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Tag Archives: potato

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill

Christmas in July! A few weeks ago I had posted my thoughts on this on Instagram and the special dinner I made for my family.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

Initially I had no plans of posting the recipes here. But I had taken a lot of photographs as it was also part of a social media collaboration with ALDI Australia. The food turned out amazing and I got a lot of requests for the recipes so eventually I decided to jot it down here too. I am sure it’s gonna come handy when we all celebrate the traditional Christmas season.

Pan roasted potatoes with smoked salmon, red onion, capers, dill and drizzled with olive oil; this was the appetizer that I served for our celebratory dinner. And paired it with the Blue Pyrenees Midnight Cuvee (2014).

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

The smoked salmon/caper/red onion pairing is a classic one, traditionally enjoyed with bagels and cream cheese. Today, there are all sorts of variations to this and this potato version is one of them.

Using potatoes instead of bagel keeps it lighter and bite sized, which makes it perfect to be served as an appetizer or canapé. Cream cheese can be avoided too. It’s important to use even, medium sized potatoes to get the perfect shape (and also to get maximum slices from a single potato).

As I mentioned, the flavours are still classic with smoked salmon, capers, red onion and dill. It’s easy to make ahead; only the potatoes need to be parboiled and then finished off in a pan at the time of serving. The rest of the components can be prepped ahead too which makes it an excellent choice to serve at parties even when there are many guests.

And if you try out this recipe, do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your post, so that I can see it too.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Coles Magazine

Ingredients:

  1. 2-3 even medium sized potatoes
  2. 100gms smoked salmon
  3. ½ red onion; thinly sliced
  4. 2 tbsp capers
  5. Fresh dill
  6. Extra virgin olive oil
  7. ½ lemon
  8. 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  9. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 – 1 ½ inch slices
  2. Parboil the potato slices in slightly salted water; drain and keep aside.
  3. Heat the cooking oil in a pan; fry the potatoes on both sides just enough to get some colour and crisp up the outside.
  4. Remove and arrange on a platter.
  5. Top each potato slice with smoked salmon, red onion slices, capers and dill. Squeeze lemon on top and drizzle a little olive oil just before serving.

Potatoes with Smoked Salmon, Capers and Dill - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

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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

 

 

 

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots

Soup weather is officially here!

The days have been cold, wet and grey and since we were relying too much on this cheesy bowl of comfort, I decided to experiment with more soups this season. Like this super creamy and delicious Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup generously garnished with crispy bacon and shallots.

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Comfort in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

The weather also dictates for a good read and the book I just finished reading is a poignant drama ‘Like I Can Love’ by Australian author, Kim Lock.

My knowledge of Australian authors is slowly but steadily increasing especially when I signed up to do book reviews with Pan Macmillan Australia. I found it a great way to discover new authors and also expand my reading horizon considerably.

Set in South Australia, ‘Like I Can Love’ is a poignant, heartbreaking tale of two friends. The book is also an exploration of different kinds of love, the varying spectrums of this emotion which can be fragile, sacrificing and sometime destructive. It is a tale of how love can make us do the most unthinkable of things leaving a mark on our souls and lives forever.

Beautifully etched by Kim Lock, the book captures the essence of love and friendship amidst the background of South Australia. By the end of it, I felt that the characters are real almost becoming a part of my life, as if I have known them all my life. It is a simple book to read but one that is profound and beautifully written.

Kim Lock resides with her family in the Barossa Valley and hence there is ample evidence of the culture and lifestyle of regional Australia in her book. The book is gripping without being too heavy which makes it ideal if you are a fiction lover.

Like I Can Love by Kim Lock - a book review - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s also simmer away a pot of this delicious soup before you get too engrossed in the book.

Just as the name suggests, this is a Potato, Cauliflower and Leek soup. I wanted more oomph and comfort which is why the shallots and bacon make an appearance, but if you are a crouton person, here is a delicious one you can try out.

Spices ofcourse are my thing but I am sure you agree that potatoes and cumin is a match made in heaven. So mildly spiced with bay leaf and cumin which adds so much more flavour to the soup. No extra cream in this one as I found that it is quite creamy from the potatoes and cauliflower but if you wish to, you can add a bit as garnish or at the end of the cooking process.

Bay leaf and Cumin - love thy spices - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Garnish for the Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

And of course, the crispy bacon and shallots……..yumm yumm yummmm!!

Ingredients:

  1. 100gms bacon; chopped
  2. 50gms fried shallots
  3. 2 large potatoes; diced
  4. 1 small cauliflower head; cut into florets
  5. 1 leek; finely sliced
  6. 3 dried bay leaf
  7. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  8. 2 medium garlic cloves
  9. 2 tbsp butter
  10. Salt, to season
  11. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
  12. 1 litre homemade chicken stock

Method:

  1. In a deep pan, add the bacon pieces and fry on low heat. No extra oil required as the bacon has enough fat which will render down and crisp it up.
  2. Once the bacon pieces have browned and crisped up well, remove and drain on a kitchen towel. Keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, heat butter and add the bay leaf and cumin. Cook on low heat till the spices are fragrant and then add the garlic and leeks. Sauté for about 2 minutes on medium heat but take care not to burn.
  4. Next add the potatoes and cauliflower florets; season with salt (remember the stock has salt) and pepper. Mix well to combine and cook on low heat for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add ¾ ths of the stock, check seasoning and bring to boil. Turn the heat down and cook covered till the vegetables are softened and cooked through.
  6. Cool slightly and blitz till creamy. Add more stock if too thick.
  7. Serve warm with crispy bacon and shallots.
  8. Slurp it up!

Note – I always have a stash of homemade fried shallots in my pantry which I used. You could use the store bought ones too.

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - Deliciousness in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Potato, Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Crispy Bacon and Shallots - comfort in a bowl - thespiceadventuress.com

Pssst….I am having this soup second day in a row with a  few drops of Tabasco hot sauce in it. Try it guys if you can take some heat!

 

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post but the book was sent to me by Pan Macmillan Australia.

 

 

 

Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes

Hashbrowns!

Who doesn’t love a good hashbrown….crispy, golden goodness that make our mornings brighter and delicious.

But what could be better? Oven baked hashbrown muffins generously endowed with ham, parmesan and sundried tomatoes. Now we are talking….

Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes - a savoury kid friendly snack perfect for lunch boxes and parties alike - thespiceadventuress.com

 

I have been wanting to make some savoury muffins for a while now but pushed it off till the school term began again. It was #backtoschool today and these hashbrown muffins seemed like the perfect treat to welcome my boy home after his first day in Grade 2.

The idea for a hashbrown muffin came from the blog ‘Recipe Tin Eats’; she used bacon in her recipe but I wanted to create a flavour that Adi enjoys. So it had to be ham and cheese! For that extra flavour punch, some finely chopped sundried tomatoes did the job. And a generous sprinkle of parsley for that refreshing, herby goodness.

A simple and easy to make recipe, these savoury muffins are excellent for parties or when you need to feed a crowd. Also freezes well, so you can make a batch ahead and re-heat it when necessary. And of course, a great lunch box recipe. Do not hesitate to experiment adding flavours that you or your kids enjoy. For a vegetarian version, I am thinking a hashbrown with ricotta and spinach.

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Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes - a savoury kid friendly snack perfect for lunch boxes and parties alike - thespiceadventuress.com

Do you make savoury muffins? I would love to hear about your recipes, so please drop in a comment below. And if you do make these hashbrown muffins, make sure you tag me using #thespiceadventuress so that I would not miss it.

So, let’s get on to the recipe;

Ingredients:

(Makes about 20 muffins)

  1. 100gms ham; chopped finely
  2. 1.2 kg potatoes (any starchy variety); grated
  3. ½ cup sundried tomatoes; chopped finely
  4. 2 tbsp parsley; finely chopped
  5. Salt, to season
  6. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  7. 1 cup mozzarella; grated (or any melting cheese)

Method:

  1. Sauté the ham on low heat till lightly browned. Keep aside.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C fan forced (180°C for conventional).
  3. Wash the grated potatoes once or twice in cold water to remove excess starch. Squeeze out the excess water in small batches and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the ham (reserve a bit for garnish), cheese, sundried tomatoes and 1 tbsp parsley to the potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
  5. Oil the muffin tray well (even if it is nonstick); scoop about ½ cup of the potato mixture and place in each muffin well. Flatten the top lightly with the back of a spoon.
  6. Oven bake for about 20-25 minutes or till the top has taken a golden brown colour.
  7. Garnish with the remaining ham and parsley; serve warm.

Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes - a savoury kid friendly snack perfect for lunch boxes and parties alike - thespiceadventuress.com

Hashbrown Muffins with Ham, Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes - a savoury kid friendly snack perfect for lunch boxes and parties alike - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Southern Fried Chicken with Paprika Wedges

Fried chicken – The ultimate global comfort food!

I remember vividly of a childhood eating my fair share of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken, is there anyone who doesn’t know it!). It was the only form of fast food that was welcome in our house simply for the fact that fried chicken was the only thing that my dad would eat outside South Indian cuisine.

Without going into the debate of health and junk food, I did enjoy the flavours of KFC, at least till I learnt to make a decent version of fried chicken myself. What can get more comforting than biting into a crispy chicken leg that eventually melts in your mouth. And accompany it with fries and ketchup…..greasy but good for the soul!

As my cooking skills strengthened and so did my knowledge of oven cooking, I learnt of ways to achieve a similar texture and flavour of fried chicken without actually deep frying. The fries got replaced with wedges and the store bought mayo slowly gave way to homemade aioli.

And of all the different varieties and styles of fried chicken, this Southern version staunchly remains my favourite just because it has liberal amounts of my favourite ingredient in it….spices.

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Southern fried chicken is another comfort food offering that originated in the US. The chicken pieces are tenderized by marinating in buttermilk and then coated with flour mixed with spices like cayenne pepper. But today, I am adding more crunch to the coating in the form of crushed cornflakes and Panko breadcrumbs. And we have not just cayenne for the chilli kick, but smoked paprika and Indian red chilli powder because I like it hot!

If you have an oven, then ditch the fryers and skillets; spray some oil and oven bake at high temperatures to get the same crispy exterior and your stomach will thank you for it. We also have paprika wedges instead of classic fries to accompany this Southern fried chicken. Homemade mayo and barbeque sauce complete this comfort food package making my weekend a delicious affair.

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Why don’t you make yours delicious too?

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

1. 1 kg chicken; broken into 6 pieces
2. 2 cups buttermilk
3. 3 tbsp barbeque sauce
4. 2 cups crushed cornflakes
5. 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (use ordinary crumbs if you do not have Panko)
6. 3 tbsp wheat flour
7. 1 tbsp smoked paprika
8. 1 tsp red chilli powder
9. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
10. 2 tsp onion powder
11. ½ tsp garlic powder
12. Salt, to season
13. Freshly milled black pepper, to season
14. Vegetable oil

Note – Adjust the spices to suit your heat preference.

For the wedges:

1. 4 medium potatoes
2. ½ tsp paprika
3. ¼ tsp Italian herbs
4. Salt, to season
5. 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

To prepare the chicken:

• Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, pour the buttermilk and barbeque sauce on top. Season with salt and pepper; keep aside for at least 2 hours or overnight as time permits.
• Preheat the oven to 250°C. Line a tray with baking paper and lightly brush or spray with vegetable oil.
• In a bowl, mix the cornflakes, Panko crumbs, flour, cayenne, red chilli, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
• Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk and coat with the cornflakes mixture. Press gently so that the crumb adheres to the chicken and place it on the baking tray. Repeat for all pieces. Make sure that you do not crowd the tray; if necessary, prepare in batches or on 2 trays.
• Lightly spray or drizzle the chicken pieces with oil and bake for 10-12 minutes at 250°C. Then decrease the heat to 200°C and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken and take care it does not burn.
• Flip the chicken pieces over gently, lightly spray or brush with oil and bake again at 200°C for another 15-20 minutes or till done. Check after 10 minutes to see if any pieces are done (the wings may cook faster than the breast pieces) and remove if necessary.

To prepare the wedges:

• Peel the potatoes, cut into wedges (leave the skin on if you wish to) and parboil in salted boiling water for 8 minutes.
• Drain and allow to air dry.
• Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan forced). Line a tray with baking paper.
• In a bowl, mix the potato wedges with paprika, herbs and lightly season with salt (remember you cooked it in salted water). Drizzle a bit of oil and line the wedges on the tray without crowding too much.
• Roast in the oven for 15 minutes turning once in between or till golden brown and done.

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Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry

‘Charmagaz’ refers to an assortment of four different seeds – watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber and pumpkin (all members of the Cucurbitaceous plants).

These seeds are quite popular as delicious and healthy snacks but are extensively used for cooking in the Rajasthani cuisine of India. Just as nuts are used to add texture and creaminess to a gravy or curry, a paste of these seeds are used to lend creaminess to the dish and at one-fourth of the cost.

One of my favourite snacks from my childhood was these seeds; I would also add sunflower seeds to the list. Snacking on seeds is extremely popular in the Middle East and that’s how I picked it up. But quite recently, I tumbled upon the use of these seeds in rich, flavourful Indian curries.

And this piece of wisdom came from this amazing blog; Sanjeeta is a well known food blogger, photographer and stylist. She had posted a recipe for mushroom charmagaz and that’s how I learnt how to use these seeds.

The charmagaz remains the same, but the recipes are highly varied so you actually get two ideas on how to incorporate these healthy seeds into your diet. And these are easily available at all Indian stores or you could buy a mix from any shop selling seeds and nuts, especially the Middle Eastern ones.

Adzuki beans and potatoes in charmagaz curry; this dish is high on nutrition. There’s protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, essential fats and a whole lot of other nutrients from the seeds. Paired with wholewheat rotis and a fresh, garden salad on the side; this one is a delicious, flavourful vegetarian delight!

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry - a healthy vegetarian delight - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Ingredients:

1. 1 cup adzuki beans; soaked overnight
2. 2 large potatoes, cut into cubes
3. 3 tbsp charmagaz; soaked in warm water
4. ½ tbsp poppy seeds; soaked in warm water
5. 3 dry red chilli; soaked in warm water
6. 3-4 tbsp milk
7. 1 large onion, finely chopped
8. Half of a ripe tomato, finely chopped
9. 3 garlic cloves
10. 1 inch ginger
11. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
12. 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
13. 1 tsp coriander powder
14. ¼ tsp cumin powder
15. 2 tbsp oil
16. 1 dry bay leaf
17. 3 cloves
18. 1 inch cinnamon bark
19. Salt, to season
20. 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method:

1. Soak the charmagaz, poppy seeds and dry red chilli in warm water or at least 30 minutes.
2. After 30 min, drain and grind to a paste with milk, garlic and ginger. Add water, if necessary. Keep aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add the bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon bark. Cook for a few seconds on low heat till fragrant and then add the chopped onions.
4. Saute till light brown and then add the spice powders. Cook for a further minute and then add the tomatoes. Saute till all the ingredients come together and a mushy consistency is achieved.
5. Then add the ground paste and mix well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, season with salt and add 2 cups of water. Bring to boil.
6. Then add the adzuki beans and cook till ¾ ths done. Add water to loosen up the gravy if too dry.
7. Add the potatoes and cook till done (at this stage, the beans will be soft but not mushy).
8. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
9. Serve warm.

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry - a healthy vegetarian delight - thespiceadventuress.com

Adzuki Beans and Potatoes in Charmagaz Curry - a healthy vegetarian delight - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Bandhakopir Torkari (Bengali Cabbage, Potato and Peas Curry)

I have had many fleeting associations with Bengal, its people and cuisine over the years but never a deep-seated one, enough to understand the fundamentals of this region and its food.

My foray into the food blogging world introduced me to many fellow bloggers of Bengali origin and through their blogs and associations, I am beginning to learn more and more about the rich and varied cuisine of this region.

Bengal has always been a prominent part of India, especially in its role as the capital before Delhi took over the mantle. Rich in culture, traditions, history, cuisine, Bengal has much to offer to its residents and the many travellers to the region. I have always said that I hate being a ‘tourist’ anywhere; I like to absorb the region and go beyond the surface and this lady ‘here’ is the best person to follow if you are bitten by the travel bug.

I have been taking baby steps into the vibrant and colourful Bengali culinary fare…slow, but steady ones which has amazed and delighted me making me keep trying for more. Today’s recipe, Bandhakopir Torkari or loosely translated as Bengali cabbage, potato and peas curry is one such dish.

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I do not cook much with cabbage; tend to eat it in a raw manner or just stir fried most of the time. Cooked cabbage has always tasted bland and soggy till the Bandhakopir Torkari happened to me.

This dish is packed with flavour from the spices, especially cumin. No onion, no garlic….just a handful of spices that does its job beautifully.

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Bandhakopir Torkari pairs beautifully with rotis; a humble vegetarian dish that is so flavourful and delish that you will keep coming back for more. So go ahead..make it…enjoy it!

And I learnt this dish from a wonderful blogger.

Ingredients:

1. ½ kg cabbage; sliced
2. 2 medium potatoes, diced
3. ¾ th cup green peas
4. 1 large, ripe red tomato
5. 2 dry bay leaf
6. 2 green cardamom, crushed lightly
7. 2 cloves
8. ½ tsp cumin seeds
9. 2 dry red chilli
10. 1 tsp red chilli powder
11. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
12. ¼ th tsp sugar
13. 3 tbsp mustard oil
14. Salt, to season

Method:

1. Heat mustard oil in a pan; add the cumin seeds, crushed green cardamom, dry red chillies, bay leaf and cloves. Fry lightly till fragrant.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté on medium heat till the tomatoes are mashed well.
3. Add the turmeric and red chilli powder; sauté for another minute.
4. Add the potato pieces fry on medium heat till the potatoes are half-cooked.
5. Then add the peas and cabbage and cook till done.
6. Add a bit of water if the vegetables get too dry; cabbage releases enough water so wait for the cabbages to wilt before adding water. Add sugar and season with salt.
7. Serve hot with Indian flat breads.

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Shepherd’s Pie/Cottage Pie – Keeping Food Traditions Alive

The cottage pie is a British classic; often referred to as the poor man’s food, it is essentially a meat pie with a mashed potato crust.

Believed to have originated in Scotland, the cottage pie has gone down the annals of food history as a British or Irish classic. Initially referred to as cottage pie, the dish began to be called shepherd’s pie when lamb mince began to be used instead of beef.

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A no-fuss, simple, hearty meat dish which was exclusively eaten by the working class. I love to cook such classic dishes, not just for the sake of keeping the tradition alive but for the fact that these dishes have a story to tell reminiscent of a bygone era.

Potatoes were the only source of carbohydrates affordable to the rural workers and hence were used liberally in those days. There are historical suggestions that this type of meat pie was common in many other countries, especially with a pastry crust.

Today, you would find the shepherd’s pie/cottage pie on the menu of most pubs in the UK. A popular dish in Australia and New Zealand too, but the NZ calls this dish a ‘potato top pie.’ Though a classic meat dish, you can do a vegetarian version too using lentils, soya or chickpeas instead of the meat.

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In fact, there is no dearth to the variations these days but I wanted to keep it simple and experience it like how the cottage pie would have been made centuries earlier.

I must admit that I did use more black pepper. In those days, pepper was black gold and was unknown the working class of Britian but today, we have it in plenty and take it so much for granted. And a bit of heat in the form of garam masala, to lift up all the flavours.

Like mentioned, you can use beef or lamb mince to create this shepherd’s pie and here is how you should make it;

Recipe Courtesy – Coles Magazine

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Ingredients:

1. 500 gm lamb mince
2. 750 gm potatoes; peeled and quartered
3. 50 gm butter
4. 1/3 cup full cream milk
5. 2 tbsp olive oil
6. 250 gm pumpkin; peeled and diced
7. 1 medium onion, diced
8. 1 carrot, diced
9. 1 stick celery, diced
10. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
11. 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
12. 1½ tbsp plain flour
13. 1 cup stock
14. Black pepper, to season
15. Salt, to season
16. 1 tsp garam masala

Method:

1. Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water till tender. Peel the skin and drain excess water.
2. Return the potatoes to the saucepan, break down into small pieces with the ladle, add two-thirds of the butter and mash well till almost smooth. Next whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Keep aside.
3. To prepare the lamb mixture, heat oil in a heavy pan, add the onions, carrot, celery and pumpkin for about 8 minutes on medium heat.
4. Add the garlic and garam masala and cook for a further 2 minutes.
5. Add the lamb mince and stir it in on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Reduce to medium heat and cook till the lamb is almost done.
6. Add vinegar and cook till the liquid in the pan has reduced completely.
7. Next, stir in the remaining butter; and slowly add flour while stirring continuously.
8. Add the beef stock and stir well scraping all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
9. If the mixture feels too dry, add a little water. Season with salt and pepper.
10. While this is cooking, preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced).
11. Once the lamb has cooked, transfer it to an over proof dish and spoon the mashed potatoes on top; spread to cover the pan. Drizzle the surface slightly with oil, season with salt and pepper.
12. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or till the potato mash has nicely browned to form a crust.
13. Cool slightly before serving.
14. The best accompaniment is a beautiful, fresh salad and you can find plenty of ideas here.

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And before you leave, have you taken part in the $75 Menulog voucher giveaway? If no, you need to check out this.

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup

Today, I am going to talk about a topic that is increasingly becoming important to me – buying locally.

When I started off my life in Australia as a new migrant, my shopping habits were similar to scores of others – buy decently good products at the lowest price possible without a care where or how the product is sourced. But as my life evolved here, especially as my blogging journey took off, I started to become more aware of where my products came from, especially the produce and food I eat.

The benefits of buying local produce are immense. To start with, it is an immense boost to the local economy. It is giving back to the community, to the farmers, who toil so hard and relentlessly to bring us the best food possible.

It is about eating healthy; local and seasonal produce are much fresher and likely to have lesser chemicals than the ones bought in from other countries.

It is about supporting local and small business owners who are being forced to shut up shop due to the pressure of competing with foreign businesses and not finding enough customers for their produce.

I know that locally sourced produce can sometimes be slightly more expensive and there is no dearth for cheap imports too. And I also know money is important to all of us. But if you are willing to look around, attend local farmer’s market than big chain supermarkets or food stores, you will find plenty of produce for reasonable prices that fit right into your budget.

And sometimes, it is ok to spend a few extra cents or dollars; look at the long term and not the short term benefits. So which ever part of the world you live in, take a little effort to find out where your food comes from and do your bit to support local farmers and businesses.

So, that’s what I did for this recipe; visited the nearby farmer’s market and bought a couple of locally grown small pumpkins and potatoes.

Today’s recipe is a rich, creamy, luscious, Scandinavian pumpkin and potato soup flavoured with coconut milk, toasted sesame seeds and red chillies.

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

A simple and easy to make soup with robust flavours; you could call it a winter soup as it is a hearty and warming dish. But for me, it works in all seasons; I could enjoy a bowl of soup at any time of the day in any season.

For me, the highlight of this soup is the toasted sesame seeds, chillies and coriander leaf garnish. Silky smooth, creamy, sweet pumpkin and potato soup, flavoured with nutty sesame seeds, fiery chillies and the freshness of coriander leaves.

Recipe Courtesy – Le Creuset, The Scandinavian Way to Cook

Here’s how you prepare Scandinavian pumpkin and potato soup;

Ingredients:

1. 500gm small pumpkin, diced
2. 3 large potatoes, diced
3. 4 garlic cloves, peeled
4. 2 medium red onions, diced
5. 2 tbsp olive oil
6. 2 tsp thyme
7. 1 green chilli, finely chopped
8. 2 cups fresh coconut milk
9. 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
10. 2 tbsp lemon juice
11. 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
12. 2 sprigs fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
13. Salt, to taste
14. Freshly milled black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan and lightly fry the diced pumpkin, potato, garlic and onions. Add thyme and chopped green chilli. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add coconut milk and enough water to just cover the vegetables and slow cook for 40-50 minutes till the vegetables are tender and soft.
3. Toast the sesame seeds and keep aside.
4. Cool and blend the soup. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. (Make sure to taste the soup before seasoning and add accordingly.)
5. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, red chilli and coriander leaves.
6. Serve hot with bread of choice.

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Karari Aloo Tikki……and the celebration of a child’s innocence

A poem by Ann Weems that I found in a Christian prayer book a long long time ago…..

I celebrate children

who laugh out loud
who walk in the mud and dawdle in the puddles
who put chocolate fingers anywhere
who like to be tickled
who scribbled in church
who whisper in loud voices
who run – and laugh when they fall
who cry at the top of their lungs
who cover themselves with Band aids
who squeeze the toothpaste all over the bathroom

who slurp their soup
who chew cough drops
who ask questions
who give us sticky, paste covered creations
who want their pictures taken
who don’t use their napkins
who bury their goldfish, sleep with the dog, scream at their best friends
who hug us in a hurry and rush outside without their hats

I celebrate children who are so busy living, they don’t have time for our hang-ups,

And I celebrate adults who are as little children.

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Today’s dish, Karari aloo tikki (mashed potato patties spiced with cumin, asafetida, ginger and chat masala) is a celebrated and much loved Indian starter, especially in the northern regions of the country. The term ‘karari’ refers to the little town of Karari in Uttar Pradesh where this particular type of aloo tikki is popular. There is no onion or garlic in this recipe which makes it perfect for those who want to abstain from using the same.

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As I mentioned earlier, karari aloo tikki is simple and easy to prepare, can be made in batches and frozen for future use which makes it perfect for parties and events. The level of heat can be adjusted by adjusting the number of green chillies.

Recipe Courtesy – Femina magazine

Ingredients:

1. Potatoes – 400gm, boiled and mashed
2. Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
3. Ginger – 2 tsp, chopped
4. Green chillies – 4, finely chopped (reduce quantity for less heat)
5. Hing/asafetida – a pinch
6. Cumin powder – ½ tsp
7. Chat masala – 2 tsp
8. Salt – to season
9. Coriander leaves – 20gm, finely chopped
10. Corn flour – 100 gm
11. Vegetable oil – to shallow fry the patties
12. Mint coriander chutney – to garnish (http://skinnychefdecuisine.com/2013/08/25/mint-coriander-chutney/)
13. Chilli jam – to garnish (http://skinnychefdecuisine.com/2014/04/07/chilli-jam-and-my-2nd-publication/)

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Method:

• Boil the potatoes and mash lightly.
• Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan and lightly roast cumin seeds, ginger, chillies and asafetida. Make sure it is done on low heat or the spices will turn bitter.
• Take off the heat and add cumin powder and chat masala.
• Combine this with the mashed potatoes, season with salt and add coriander leaves; mix well to combine evenly.
• Shape the mixture into patties and lightly coat on both sides with cornflour.
• Shallow fry in vegetable oil till golden brown.
• Serve with mint coriander chutney and chilli jam.

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