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Tag Archives: Indian cuisine

Indian style Borlotti beans curry (with Dhansak masala)

Indian cuisine has the most delicious recipes when it comes to pulses (all kinds including lentils, legumes, dried beans etc…)

This category of ingredients is a staple in almost every household of India, and hence there are zillions of recipes too. The preparation style varies from region to region and sometimes, for the same pulse, there will be different recipes. So that’s a lot of variety!

Today’s dish, an Indian style beans curry is one I prepare regularly. But it’s the first time I am using Borlotti beans for this recipe.

Dried borlotti beans are very commonly used in Italian and Portuguese cuisine. It is also referred to as cranberry beans in US and other countries. Since Italian cuisine is very popular in Melbourne, it’s very easy to find borlotti beans in any supermarket and also in delis.

Usually I prepare this curry using red kidney beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas etc…. but recently tried it with the borlotti beans and the result was a really delicious, hearty and comforting curry. And it’s the kind of dish that most of us crave in winter. Pair it with some steamed rice, Naan or any Indian bread and you have a lipsmacking meal for the family.

Now looking at the photographs, most Indians would think that this dish looks exactly like Rajma masala. Rajma or red kidney beans is very popular in North India especially in Delhi and surrounding regions and a staple meal in most households is Rajma Chawal (red kidney bean curry served over rice). It’s that kind of rustic, everyday dish that reminds most people of home or their mother’s cooking.

Even though this dish looks similar in colour, texture and consistency, the flavours are slightly different because borlotti beans have a slightly different texture to red kidney beans. And also this beans curry is prepared using Dhansak masala, a spice blend that’s traditionally used to prepare a Parsi style mutton curry called Dhansak. It’s such a flavourful blend and quite a versatile one that I love using it in different kinds of curries. Remember the lamb curry with haricot beans that I had posted a while ago, an offbeat adaptation of Dhansak that I made using the same spice blend.

As mentioned earlier, this is a curry I make often with different types of dried beans and pulses but it’s one that you can extend to meats and other veggies too (potatoes would work brilliantly in a curry like this).

Soaking the borlotti beans overnight is always advisable as it helps reduce the cooking time drastically especially if you need a quick dinner after a long working day. You may also use a pressure cooker or instant pot for preparing this dish, both of which will fasten the cooking time.

So let’s get onto the recipe for this delicious Indian style Borlotti beans curry. And if you try it out, do let me know your feedback…

Ingredients:

  1. 1 ½ cups dried borlotti beans (soaked overnight)
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 2 dried bay leaf
  4. 2 dried red chillies
  5. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  6. 1 inch ginger; grated
  7. 2 onions; finely chopped
  8. 2 medium ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  9. 1 tsp tomato paste
  10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  11. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  12. ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  13. 2 tsp coriander powder
  14. 1 tsp Dhansak masala
  15. Salt, to season
  16. ¼ tsp raw sugar
  17. ¼ cup milk
  18. 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  19. 2 tbsp plain yoghurt; to serve
  20. Lemon wedges; to serve

Note – Dhansak masala recipe can be found here.

Method:

  1. Soak the dried beans overnight; wash well the next day and drain.
  2. In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil to medium and add the dried bay leaf and red chillies. Then add the grated garlic and ginger; sauté for a few seconds till the rawness of the aromatics goes away (take care not to burn).
  3. Add the onions and sauté till softened and takes on a light brown colour.
  4. Next add the chopped tomatoes and continue to sauté till the tomatoes break down and the whole mixture turns slightly mushy.
  5. Add the tomato paste and mix well to combine.
  6. Next add all the spice powders, sugar and season with salt. Mix well to combine and sauté on low heat till the whole masala comes together and oil starts to leave the sides.
  7. Add the drained beans and mix well to combine and add 2 cups water. Cook till the beans are done (the beans must be slightly mushy yet have a bite).
  8. Taste and season accordingly. Add ¼ cup milk and mix well to combine.
  9. Serve with lemon wedges and yoghurt drizzled on top.

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Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs)

Kashmir – a mysterious, beautiful land that always evokes a deep sense of calmness and peace within me.

Ironic, isn’t it…especially given its turbulent geo-political issues. I have never visited Kashmir except through the thousands of breathtaking photographs of the place but everytime I think of the land, it’s ‘Garden of Eden’ that I remember. And everytime I visualize Adam and Eve eating that apple, its pictures of Kashmir that flash through my mind.

Travelling through Kashmir remains one of the top wishes on my bucket list, and particularly visiting the saffron fields and picking out the flowers; I want to experience that at least once in my life. Though today’s dish has nothing to do with saffron, it has all to do with the cuisine of the region. Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs!

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

A very traditional preparation of the region, Tabakh Maaz is one of the integral dishes of a wazwan. (You can check out more about wazwan on the Internet or read my mutton roganjosh post). And I learnt this recipe too from my dear friend, Supriya who remains my expert on Kashmiri cuisine. I am a lucky gal indeed!

Making Tabakh Maaz is rather simple but one which takes a bit of time and some good quality ingredients. It is a brilliant example of how spices flavour a fish without adding any heat. The lamb ribs are slow cooked in a broth flavoured with whole spices and then fried off in ghee. It is rich and indulgent, a dish that warms you from within and definitely not one if you are calorie-conscious.

I left the fat layer on the ribs for that extra flavour but you can choose to trim it off. Traditionally it is served as 2-3 ribs together on the bone but I have kept it 1-2. Tabakh Maaz is usually a starter type dish of the wazwan but I had it as the main protein for dinner, so served it with Afghan style bread, cucumber yoghurt dip with sumac and a fresh green salad. One of the ways of adapting a traditional recipe to your family’s needs.

Whole spices to make Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style lamb ribs - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

So here we have a very traditional lamb dish from Kashmir – Tabakh Maaz or Kashmiri style Lamb Ribs.

Ingredients:

  1. 500 gms lamb ribs; cut into 2-3 pieces
  2. 2 inch cinnamon bark
  3. 3 black cardamom
  4. 5 green cardamom
  5. 2 dried bay leaf
  6. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  7. 1 tbsp crushed fennel seeds
  8. ½ tbsp dried ginger powder
  9. A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  10. 2 large garlic cloves; crushed
  11. 1 tsp turmeric powder
  12. Salt, to season
  13. 1 cup milk
  14. 2-3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter

Method:

  1. In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the lamb ribs and fill with water, enough to just cover the ribs.
  2. Bring to boil and remove the scum that floats on the surface.
  3. Then add all the spices, garlic and season generously with salt. Also add 1 cup milk and stir well to combine.
  4. Cover the vessel, reduce the flame and slow cook the ribs for 1 hour or till the meat has become tender and almost fall off the bone.
  5. Remove from heat and take out the ribs slowly and keep aside. You can either keep the ribs in large chunks or cut into smaller pieces.
  6. Heat another flat pan, add the ghee and add the ribs one by one. Fry on medium to high heat till one side has caramelized before turning over. Remove when the other side has also caramelized well.
  7. Serve warm.

Though the basic recipe for making Tabakh Maaz is the same across the state, there can be variations from region to region. For eg: Kashmiri Pandits soak the ribs in plain yoghurt before frying it off in the ghee.

Note – The broth in which the ribs were cooked has a beautiful flavour. It can be strained and use as a stock for making soups and risottos.

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

Tabakh Maaz (Kashmiri style lamb ribs) - a traditional dish that forms an integral part of the wazwan - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review

Quite often I get asked the question, ‘Can you suggest a good Indian restaurant we can dine at?’ or ‘What do you think about this new Indian restaurant that has opened in XYZ location?’ And I find it quite challenging to answer both of these questions because firstly, I do not eat out much at Indian restaurants and secondly, there are very few Indian cuisine restaurants that I actually enjoy in Melbourne.

So when a friend who lives in Cheltenham asked about Indian Burrp, I was clueless. She was keen to know my opinion about the food there (which made me feel rather important!!!!).  But with the usual problem of having too many places to try out in Melbourne, it just never happened.

Until…..another friend (do check out this lady’s amazing YouTube channel) won a dining voucher to Indian Burrp.

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant is located on Nepean Highway; quite an accessible location to most. On entering, you will be immediately drawn to the beautiful ambience and décor. Soft dim lights, beautiful centre lighting, comfortable dark seating and a small bar at the end all add to the slow paced dining experience that the restaurant has tried to create for its customers.

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Indian Burrp defines itself as a fine dining restaurant. But I do not really agree with that term as the menu is quite classic heavily leaning towards the North Indian style of cooking. There aren’t any surprises with regard to the dishes, style of cooking or presentation. I really wonder why the Indian restaurants here are so afraid to veer away from the familiar path. Having said that, you can find all the much loved and popular Indian dishes on the menu. Not disappointing if you are looking at classic North Indian food. There are also combo deals which work great if you are looking to sample many dishes.

The wine list is a good one albeit a small one but I was quite happy to see a bunch of good Australian wines carefully chosen to go with the flavours of the food. We did sample the wines, both white and red which went really well with the food but I was so busy talking with my friends that I forgot to note the names. Sorrrry!!

Indian Burrp, Cheltenham, Melbourne - a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Another factor that stands out at Indian Burrp is the friendly customer service. The owner Rash Banker is always around being the perfect host, getting your orders sorted, making enquiries etc… It was welcoming to see him around making sure that everyone is having a good time.

The first starter to arrive was the Tandoori Prawns. It was good but the spice paste had a bit of rawness to it from not being cooked through but nevertheless flavourful.

Tandoori Prawns at Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next starter we got was the Chef’s special Burrpie Chicken. The menu stated half for $13.95 and full for $22.95. Reading it, one would assume that half meant half chicken but it is not so. What arrived at the table were 2 medium sized chicken thighs which was a bit of a bummer; a clear menu would help rather than having to call the staff to find out more about every dish. The chicken was cooked well, moist and juicy with a good spice rub. Quite similar to a tandoori but without the smoky chargilled flavour.

Burrpie Chicken at Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we ordered the Lamb biryani, butter rotis and Chicken Hutke (Chef’s Special). The chicken dish felt a little heavy but the flavours were good. An onion based gravy, medium spicy and paired really well with the rotis.

Coming to the biryani, hands down, it was the dish of the day for all of us. It was a Mughlai style biryani with succulent lamb pieces, right amount of spices, full of flavour and the rice cooked to perfection. A must try if you are a biryani lover. The only bummer was that the biryani is served without any raita/yoghurt dip or salan; you need to order a raita for extra cost. Biryani always comes with a raita folks!

Chicken Hutke - Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Mughlai style Lamb Biryani - Indian Burrp (Cheltenham, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For dessert, we got the Mango Kulfi and Gulab Jamuns. Sorry guys, no pics again (this time, the effect of too much wine!). The kulfi had a good flavour of the mangoes, creamy and delicious. It is served in a bowl instead of the traditional stick format. The jamuns were soft, syrupy and just the right amount of sweetness. Totally recommend both.

Overall, a nice experience. There were some misses but plenty of hits too. Loved the service, ambience, a good wine list and decent food. And ofcourse, a great song selection playing throughout the night. Would return back to this place.

Indian Burrp
Shop 6
1291-1293 Nepean Highway
Cheltenham
Melbourne, Victoria
Phone: 03 8524 5096
Website: http://indianburrp.com/
Timings:
Monday – closed
Tuesday to Thursday – 5.30pm to 10.00pm
Friday & Saturday – 5.30pm to 11.00pm
Sunday – 5.30pm to 10.00pm

Indian Burrp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – My friend had a gift voucher which was redeemed and the remaining amount was paid by her.

 

 

 

 

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala)

My Instagram journey has so far been a highly delightful and inspiring one. I have been able to interact with a wonderful bunch of creative friends there and some wonderful human beings too. And a friend that fits that bill is Natasha (or Nats, as I sometimes call her). Nats is known as @thegutlessfoodie to the Insta folks and if you are curious as to why that name, check out her profile.

Apart from being such a darling, Nats has a whacky sense of humor that always brings a smile to my face. And if you follow her, you would get truck loads of inspiration for everyday dishes. Like I did, for this Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with my special East Indian Bottle Masala).

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is my adaptation of Natasha’s dish since I added mustard leaves and also used my special East Indian Bottle Masala to spice up the curry.

Mustard leaves are super healthy greens that are used extensively in North Indian cuisine especially states lying near the Himalayan belt. I wanted to try and grow these in my balcony garden but that meant trying to grow it in a pot. An experiment that yielded good results.

The only thing about growing mustard leaves in a pot is that you get only baby leaves and not the large one that is typical when grown on the ground. Also, since I was trying to grow it the first time, I planted the seeds in a small pot; next time I would try in a larger pot to see if the size of the leaves get bigger. If you live in an area where you can easily find mustard leaves in the market, then go ahead with that or substitute with any other greens if growing it in your garden is not an option for you.

Anyway, I found that the baby leaves tasted more refreshing than the larger mature ones which meant that I could use it for garnishing my salads and also in pasta dishes. In fact, I was planning on a salad when Natasha’s chickpea curry caught my attention.

For my East Indian Bottle Masala story, you need to read this post (which also tells you another delicious way to use this spice blend).

East Indian Bottle Masala - a traditional spice blend from Eastern India - thespiceadventuress.com

This chickpeas and mustard leaves curry is a simple, everyday dish that can be paired with flatbreads or rice and with a simple salad on the side. How I love these simple yet delicious and healthy almost one-pot meals that are just so comforting and nourishing at the same time.

The leaves wilt quickly even when added right at the end of the dish so you will hardly notice it in the photographs. But it’s there peeps…all the goodness and flavour is there.

Ok, so let’s get cooking….

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Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup mustard leaves (roughly chop if you are using the bigger ones)
  3. Coconut spice mixture
  • ½ tsp crushed cinnamon
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 tbsp roasted gram flour/garbanzo bean flour/besan
  • ½ tsp almonds; crushed
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tbsp East Indian bottle masala
  1. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 star anise
  3. 2 dry bay leaf
  4. 1 black cardamom; crushed
  5. 2 medium red onions; finely chopped
  6. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  7. A pinch of asafoetida
  8. 1 tbsp tomato paste
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped

East Indian Bottle Masala:

  1. 12.5 gms dry Bedki chilli
  2. 12.5 gms dry Kashmiri chilli
  3. 45 gms turmeric powder
  4. 30 gms coriander seeds
  5. 14 gms cumin seeds
  6. 10 gms white sesame seeds
  7. 10 gms poppy seeds
  8. 7.5 gms fennel seeds
  9. 25 gms mustard seeds
  10. 2.5 gms black cumin/shahjeera
  11. 3 green cardamom
  12. 5 cloves
  13. 2.5 gms black pepper
  14. 3 gms cinnamon bark

Method:

  1. To prepare the bottle masala, dry roast all the spices till aromatic and fragrant. Cool and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight bottle or container and use as necessary.
  2. To prepare the coconut spice mixture, grind all the ingredients given under No.3 with a little bit of water to make a thick paste.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a pressure cooker (or pan if you don’t have a cooker). Add the star anise, cardamom and bay leaf; after a few seconds when the spices have becomes fragrant, add the chopped onions.
  4. Sauté till light brown and then add the red chilli powder. asafoetida, tomato paste and coconut spice paste. Cook on low heat till the masala comes together and the rawness of the spices and coconut have gone.
  5. Then add the chickpeas and cook till done (around 2-3 whistles would be enough if using a pressure cooker).
  6. Finally, add the mustard leaves, stir through and remove from heat. Since these are baby leaves, it does not require any cooking time but if you are using the bigger ones, you may need to cook it for about a minute.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Spicy Fried Squid (with sambhar powder)

I went through a super lazy last week….dragged myself through the week with half done chores, flitting from one task to the other not able to concentrate on anything. That reflected in my cooking too. I cannot bring myself to cook or eat when I am tired and bored. The kitchen is a space I like when I am feeling creative, not when I am stressed.

A day or two, I tried to fight the feeling but then I let it be. It’s happened before and I know it will pass just that I needed more wine!

By the weekend, I was feeling better. And the reason for that is after many years, the Valentine’s Day featured a lot of flowers….orange roses from the little fellow and red roses from the big fellow. We headed out for lunch in a nice Asian inspired café (you will read about it soon) and then spent some quiet family time in a beautiful park.

The only highlight of the lazy week was these Spicy Fried Squid Rings. While the dish turned out fine, the photographs did not but luckily for me, the client was more interested in the recipe than the clicks. So I decided to go ahead and post it here too – a delicious squid fry that would make a great starter or snack to be enjoyed by the young and old alike.

Spicy Fried Squid (with Sambhar powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is basically my take on the all time favourite salt and pepper squid. I added one extra ingredient for the flavour spark, an ingredient that most Indians would have in their spice cupboard – sambhar powder.

Yes, the much underrated sambhar powder is an extremely versatile spice blend that can be used in tons of recipes than just the sambhar. It can be used instead of garam masala or as a rub with fish or meat. It can also be used in marinades or for deep frying just about anything. A hint of spice with loads of flavour is what you get.

Sambhar powder - thespiceadventuress.com

So, that’s it. Let’s get frying….crunchy, delicious Spicy Fried Squid!

Ingredients:

  1. 300gm squid rings
  2. 3-4 cups breadcrumbs (use Panko breadcrumbs if possible for more crunch)

Read the full recipe here.

Spicy Fried Squid (with sambar powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Fried Squid (with sambar powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

Maharashtrian Bangdyache Ambat Kalwan (Spicy Mackerel Curry with Coconut and Tamarind)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, isn’t it?

I have always loved this festive season. It’s not the starry lights, decorations or gifts but rather the cheerful spirit and joyfulness that seem to be in the air at this time of the year. And it is also the time when I am most grateful, when I count my blessings the most.

We will be spending this Christmas away from our extended families but I am still happy and grateful for the fact that all of us are happy and safe whichever part of the world we live in. Good health and safety is pretty much all that you wish for your parents as they get older and live so far away.

And my family always reminds me of seafood curries. Today’s recipe is a traditional mackerel curry from the coastal region of Maharashtra, not really from my home state of Kerala. If you look at the seafood dishes along the coastal line of South West India, especially parts of Kerala, Mangalore, Goa and Maharashtra, you can find so many similarities. But there will be one or two ingredients that would make the dish so unique to the region where it comes from.

Maharashtrian Bangdyache Ambat Kalwan (Spicy Mackerel Curry with Coconut and Tamarind) - a traditional seafood preparation from Maharashtra, India - thespiceadventuress.com

For example, this mackerel curry is famous among the Konkan community of Maharashtra. But you will find similar seafood preparations both in Kerala and Mangalore. But there is one ingredient that makes this curry so unique to the Konkan community and that is tirphal (a variety of Sichuan peppercorns). Till I came across this traditional dish, I wasn’t even aware of the importance of tirphal in Konkani cuisine. A spice that lends a distinctive woody and smoky flavour to the dish.

Sichuan peppercorns - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Fresh mackerel is often underrated but the oily nature of this fish makes it perfect for rich curries like this one. It is affordable, sustainable and local which ticks all the right boxes for me when it comes to seafood.

Unlike meat curries, seafood ones are easy to cook; the only job is to make the flavourful base and then cook the fish in it. The defining flavours of this mackerel curry are coconut, tamarind, Kashmiri chillies and tirphal. Since it is hard to get native tirphal in Melbourne, I used Sichuan peppercorns (only a very mild difference in flavour). The peppercorns add a woody kick without being overpowering; it is nothing like the Sichuan dishes that you would have tried.

Fresh fish - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Maharashtrian Bangdyache Ambat Kalwan (Spicy Mackerel Curry with Coconut and Tamarind) - a traditional seafood preparation from Maharashtra, India - thespiceadventuress.com

So let’s get cooking Maharashtrian style Bangdyache Ambat Kalwan or a deliciously spicy mackerel curry with coconut, tamarind and Sichuan peppercorns. Especially recommended for days you crave simple, soul food and complete the experience with a bowl of steaming hot rice and a refreshing tomato cucumber salad on the side.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 mackerel; cut into four equal sized pieces (head included)
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 1 medium onion; finely chopped
  4. For the coconut paste:

Read full recipe here.

Maharashtrian Bangdyache Ambat Kalwan (Spicy Mackerel Curry with Coconut and Tamarind) - a traditional seafood preparation from Maharashtra, India - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

Gosht Durbari (Lamb Curry slow cooked with Yoghurt, Fried Onions and Spices)

Most of my readers are still reeling over the ‘Vegemite Masala’ – a total fusion affair for many. So I decided on something more traditional today.

Gosht Durbari or a wickedly rich, intensely flavourful, deep dark lamb curry. Not sure if the Oz heat can take this curry but my ‘winter wonderland’ friends will thank me for this.

Gosht Durbari (Lamb Curry slow cooked with Yoghurt, Fried Onions and Spices) - a delicious slow cooked lamb curry with fried onions, yoghurt and spices - thespiceadventuress.com

 

The star ingredient of this dish is the fried onions; this makes the curry so intensely rich and flavourful. I would definitely suggest making fried onions from scratch instead of the store bought fried shallots. Way different in flavour….believe me, I have tried both versions. Fried onions may take some time but that’s the only real job in this otherwise simple dish.

Spices are minimal, just there to add layers of flavour without much heat. A dish that works if you have non-Indian friends at your dinner table who love a good curry but can’t handle too much heat.

Fried onions - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Make sure you get lamb or mutton on the bones as it imparts most flavour to the dish. And this curry is best paired with flatbreads or layered rotis with a yoghurt dip/raita on the side to cut through all that richness.

So put on your aprons and let’s get cooking Gosht Durbari or a delicious lamb curry slow cooked with yoghurt, fried onions and spices.

Gosht Durbari (Lamb Curry slow cooked with Yoghurt, Fried Onions and Spices) - a delicious slow cooked lamb curry with fried onions, yoghurt and spices - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Recipe adapted from a similar version by Jaspreet Nirula

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg lamb (on the bone); cut into medium-sized pieces
  2. 1 cup thick plain yoghurt/curd
  3. 3-4 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  4. 1 ½ inch ginger; julienned
  5. 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  6. 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  7. Salt, to season
  8. For the spice paste:
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ cinnamon bark
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida/hing
  • A pinch of nutmeg, grated
  1. 4 medium red onions; finely chopped
  2. Vegetable oil, to fry the onions
  3. Ginger juliennes; for garnish
  4. Fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped for garnish

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan and deep fry the sliced onions in batches. Drain and keep aside.
  2. To prepare the spice paste, dry roast the whole spices till fragrant, cool and grind to a fine powder. Mix with the other spice powders and make a paste with a bit of water.
  3. Now take a heavy, deep bottomed vessel and heat ghee. Add the lamb along with yoghurt, chilli powders, ginger and salt. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the spice paste and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add enough water to slow cook the lamb.
  5. After 20 minutes, add ¾ ths of the fried onions, mix well and continue to cook till the lamb is soft and tender.
  6. Check and adjust seasoning, reduce gravy on high heat if necessary. Garnish with ginger juliennes, fried onions and coriander leaves.
  7. Serve hot with flat breads, parathas or rotis.

Gosht Durbari (Lamb Curry slow cooked with Yoghurt, Fried Onions and Spices) - a delicious slow cooked lamb curry with fried onions, yoghurt and spices - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Tandoori Paneer Skewers with Goat’s Yoghurt

My first taste of goat’s milk was when I was around 10, while living in the Middle East.

We had friends who used to work on dairy farms owned by the rich Arabs and they would bring us all sorts of delicious and exotic foods that were not so commonly available back then. Exotic varieties of dates, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, yoghurt…..the best kind which were exclusively farmed for the rich families and not for sale.

I had almost forgotten what goat’s milk or yoghurt tastes like until recently when I got the opportunity to sample the same from CapriLac.

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Remember this vegan, dairy free almond yoghurt green smoothie and coconut yoghurt zucchini dip using No Udder products? CapriLac belongs to the same group but specializes in goat’s milk, yoghurt and goat’s milk powder.

Now you would ask, why goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk is not necessarily healthier than cow’s milk on a strict comparison basis. But it definitely has its merits. It has less lactose, a tab bit less sugar and also more calcium, potassium and Vitamin A than cow’s milk. It is also more easily digestible as it has a chemical structure which is quite similar to breast milk and hence is a great dairy alternative for those who have sensitive tummies. It is also less allergenic. So in a nutshell, it can be a great alternative to cow’s milk.

Goat’s yoghurt does not taste much different to cow’s yoghurt. I felt it is creamy but less sour than the cow’s yoghurt which makes it perfect for today’s paneer skewers.

CapriLac Goat products are Australian made (the milk comes from their own farms). No preservatives, no flavours, no additives…..which makes it a really good product for your family’s use.

I wanted to use goat’s yoghurt for a traditional Indian dish that has become a global favourite – tandoori.

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Myths and misconceptions regarding tandoori are rife and rampant. To being with tandoori refers to a dish that has been cooked inside a tandoor, a specialized kind of clay oven. The tandoor arrived in India through the Persian traders and even today, you can find plenty of households in Iran use the tandoor on a daily basis.

So technically the ‘tandoori’ refers to any dish prepared inside a tandoor but these days, the name has also been extended to dishes which use the traditional spice marinade. Again, this marinade has quite a few variations and this one is my version perfected after a lot of trial and error. I do not like to use besan (chickpea flour) in the marinade but prefer to keep it light with just yoghurt, aromatics and spices.

Paneer, as all of us know is Indian cottage cheese and now so commonly available in mainstream supermarkets. Now this is made from cow’s milk so those of you who wish to avoid it can use the same recipe for preparing mixed vegetable skewers (mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower), tofu, chicken or prawn skewers.

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Tandoori Paneer Skewers are an excellent party starter. In fact, it is a hit every time I make it for guests.  It’s flavourful, delicious, pairs equally well with beer, cocktails or wine and just the right summer party food. Perfect for your meatless Mondays too; pair with a simple green peas pilaf and mint coriander dip like I did.

If you have a tandoor at home, that’s great but since most of us will not have it…grilling or pan fry is the best option.

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Note – I have seen many photographs with perfect looking paneer cubes with hardly any signs of charring. But remember, it is those brown charred bits that you actually need because that’s where the deliciousness is!

Ingredients:

  1. 400 gms paneer (Indian cottage cheese); cut into equal sized cubes
  2. 1 medium red onion; cubed
  3. 2 ripe, yet firm tomatoes; remove pulp and cut into cubes
  4. 1 green bell pepper; cubed
  5. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  6. 5-6 tbsp tandoori marinade
  • 4-5 tbsp Goat’s yoghurt
  • ½ tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp chaat masala
  • A pinch of black salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  1. Salt, to season
  2. Lemon wedges, to garnish
  3. Bamboo skewers

Note:

  • Kashmiri chilli powder is mainly for a deeper red colour. It is optional and the level of heat can be adjusted with regular red chilli powder.
  • Chaat masala and black salt (kala namak) are available at all Indian stores.

Method:

  1. To make the tandoori marinade, mix the goat’s yoghurt with all the aromatics, spices and coriander leaves in a non reactive bowl.
  2. Add the paneer and vegetable cubes into the marinade and mix well. Season with salt and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as possible. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least 15 minutes before using to prevent burning.
  4. Skewer the paneer cubes and vegetables alternately so that each skewer has paneer, tomato, onion and bell pepper.
  5. Oil a flat pan or grill well and heat to smoking point. Reduce heat and place the skewers. Increase heat to medium and grill till done on all sides. Paneer cooks really fast so a minute or two on each side would be enough.
  6. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with a mint coriander dip.

 

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Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post in association with CapriLac Foods. But the recipe and all the opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

Fried Shark with Tuticorin Curry Paste

Work hard and party harder! That’s what life looks like at the moment.

There’s plenty of work happening which has to be sorted before the Christmas holidays arrive but most weekends are filled with loads of fun stuff too….buying presents, attending parties, lots of eating out etc….

We are not really a ‘traditional’ family when it comes to Christmas. While we lived in India, Christmas and New Year meant visiting families and spending time with them. But after we migrated to Australia, we let each year’s plan unfold on its own which works out the best for our little family. The only thing constant is our feeling of joy and thanksgiving that He provides and cares for us keeping us together as a family. And that’s all we really need in these times of unrest and strife.

By the end of the month, the Christmas tree and lights are going to be up. And soon after, we will begin to add touches of festive spirit and charm to our home. We don’t go overboard but you will definitely get the Christmassy spirit every time you walk in. Not to mention the carols which will start playing quite frequently. Again not a tradition, but a practice that we started last year for the benefit of our little one.

Even with food, there are no traditions, whatsoever. There are no Christmas cakes, cookies, roast chickens or anything of the like. There will only be food that we enjoy to eat as a family and food that is prepared with much joy and love for our friends who visit us during this time.

What are your memories and traditions associated with Christmas? If you do not celebrate it from a religious point of view, do you make any other special plans for the holiday?

Getting back to today’s recipe, it is time for another seafood dish. I am slowly getting christened as the seafood queen among my friends.

Today’s dish draws inspiration from a very traditional spice paste used in Tuticorin. This deliciously aromatic spice paste is often used as a marinade for fried fish and also as a base for seafood curries in the cuisine of the region.

spices

I got the recipe for this spice paste from a fellow foodie who in turn had to coax a local resident to learn how to make this highly aromatic, spicy and vibrant spice paste. But instead of using it in the traditional manner, I decided to go the Asian route of stir fries. So, the shark pieces are first shallow fried and then quickly tossed through the curry paste along with onions and tomatoes resulting in a mouth watering starter dish. A winner if you want to include a seafood dish to your party this year!

And of course, always go the sustainable route while buying shark.

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If you do not wish to use shark, feel free to use any fish which has a firm flesh and does not break easily. This recipe would also be a winner with prawns.

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Ingredients:

  1. 600 gms shark fillet; cubed into even pieces
  2. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  3. Salt, to season
  4. Vegetable oil

Find the full recipe here……

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood. 

An Indian Food and Wine Experience in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

The first time I heard of Tulsi Indian Restaurant was in 2014. Tulsi had just won the distinguished Victorian Award of Excellence 2014 by Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTplus Awards for Excellence and I had the opportunity to write a feature about the restaurant and the team behind it for Indian Link.

During the course of research and writing the feature, I got to know more about Chef Devendra and his wife Shashi Singh, their love for food and also their passion for representing India’s rich culinary heritage through Tulsi.

But the surprise factor for me was Shashi Singh, who also happens to be a winemaker; one of the few Indian-origin winemakers in Australia. She owns and operates Avani (The Earth) Syrah, located at Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula.

I got an opportunity to meet Shashi again early this year at the ‘Spice and Wine’ Masterclass held as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Along with Chef Adam D’Sylva of Coda and Tonka, she took us on a learning process of how to match Indian spices and flavours with wine. The first thing that struck me about Shashi was her friendliness and down-to-earth approach. She was so welcoming when I requested that I would love to have a personal tour of her winery.

And that wish of mine was finally fulfilled a couple of weeks ago when I visited both Avani and Tulsi as part of my Mornington Peninsula holiday.

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Shashi’s home is situated on the vineyard itself; infact, you look out of her living room and you see the vineyard stretching out like a green panorama as far as eyes can see. Totally addictive!

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We had a small wine tasting session, a very personal one as Shashi believes in small, intimate groups rather than large, commercial ones. I totally agree with her viewpoint especially after visiting a lot of wineries in Australia where sometimes the tasting session becomes so stuffy and formal. Shashi is happy to answer all your questions and she puts you instantly at ease that you would open up and ask the most basic things you want to know about wine and pairing with food.

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Apart from the Avani Syrah, we also had a taste of the 2015 Pinot Grigio which is yet to be bottled. She was so enthusiastic about this one and wanted us to have a taste. And I am so happy she did. For the first time, I understood what ‘spicy tones in a wine’ means. She later told me that she is planning on calling it ‘Amrit’ (the names of her wines are all Sanskrit and so brilliantly apt).

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After spending some time at the vineyard, we decided to visit Tulsi for dinner and more of the Indian food and wine pairing experience.

Situated in Somerville, Tulsi might come across as a regular suburban Indian restaurant. But the minute you step in, you realize that this is not your average, pedestrian Indian curry house. The décor is classic contemporary with definite Indian touches in the form of wooden artwork and photographs.

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The service is extremely professional yet friendly. A relaxed ambience with a view into the open kitchen where you find calm and composed chefs going about their business of sending out delicious food.

There is a good wine list which includes ones from their vineyard; you can also request for matching wines for each course. The dinner menu is a short and limited one unlike many of the Indian restos where you can usually find pages after pages of dishes; a matter of quality over quantity.

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One among the many awards won by Tulsi!

One among the many awards won by Tulsi!

We started off on hot, piping samosas filled with a savoury peas and potato stuffing. Now, I have had plenty of samosas in my lifetime but what made this one stand apart is its buttery, flaky shortcrust pastry which is really hard to find in Melbourne.

Samosas filled with a savoury peas and potato stuffing

Samosas filled with a savoury peas and potato stuffing

Next, we had the Kesari Murgh Tikka; melt-in-your-mouth chicken morsels with subtle yet flavourful marinade of spices and saffron. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that this is the best chicken tikka I have had for a really long time especially in Australia. No artificial colours and absolutely juicy chicken bites. Highly recommended.

We also had a tasting of Tandoori Champ or marinated racks of lamb. Delicious with the cooking of the lamb spot on.

Kesari Murgh Tikka and Tandoori Champ

Kesari Murgh Tikka and Tandoori Champ

For the mains, we had steamed basmati rice and naan/bread accompanied with Saag Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach curry) and Jheenga Nariyal (King prawns cooked with coconut and spices). I hardly ever talk about the naan I eat at the Indian restaurants here but at Tulsi, you will want to. And that’s probably because of the slight twist, the bread is finished off in an oven instead of a tandoor which makes it soft and pillowy, the perfect carrier for scooping the curries.

I am usually not a big fan of saag but this one was delicious primarily because of the quality of the cottage cheese. Anyone who is familiar with paneer or Indian cottage cheese would be able to say that this one is prepared in house as it is soft and crumbly. The dish was mild just as it is prepared in Northern part of India. Definitely recommended for paneer lovers.

And I will not be able to stop talking about the prawn curry. Perfectly cooked king prawns in a luxuriously creamy coconut gravy with just the right hint of spices. Again, totally recommended!

Steamed basmati rice and naan/bread accompanied with Saag Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach curry) and Jheenga Nariyal (King prawns cooked with coconut and spices).

Steamed basmati rice and naan/bread accompanied with Saag Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach curry) and Jheenga Nariyal (King prawns cooked with coconut and spices).

Finished the meal with gulab jamuns (dumplings in golden sugar syrup) with a side of mango ice-cream. The jamuns were warm and fresh but could have been a tad bit softer but paired beautifully with the mango ice cream.

Gulab jamuns (dumplings in golden sugar syrup) with mango ice-cream

Gulab jamuns (dumplings in golden sugar syrup) with mango ice-cream

Now I know the post is getting longer but the experience at Tulsi cannot be complete if I do not talk about another dining opportunity I had at the restaurant. Three days after I visited, Tulsi was hosting a special Diwali dinner series specially curated and prepared by Chef Balaji who specializes in South Indian cuisine.

It was a three course meal with matching wines from Avani. The restaurant was beautifully decked with traditional earthen lamps (diyas) and rose petals.

The first course consisted of Kerala Pan Seared Salmon, Pepper studded Vadai, Madras style Calamari and a shot of peppery Rasam. The accompanying wines were two different types of Pinot; the first one a 2015 Pinot (Amrit) – with spicy notes which matched perfectly with the South Indian spices. The second was a limited edition 2015 Pinot fermented with the skins on which gave the wine a nice rosy hue and a refreshing lightness.

I loved the salmon; crispy skin and perfectly flaky flesh with a subtle hint of spices. Loved the calamari too which was served on a bed of lettuce and sautéed onions. The vadai was delicious but I would have preferred it warm and slightly crispier but then, that’s the South Indian in me talking. All finished off with a shot of rasam, high on flavour and packed a punch.

Kerala Pan Seared Salmon, Pepper studded Vadai, Madras style Calamari and a shot of peppery Rasam

Kerala Pan Seared Salmon, Pepper studded Vadai, Madras style Calamari and a shot of peppery Rasam

Limited edition 2015 Amrit (Pinot) fermented with the skins

Limited edition 2015 Amrit (Pinot) fermented with the skins

2015 Amrit (Pinot)

2015 Amrit (Pinot)

The second course was Kozhi Vartha or Oven Roasted Chicken with Coconut served with Hyderabadi Pilaf and Long Beans Poriyal. Paired with a 2013 Avani Syrah which matched beautifully with the spices in the chicken. The meat was tender and served with a flavourful savoury tomato sauce with the pilaf subtle but delicious.

Kozhi Vartha or Oven Roasted Chicken with Coconut served with Hyderabadi Pilaf and Long Beans Poriyal paired with a 2013 Avani Syrah

Kozhi Vartha or Oven Roasted Chicken with Coconut served with Hyderabadi Pilaf and Long Beans Poriyal paired with a 2013 Avani Syrah

And the final course was dessert which was the most delicious rice and saffron kheer and jalebi which I have ever had. I am usually not the person to rave about desserts but this one was outstanding. The kheer was light, not very sweet to match the sticky, syrupy sweetness of the jalebis. Absolutely brilliant.

Rice and saffron kheer and jalebi

Rice and saffron kheer and jalebi

Tulsi was a delicious experience and a clear stand out among the mediocre Indian restaurants out here in Melbourne. Each dish is carefully prepared with the best quality ingredients and a true understanding of the cuisine which translates into a delicious and memorable experience for the diner.

The Team.....

The Team…..

Making a reservation ahead is advised especially for weekends. Also sign up to the Tulsi newsletter for special dinners, wine matching events and degustations.

Rating – 8.5/10

Tulsi Indian Restaurant

74 Station Street
Somerville
Victoria 3192

Phone no: 0359776733

Website: http://www.tulsi.com.au/

Timings:

Monday – 5.30 pm onwards
Tuesday – closed
Wednesday – 5.30 pm onwards
Thursday – 5.30 pm onwards
Friday – 5.30 pm onwards
Saturday – 5.30 pm onwards
Sunday – 5.30 pm onwards

Tulsi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – We were guests at Tulsi on both occasions but all the views and opinions expressed here are entirely mine.

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