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Tag Archives: kangaroo

Phillip Island – Penguins, Farms and Shades of Blue

(Grab a cuppa and read along what me and my family were upto on our short holiday to Phillip Island)

Located about 140km away from Melbourne CBD, Phillip Island is one of the most popular islands of Victoria, Australia.

With about 97kms of coastline, the island offers stunning panoramic views which make it a very popular destination among the locals and tourists alike. In spite of having lived in Melbourne for the past 3+ years, we have never visited the island (I know!) and so when an opportunity presented in the form of friends visiting us from India, we were quick to jump at it.

Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

In spite of having lots to offer, Phillip Island is often viewed as a one day trip and most people would want to tell you that there isn’t much beyond the famous Penguin Parade. Nothing can be far from the truth….this island has so much more to offer for those who look out for experiences beyond the obvious. This is also because most travellers and holiday goers view Phillip Island as a destination to get to and forget the journey that perhaps offers lots more.

We planned a 2 day trip and used Airbnb to book our stay at Blue Poles Holiday House on Thompson Avenue, Cowes. I would highly recommend this house; the location was perfect and it was a beautiful home with all the amenities and a warm, cozy ambience. Quite affordable too.

Since we were travelling with children, our first stop was at the Maru Koala Park, an award winning family run business located on the Bass Highway, Grantville en route to Phillip Island. The farm is home to koalas, kangaroos, dingoes and many other Australian native animals.

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

The park also has a Pirate themed mini golf area, a bit hit with the children and adults alike. This was my first time getting all close up and personal with the kangaroos and joeys. Make sure to pick up a feed box at the counter and have the joeys eating out of your hand. Highly recommended and so much fun with kids.

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Maru Koala Park also offers close encounters with the koalas, joeys, dingoes, reptiles etc… for an extra cost in addition to the general entry. These run daily at specified times so make sure you check before hand on the website before making the ticket purchase.

We opted for the close encounters with koala and joey. What you get is an extra bit of one on one time with the animals along with the keepers. Loads of cuddling, photo opportunities; the staff also click photographs (included in your ticket price) which can be collected at the counter at the end of your visit.

Koala close encounter, Maru Koala Park, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

Joey close encounter, Maru koala park, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

The centre also has a café for those who are planning on spending a considerable time at the park. The food was nothing much to write about, standard fare so give it a miss if you are not too hungry. The options are much better once you reach Phillip Island which is only about 15-20 minutes away.

Maru Koala Park, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

On our way out, we visited the gift shop to bring back some souvenirs…we love collecting fridge magnets from our travels. Overall a great experience, but a tad bit expensive. It would be great if the centre could introduce a package rate for those who want many experiences instead of having to pay full price for each. Having said that, an experience children will love.

The next stop was The Nobbies at Phillip Island, that boardwalk stretch that offers you the most panoramic and spectacular views of the coast. Savour the walk along this stretch taking in the expanse of blue that seems to change shades every few steps. If you walk the stretch in a hurry just clicking photographs and selfies, you have totally missed the point. Spend a few minutes absorbing the beauty in front of you and these visual memories are what will stay with you forever unlike the photographs.

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

As you walk along the boardwalk, do keep an eye out for silver gulls, chicks and sometimes even little penguins. We were lucky to spot two and I even managed to photograph one….

With the Seal Rocks nearby, you can take a cruise to visit Australia’s largest fur seal colony but we had to give it a miss since we had a toddler accompanying us. Also the cruise runs only on specific days and fixed timings so make sure you have a plan and make bookings ahead.

The Nobbies, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

And then it was time for the quintessential Penguin Parade, which perhaps put Phillip Island on the tourism map in the first place.

This is definitely once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nothing short of magic to watch hundreds and perhaps thousands of little penguins returning home at sunset to their colonies. A wildlife experience that’s indeed a surreal experience and one that is beyond words.

Have a walk inside the main centre where you can learn and gather lots of information about penguins. There are two souvenir shops for a spot of shopping; I bought home a banksia essential oil infuser and ofcourse fridge magnets.

There are different types of penguin viewing platforms and all that information can be found here. We chose the ‘Underground Viewing’, a world first facility that allows you a bird’s eye view of the penguins returning home.  Some of the little fellas returning home get so curious that they walk right up to the viewing glass.

Penguin Parade, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

You have the advantage of being indoors which is great if you have little ones along. Louise, our ranger for the evening, was such a warm and friendly person who not only provided us with lots of penguin information but also patiently answered my curious 7 year old’s doubts (hard task).

Penguin Parade, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

Seating is limited to 70 people so make sure you book ahead and if you hold a RACV membership, make sure to put the discount to good use.

There are also several eco friendly tours that operate so make sure to check out the website for the details.

Photography is not allowed at the Penguin Parade respecting the natural habitat of these little ones. But I will leave you with this photograph that I managed to click at the Nobbies.

Little Penguin, Nobbies, Phillip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

(I found a lot of people violating the ‘no photography’ clause sneakily getting clicks using mobile phones. Please guys, it is important to remember that we are in their natural environment and what we do can affect and threaten the little penguins)

We had a late start the 2nd day and the first place we visited was the Fisherman’s Co-operative at San Remo.

Fisherman's Co-op, San Remo - thespiceadventuress.com

Yet another region with spectacular views, the Co-op is also the place to stock up on fresh seafood or perhaps indulge in some fishing. Also a great place to relax in the sun; the children have access to clean sand and small pockets of water – a mini beach like experience.

At San Remo, Philip Island - thespiceadventuress.com

Every day at 12.00pm, there is a Pelican Feeding program which we actually missed because we arrived a tad bit late. A walk along the San Remo jetty is highly recommended to enjoy the view and also spot interestingly named fishing boats.

San Remo Jetty, Philip Island, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

I bought back some super fresh duck fish fillets from the shop, a variety I have never tasted before. You could also sit down for a seafood indulgent lunch at the restaurant with this brilliant view as a backdrop.

Back on the road, our next stop was the Djinta Djinta Winery but then that’s another story in itself. Stay tuned!

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Spiced Kangaroo Triangles

I often get the ‘raised eyebrow’ expression when I say that I occasionally eat kangaroo meat. While a couple of my friends are fascinated that I have experimentative tastebuds, most of them are quick to judge in the negative.

We have become so judgemental these days, even when it comes to food. It is the era of the global palate, yet we have divided and compartmentalized ourselves in so many food groups – non vegetarians, vegetarians, eggetarians, vegans, paleos with each group trying to sound more righteous than the next.

Why can’t food be just what it is meant to be – to nourish our bodies and our souls. Eat what makes you healthy and happy without judging and having an opinion on another’s diet!

Judgements aside, kangaroo meat is both delicious and healthy. While it is easily available in Australia and quite affordable too, it can be difficult and expensive to procure if you live elsewhere. It is important for me to purchase all the meat I consume from a verified, sustainable source and for kangaroo, it is ‘Gourmet Game’, a trademark of Macro Meats.

I have cooked with kangaroo before and it was a delicious experience. This time, I wanted to experiment with the mince and the inspiration for these Spiced Kangaroo Triangles came from the meat samosas that are famous in India.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Though I started out with the idea of samosas, I wanted to simplify the whole process making the snack a little easier and quicker to make. Samosas can be a bit technical if you are not used to making it often. So instead I decided to do a simple stuffed triangle using store bought puff pastry sheets…like I said, making it simple and easy for everyone. Also these triangles are baked so no deep frying involved which is another plus.

Spices and aromatics are the magic ingredients here which transform the kangaroo mince into the most delicious filling. These spiced kangaroo triangles make the easiest party snack. The filling can be prepared ahead of time and all that you need to do on the day is make the triangles, a bit of egg wash and bake.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Use any kind of meat mince that you wish to, lamb, beef, chicken, all make great options. Or a vegetarian one with the classic ricotta and spinach or spiced potatoes. Just try it once and I am sure you will be making it over and over again….believe me, I have been making it a lot.

Ingredients:

Note – Makes about 30 triangles

  1. 1 kg kangaroo mince
  2. 3 medium red onions; finely chopped
  3. 3 garlic cloves; grated
  4. 1 tbsp ginger; grated
  5. 3 green chillies; finely chopped (adjust to heat preferences)
  6. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  7. ¾ tsp red chilli powder
  8. 1 tbsp coriander powder
  9. ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
  10. Salt, to season
  11. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  12. 1 tbsp mint leaves; finely chopped
  13. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  14. Puff pastry sheets (each pastry sheet makes 4 triangles)
  15. 1 egg beaten; for egg wash
  16. White sesame seeds; for garnish

Method:

  1. In a large pan, dry roast the mince till it has browned well. Brown in batches on high heat if the pan is small so that the mince is dried out and not stewed in its own juices. Remove and keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in the same pan and add the onions; sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium heat and then add the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Sauté till the onions are light brown, reduce heat and add all the spice powders. Season with salt, add the mince and mix well to combine. Finish off with the coriander and mint leaves. Remove and allow to cool completely before stuffing in the triangles.
  3. In the meantime, thaw the frozen pastry sheets.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced oven) and line an oven proof tray with baking paper.
  5. Cut each pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.
  6. Place about 2 tbsp of the meat mince in the centre of each square. Brush egg wash on all the four sides of the square and fold diagonally to form a triangle. Press lightly at the edges and place on the baking tray. Repeat for all others.
  7. Finally, brush egg wash on the top surface of the triangles and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
  8. Bake for about 12-13 minutes or till the triangles are golden brown on the surface.
  9. Enjoy warm with sweet chilli sauce.

Note – The cooked mince freezes well to be used at a later date. I make it in bulk, freeze in batches and always have a pack of puff pastry sheets in the freezer; very handy for after school hunger pangs and unexpected guests.

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Kangaroo Triangles - a delicious, party snack with roo mince - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Kangaroo Skewers with Red Chermoula

Kangaroo….yes, I finally did it.

And I can hear friends and family teasing my full fledged Aussie….ness now. But guys, not all Aussies eat kangaroo!

Well, it had been in my mind for the longest time to try out this meat ever since Masterchef happened to me. A lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ later….here I am with grilled kangaroo skewers marinated with red charmoula.

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Red Chermoula is an incredible Moroccan condiment with North African origins; it has a ton of flavour, very vibrant and can be used in so many different ways in the kitchen. There is the green variant too; the green chermoula – the basic difference being the presence of paprika in the red one.

As Mourad Lahlou puts it in his book, ‘New Moroccan’ (from where the recipe for this red charmoula is adapted), chermoula should be seen as a defining Moroccan flavour rather than just labeling it as a marinade, dip or condiment.

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Understanding the flavour profile of the chermoula will enable you to use it in multiple ways in your kitchen. Mourad has outlined plenty of ways in which you can put the red charmoula to use. But I decided to test it out with kangaroo.

Kangaroo meat is extremely low in fat and quite high in protein; so it has to be taken care, not to overcook the meat. This lean, red meat has many nutritional benefits like omega-3s, B group vitamins and also a good source of iron and zinc.

If you are buying kangaroo meat or for that matter any meat, make sure it comes from a sustainable and animal-friendly source. I bought mine from Gourmet Game; they also retail at most of the big supermarkets.

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Being an extremely lean meat, it’s important not to overcook the meat. I bought the fillets which were cut into medium-sized cubes for the skewers. A few minutes on each side are all that you need with this meat.

Now, I do understand that many of you might not get kangaroo meat easily in other countries or would hesitate to consume it for various reasons. But that does not mean that you cannot enjoy the flavours of the charmoula. This recipe can be adapted to any meat and even to vegetables. Get as creative as you want!

And staying with the Moroccan/Middle Eastern theme; the kangaroo skewers with red chermoula were paired with pita bread, hummus, jajik (Turkish cucumber yoghurt dip), salad with lemon and sumac on the side. If you need a good hummus recipe, then I have one right here.

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Ingredients:

For red chermoula:

1. 1 tbsp salt
2. 1 tbsp sweet paprika
3. 1 tsp smoked paprika
4. 1 tsp ground cumin
5. 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
6. 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
7. 2 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
8. 2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
9. 1 tbsp chopped preserved lemon rind
10. 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
11. 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
12. ½ cup water
13. ½ cup tomato puree


For kangaroo skewers:

14. 500 gms kangaroo fillets, cut into medium-sized cubes
15. 1 red onion, cut into cubes
16. Red chermoula, for marination
17. Salt, to season
18. Vegetable oil, to grill the skewers


Method:


To prepare red chermoula:

1. Put all the spices and the salt in a bowl and whisk well.
2. Then add the garlic, parsley, coriander leaves, lemon rind and lemon juice; mix to combine.
3. Finally, whisk in the oil, water and tomato puree.
4. You can store the excess in an air tight container in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks.


To prepare the kangaroo skewers:

1. Marinate the kangaroo meat with red chermoula; season with salt if necessary (there is salt in the red charmoula). Keep for at least 4 hours or longer.
2. Soak the wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to avoid burning.
3. Skewer the meat pieces neatly adding a cube of onion at each end.
4. Heat the grill pan to high, season with oil and place the skewers. Baste with red chermoula once in between.
5. 5 minutes on each side is enough to cook the meat to medium. Cover with foil for another 10 minutes before serving. (Check one piece of meat to ascertain that it has cooked enough to suit your taste preferences. If you like it medium rare, 3 minutes on each side would do).
6. Serve with accompaniments.

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