small bottles and also opened it within two days.

So here we have the deliciously sweet and spicy Aubergine chutney….the perfect condiment for your cheese platter. In fact, it is the perfect condiment to just about anything…..a dash of it with roast lamb cutlets or as a traditional chutney with your Indian meals. Fingerlickin good!

(The cheese that I picked up for the board include a soft creamy Brie, smoked cheddar with Native Australian pepperberry and a blue veined cheese)

Spicy Aubergine Chutney - makes a delicious addition to your cheese platter - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Aubergine Chutney - makes a delicious addition to your cheese platter - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 450gm baby aubergines
  2. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  3. 3/4 tbsp tomato paste
  4. 220ml apple cider vinegar
  5. 250gm raw brown sugar
  6. 60gms sultanas/raisins
  7. ½ tsp chilli flakes
  8. ½ tsp cayenne pepper/hot chilli powder (optional)
  9. 1 cinnamon bark
  10. 1 tsp Nigella/onion seeds
  11. 1 ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
  12. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Wash the aubergines and pat dry. Slice the aubergines and place in a heavy bottomed pan along with the onions and salt. Also add the tomato paste and stir well to combine.
  2. Cook for a minute or two and then add the vinegar and sugar; mix well and then add the sultanas, chilli flakes, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger and Nigella seeds. Stir well and cook on medium heat till the sugar has almost dissolved. Turn the heat up and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible, cover the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Open the pan and continue to cook on low heat stirring occasionally so that the mixture does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. The chutney is ready when it has turned thick and sticky; also taste and make sure that the vinegar has been absorbed well or it will taste acidic.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow to cool well. Ladle into sterilized jars with tight lids. Refrigerate.

Note – If you want to preserve the chutney, then add the chutney to sterilized jars and make sure there are no air gaps. Cover the lids with waxed paper discs and use non-metallic lids. Seal and label the bottle. Leave to mature for a month in the pantry. Refrigerate after opening.

Spicy Aubergine Chutney - deliciously sweet and spicy - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Aubergine Chutney - deliciously sweet and spicy - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Prawn Pickle

An Indian meal, no matter how elaborate it is, stays incomplete without a pickle by the side. It is perhaps only in Indian cuisine that pickles are so diverse in preparation and flavours. And over years, we have learnt to pickle just about any ingredient!

Seafood pickles are extremely common in South India, especially in Kerala owing to the state’s enviable coastline. Today’s prawn pickle is inspired by the flavours of Kerala; it is spicy but sour and tangy too. A complex myriad of flavours in every spoonful.

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Small prawns or shrimps are used to make this pickle generally. The prawns are marinated first, deep fried and then tossed through the pickling mixture which is a fiery concoction of red chilli, aromatics, curry leaves and spices like fenugreek, mustard and asafoetida.

Pickles always develop flavour over days and it is best to store this one too for a few days in your refrigerator before enjoying it.

Pickles are more of a condiment, and supposedly to be enjoyed in small quantities along with the main meal. I tried so hard but failed miserably in this regard as this prawn pickle was so delicious that it became more of a main dish than the condiment. All I needed was a bowl of rice and some thick yoghurt!

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I am sure you will agree on this too, so let’s not waste anymore time talking and get straight on to the recipe.

Ingredients:

1. 1 kg small prawns/shrimps; deshelled and deveined
2. Vegetable oil; to deep fry the prawns

For full recipe, click here.

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

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