Advertisements

Tag Archives: spices

Fiji style Crab Curry

Some days the words just don’t come….

And it’s usually when my mind is overwhelmed and I am so busy trying to achieve a zillion things in a short period. Pretty much how I feel currently with the holiday season coming up soon.

I hardly get overwhelmed or stressed over personal and emotional happenings; pretty sorted that way. But when it gets to physical things like working, events to attend, parties to plan etc… that’s when I feel so beat up and tired. And that’s exactly the current state of affairs. There are so many recipes to test, shoot and write, so many events to attend (in spite of saying yes only to a quarter of the invites), Christmas parties to plan, a trip to India early next year for my brother’s wedding which means a whole lot of wedding shopping to do…the list goes on.

Since I have nothing more to say apart from how crazy things are at the moment, I will just get on with today’s recipe – a Fiji style Crab Curry.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

With Fiji being so close to Australia in terms of geography, there are so many people I know who are from the island. But when it comes to food, I am totally clueless. I do know that Fiji cuisine is heavily influenced by the various migrants and settlers so it’s totally normal to see an Indian curry sitting beside a native dish. And seafood is an integral part of the diet due to the coastal topography.

I found the recipe for this Fiji style crab curry in my recipe journal (basically a bunch of recipes torn from magazines and newspapers that I used to collect way before the food blogging journey). And so I have no clue whom to credit the recipe to. In fact I am not even sure if it’s the most authentic or traditional way of making crab curry in Fiji.

The original recipe called for large mud crabs to make this curry, but I decided to use blue swimmer crabs as these are in season and also because I love the flavour of these..so sweet and delicious.

Blue swimmer crab - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Medium thick milk from freshly grated coconuts is the best to make this Fiji style Crab Curry, but canned coconut milk will work just fine too (tends to be slightly more sweet than fresh coconut milk). The crabs are broken down so that the flavour from all the spices and aromatics seeps into every nook and crevice of the claws and body which makes this curry a delicious delight. And of course, ensure there are plenty of napkins around, there’s no neat or demure way to eat crabs.

In traditional Fiji cooking, a hot masala powder would be used but sourcing that would be difficult for most people, hence I used garam masala  which is quite similar to the hot masala. If you live in Australia, there are plenty of stores that stock Fijian products so you can use the hot masala itself.

In spite of all the spices, this is a very mild and light curry that’s perfect for the warmer days. It’s creamy yet light and soupy, sweet yet with a hint of spice that’s best enjoyed over a bowl of steamed white rice.

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Fiji style Crab Curry

So let’s get cooking a delicious pot of this Fiji style Crab Curry…

Ingredients:

  1. 3 blue swimmer crabs
  2. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  3. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  4. 1 inch ginger; julienned

Recipe developed for Supreme Seafood, so find the full recipe on their website..

Fiji style Crab Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Lamb Curry with Haricot Beans

As I had mentioned on my FB page a few days ago, we were crazy busy the whole of last week shifting homes. Things are still a little crazy even now as we are yet to settle down in the new home, in the process of opening out the boxes, arranging, rearranging and all of that jazz.

While the packing part is stressful and not enjoyable at all, I really enjoy the unpacking phase in the new home. I love decorating and doing up my home interiors, so it’s like having a whole new palette to play with.

Since I knew that there is not much cooking that will be happening over the next couple of days, I decided to test and shoot some recipes beforehand (the first time I have actually planned out my work ahead of time). Usually it’s always spontaneous but this year, I have been really working on my time management skills which are great when you have a home based business.

One of the dishes that I had tested out was this delicious Lamb curry with Haricot beans.

Pairing lamb or goat curry with lentils, vegetables etc… are quite common in Indian cuisine. And a great example of that would be Dhansak, a much revered mutton preparation amongst the Parsi Zoroastrian community. A fusion dish that combines elements of Persian cuisine and Gujarati cuisine, Dhansak has come to symbolize the essence of Parsi cuisine.

Not an adaptation, but this lamb curry with haricot beans was definitely inspired by Dhansak; firstly for the lamb and pulses combination and secondly because of the use of Dhansak masala, a really flavourful aromatic spice blend that makes this lamb curry absolutely spectacular.

Lamb Curry with Haricot Beans - thespiceadventuress.com

I have cooked with haricot beans before but always in a vegetarian dish like a stir fry with grated coconut or in combination with other vegetables like potatoes. This is the first time I paired it with lamb and it turned out to be such a great combination.

Haricot beans are also called by other names like Navy beans, Boston beans, pea beans etc… These are small, oval, white coloured beans that have a mild, smooth and creamy flavour when cooked. If you are not too fond of the bigger sized beans, this is a great replacement to make baked beans for breakfast, in stir fries, curries or salads. High in protein and gluten free, haricot beans are definitely a healthy addition to your pantry.

As I mentioned earlier, I used the dhansak masala as the spice blend to make this curry. It’s a really flavourful and aromatic blend that has become another valued addition to my spice collection. Have fun with it and do not restrict to using it in just this curry but as you would use garam masala or any other blend.

So let’s get into the recipe now; and if you do make this recipe, do tag me #thespiceadventuress so that I can see your creations too. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Dhansak Masala:

  1. 100 g dry coriander seeds
  2. 50 g fenugreek seeds
  3. 50 g mustard seeds
  4. 50 g cumin seeds
  5. 50 g dried bay leaves
  6. 20 gms cardamom
  7. 20 gms cloves
  8. 1 large cinnamon bark

Method:

Dry roast the whole spices on a hot tawa/flat pan till aromatic (take care not to burn). Cool slightly and then blend into a powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make the curry:

Ingredients:

  1. 800gms lamb shank meat (boneless); cut into bite sized pieces
  2. 3-4 tbsp oil
  3. 2 large onions; finely chopped
  4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  5. 3 medium garlic cloves; grated
  6. 1 inch ginger root; grated
  7. 2 large tomatoes; finely chopped
  8. ¾ ths cup haricot beans (washed and soaked overnight)
  9. 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp coriander powder
  11. 2 tbsp dhansak masala
  12. Salt, to season
  13. ½ cup milk
  14. Fresh coriander leaves; for garnish

Note – Any cut of lamb can be used but boneless is best for a recipe like this.

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large deep bottom pot.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and allow to splutter and then add the garlic and ginger. Sauté till the rawness has disappeared and then add the onions.
  3. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the onions have softened and lightly browned at the edges. Then add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are broken down and mushy.
  4. Add the chilli, coriander and dhansak masala; mix well to combine.
  5. Add the haricot beans and lamb pieces. Add 3 cups water, season with salt and mix well.
  6. Bring to boil and then lower heat; cook covered on low heat till the lamb is just about done.
  7. If you prefer more gravy, add more water or if you prefer thicker gravy, increase heat and reduce the gravy.
  8. Finally add milk, mix well and adjust seasoning.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves
  10. Serve warm.

Note – Adding the milk lends creaminess to the gravy, a much better alternative to adding cream or yoghurt. It is optional and can be skipped.

Lamb Curry with Haricot Beans - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes)

I am not much of a gadget freak especially when it comes to my kitchen.

Now it’s true that I have a few extra equipments due to the nature of my work (many of which were sent to me for professional reasons) but I am pretty old school and prefer to use only a few basic ones. And instead of buying the latest appliances, I would rather invest in high quality knives and cookware that are better for my family’s long term health and also for the environment.

But having said that, there was one appliance that I have wanted to buy for a long time now; a modern pressure cooker.

If you are from India, you would understand how integral a pressure cooker is to our cooking. I cannot imagine a day without using the PC in some form or the other. After moving to Australia, I became less dependent on the PC as I started experimenting with slow cooking, baking, roasting etc… but the pressure cooker held a very special place in my kitchen.

Once the blog started, many of the pressure cooker recipes would make it here. And one of the constant questions I would get from my non Indian audience is about the Indian pressure cooker and how they can adapt those recipes to suit their modern versions. The Indian PC is an alien appliance to all of them and they find it quite intriguing and exciting.

That’s when I became aware of the fact that what the rest of the world calls PC is quite different in appearance and performance to the Indian version though the basic technology is same. I started researching more about the modern version especially when my Indian one began to give problems and there was no way I could get it repaired here. I don’t travel to India often so the first time, I had to ask my parents to courier a spare part (the courier charges turned out triple the cost of the original part).

And while all this research was going on, I got the biggest surprise when I was sent the Philips Deluxe All-in-One-Cooker for a collaboration. My wish was granted triple fold, because this premium appliance can pressure cook, slow cook, bake, sauté…basically multi cook including making yoghurt!

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

What I love most about this appliance is that it is a multi cooker which means I can use a lot of functions, some of them for the same dish itself. For eg: I can sauté and then pressure cook or sauté and slow cook or do all three if necessary. There is an add ingredient option which means mid way pressure cooking, I can open and add ingredients which is absolutely fantastic. There are pre programmed options for lentils, poultry, rice, beef/lamb etc… which means I don’t need to worry about undercooking or overcooking the dish.

One of my favourite curries to make using the pressure cooker is this simple Chicken drumlette curry with potatoes. It’s a super simple mid week curry that needs very little time especially since drumlettes are used. Just basic spices and aromatics, this is a rustic curry that can be paired with any kind of bread or rice. Any sort of curry tastes better when meat on the bone is used. And drumlettes are super affordable, easy to eat and tastes absolutely delicious when cooked in a curry sauce like this.

Note – This chicken drumlette curry can also be made in a traditional PC or slow cooked on the stovetop.

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms chicken drumlettes (skinless)
  2. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 1 inch cinnamon bark
  4. 3 cloves
  5. 3 green cardamom
  6. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  7. 1 red onion; finely chopped
  8. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  9. Masala paste
  • 1 medium red onion; cubed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3-4 fresh coriander leaves (stalks and root included if available)
  1. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  2. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  3. 2 tsp coriander powder
  4. ½ tsp garam masala
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 2 potatoes; cubed
  7. Coriander leaves; for garnish

Method:

  1. Select the Sauté/Sear function for 12 minutes (lid open); add oil and the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cumin seeds)
  2. As the spices begin to sizzle, add the curry leaves followed by the onions; mix well and sauté for 5 minutes till the onions turn light brown.
  3. Then add the ground masala; mix well and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. There will be some amount of spluttering so stir continuously.
  4. Mix the spice powders (turmeric, red chilli, coriander and garam masala) in 2-3 tbsp water and add this to the masala. Mix well to combine and cook for one minute.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt. Also add 2 cups water and mix well to combine.
  6. Select the Pressure cooker (poultry) function and close the lid. Set the timing for 15 minutes, pressure at 40.
  7. After 5 minutes, select the add ingredient function. Open the lid once pressure has dropped and add the potatoes. Mix well and add more water if you desire more gravy.
  8. Close lid and continue pressure cooking process for the remaining 10 minutes.
  9. Once cooking is complete, open lid and garnish with coriander leaves.

Note:

Traditional PC – The steps remain same but cooking times will change. More water is release when cooking chicken in a traditional PC, so add only 1 cup water.

Stove top – Follow the same steps. After adding the chicken pieces and water to cook in Step 5, bring to boil and then simmer on low heat till the chicken is half done. Then add the potato pieces and cook covered till both the chicken and potatoes are cooked through and tender.

Chicken Drumlette Curry (with potatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Moroccan Carrot Soup

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

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

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

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

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

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

Potato and Parsnip Soup

Beer and Cheddar Soup

Scandinavian Pumpkin and Potato Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup with Brown Mushrooms

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

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

To garnish:

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

Method:

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

Moroccan Carrot Soup - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder)

There is only one thing I enjoy about winter; and that’s food!

Nothing else gets me excited about 6-8 months of burying myself in a hundred layers.

So every year as late autumn sets in, my meal plan becomes all about hot, nourishing soups, slow cooked meat and vegetarian stews, rich curries and of course the saucy pastas. There’s something so comforting and gratifying that moreish, rich flavours can do to your soul.

And one such dish on repeat is this Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks, taken a notch up in flavour with the rustic and flavourful Srilankan roasted curry powder.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

A slow cooked stew is one of the easiest dishes to make. There aren’t many ingredients or steps to follow but you need time on your side. If you have a slow cooker, then time to get it out. Since I don’t have one, I use the traditional stove top method itself.

Ask your butcher to give you tender lamb shanks and get it trimmed at the bone end; easier to fit into standard size pots and also much better  in terms of appearance.

The Srilankan curry powder is what makes this stew so insanely delicious. An extremely versatile spice blend with so much intensity, it instantly adds the something ‘extra’ that makes a dish high on the flavour quotient. Once you start using this spice blend, you might not really miss the Indian garam masala.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

This stew can be made using any cut of meat (best with meat on bones though) , not necessarily lamb shanks. But cooking times will need to be adjusted accordingly.

So let’s get cooking these delicious Lamb Shanks with Srilankan curry powder. And if you make it, do tag me #thespiceadventuress in your photographs so that I can see it too.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 lamb shanks (bone shaft end trimmed)
  2. 2 medium red onion; chopped
  3. 4 medium garlic cloves
  4. 2 celery sticks; sliced
  5. 1 large carrot; chopped
  6. 2 large ripe tomato; chopped
  7. 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  8. 2 dried bay leaf
  9. Olive oil (enough for searing the meat)
  10. 1 ½ tbsp Srilankan curry powder (recipe given below)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season
  13. 1 litre beef/chicken stock

Method:

  1. In a large, deep bottom vessel, heat enough oil to sear the lamb shanks in batches. Sear 1-2 shanks at a time, remove and keep aside.
  2. In the same oil, add the bay leaf, garlic and onions; sauté till the onions are softened (not browned).
  3. Then add the celery and carrot; sauté for another minute.
  4. Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté for another minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste, roasted curry powder and mix well to combine. Next add stock; mix and bring to boil.
  6. Add the lamb shanks; season with salt and pepper. Mix and then cook covered on the lowest heat till the shanks are juicy and tender (fall of the bone consistency). Check in between and stir through if necessary.
  7. Serve warm with crusty bread and salad on the side.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

Srilankan roasted curry powder:

  1. 3 sprigs curry leaves
  2. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  3. ½ tbsp fennel seeds
  4. 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  5. 10 dried chillies
  6. ½ tbsp black peppercorns
  7. 5 cloves
  8. 5 green cardamom
  9. 1 stick Ceylon cinnamon (not cassia)
  10. 2 dry bay leaf

Method:

Note – Roasting the spices has to be done in steps as some of the spices need to be roasted longer than the others. Some versions of this blend also use fenugreek, mustard and pandan leaves.

Add the coriander seeds to a pan and allow to roast on low heat for about a minute and then add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Roast for another 15 seconds and then add the curry leaves. Mix regularly and keep the heat low to avoid burning the spices. Continue to roast for another 30 seconds and then add the chillies. Allow to roast for a minute and finally add the fennel and cumin seeds. Roast for another 15-30 seconds and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and then grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

 

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy)

Okra/bhindi/ladysfinger – my absolute favourite vegetable. In fact if you ask me what would I like my last meal on Earth to be, I would say chappathi, lentils and okra (just the way my mom makes).

I have loved every single okra preparation I have had till now in my life. Guess I love this veggie so much that even a bad dish wins approval from me. My love for okra is quite legendary at home that my siblings often tell my mom not to ask what I would like to eat (when on vacation) as I would say an okra dish.

While I enjoy every style of okra preparation, one of my all time favourites is the stir fried one with lots of onions, garlic and chillies. This okra/bhindi raita is another favourite of mine; pairs so well with a simple pilaf.

But today, I am sharing an okra dish that I have had only at restaurants till now. Dahi Bhindi or okra in creamy yoghurt based gravy is a popular dish in the Northern parts of India. Best paired with chappathis (Indian flatbread), this dish is an absolute winner if you love okra.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Most people are put off by the slimy texture of okra and there are a few tips by which you can prevent this. The first tip is to wash and dry the okra well. After draining the excess water, I use a kitchen towel to completely dry the okra before cutting it which greatly helps to reduce the slimy texture.

Also, lightly frying the okra before adding it to the gravy helps to prevent it getting slimy. In a non stick or cast iron pan, add the okra pieces and lightly fry with no oil (or with just a tsp of oil) on low heat. I always follow this method if I am using the okra especially for curries or gravies.

Another tip is not to stir the okra around too much while cooking. Always cook on medium heat and stir only occasionally.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 400gms okra/bhindi/ladysfinger, remove head and cut into half
  2. 1 Spanish onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. Salt, to season
  6. 1 cup thick yoghurt
  7. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  8. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  9. Ground masala
  • ¾ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 3-4 green chillies (adjust according to heat preferences)
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 5 shallots/small onion or 1 small red onion; chopped 

Method:

  1. In a non stick pan/kadai, heat 1 tbsp oil and lightly fry the okra till half done. Remove and keep aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients given under the ground masala to a fine paste like consistency and keep aside.
  3. In the same pan that the okra was fried, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it begins to crackle, add the chopped onions. Sauté till softened and translucent.
  4. Then add the ground masala, turmeric powder and season with salt. Cook on low heat till the rawness of the ingredients has gone away and oil begins to appear at the sides.
  5. Beat the curd well and add this to the masala; mix well and add enough water to get thick gravy.
  6. Then add the okra and cook on low heat till done.
  7. Remove from heat and add the coriander leaves; mix well.
  8. Keep for atleast 15 minutes for the flavours to develop.

Note – The gravy can thicken on standing or when refrigerated. Add a little water while reheating to get the desired consistency.

Dahi Bhindi (Indian style Okra/Ladysfinger in a Yoghurt based Gravy) - thespiceadventuress.com

Indian style Chana Tikki (Chickpea Patties)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish

Bengalis and Keralites have plenty in common, a fact that’s become common knowledge now due to the numerous Internet memes floating around.

(For my international readers, Bengalis are the natives of West Bengal, a state in the Eastern part of India while Keralites are the natives of Kerala, a state in the Southern part of India).

An outsider might not find much similarity but if you delve deep, there are quite a few that these states have in common in terms of politics, literature, art, fashion and food.

Now let’s talk about food, since that’s our topic of interest. The most obvious similarity between the cuisines would be the ‘rice and fish curry’ obsession. There cannot be a more comforting meal than this, a combination that is relished across the length and breadth of both the states.

Seafood is much revered in both states as they enjoy an envious coastline. But the irony is that there ends the similarity too because apart from the seafood craze, there’s hardly much in common when it comes to preferred seafood varieties or style of preparation.

When I started learning more about the cuisines from other parts of India, the one that I was most hesitant to try out in my kitchen was Bengali cuisine, simply because of the use of mustard oil. Initially, I tried adapting the dishes using vegetable or coconut oil but soon realised that I am not doing any justice to the cuisine of Bengal. That’s when I slowly learnt to use mustard oil in the right quantities and also pick out dishes that are more familiar to my tastebuds. And the journey, ofcourse, began with seafood.

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

Today, there are plenty of Bengali dishes I cook on a regular basis in my kitchen like this simple cabbage dish or this delicious fish curry. But the learning never stops and so here is another delicacy from the Bengali kitchen – a simple fish curry using Silver Whiting.

Fish and potatoes is a very unique combination but one that is extremely popular in Bengali cuisine. Though initially skeptical, I was amazed at how beautifully both the ingredients come together in this curry. The combination of mustard seeds with kalonji (onion seeds) and other spices and aromatics lend an earthy flavour to the curry that has to be enjoyed with steamed rice.

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

(Do you cook Bengali dishes at home? What’s your favourite?)

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms ladyfish; cleaned (head removed)
  2. 1 medium potato; cut into long wedges/strips
  3. 1 large onion; grind to a paste with no water

This recipe was developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood, so visit their website for the full recipe.

Bengali style Fish Curry with Whiting/Lady Fish - thespiceadventuress.com

Lamb Cigar Rolls

“I have a son, who is my heart.
A wonderful young boy, daring and loving
Strong and kind.”

-Maya Angelou

Today our little munchkin turns 9.  And our hearts are filled with so much joy and happiness…..

Adi is a happy child, a genuine kind soul who finds happiness in humor, music and bear hugs. And as much as we would like to take credit for his upbringing, the truth is that it is not us. His kindness and generosity comes from within him and we are really blessed to have him in our lives.

And just as every other parent, we wish him good health and a joyful heart always.

All of us call Adi the ‘gourmet’ boy. His love for oysters is legendary; yes he can down a dozen of the raw ones which always get us attention at any restaurant we go to. But he is equally at home with traditional South Indian food especially dosas and this tomato egg chutney which is the ultimate combo for him. In fact that’s exactly what I will be making for his birthday dinner!

Lately he has also taken fancy to homemade snacks, especially the savoury ones. These days, he comes home ravenous from school. The growth spurts are real and that means I am always hunting for interesting recipes for quick after school snacks, especially ones that can be made in bulk and frozen to alternate through the week.

The Lamb Cigar Rolls fit the bill perfectly.

Lamb Cigar Rolls - thespiceadventuress.com

Frozen puff pastry sheets are a real blessing; and I always have some stocked in the freezer. Which means that I just need to make a filling for a quick, healthy and delicious snack. These lamb rolls were inspired by the paneer rolls I made last year for Adi’s birthday; it was hands down the best loved starter of the party.

The filling is really simple; lamb mince spiced with cumin, dried mint, paprika and turmeric with chopped onion, garlic and ginger through it. A few spices and aromatics can work wonders with lamb and the flavour of the meat really shines through. A handful of chopped raisins too for that intermittent sweet burst of flavour.

If you are fond of puff pastry snacks, then here’s another delicious one using kangaroo mince.

Lamb Cigar Rolls - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

(Makes 18-20 rolls)

  1. 5 Puff pastry sheets; each sheet cut into four
  2. 500gm lamb mince
  3. 1 small or ½ medium onion
  4. 3 medium garlic cloves
  5. ½ inch ginger
  6. 2 heaped tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. ½ tsp cumin powder
  8. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  9. ½ tsp dried mint
  10. 1 tsp paprika (or use Kashmiri chilli powder)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. A handful of chopped raisins (optional)
  13. Sesame seeds, for garnish
  14. Vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Defrost the puff pastry sheets before use.
  2. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a pan and brown the lamb mince in batches. Remove and keep aside.
  3. In the same pan, add the onion, garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have softened.
  4. Next add the lamb mince back and season with the spices and salt. Mix well to combine and then add the raisins and coriander leaves. Mix well and remove from heat. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Pre heat the oven (fan forced) to 200°C
  6. Divide one pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.
  7. Place 1-2 tbsp of the prepared mince at one end of the square. Wet the edges of the sheet and roll tightly to form a cigar shaped roll. Repeat for all the other sheets.
  8. Place in a tray lined with baking paper. Spray the rolls lightly with oil and sprinkle the sesame seeds.
  9. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes or till golden brown (time taken may vary depending on the type of oven so check intermittently).
  10. Serve warm with your choice of dipping sauce.

Note – If you want to freeze for later, prepare the rolls and freeze in an airtight container. Keeps upto 2 months.

Lamb Cigar Rolls - thespiceadventuress.com

%d bloggers like this: