Curry rice salad

Curry rice salad

This salad is so delicious.  The bright colours and flavours of tart and sweet cranberries, crunchy carrots, tangy red onion and spring onion, fresh parsley, nutty roasted almonds and creamy curry dressing marry together to create a salad that is sure to invite compliments whenever it is served.
It can be made the day before and keeps well in the fridge for several days.

1 cup uncooked rice (or couscous or quinoa)
1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or currants)
1/4 cup roasted slivered almonds
2 spring onions finely sliced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)

1. Cook rice (or couscous or quinoa, I’ve used both successfully) as per instructions.  Let cool and then chill in the fridge.
2.  Combine chilled rice with carrots, parsley, cranberries, almonds, spring onions and red onion.
3.  Combine dressing ingredients and pour over salad.
4.  Stir gently to combine dressing with salad.  Chill before serving.

Cookbook scribbles:
This recipe is easy to double or triple and keeps well in the fridge for several days.
It is also an easy recipe to adjust according to your own taste and preference.
As the recipe states, you can use rice, quinoa or couscous (couscous is not gluten free) and it works well with any of these.  I sometimes like to add extra dressing.

The Mona Vale Pantry : Review

The Mona Vale Pantry : Review

Recently my Mum, daughter, a friend with her daughter and I visited The Mona Vale Pantry for brunch before my daughter went off to a year 12 exam.

The beautiful historic Mona Vale Homestead houses the cafe with views out toward the Avon River.  On a sunny day there is outdoor seating available.


The Full Breakfast was my choice.  I asked for the gluten free option so was given GF toast in place of the regular toast and was interested to see that the black pudding croquette was simply omitted and not replaced with another item ( I asked for the GF option and was not told which items in the dish would need to be replaced or omitted).  I was looking forward to trying the black pudding croquette as it sounds like something so out of the ordinary but was still very happy with this dish.  The scrambled eggs on toast, bacon, sausage, mushroom and tomato really hit the spot.


My Mum chose the Brioche Waffle with caramelised banana, bacon and rose yoghurt and said it was absolutely delicious.  The presentation was beautiful and it tasted as good as it looked.


Confit Duck Omelet was my daughter’s choice and she thought it was absolutely delicious.  She wanted to try something different to the eggs benedict she’d usually choose for breakfast and she was so glad she tried this.  The Confit Duck Omelet came with pickled cucumber, hot and sour salad and XO sauce and is also gluten free and dairy free.

img_3968-1The beautiful fire place in the entrance foyer of the Homestead.

img_3969-1Looking through a door into one section of the dining area.  We loved the archway nook and the rich furnishings and decorating which gave the place a comfortable and homey feel as well as lending an air of luxury.

img_3966Another dining room with access to the outdoor seating area.  You may just be able to see the tiered plates with delectable high tea indulgences on that centre table.  The High Tea looked amazing.


Looking happy with our brunch.  My friend and her daughter chose the Devonshire Tea (two scones with jam and clotted cream with your choice of hot drink) as they’d already eaten breakfast.  My friend said the scone was the best she’d ever had!

The Mona Vale Pantry has an all day breakfast with caters for breakfast, brunch and lunch, morning and afternoon teas and the boutique high teas.
With lots of gluten free options (including a gluten free high tea) we will definitely be back.

After our brunch we enjoyed meandering around the gardens.  Mona Vale is truly stunning and well worth visiting, either to enjoy the gardens, the cafe or both.
Check out this post on the Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens for more information.


Meat Croquettes aka Meat Cutlets Indian Style: Step by Step Tutorial

Meat Croquettes aka Meat Cutlets Indian Style: Step by Step Tutorial

DSC_0987This is a season of parties. Christmas party, Year End party, New Year party, BBQ party and one dish that will be a hit as a party appetiser, I promise, is the Meat Croquettes (or Meat Cutlets).DSC_0991

Although these are called Croquettes here and the rest of the world, growing up in South India, we have only known these as cutlets. They make a great tea time snack and my early memory of having these croquettes was at a beach. Cool sea breeze, soft swash of the waves and the scent of the sea in the air, chomping away on hot cutlets, playing catch and digging our feet into the grainy sand vividly stands out in my memory. Food always takes me down memory lane.

My kids love these meat croquettes. I make them in a batches and freeze them to use when they ask for it. The meat croquettes are easy like that. It can be made ahead, frozen and fried just before the party. Its just so crunchy to bite into, so lip smacking good, that they will disappear in no time! Ask my family and they will tell you. These are a huge hit every time I’ve made them!!

I had been making  meat croquettes a different way for  a long time. Then, by chance I happened to make croquettes with meat left over from Mutton curry I had made earlier…. and  everything changed!!
I really liked the texture of the meat I got as a result and haven’t gone back to the old one.
I have made this on several occasions . For parties, picnics, travel, camping. I serve it as a snack or as a side dish. I also use it as a burger and make sandwiches too.




500 gms Lean Meat ( we get stew meat here, which is very handy)
3 medium potatoes
1 large onion (chopped finely)

2 green chillies ( chopped finely)
1” piece ginger (chopped finely)
a little coriander leaves (optional)

 To Marinate:
1tbsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp pepper*
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder*
1 tsp chilli powder (mild)*
1 tsp Garam Masala powder (you can buy Garam Masala from the Indian store to save time. I prefer Eastern Royal Garam Masala)
2 eggs
Curry leaves, a few (optional)


1 1/2 -2 cups bread crumbs
Oil to shallow fry, saute

Salt and Pepper to taste.


Marinate the meat with the chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, salt and pepper, keep aside for half an hour.

**Then pressure cook for 20 mins with no water or very little water.
When done and cooled put it in a mixie (food processor) and pulse it , coarsely DSC_0942This is the texture you are going for.DSC_0945.jpgBoil the potatoes, remove the skin and mash it well with a potato masher.DSC_0943Beat the eggs lightly , mix with salt and pepper to taste and keep asideDSC_0967

Mix the meat and mashed potato well together.Keep aside.DSC_0951.jpg

Pour oil in a skillet and saute the finely chopped onion, when they turn limp add the finely chopped ginger and chopped chilli.DSC_0956Saute for a couple more minutes till the onions turn pink. Switch off stove. Allow to cool for a few minutes.DSC_0957.jpgMix the sauteed onion mixture with the mashed potato meat mixture.DSC_0958Roll into balls.DSC_0965Flatten them to your desired shapeDSC_0971.jpgDip in the Egg mixtureDSC_0978Roll out in bread crumbsDSC_0974Deep fry in  oil. When they turn golden brown, drain and remove on to paper towels.

DSC_0982Serve HotDSC_0989.jpg

Cook Book Scribbles :

  • Make sure the meat/ potato mixture is dry and not too loose.
  • The Oil needs to be almost smoking  hot  to prevent the croquettes from breaking
  • Also make sure the oil covers the croquettes completely, again to prevent the cutlets from breaking.
  • If you want to make it Gluten Free, you can dip the croquettes only in the egg mixture, skip dipping in the bread crumbs. You will not have a crispy outer cover but the taste does not differ much. OR use Gluten Free Bread Crumbs.
  • I use the term Meat Croquette because you can either use beef , mutton, or chicken
  • *The spice levels with the chilli powder, coriander powder and the pepper powder can be reduced to half  (or increased) according to taste
  • ** If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a thick bottomed pan, keep the heat on medium to medium high. Close and let it cook without adding any water for 20- 25 mins. The Meat will cook in its own juices.
  • The croquettes freeze really well,so you can make a big batch  of the bread crumb coated croquettes , days before a party or dinner or just so you have them handy for hungry kids and fry them straight out of the fridge without thawing…. in that case, take care not to burn the croquettes.

Raw Kale Salad | Recipe

Raw Kale Salad | Recipe

This Kale Salad is so delicious.  My Dad brought the recipe back from friends in Canada and I have tweaked the recipe to make it my own.

If you haven’t tried Kale before, or if you’ve tried Kale but haven’t enjoyed it, I would urge you to give this recipe a try.

The Kale leaves go from being tough and fibrous, to tender and delicious once the olive oil is added. In fact this Salad is better made the day before to allow the flavours to develop and the Kale to soften beautifully. I like to make this Kale Salad the night before, usually late in the evening as the house begins to quieten down but it can be made in the morning or even just several hours before serving. Since we discovered how yummy the leftovers are the day after, I’ve been making this salad the day before.

Remove the leaves from the tough fibrous stems.  Discard the stems.

Chop the leaves in slices.  I like to slice them about 5mm-10mm wide.  It does not need to be finely shredded.

Pour the olive oil over the sliced Kale.  The amount of olive oil you need with depend on the type of Kale used.

Gently mix until all the leaves are coated with all and look shiny and glossy.  If you need to add more oil go ahead.  The leave should be fully coated but there should not be oil pooling at the bottom of the bowl.  Squeeze the lemon over the leaves and mix again.  There is no need to massage the Kale to soften it as it will begin to soften on it’s own.


In a food processor place the parmesan cheese, roasted almonds, lemon rind, garlic cloves and salt.


Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs (or see recipe below for Thermomix instructions).


Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the salad and toss gently to combine.  Place olives over the salad.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

I love leftovers for lunch so usually make extra salad to ensure we have lunches sorted for a few days.  It’s delicious served with grilled cajun chicken or any grilled meat.


1 large bunch of Kale
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 whole lemon
4 cloves garlic
100g Parmesan cheese
100g roasted almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives


Wash Kale and remove the fibrous stems.

Slice the leaves. I slice mine about 5-10mm wide. You don’t want to slice too finely, it should look rustic.

In a food processor (I use a Thermomix) place the Parmesan cheese (chopped in 1.5cm chunks), the roasted almonds, the 4 cloves of garlic (adjust to taste, sometimes I use more garlic), the lemon zest (I simply peel the rind using a peeler) and the salt.

Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

In the Thermomix I mill for 5 seconds on speed 9, give the bowl a good shake around and then mill for a further 2 seconds on speed 9.

Pour olive oil over the sliced Kale. Gently toss the Kale until each slice is coated with oil. You may need to add more olive oil, it depends on how large your bunch of Kale is. You want the leaves to be coated with oil so they become shiny and glossy. There should not be any oil pooling in the bottom of the bowl.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and mix gently.

Sprinkle the processed mixture over the Kale and gently mix until the Kale is coated.

Place olives over the salad.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  This salad will keep in the fridge for several days.

Nut free: to make this salad nut free simply replace the almonds with toasted breadcrumbs. The original recipe uses toasted breadcrumbs but I swapped these out in favour of toasted almonds to make the recipe gluten free and low carb.
In the nut free version I would simply sprinkle 1/2 cup – 1 cup of toasted almonds over the salad along with grated parmesan, salt, lemon zest and crushed garlic.  Toss gently to combine.  The breadcrumbs will sort of melt into the olive oil.

Especially delicious served with grilled meats and other salads, this Kale Salad is the perfect dish to serve at a BBQ or any shared meal over summer.

I usually buy curly Kale but I couldn’t find any at my local supermarket so we harvested our own Kale which is Russian Red Kale, a variety I haven’t grown or eaten before! It was much softer than the curly Kale.

Baby Kale leaves can also be used, just strip the leaves from the stems and slice or tear into small pieces.

The Curator’s House |Review

The Curator’s House |Review

Today’s review is of the Curator’s House restaurant, set on the corner of the Botanic Gardens and the Avon River, near the Antigua Boat Sheds and the Hospital.

We wandered through the Botanic Gardens from Riccarton Ave to get to the Curator’s House, however, it is located on the edge of the city centre, on Rolleston Ave at the main entrance to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The quaint Old English Tudor style building in which the restaurant is housed is surrounded by cottage style fruit and vegetable gardens.  This heritage building was the original 1920’s residence of the curator of the Gardens.
Prior to this there was a Head Gardener’s cottage located within the footprint of the present day building built in 1872 and before this a small Government Gardener’s cottage existed on the same site.

Wandering down the garden path…..

There is plenty of outdoor seating with large sun umbrellas to provide shade.  We chose to sit outside as it was a very warm sunny day and it was just lovely sitting outside enjoying our surroundings.

My eldest daughter and my Mum (whose birthday we were celebrating over lunch).

The staff were friendly but rushed and barely had time to stop and we had to ask for them to explain what tapas are and how to order from the tapas menu.
To start we ordered bread with a selection of dips and a tapas platter so we could taste a variety of tapas dishes.  I was pleased that a lot of these dishes were gluten free so I was able to try most of them.
The calamari was the stand out tapas dish, the patatas bravas with aioli a close second along with the yummy dips with bread.

We could have chosen more from the tapas menu and shared several tapas for lunch but we were so tempted by the a la carte menu we decided to choose a main dish each.
My husband chose the venison with vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, mushroom and potatoes.  He enjoyed this dish, the venison was cooked to perfection and the crunchy vege crisps were delicious, but he didn’t find the meal amazing (and he tells me for this price he expects to be really ‘wowed’).

My Mum and I both ordered the slow cooked lamb shoulder which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Falling off the bone, this lamb shoulder was slow-cooked to perfection.  The portion of lamb is huge!  I would have loved a few more spring greens with this dish.
Mum loved the wine she bought to accompany her main so much that she ordered a second glass!

This delicious flavourful and fresh salad was the dish my daughter chose.  I nibbled on her salad and really enjoyed the strong Mediterranean flavours.  The price was reasonable too.

None of us thought we’d be able to fit in dessert but when we looked at the dessert menu we changed our minds and decided to splurge!  We all ordered the Pannacotta de Chocolate – a silky chocolate pannacotta with morello cherries, candied almonds and espresso syrup, this really was the cherry on top!

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal but due to the prices it isn’t a restaurant we can visit often.


Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It  is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved  Idiyappams and that meant I  had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I  called  my mom  straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was  a much easier task compared to coaxing  the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to  get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the  Idiyappam press  one too many and left me flabbergasted  how  someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking  for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I  go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
 1 cup Roasted Rice flour .  white or red ( I used Double Horse Appam/ Idiyappam mix , available at Yogiji Christchurch
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
1tsp oil
Salt to taste.
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly

little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough

Pour in the oil

When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much

Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.

Fill upto the brim of the press hollow

In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium  flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened  thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
  • when  the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
  • Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
  • Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam


How to make Ginger Chai aka Indian Ginger Tea 



Holding a cup of chai, watching the steam come up in curls, inhaling the aroma of ginger and tea leaves, just enjoying the quiet hours of dawn,  is my little morning  ritual. Even my dog Amber, knows to remain still, and let me savour my cup of chai, sip by sip. It does not last  long, but those few moments to myself, help me anchor myself and gear up to face the rest of the day.
In a home  dominated by staunch coffee drinkers, I cannot remember where my love for a good cup of chai came from. I did not fancy the karupatti kappi ( coffee made with palm sugar) that was offered at evening snack  time, so skipped drinking coffee altogether. J is not a coffee or tea drinker either and so I did not have the need to make ritualistic early morning coffee in our home.
It was in Pondichery that I was introduced to masala chai along with a spicy plate of kothu parrota. ( minced flat bread with eggs, meat and a spicy curry) Still there was never the ritualistic chai making in our home until we came to NZ!
A couple of years back, when we were in India, my aunt introduced me to Red Label Nature Care tea powder and it turned out to be my go to drink during the really cold first winter in Christchurch. My comfort for soul drink (as I like to call it) for homesickness and warmth !
When I had finished the tea stash I brought with me from India, my search for Nature Care Tea all over Christchurch came to nothing. I was relieved I found the Red Label tea here in Yogiji Indian Supermarket. I just add ginger or cardamon and I’m good to go!
Whenever I need a pick me up, I just make myself a good cup of ginger chai. And  I love making ginger chai for my friends too.
I thought I will share it on the blog for our  readers  to make at home as its pretty easy and quick.
Ingredients to serve 2
Water :  11/2  cup
Milk :    11/2  cup
Fresh Ginger : 2″ piece
Tea  Powder  :2 tsps
Sugar to taste
Crush the ginger. Add it to the water in a saucepan and allow to boil till you can smell the aroma of the ginger come through.Add the tea  powder and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add in the milk .Switch off the flame. Let it sit  for a minute. Strain into a cup with a tea strainer.Add sugar as required. Serve piping hot!
 Cook Book Scribbles :
5 slightly crushed cardamom pods can also be added for a spicy aromatic chai. ( tea)