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Tag Archives: healthy

August Favourites

What a month!

Most of you would have heard about the Kerala floods situation. While floods or natural disasters are not uncommon in the world we live in, you realize the scale of devastation and trail of destruction it leaves behind only when it strikes so close to home.

While my immediate family was spared the misery, there were plenty of friends and family who were affected badly. Communication with loved ones became the most difficult thing as many houses and regions were cut off due to the flooding.

There cannot be anything positive when disaster strikes, but the fact that the community came out to help each other was an encouraging one. A sheer testimony to the power of humanity in the face of adversity.

The worst is behind us now but the path of rehabilitation and progress is going to be a slow one for God’s own country.

Banana tree, Kerala - thespiceadventuress.com

Getting onto other topics, a lot of you had messaged me about this Khichdi recipe and how you have been enjoying it immensely. It’s one of my favourites too as it’s a hearty, delicious and super healthy one pot meal.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

As September is almost here, the kiddo is getting excited about his term hols and we have already started planning activities, workshops, play dates and events to attend. One of the events that we are most looking forward to is the Jurassic Creatures.

It’s an interactive walk through event exploring the world of animatronic dinosaurs. With plenty of related activities, sand art, fossil displays, interactive set ups, this is going to be fun for the young and old alike. Jurassic Creatures will run at St Kilda Triangle (adjacent to Palais Theatre) from 15 September – 14 October 2018. So don’t forget to book your tickets soon.

Jurassic Creatures - Melbourne

Well, it’s time to bid adieu but not without sharing all my other favorites for the month. Enjoy reading!

Time for a Whiskey Sour. Cheers!

And if you are into cocktails, then check out these gorgeous glasses.

This Thai style rice soup sounds so hearty and comforting.

Not a big fan of the classic shrimp cocktail but I think infusing Mexican flavours is the secret.

Summer is gonna be here soon and I am saving up all the chicken wings recipes that come my way, starting with this one.

Clam toasts for breakfast! I could eat this everyday….

This is what a summer salad should look like

Speaking of summer, I need to invest in a couple of these dispensers.

This South Indian chicken curry has given me the drools.

Have you tried a beer can chicken before?

Planning any trips to Vietnam? Then you need to read this street food guide.

I love the idea of kitchen islands; adds so much character to the kitchen and can be customized to suit every space.

I can spend hours looking at rugs online; yet a bit crazy but I totally love this one. What do you think?

 

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Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes)

Banana bread is one of the most forgiving recipes that I know, especially since I am a novice in the baking department.

It does not require the exacting measurements or baking knowledge that is required to bake most other desserts, cakes etc…. But having said that, there are good and bad banana breads.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you do not like banana bread, then chances are you have had the not so desirable ones that are sold at most generic cafes. It was the same for all the three of us which put me off baking it for a very long time. But as I started seeing a lot of my friends and favourite bloggers sharing so many different styles of banana bread, I realised that there is more to this recipe.

So began the experiments trying out various recipes to get one that we enjoyed best. There was no dearth of over ripe bananas in the house. By weekend, there are always a couple that has begun to look way too brownish for my son to eat and the only way I used to finish it off was in smoothies and milkshakes.

And overripe bananas are exactly what you need for this bread.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Though named so, banana bread is a cross between bread and cake drawing inspiration from both baking techniques.

The decision to add vegemite was almost last minute. We are not big fans of vegemite but there is a small bottle in my pantry that I use occasionally to experiment and create recipes that incorporates the flavour and nutritional components of vegemite without being too obvious in the smell department. Just can’t stand that!

One good example of this would be the Vegemite roast chicken that’s quite popular in our home.

As I tasted the banana bread batter, I thought it could do with another ingredient to sort of intensify the flavours and suddenly vegemite came to mind. Added a little bit to the batter and I really liked the richer, almost caramel kind of flavour that I decided to go ahead with it. And boy, it did turn out delicious.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

If you have vegemite at home, then by all means use it; I promise you won’t be disappointed. But if you don’t, then omit it and go ahead with the batter as such or you incorporate other flavours like chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, peanut butter etc….

Ingredients:

  1. 3 medium sized ripe bananas
  2. 2 tbsp whole milk
  3. 3 eggs (room temperature)
  4. 80 gms unsalted butter (melted)
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. 1 cup raw sugar
  7. 1 tbsp vegemite
  8. 2 cups plain flour
  9. 2 tsp baking powder
  10. Almond flakes

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced).
  2. Grease a loaf pan with butter or oil spray and then line with baking paper.
  3. In a large glass bowl, add the bananas and mash well with a fork. Then add the melted butter, sugar, milk, vegemite and eggs. Use a whisk or hand held beater to mix all the ingredients.
  4. In another bowl, sift the flour along with baking powder. Add a pinch of salt to this and mix.
  5. Add the flour to the banana mixture and fold in gently till all the whole batter gets combined well.
  6. Pour into the loaf pan and line the top with almond flakes.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes or till done (insert a skewer through the centre of the loaf; the skewer will come out clean if done).
  8. Cool before removing from the loaf pan.
  9. Slice and serve with butter.

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Banana Bread (with Vegemite and Almond Flakes) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Wonton Soup

Anthony Bourdain is no more.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think that this is the way I would pay tribute to him on my blog. I have always wanted to write about Bourdain, his books, travels, shows and the stories of food cultures that he bought into our lives. But somehow I never put those thoughts to paper and now this….

It’s been an incredibly hard one to digest.

I have never been so profoundly distressed about someone’s death, especially someone who has not been a part of my personal or real life. He was not family or a friend, just a celebrity I watched on TV, so I couldn’t even fathom why I experienced that numbing ache, that overwhelming sense of sadness that sits heavy in my chest everytime I think of it.

But the truth is that he was one of those rare souls who had touched my life (and I realise so many others too) at a much deeper level.

Yes, Bourdain was all about the food, travel and culture. At least that’s how I identified with his books and shows initially. All the more, because I have always been an advocate for food…without borders, a belief or philosophy on which my blog has been founded too.

But as I got to read and watch him more, I realised that I connect with him so deeply because of our inherent restless, angry souls. His journey has been so different to mine yet somewhere I felt a sense of ‘this guy gets what I feel’ most of the time.

A restlessness to explore the world through food…..he did it through his travels; I do it through this blog. And sometimes that passion can be a burden too, because you are often misunderstood. I remember reading somewhere that most of his friends couldn’t get his relentless need to talk about food and cultures which made conversations difficult at times. And that’s a feeling I totally relate to; people around who simply can’t get my passion or think I am not doing anything worthwhile with my life.

There’s been much discussion about mental health, depression etc…. in the online world after his death but I am not going to talk about it. Not because I don’t think it’s important; because today I want to remember him again only for his love for travel and respect for food and cultures.

And I know these few lines can never completely convey the respect I have for Bourdain’s work….

Let’s get back to today’s recipe.

Dumplings, dimsims, wontons…we are just crazy about these at home. Steamed, pan fried, deep fried, we love it in all forms. But one of my personal favourites especially during winter is the wonton soup.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

I order it a lot while eating out at Asian restaurants but this time, I wanted to make it at home. I am not a pro when it comes to shaping wontons so I just followed this video which was really informative.

Not a complicated recipe at all but a tad bit time consuming making the wontons. But it was totally worth it as I made enough to freeze for another comforting weeknight dinner.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

The broth is light and simple but really flavourful and the only way to get that is to use a really good quality stock, store bought or homemade. I added the long red chillies (less heat), plenty of garlic and ginger along with soy and sesame oil to get a well balanced and moreish broth. I could just drink this broth all day long…..

This chicken wonton soup is like a hug in a bowl. It only takes minutes to prepare the broth and the wontons are boiled in the broth itself. I also added some bok choy at the end to finish off. You can add mushrooms, radish or any vegetables/greens of your choice. I wanted it to be all about the wontons, hence kept it simple.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Fix Feast Flair

Ingredients:

For the wontons:

(Makes 50 wontons; makes extra which is suitable for freezing)

  1. 50 Wonton wrappers
  2. 500 gms chicken mince
  3. 2 spring onions (only bulb); finely chopped
  4. 2 large garlic cloves; grated
  5. 1 ½ tbsp hoisin sauce
  6. ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  7. 1 tbsp sriracha
  8. ½ tsp black pepper powder
  9. Salt, to season

For the broth:

  1. 1 litre chicken stock
  2. 1 large red chilli (less heat variety)
  3. 5 -6 ginger slices
  4. 2 garlic cloves; finely sliced
  5. 2 tbsp soy sauce
  6. ½ tsp sesame oil
  7. ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
  8. 1 bunch bok choy (ends trimmed and leaves separated)

Method:

To make the wontons:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the chicken mince, onions, garlic, hoisin, oyster, sriracha, pepper and salt. Mix well to combine and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  2. For making the wontons, check out this video. I made the tortellini shaped ones since it was the easiest and most preferred one for me. To create this, place about 1 ½ tsp chicken mixture in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Wet the tip of your finger in a small bowl of water and run along the edges of one half of the wrapper. Fold the wet edges over to the dry edges to get a triangle shape and press to seal. Next tuck in the two edges towards each other to get the tortellini shape.
  3. Prepare all the wontons and keep stored in an airtight container. The wontons can dry out fast so place in the container as you make each one.
  4. To make the soup broth, add the stock to a large pan. Next add the chillies, sliced ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Bring to boil and add the required number of wontons. Cook for 4 minutes; then add the bok choy and cook for one more minute.
  5. Serve immediately.

Note – The broth is best made fresh, but if you intend to store it, then remove the ginger slices before doing so or it could turn slightly bitter on sitting.

Chicken Wonton Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Moroccan Carrot Soup

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

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

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

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

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

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

Potato and Parsnip Soup

Beer and Cheddar Soup

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup with Brown Mushrooms

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

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

To garnish:

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

Method:

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

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie

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

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

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

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

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

A Berrylicious Oats Smoothie - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens

Khichdi – the comfort food of one half of the Indian population!

I say this specifically because khichdi is not a dish that is popular in my hometown, Kerala. And hence I was not aware of its existence for a very long time.

My first tryst with khichdi happened somewhere along the Pune-Mahabaleshwar route. We were living in Pune at that time and were visiting the hill station when we stopped at a roadside dhaba for a quick meal. Sam suggested that I try the khichdi (he had already developed a taste for it, thanks to his office mates) and hesitatingly I did. But oh boy, it was a revelation.

The rich, spicy, almost creamy consistency of rice and lentils with that generous drizzle of ghee made my tastebuds sing with joy.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

And while I consumed many plates of khichdi during my stay in Pune, I never ventured to cook it in my kitchen till about 2 years ago.

I think it’s the memory of that taste that encouraged me to make a khichdi at home. It’s no rocket science, but often we need a motivation or purpose to try out something new.

At its heart, a khichdi is nothing but rice and lentils cooked together, mashed and then tempered with spices. But that tempering is what makes all the difference. It can be as simple or as complex as you want and in my opinion, the whole flavour profile of the khichdi depends on it.

My version of the khichdi is not the most traditional but neither a fusion. It is perhaps an amalgamation of various styles based on flavours and spices that I like best.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi is an extremely healthy dish because of its powerful combination of carbs and proteins. Usually prepared with just one type of lentils, but my version has a mixture of lentils and pulses along with some sort of greens like spinach, fenugreek or even carrot greens, as I have done today.

You can either make a mix of the lentils from what you have at home or pick up a packet of the soup mix like I do. Or use just one type of lentil; it’s totally your wish. When using a soup mix, it’s best to soak it overnight so that the cooking process is much faster.

How many of you use carrot greens as an ingredient? It has gained a lot of attention with the raw food movement and is often found as an ingredient in salads, pesto etc…. But I also love to use it in my dal (lentil) preparations just the way I would use spinach. Beetroot leaves can also be used this way but needs to be cooked more than the carrot greens.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I pressure cook the lentils and rice for time constraints, I always slow cook for a good 15-20 minutes after adding the tempering. A bit of extra time only helps intensify the flavours which I really want from my plate of khichdi. And a final drizzle of hot ghee is an absolute must!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup mixed lentils; washed and soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup medium grain white rice
  3. Carrot greens (I used the greens from 4 small carrots); chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Ghee/clarified butter; for serving
  6. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. For tempering:
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway/shahi jeera seeds
  • 2 dry red chilli
  • 3 large shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 large ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ inch piece of jaggery or ½ tsp raw sugar

Method:

  1. Wash the soaked lentils and rice together. Add to a pressure cooker or deep bottom pan and cook well with enough water (remember to season with a pinch of salt). The lentils and rice must be cooked enough to be able to mash well.
  2. In another pan, heat ghee and oil; add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  3. Then add the cumin and caraway seeds; as it begins to crackle, add the dry chillies and shallots and sauté till softened.
  4. Then add the garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have turned light brown.
  5. Next add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes have softened and turned mushy.
  6. Then add all the spice powders and jaggery; sauté till the whole masala comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides.
  7. Meanwhile mash the lentils and rice using the back end of a ladle or potato masher.
  8. Add the chopped greens along with the masala to the lentils and mix well; season with salt if necessary.
  9. Add more water if necessary and cook on the low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish off with the chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve warm with a drizzle of ghee on top.
  12. Tuck in!

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil)

It’s a beautiful, bright and sunny day today!

I smile as I write this because it’s technically autumn but today feels like a perfect spring day. And I know the cold days are just round the corner so I am glad to soak in the sun while it lasts. (A quick look at the forecast tells me not to get excited as it’s all rain and chills the rest of the week).

Weather plays such an important role in my mood, especially after moving here. While in India, there was only the intense heat to battle but here, it’s all the different seasons and with Melbourne being a little crazy on the weather front; it has been a long journey learning how to deal with it from wearing the right clothes, eating the right food and planning our everyday life around it.

But I think I can say that I seem to have adjusted well. While the changing seasons still has an effect on my overall mood, I don’t get too worked up about it instead learning to embrace and enjoy the beauty of each season.

And that brings us to today’s recipe.

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

Soups are one of my favourite categories of dishes to make during autumn and winter. It’s warm, hearty and comforting with minimal effort. It’s a really easy dinner, makes excellent leftovers and a great way to try out new veggies. Like parsnip, in my case.

I think the only reason why I have never cooked with parsnip before is unfamiliarity. It’s not a common one in South India, so I have never really tasted it before. Hence, it’s not a veggie I reached out for while shopping. In fact, as I pick up the carrots often placed nearby, I make a mental note to check out a recipe and then buy it; but that has never happened too.

This time I was determined to get parsnip and though there were many recipes that I had bookmarked, I wanted something familiar hence opted for this soup. This potato soup is one I make often so adding parsnip too seemed like a good idea, at least the first attempt wouldn’t be disastrous.

But this potato and parsnip soup turned out to be no disaster. Instead it quickly became one of our favourite soups for the season, especially with that really moreish, savoury addition of bacon and chilli oil.

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yes, you heard it right…chilli oil! Not just for dumplings, it’s one of my favourite toppings for soups, stews, just about anything. I love that spice hit, a depth of flavour that cannot be explained in words. Well I don’t make the chilli oil myself; it’s so easy to get at any Asian grocer or supermarket. And the crispy prawn ones are the best!

If you prefer to make a vegetarian version, skip the bacon and chilli oil; instead add bread croutons and a dash of Tabasco or sriracha if you like the spice kick.

I prefer not to use cream, instead always use a dash of milk to lend that sweet creaminess to the soup.

So let’s get cooking Potato and Parsnip Soup with bacon and chilli oil. I am sure you are going to make it plenty during the coming months….

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 2 large potatoes; skin peeled and diced
  2. 2 parsnips; skin peeled and diced
  3. 1 medium onion; chopped
  4. 1 garlic clove; crushed
  5. 2 tbsp butter
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 5 thyme sprigs (including garnish)
  8. 1 litre vegetable stock (chicken stock works great too)
  9. 150ml milk
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Black pepper; to season
  12. 150gms bacon; finely chopped
  13. Chilli oil (I used crispy prawn head chilli oil)

Method:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat the oil and butter. Add the garlic and onions; sauté till the onions are softened.
  2. Then add the potatoes, parsnip and 3 thyme sprigs; mix well to combine and add the stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat and cook covered till the veggies are cooked well and mushy.
  3. Once the veggies are cooked, turn off heat and allow to cool lightly before blending the whole mixture.
  4. Return to heat and add the milk; taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. In another pan, add the chopped bacon and sauté on low heat till crispy. No extra oil is required as the bacon releases enough oil.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with bacon, chilli oil and thyme.
  7. Enjoy to your heart’s content.

Potato and Parsnip Soup (with Bacon and Chilli Oil) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties)

Snacks are a big thing in our home, not store bought but homemade ones that are devoured with much gusto after the boys get back home from school and work.

Snacks are also an important part of every party we hold at home, because we really love the sit down, relaxed, course by course dinner over the buffet style anyday. Hence there are plenty of recipes on my blog for this category but I realised that somehow there aren’t many vegetarian options in the list.

And I often get requests from friends asking for vegetarian snack or appetizer recipes which got me thinking that I need to make more of these. And that’s how these chickpea tikkis happened.

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chickpea is a popular ingredient worldwide, amongst all cuisines, vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike. We also know that it is a really good source of protein which makes it a pretty healthy option too. I love using chickpeas in curries, rice dishes, salads, dips etc…. but this is the first time I have tried out a tikki using it.

This recipe is actually an adaptation of several kebab and tikki recipes that I have made before or read in books. I didn’t want to use potatoes as the binding agent, so instead used soft white bread and flour. Since the latter are in small amounts, the taste and texture of the chickpeas really shines through. And these are grilled with very less oil on a flat nonstick or cast iron pan because it has a crumbly texture.

So let’s get on to making these delicious, super moreish chickpea or chana tikkis/patties, best paired with this mint coriander chutney. And if you try it out, do tag me in your photograph (#thespiceadventuress) so that I can see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups chickpeas; cooked in salted boiling water till mushy
  2. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 2-3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  4. ½ inch ginger; grated
  5. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped
  6. 1 tsp chaat masala
  7. 1 tsp coriander powder
  8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  9. A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs (more if necessary)
  11. 1-2 tbsp white flour
  12. Vegetable oil
  13. 1 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  14. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight; cook in salted boiling water till soft and mushy. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and allow to crackle. Then add the chopped onions, garlic paste and ginger paste. Sauté till the onions are softened and light brown.
  3. Next add the cooked chickpeas, coriander powder, red chilli powder, chaat masala and asafoetida. Season with salt (remember the chickpeas already has salt) and cook on low heat for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped coriander leaves and remove from heat. Allow to cool well before grinding.
  5. Once cooled, grind the chickpea mixture without water. Then add the flour and breadcrumbs and knead to dough like consistency. Add more breadcrumbs till you get the desired consistency.
  6. Slightly grease your palms using oil and shape the chickpea mixture into round patties/tikkis. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes just to firm up but bring back to room temperature before grilling.
  7. Heat oil in a nonstick pan, just enough to coat the surface as we need to lightly grill the patties and not shallow fry. Place the tikkis on the pan and cook well on one side before flipping over. Take care as you flip over as the tikkis have a crumbly texture or it will break.
  8. Serve warm with mint coriander chutney.

Note – Another way of enjoying these tikkis or patties is by crushing it between a pav; add a dollop of chutney and you have another version of your favourite vada pav. Or go Western by crushing it lightly between a slider bun and add some greens and your favourite mayo for a vegetarian slider.

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice

Salmon, with its delightfully soft, oily and flaky flesh was quick to become one of our favourite fish after moving to Australia.

Initially, I would use it only for Indian dishes which honestly do not always do justice to its incredible texture. And as we started dining out more here, I started enjoying the crispy skin salmon that somehow always finds a spot on most café/restaurant menus.

Earlier I always found it hard to achieve that elusive crispy skin. The fish would curl up slightly when I place it in the pan and it would always be crispy in certain areas and not uniform. Till I saw a Masterchef episode where they showed the technique of holding the fish down lightly for a few seconds after placing in the pan to ensure that it doesn’t get curled up and also get the skin really crisped up. And always cook skin side first!

Some of the other tips for cooking a perfect piece of salmon (other fish too), is to never overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches and serve warm; there’s nothing worse than eating cold fish especially with its skin on.

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

And to go along with the salmon, I also whipped up mock cauliflower rice which made this an extremely healthy dinner. A dollop of Roza’s mango, chilli and coconut chutney was added to oomph up the flavour quotient.

This is the kind of dinner that’s not just healthy but a substantial one for the family to unwind and relax at the end of a busy day. And I always cook enough portions to become our lunch for the next day. For us, this is the best way to ensure that we are eating right on work days too.

I always enjoy a touch of spice when I make salmon so here I have used a marinade made from fresh chillies, cumin, garlic etc… I kept the cauliflower rice real simple but you can also use this tempered cauliflower rice recipe that is one of the highest visited recipes on the blog.

Roza’s chutney was used because I had some in the refrigerator; feel free to use your favourite tomato, mango or any other chutney if you wish to.

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

  1. 4 salmon fillets; with skin
  2. 3 long red chillies (less heat variety)
  3. 5 medium garlic cloves
  4. ½ tsp ground coriander
  5. 1 tsp cumin powder
  6. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  7. Salt; to season
  8. Juice of ½ lemon
  9. Olive oil; to pan fry the salmon

For the cauliflower:

  1. 1 small cauliflower head; including the green bit
  2. Zest of 1 lemon; grated
  3. Juice of ½ lemon
  4. 3 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
  5. 3 tsp parsley; finely chopped
  6. Salt, to season
  7. ½ tsp paprika
  8. 2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

For the Salmon:

  1. Clean the salmon; remove any bones if present and pat dry.
  2. To make the marinade, blend together the chillies, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, coriander and cumin.
  3. Pour this over the salmon, season with salt and rub well; keep aside for 15 – 30 minutes.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan (remember the marinade already contains oil) and when heated well, place the salmon fillets skin side down. Hold and press down the fillet lightly to ensure that the entire skin side is in contact with the pan for a few seconds. Then place the next fillet and repeat the same. Fry in batches if the pan is small.
  5. Remove and keep aside.

For the rice:

  1. Separate the cauliflower into large florets, the green bits can also be used for this but ensure that it is fresh and clean. Wash thoroughly and allow to dry before use.
  2. Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor to mimic rice; alternately use a grater if you do not have a processor.
  3. Warm the olive oil in a large wok and add the peanuts, paprika and lemon zest. Tip in the cauliflower along with the parsley, lemon juice and season with salt. Toss on high heat for a few seconds just to combine the flavours and remove. Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.

Serve the cauliflower rice with the fried salmon pieces and the chutney on the side. Tuck in!

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Cauliflower Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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