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Tag Archives: Cookbook

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

 

 

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Massaman Curry

It’s Friday guys! Time to put up the tired feet and get some much needed rest or catch up time with family and friends. Not so much for me as we are currently house hunting and the whole thing is slowly beginning to get on my nerves. We just can’t seem to find a decent place especially with the zillion demands we have. Hopefully something comes up soon and then the herculean task of moving houses will begin. Telling you guys, I have amassed a ton of props and I know I am going to freak out during the packing and shifting process.

I am sure you will hear me whining more about that later but for now, let’s just feast on this deliciously comforting Beef Massaman Curry.

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are familiar with Thai food, then you would have definitely heard of Massaman curry. It’s a staple curry from the region and often made with chicken, with beef and lamb not being far behind.

Massaman curry has a very interesting history to it. Also known as Matasaman curry, it is believed that this dish was introduced to Thailand by Persian merchants and soon became an integral part of the Thai Muslim cuisine. Infact, historical writers believe that the name Massaman could also have been originated from the word ‘Mussulman’ which is another word for Muslim. But there are many others who believe that it is more of a Southern Thai dish with influences of Malay and Indian cooking since the curry relies heavily on the use of spices and coconut.

Traditionally, this curry was always made using chicken given the Islamic dietary laws. Beef and mutton were also popular but hardly ever made with pork. But in the West, you can find all sorts of protein being used including pork. Personally, I prefer lamb or beef; hence I have made a Beef Massaman Curry today.

The recipe I have used today has been adapted from the Chin Chin cookbook (remember the copy I won for last year’s Social Feeds competition). The recipe is not just detailed out well but more importantly; there is also a recipe for making the Massaman curry paste from scratch. Now this paste is where the magic lies – a medley of spices and aromatics blended together to create a spicy, sweet and heavily aromatic blend.

Massaman Curry Paste - a spicy and highly aromatic curry paste from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Let me tell you straight ahead, this is not your ordinary quick fix weekday dinner. The Massaman Curry takes time, effort and a whole lotta love to make it from scratch. But believe me guys, it’s so worth it. And when you make the curry paste, make sure you prepare a larger quantity and freeze in small batches.

Coconut cream is another main component of the Massaman curry. Though I generally prefer to use homemade coconut milk, the weather at the moment made me quite lazy so I used store bought ones. Also look out for coconut cream rather than milk when you are buying for that thicker and creamier consistency.

The braising liquid for the beef is another crucial step for this dish. The meat is just so tender and once strained, this flavourful liquid becomes the stock for the curry. The whole recipe is about adding layer after layer of flavour to yield that rich, sweet and spicy curry that warms your souls and tummies.

Do not get put off by the long list of ingredients or steps involved. Prepare the curry paste one day ahead so that you have enough time on the day of cooking the curry. Substitute with lamb shanks or chicken or even mixed vegetables with tofu for a vegetarian version. Make it folks, I promise you will love it.

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

Massaman Curry Paste

(yields more than 2 cups)

  1. 60gms large dried red chillies, seeded; soaked in warm water and roughly chopped
  2. 1 medium red onion
  3. 1 ½ heads garlic
  4. 1 large galangal knob
  5. 3 stalks lemongrass (only the pale part)
  6. 4-5 coriander roots with a bit of stalk
  7. 60gms roasted peanuts
  8. 1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
  9. ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  10. ½ tbsp cloves
  11. ½ nutmeg
  12. 3/4th tbsp mace powder
  13. 1 large cassia/cinnamon bark
  14. 3 green cardamom

For the braising liquid:

  1. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 large knob galangal; roughly chopped
  3. 1 stalk lemongrass (pale part); roughly chopped
  4. 2 large red chillies; seeded and sliced
  5. ½ red onion; chopped
  6. 300ml coconut cream
  7. 2 cups water
  8. 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  9. 1/3 cup fish sauce
  10. 100gms palm sugar

For the curry:

  1. 1 kg beef (chuck steak); cut into 5-6 large pieces
  2. 1 cup kecap manis
  3. 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  4. 200ml coconut cream
  5. 5-6 tbsp massaman curry paste
  6. 2 shallots; diced
  7. 70gms pineapple; diced
  8. 1 tbsp palm sugar
  9. 2 tbsp fish sauce
  10. 2 large potatoes; boiled and cubed
  11. 1-2 tbsp tamarind water
  12. ½ cup toasted peanuts; crushed
  13. Crispy shallots; for garnish
  14. Coriander leaves; for garnish

Method:

Massaman curry paste:

  • Blitz the chillies, onion, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, roasted peanuts and coriander root to a coarse paste.
  • Grind the spices and add this to the paste along with a good pinch of salt.
  • Blitz again to get a smooth paste (you may need to add water).
  • Freeze in small batches.

To make the curry:

  • Marinate the beef pieces in kecap manis for a few hours or overnight.
  • Wipe off the excess sauce and keep aside to be braised.
  • To get the braising liquid going, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large vessel and add the onions, chilli, lemongrass and galangal. Cook to release the aromas for a couple of minutes and then coconut cream, water, stock, fish sauce and palm sugar.
  • Bring to boil and add the beef pieces to this. Cover and slow cook on the lowest heat possible till the beef has become really tender (took me about 1 ½ hours). Alternately, braise in the oven at 150°C till the meat is tender.
  • Meanwhile, 2 tbsp oil and coconut cream along with a good pinch of salt in another heavy based pan. As the cream separates and the oil starts to split, add the massaman curry paste and cook on high (with frequent stirring) for about 10 minutes. The aroma as the paste starts to cook is so aromatic. Reduce heat a bit and continue to cook the curry paste with frequent stirring till the oil starts to separate. Takes a fair bit of time so be patient.
  • Once the meat has cooked, allow the pieces to cool in the liquid, remove and cut into bite sized pieces. Strain the braising liquid and reserve the stock.
  • In another pan, heat the remaining oil and cook the shallots till golden. Add the pineapple pieces and continue to cook until it has softened and cooked out. Then add the palm sugar to get a caramel like mixture.
  • Add this to the curry paste and continue to cook till the oil starts to separate again. At this stage, add half of the strained braising liquid along with the fish sauce and tamarind water. Taste and season with salt if necessary; also balance out seasoning with fish sauce, tamarind water etc….
  • Add the boiled potatoes and the beef pieces and simmer on low heat. Add the remaining braising liquid and simmer till the meat and potatoes have warmed through.
  • To serve, spoon into a large bowl and garnish with crushed peanuts, crispy shallots and coriander leaves.

Massaman Curry - a sweet, spicy and highly aromatic curry from Thailand - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Andhra Egg Curry

I have begun to read a lot more cookbooks these days compared to a couple of years ago.

Earlier, cookbooks were like glossy magazines to me. Filled with mouthwatering, high quality images, a cookbook was only to gaze at and sigh. In fact it seemed like a distant, unknown world to me akin to reading a film or lifestyle magazine.

But this journey of food blogging has exposed me to the behind-the-scenes part of a cookbook. Today, I understand food in its entirety. Now when I read a cookbook, I try to find the author in every page of the book. What is the author trying to tell me through the book? What is his or her food philosophy? I am finally able to see the blood, sweat and tears that go into collating recipes, cooking all the food, styling, photographing, printing, publishing…..the whole journey flashes through my mind which makes me appreciate it and look much more beyond the glossy pictures.

Today’s recipe comes from a cookbook I have begun to admire much. ‘Indian Kitchen (Secrets of Indian Home Cooking)’ by Maunika Gowardhan is exactly my idea of an Indian cookbook. In fact, if anyone ever gave me an opportunity to create an Indian cuisine based book, it might look very similar to this one.

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Indian Kitchen is a perfect tribute to the vastness and rich culinary heritage of Indian cooking. The book does not focus on a single region; it showcases the gems (some forgotten ones) of traditional Indian cuisine from across the country. Maunika has picked out classics from every region and presented it to us in the most beautiful manner.

And according to me, the ultimate compliment you can give to a cookbook author is to actually cook from her book and that’s what today’s dish is all about.

The Andhra egg curry is one of the dishes featured in the Indian Kitchen. In spite of being quite familiar with the cuisine and flavours of this South Indian state, I have never made an egg curry from this region before. The final flavour of the dish was exactly as I imagined while reading through the ingredients.

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While I have followed the same recipe, adjustments have been made to quantities of spices and aromatics. And I would strongly urge you to do the same if you are trying out my recipe too since the flavours would depend a lot on the brand of spices and ingredients that is used.

Extremely flavourful and delicious, this Andhra egg curry is a wonderful accompaniment to steamed rice, rotis, naan, string hoppers, appams…..just about anything that can soak up the richness of the gravy.

And remember if you try out my recipes, I would be overjoyed to see the pictures and please tag using #thespiceadventuress so that I would not miss it.

Let’s get cooking this tangy, spicy, moreish Andhra style egg curry.

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Ingredients:

1. 8 eggs; hardboiled, peeled and halved
2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
3. 1 tsp black mustard seeds
4. 2 medium onions; finely chopped
5. 1 inch cinnamon bark
6. 3 green chillies; slit
7. 2 ½ large ripe tomatoes; finely chopped
8. 1 inch ginger; julienned
9. ½ tsp turmeric powder
10. ½ tsp red chilli powder
11. 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
12. 2 sprigs curry leaves
13. 1 tsp tamarind paste
14. 100 ml thick coconut milk
15. Salt, to season
16. 2-3 sprigs coriander leaves; finely chopped

Method:

• Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan; when hot, add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Add the onions and sauté on low to medium heat till light brown.
• Add the cinnamon and chillies; sauté for another minute or two. Then add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. Keep stirring to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom and sauté for another 4-5 minutes on low heat till the tomatoes are completely broken down and become a thick, mushy mixture.
• Add most of the sliced ginger (reserve a few for garnish) and all the powdered spices. Mix on low heat for another minute or till the mixture comes together and oil starts to leave the sides of the pan.
• Add the tamarind and one cup of water. Mix and bring to boil and simmer covered for two minutes. Next, add the curry leaves and thick coconut milk. Mix and continue to simmer on low heat for another minute.
• Season with salt and add the halved eggs. Stir gently so as not to break the eggs and simmer covered on the lowest heat for another 3-4 minutes.
• Garnish with chopped coriander and sliced ginger. Add slit green chillies also if you wish to.
• Serve warm.

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Lemon Cake

And I finally baked a cake!

There is a strange sense of excitement and fulfillment that I felt at the end of this baking exercise. Yes, I have made cupcakes before but not a traditional cake. In spite of having a mom who is a baking pro and in spite of having considerable experience assisting her in the baking process (my job was to hold the egg beater as she added one ingredient after the other creating fluffy, moist magic inside the bowl), I put off baking for the longest time possible.

There are a zillion recipes bookmarked in my baking folder but when I finally decided to do bake one, it had to be Cook Republic’s ‘lemon cake’.

Cook Republic is a brilliant food blog by Sneh Roy – a blogger, photographer and designer par excellence. I had shared my views about her cookbook, ‘Tasty Express’ on my social media channels recently and today’s lemon cake is one of her creations from the book.

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This lemon cake works brilliantly during the spring summer season when we all like to enjoy light and moist cakes. It is an extremely simple recipe to master especially for amateurs and beginners like me. Very few and basic ingredients, but loaded with flavour!

In spite of being a simple to follow recipe, I admit I stuffed it up the first time I made it. But that’s entirely my fault. The original recipe called for baking in a conventional oven at 180°C and Sneh has mentioned in the book that if you are using a fan forced oven, temperatures need to be reduced. But I completely missed it and so the first attempt did not turn out as moist as it should have been.

But the folly was soon rectified and the second time, it was a brilliant reproduction of Sneh’s original….and I did my little happy dance after tasting it.

I followed the recipe to a T, except for the lemon juice quantities which I reduced and also took care of the baking time and temperatures as I have a fan forced oven. Though Sneh has not used any buttercream icing for the cake, I did because I am a crazy buttercream lover. Just a basic vanilla icing to cover the cake very lightly. But believe me, you really do not need it….a dusting of icing sugar would do, as Sneh suggests in the book.

Do try and get your hands on a copy of Tasty Express; this lemon cake is just one of more than a hundred easy to make, brilliant recipes for everyday cooking.

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Here’s Sneh’s lemon cake, done my way! A summery, light and tangy affair……

Disclaimer – My pics or cake definitely do not look as gorgeous as Sneh’s but believe me, it tasted divine.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1. 125 gm butter, softened
2. 220 gm caster sugar
3. Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
4. 3 standard eggs (55 gms each)
5. 225 gms self raising flour
6. Juice of 1 lemon
7. 125 ml milk

For the buttercream:

1. 170 gms butter; softened
2. 300 gms powdered/icing sugar
3. 2-3 tbsp milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Note – This yield more buttercream than necessary. Either you can spread a thicker layer on the cake or hand over the bowl to your little one to lick!

Method:

To prepare the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan forced). If using a conventional oven, preheat to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the base of the tin with baking paper.
3. Using an electric mixer/beater, beat the softened butter, sugar and zest till creamy and fluffy.
4. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one to incorporate.
5. Sift the flour into the beaten mixture and add the juice of ½ lemon. Beat for a few seconds to incorporate (just a few seconds!). Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
6. And finally, add the milk and beat for a few more seconds till incorporated.
7. Pour the cake batter into the tin and tap gently to settle the batter evenly in the tin.
8. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Make sure you check the cake after 30 minutes. Insert a skewer to check of the cake has cooked through and then bake more if necessary. If you find that the top of the cake is browning faster but not cooked inside, then reduce the temperature and bake further.
9. Stand in the tin for 5 minutes and turn onto a wire rack or cake stand to cool further.
10. Serve warm dusted with icing sugar or cool with buttercream icing like I did.

To prepare the buttercream:

1. Sift the sugar to ensure there are no lumps.
2. Using a hand/electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and fluffy. This will take at least 5-6 minutes or more by an electric mixer so be patient and let the mixer do its work.
3. Add ½ cup sugar, first mix on low speed and then on high till the sugar is fully incorporated. Continue until all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly with the butter.
4. Then add the vanilla extract; beat further till incorporated.
5. Add 1 tbsp of milk to fluff up the mixture. The texture of the cream is a personal choice so if you prefer a thick cream, then add just a tbsp but if you prefer a softer and more wet cream, then you can add more milk.

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Lychee and Cardamom Bellini

2015 has been an absolutely rocking year for me so far. There have been so many unique experiences to add to my book of memories. And today I am going to share one such experience with all of you.

Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to attend a ‘Spice and Wine’ Masterclass held as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Chef Adam D’Sylva of Tonka and Shashi Singh of Avani Wines took us through a learning process on how to pair and match wines with Indian spices and flavours.

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All of us who attended the event were encouraged to participate in the #socialfeeds cookbook competition hosted by Bank of Melbourne who was the official sponsor of the festival. I can’t seem to turn down any challenge these days and to cut a long story short, one of my recipes was chosen as a winner in the contest. And that meant, my winning dish gets to be featured in an e-cookbook curated by none other than Chef Benjamin Cooper of Chin Chin. The book is a first of its kind featuring recipes from home cooks across Victoria and is a beautiful showcase of how important food is to Australia and drawing inspiration from the multicultural vibe of this country.

(My winning dish was Fish Mappas – a traditional seafood preparation from the backwaters of Kerala, India which I am sure many of you have already seen on the blog. If you would like to download this ebook, just visit here. It’s free!)

Apart from this, there was another special prize….a copy of ‘Chin Chin – the Book’ by Benjamin Cooper. A collection of amazing recipes from Chin Chin, with a lot of detailed information on basic Thai cooking like making curry pastes and broths from scratch.

chin chin

This cookbook is going to be a much treasured one, not just for the beautiful memories now associated with it but also because I finally get to learn how to make these curry pastes from scratch, a long cherished culinary activity I have wanted to indulge in.

But today we are not having a Thai curry although the weather is just perfect for it. The cocktails included in this book were rather fascinating and so today, we are making a simple Bellini with Asian flavours.
Cocktail lovers would know this one for sure; for all others, Bellini is an Italian cocktail traditionally made using peach nectar and Prosecco sparkling wine.

But instead of using peach, today we have a Lychee and Cardamom Bellini. As far as cocktails go, I fall in the ‘rarely make and often drink’ category. So this Bellini was exciting as it was a very simple recipe with easy to find ingredients and hardly require any bar accessory as such. A simple blender would do the job!

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A very refreshing drink and one more suited for the summery months; but I don’t mind drinking this all year through. The sparkling freshness of the Prosecco, tangy sweetness from the lychee sugar syrup and just that hint of spice from the cardamom….this Lychee and Cardamom Bellini is just gorgeous.

Even though my photographs don’t do any justice to the actual drink, I strongly urge you to give it a go if you are a wine drinker.

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Ingredients:

(To make 1 drink)

1. 30ml lychee and cardamom syrup
2. 90ml Prosecco
3. Lemon slice/twist, finely cut; to garnish
4. Lychee, to garnish

For the syrup:

(Makes enough syrup for 10-12 drinks)

5. 250gm white sugar
6. 5 cardamom pods
7. 1 can lychees

Method:

To make the syrup:

1. Heat 250ml warm water and 250gm sugar in a pan. As it starts to boil, crush the cardamom pods and add to it. Continue to heat till the syrup turns aromatic and turns a shade or two darker (should take approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove and allow to cool.
2. Blend one can of lychees along with its syrup till smooth.
3. Combine equal quantities of the sugar syrup with the lychees to get the lychee cardamom syrup.
4. Store in a bottle and refrigerate; use as necessary.

To make the Bellini:

5. In a champagne glass, pour 30ml of the lychee cardamom syrup and then gently top with the Prosecco.
6. Garnish with a lychee and lemon twist.

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The F-Word by Mita Kapur – a Review

One of the best cookbooks I have read so far……

I don’t claim to have a great knowledge of cookbooks nor do I have a library full of them. But I have read quite a few of these to arrive at the above conclusion.

The F-Word by Mita Kapur is a food lover’s dream come true, especially more if you love to read. It is a treasure house of recipes, each one better than the other and I have cooked a lot from this book by now.

The F-Word by Mita Kapur - a detailed review on thespiceadventuress.com

 

Mita Kapur is a freelance journalist and a well known member of the Indian literary scene. Also the founder of Siyahi, an organization responsible behind many literary festivals both in the country and abroad. Mita’s unique way with words is perfectly captured in this book which beautifully showcases her relationship with food and its importance in an Indian household.

If you are an Indian or understand the workings of a large, joint Indian family, you will enjoy this book more because the book unfolds as a story of Mita’s and her family’s everyday life, the food they cook and eat, the experiences they enjoy etc….By the end of the book, you would have formed a personal connection with each member of her family, it’s as if you have always known them.

With plenty of humorous anecdotes and witty comments, Mita brings out her family’s love and craze for food. The book is a joy to read, often bringing a smile to your lips and sometimes, making you burst out into laughter. A very good exercise!

The recipes are from around the globe, so this book is a keeper for everyone. Unlike most cookbooks, there aren’t any fancy pictures or glossy photographs. Instead, there are plenty of illustrations and doodles by Prabha Mallya which adds a shine to the book. Very refreshing!

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The book, from beginning to end, is a riot; a chaotic celebration of food at its finest. There is a recipe for everyone in this book, from traditional Indian ones to fusion to global cuisines; food is celebrated with pomp and gaiety in The F-Word.

Divided into nine chapters, with interesting titles like ‘Papad, Peanuts or Pepperoni’ and ‘Steaming Hot and Subtly Flavoured’ to name a few, this cookbook is sheer culinary delight and a food lover’s dream come true. While the chapters do have a central theme, there are plenty of cross over recipes to keep the story interesting.

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One of the recipes that I have tried from this book is the Malai Kebabs. And I cannot stop gushing about it. Thoroughly enjoyed by my family and a great conversation starter at any party at home, this recipe is now part of my blog also. Find my version, here.

Malai Kebab (Minced Chicken Patties cooked in Spices, Aromatics and Cream) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Well, I could go on and on about this book but then that would spoil your experience of discovering it for yourself. So head to your nearest book store or get one online. Like I mentioned before, this one’s a keeper.

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Malai Kebab (Minced Chicken Patties cooked in Spices, Aromatics and Cream)

When the head’s gone blank and you have no clue how to start a conversation, you talk about the weather. And that’s what I am going to do…..

Summer is almost over; it was a peek-a-boo show this year which was rather disappointing. The cold, winds and rain are almost setting in which deports me to a hibernous mental state. I have started craving for hot, spicy food; my fiery curries, rich stews and all things warming.

Having readers from around the globe is a heady feeling but a lot of work. Often, I have to keep in mind the climate of the rest of the world and try to put up recipes and dishes that would suit them too.

And since summer has not hit hard yet, these malai kebabs are perfect as these are rich and heavy, drenched in cream, spices and a whole lot of deliciousness.

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The recipe for this Malai Kebab comes from one of the best cookbooks I have read in my lifetime – The F-Word by Mita Kapur. The only cookbook from which I would cook every single day of my life. The book is a beautiful narrative of the culinary adventures of Mrs. Kapur and her family, the food they like to eat and cook daily in their home. A review of this book will soon follow, so I am not saying more here.

Tikka, Kebab…the name is much interchanged these days. History states that kebabs first came into being during the Ottoman times when travelling soldiers used to roast chunks of meat on their swords over the fire; this continued till someone invented skewers thus making this dish a household one. And with time, the kebabs travelled to the Mughal kitchens where minced meat began to be used instead of chunks of meat for the old, toothless emperors and this came to be called tikkis or tikkas. But today, it is much interchanged and you simply cannot go by the name.

Any type of meat can be used for the kebabs, though lamb is used traditionally. I decided to go with chicken for its mass appeal. Good quality mince would make a lot of difference to the texture of the kebabs, which should ideally be melt-in-the-mouth. So select the boneless chicken pieces and ask your butcher to mince it separately for you.
To prepare these malai kebabs, you need to make the flavourful patties first resplendent with aromatics and spices; followed by drenching it in sour cream and finished off with chillies and coriander.

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Delicious and indulgent; these malai kebabs are definitely conversation starters!

Ingredients:

1. 250 gm chicken mince
2. 1 slice white bread, soaked in milk
3. ½ onion, finely chopped
4. 2 green chillies, finely chopped
5. ½ tsp red chilli powder
6. ½ tsp garam masala
7. 1 tsp coriander powder
8. ½ egg
9. 1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
10. ½ inch ginger, finely chopped
11. Salt, to season
12. Plain flour, optional
13. Ghee/clarified butter, for shallow frying the patties/kebabs
14. 150ml sour cream
15. ¼ tsp garam masala
16. ½ tsp red chilli powder
17. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
18. 1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

Note – With the above proportions, this dish is medium spicy; so adjust the quantity of spices and chillies to suit individual taste.

Method:

1. Mix the first 11 ingredients and knead the mince well till combined. Divide into equal parts and shape the mince into roundish, flat cakes and keep aside. The mixture will be slightly wet and if shaping is an issue, dust the cakes in plain flour. But this is optional; I did not use the flour.
2. Heat ghee in a flat non-stick pan and shallow fry the kebabs till browned on either side. Make sure to turn over only after one side is done well to prevent breaking. Drain on kitchen paper.
3. In the same pan, add the sour cream, garam masala and red chilli powder. Place the kebabs carefully back in the pan and cook covered on low heat for about 6-8 minutes, turning once in between. Season with salt if necessary.
4. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped green chillies and coriander just before serving.
5. Eat this hot!

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Murgh Dahi Kebab with Spicy Mint Pesto

Ever since I became a food blogger, I have been on a cookbook winning spree. I am not particularly sure how this happens, but I seem to win most giveaways I enter especially if the prize features a cookbook. And I must say, it’s quite a pleasurable thing; building up my cookbook library!

One of the first ones I received is a copy of the cookbook,‘Around the World with the Tadka Girls’ by Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam. These beautiful and spirited girls are the faces behind Tadka Pasta, where you can find a large repertoire of fusion recipes.

I won this cookbook as part of a giveaway hosted by ‘My Diverse Kitchen.’ Thanks a lot Aparna for the opportunity and sorry for blogging about it so late. Since the contest was open only for those with an Indian address, the book was shipped to my home back in India and it took a considerable time to get it to Melbourne.

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A bit about the book; it is a simple cookbook with a bunch of well tested recipes and a lot of fusion twists. What strikes one immediately is the humbleness of the book and the passion of the authors. It is not one of those fancy coffee table cookbooks with glossy photographs but one that prompts you to cook from it every single day.

One of the recipes I tried out from the book and especially loved are these Murgh Dahi Kebabs which I served a la burger style with Spicy Mint Pesto.

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There is a bit of history about the origins of this dish in the book. The use of yoghurt or thick curds to flavour and tenderize the meat is an ancient Middle Eastern practice which arrived in India too. Whether it is Turkey, Athens or Rajasthan, you will find dahi kebabs a prominent feature with variations according to the region.

In India, hung curd is used which is a thick, creamier version to the regular yoghurt/curd. A very easy procedure which can be done right at home, hung curd adds the rich, creamy and delicious texture and flavour to the chicken kebabs.

In this recipe, there is of course the tadka twist which is the addition of a medley of Indian spices to the chicken mince and hung curd. The kebabs are succulent and you can serve it as a starter or in a burger format like I did with a spicy mint pesto.

Coriander mint chutney is the traditional Indian accompaniment to these Murgh dahi kebabs but of course, inspired by the tadka girls, I also ended up with a twist of my own. Delicious, fresh pesto flavoured with mint and a hint of chilli is perfect with these juicy kebabs.

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Recipe for spicy mint pesto adapted from here.

Ingredients:

For the hung curd:

1. 2 cups regular yoghurt/curd
2. Cheesecloth

For the kebabs:

3. 400gms chicken mince
4. 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
5. 1 cup fresh mint leaves
6. 2 spring onions
7. 5 green chillies
8. ½ cup hung curd
9. 1 tsp cumin powder
10. ½ tsp garam masala
11. ½ tsp black pepper powder
12. ½ tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
13. Salt, to season
14. 1 tsp vegetable oil
15. Vegetable oil, for shallow frying


For the mint pesto:

16. 2 tbsp. toasted pinon nuts (pine nuts)
17. 1 cup packed mint leaves
18. ¼ cup olive oil
19. Juice from one lime
20. 1 raw garlic clove
21. 1 tbsp. minced onion
22. 1 tsp honey
23. ½ tsp. red chilli flakes
24. Salt, to season

Method:


To prepare hung curd:

• Line a cheesecloth in a bowl and add 2 cups of yoghurt/curd into it. Gather the sides of the cloth into a bundle, knot at the top and hang to let the excess whey drain out, for at least 6-8 hours or overnight. Since it was cold here, I let the cloth hang over my sink; you could place it in your refrigerator too, especially if keeping overnight.


To prepare kebabs:

• Finely chop ingredients 4-7 in a processor or by hand.
• In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil and sauté the chopped ingredients for just a minute.
• Add this to the chicken mince along with hung curd and the spices. Season with salt.
• Mix well and shape into small patties. Keep aside or refrigerated till it’s time to cook.
• In a flat pan, heat oil and shallow fry the kebabs till done.


To prepare pesto:

• Lightly toast the pine nuts.
• Put all mint pesto ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.
• Transfer to a serving container and refrigerator until ready to use.

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These Murgh dahi kebabs can be served as a starter with this spicy mint pesto dip. Or serve it in a burger style with the kebabs inside a bun and spoon over the mint pesto.

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The Joy of Turning One + a Giveaway

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear spice adventuress, happy birthday to me….

The Spice Adventuress has turned one…and I am on cloud nine! Yay……

The past one year has been the most tumultuous but the best phase of my life, or rather a close second (the first was when I became a mother). Leaving behind family, friends and all things familiar to migrate to a new country, set up home yet again and start a blog…..

I know many of the fellow bloggers would identify with me when I say, starting a blog was like my destiny…it was not a planned event, it just happened. And nothing has bought me more joy and happiness than watching my blog grow from strength to strength.

Initially, this space was just a hobby but then it has grown into my career today. ‘The Spice Adventuress’ has opened so many different avenues for me, some of which I thought impossible till last year. An opportunity to become a journalist for a leading Indo-Aus magazine, to write for many websites and also the opportunity to work with several different companies and brands.

There have been many trying moments when I doubted myself and my ability to carry this forward. Sometimes, I went into the ‘comparison mode’ when I would compare myself with other successful bloggers; this only led to despair and dejection. But somehow, my will to succeed and my readiness to work hard have bought me out of each difficult moment. It wouldn’t be wrong to say, I have worked my butt off the past year and I know I will continue to do so for many more years to come.

Blogging has also introduced me to so many people, helped me find new friends and fuelled my desire to learn about new cultures and cuisines. I take a moment here to thank all my readers, fellow bloggers and friends – the kind words of support and encouragement that each one of you have given me has made this journey worthwhile.

And before we get to the giveaway part, I would like to share another bit of great news that has re-affirmed the faith that my blog and culinary career was meant to be…..it might have been an accident from my perspective but I believe it has been a part of God’s plan for me all along the way.

I recently won the #bonus prize hosted by The Good Guys in association with Breville Australia. It was held as a Facebook competition a month ago and this is the prize pack I won…speechless and totally blessed!

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To say that I have fallen in love with these gadgets would be an understatement. I am awestruck; the quality is amazing and I am not saying this because I won it. If you are planning to purchase any of these kitchen appliances, then you definitely need to check out Breville and if you live in Australia, then Good Guys is the place to go for the best deal. Once again, not promoting anyone here but I am truly impressed.

Now it is time for the giveaway!

As a token of thanks to all my readers and subscribers, I am giving away a cookbook, ‘ASIAN cooking companion’. This book is a comprehensive and reference guide to the different Asian cuisines, ingredients, equipments and techniques. There are plenty of recipes to choose from, both traditional and modern fusion.

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This book will be a delight for those who are interested in Asian cuisine but not really confident to cook it at home. With detailed explanations of the different utensils, cooking techniques, preparation of ingredients etc…,this book is a beginner’s delight. And if you are already a pro, then this book offers you a range of recipes to choose from.

There is an entire section dedicated to sushi, selection of ingredients, preparation techniques and quite a few innovative ways of making sushi at home. But for me, the best part of the book is at its end…a selection of basic sauces, pastes and spice marinades to stock up your pantry which will make cooking Asian food a breeze.

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Ok…so the rules are simple; all you need to do is ‘like’ my Facebook page and subscribe to my blog using your email id. And after you have done both, please drop me a comment below with your name so that I know you have entered. The competition will run for two weeks and the winner will be announced on 25th September, 2014. This is a worldwide competition as my subscribers are from all across the globe.

So put on your lucky caps and take part in this special giveaway. And don’t forget to invite your friends too.

Traditional Arabic Cooking – Miriam Al Hashimi

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A cookbook review and this time, it is a cuisine that’s always held a soft spot for me – Arabic cooking.

Even though I am an Indian by birth, I spent a rather large chunk of my childhood in Sharjah (an emirate in U.A.E). Food at home was largely Indian, but there were a few Arabian delicacies that were a part of our daily diet – hummus, shawarma, kubbuiz, pita breads, grilled meat skewers, Arabian dates and desserts.

When I started cooking and experimenting with world cuisine, it was Arab or Middle Eastern cuisine that excited me the most. Guess it’s those deep rooted memories associated with my childhood or the fact that I still call UAE my home. From a culinary perspective, it is one of the earliest cuisines with a rich legacy and the influences of this cuisine have touched almost every other nation on Earth. It is also a completely balanced and healthy cuisine.

This cookbook is a dictionary of traditional Arab cooking. Featuring 200+ recipes, the book is a knowledge storehouse for those who like to delve into the history of this age old cuisine and learn more about traditional Arab preparations. Like I already mentioned, the influences of Arab cuisine has left a mark on the world culinary map since the Arabs were the original traders and seafarers visiting and trading with most of the world especially India, Orient and Meditteranean Europe.

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If you love to bake, there are plenty of recipes for making traditional breads and pastries…

The book contains a varied selection of recipes, both simple and complex. Almost all of these dishes can be found in any Arab household; while some are simple everyday fare, others are prepared during banquets, celebrations and festivals.

This is a no-nonsense cookbook – no flowery language or highly digitalized, carefully styled photographs. There are many pictures, which like the recipes are real and rooted in the traditional way of Arab life. This cookbook is for those who want have a serious and in depth understanding of this cuisine and experiment with traditional Arab cooking at home.

Published in 1993, the book is divided into categories based on courses as well as ingredients. I have been trying out quite a few recipes from this book over the past 2 months and will soon be sharing some with all of you.

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Not a fancy coffee table cookbook, but one that must be a part of your archived collection – truly worthy of passing on to future generations.

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