Sunday, April 21, 2013

Butter Bean Burgers with Coleslaw and Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Dear Readers,

Vegetarianism can cause social awkwardness sometimes? I am not sure if any of you have experienced it but sometimes I feel or the situation makes me feel I am being picky/fussy when am merely saying I eat vegetarian food only, This is is particularly true at parties or trying to figure out where to eat with a big group of people.

I seriously never intend to be difficult, but we are all entitled to a choice isn't it. Is it really that difficult for some to understand the notion that not everyone wants to include a heavy animal protein reliant diet. I try to respect other people's choices and expect the same respect and understanding regardless of personal beliefs. I seriously do not want to rant but merely pose a question, is it not important in today's food allergy and intolerances ridden world to be a little more mindful of special dietary needs? I suppose the other alternate is not eating out, but I don't think that's fair to people with food allergies in my opinion.

For now let me share a lovely little healthy burger recipe with all of you - Butter Bean burgers with coleslaw and sweet potato fries.The butter beans are a good source of protein and make the patties hearty. They go really well with the coleslaw and some crunchy sweet potato chips, oven baked not fried! The coleslaw is absolutely divine with the addition of buttermilk. It's light and not at all unhealthy. The crunchy cabbage and carrots and the sweet crisp apple adds a new dimension to the dish. Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you- the healthy burger.



Recipe                                                                                               Print Recipe

yields 10-12 patties


For the patties

1 can Butter Beans ( you can substitute with chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannelini beans)

1 large Potato

2 tbsp Parsley

2 tsp Garlic powder

1 Onion - finely chopped and sauted

1/2 cup Peas

1/2 cup Corn

Salt to taste

1-2 tsp Black pepper

1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper

Oats - for crumbing

1 tbsp corn flour mixed with little water

For the Coleslaw

1 cup Shredded White cabbage

1 cup Shredded Purple Cabbage

1/2  cup Capsicum - diced

1 cup Shredded Carrot

1/2 cup Shredded Apple (optional)

1 cup Buttermilk

1/2-3/4 cup Organic Freerange Mayonnaise



For the Sweet Potato Fries

1 Large Sweet potato - cut into strips



Olive oil Spray


For the coleslaw

Mix the mayonnaise and buttermilk with salt and pepper and add it to the shredded vegetables. Mix well and keep it in the fridge covered till it's time to serve.

For the Patties

Drain the butter beans and put them in a large bowl Boil the potato and add it to the bowl after it has cooled down. Add the rest of the ingredients and mash them by hand and combine them to form a workable mixture. Now make patties by taking the mixture and flattening them into rounds. Do this for all the mixture and keep the patties in the fridge for 15 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 200C.

Dip the patties into the corn flour and water mixture and then into the oats, so that the patty is fully covered with oats. Repeat for all the patties. Arrange the patties in a baking tray and put them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes till they are golden brown. 

Alternatively you can shallow fry them in a pan with 1-2 tbsp of oil til they are golden brown. Be careful while flipping as they are quite delicate.

For the sweet potato chips

In another tray lined with baking paper, arrange the sweet potato strips with a spray of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. cook in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till crisp and browned. Sprinkle some paprika once they are ready to serve.

To assemble

To assemble the burger, cut the buns in half and spread some avocado or butter on it, place a slice of tomato, some coleslaw, burger patty, drizzle some ketchup on top and close the bun. Serve with extra coleslaw on the side and sweet potato chips.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Salsa Finta and Polpette di Ricotta

Dear Readers,

So it's been two months of Cookie's Kitchen and I have had some highs and lows, taught myself some HTML/CSS (haven't had a need to since school days), learnt to edit/add gadgets, make print friendly documents, batch printing of pictures, all from tutorials online. It has been a great learning curve for me, not only have I been cooking and experimenting more actively, I have also been learning some techie stuff on my own. There has been a distinct rise in readership and lot more people are leaving positive comments- so to mark a small milestone I was looking for an interesting recipe to share with all of you. 

There is a cafe in Melbourne Central, on Menzies Ln which served fried ricotta balls in a tomato sauce, just imagine crispy exterior with a melting cheesy center doused in a tangy rich tomato sauce - sublime. For the last few days I have been thinking about that dish, a lot! You know how it is when you really want to taste something but can't and so have to figure it out on your own, it's quite exciting really. I know it was not a hard thing to do on my own, but deep frying soft ricotta balls spelt danger to me. I don't use eggs as a binding agent in cooking and am a little fearful that soft balls like these will break upon frying. So I began my online search for the dish of my dreams and found this recipe Salsa finta and polpette di ricotta, which literally means fake sauce and ricotta balls. It's called a fake sauce as Italians considered a true sauce to be one with meat but this one is a meatless sauce, which is well as delicious if not more. The balls are not deep fried, I might try it the next time but still taste wonderful with the rich tomato sauce.I got the recipe from delicious days, it's a great website - very well written with some lovely recipes.

Salsa Finta and polpette di ricotta is not a hard dish and doesn't use too many ingredients. It's fascinating to see peasant style humble dishes from all over the world making use of minimal resources and putting together such fantastic meals. I like the fact it is so unpretentious and earthy and homey. I hope you enjoy this little Italian adventure of mine as much as I did.



Recipe                                                                                               Print Recipe

(adapted from delicious days)
Sauce serves 2-3, yields 20-30 balls


For the Salsa Finta

4 tbsp Olive oil

1 Medium sized onion

3-4 cloves of Garlic - finely chopped

3-4 tbsp tomato puree or passata

1 can Italian tomatoes (whole or crushed)

1 tbsp Basil leaves 

1 tsp Oregano leaves

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 tbsp sugar

For Polpette di Ricotta

250 g Fresh ricotta

50 g grated Parmesan

120 g Bread crumbs

~ a handful of parsley leaves - chopped

sea salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp salsa finta

To serve

grated parmesan

freshly ground black pepper


For the sauce (Salsa Finta)

In a large pan, heat the olive oil and sauté till they are translucent. Add the garlic and let it also cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the tomato puree, crushed tinned tomatoes, sugar, salt and half the basil leaves. The other half we add after the sauce is cooked to give the fresh Basil hit.

Cook for about 15 minutes and check for seasoning (salt, pepper, sugar) The sauce should be rich and tangy and sweet The sugar should neutralize the acidity. Once the sauce is cooked keep it aside.

For the balls (Polpette di ricotta)

Drain the ricotta for about an hour using a fine sieve or muslin cloth. In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients and add the 2 tbsp of salsa finta in the end. Now work the ingredients by hand to form a smooth dough. Check seasoning and add nutmeg, salt, pepper, herbs if required. If the mix is too smooth to form balls of the size of a walnut, add more breadcrumbs, if it is too firm, add more salsa finta.

Roll the dough to form small walnut sized balls and add them to the simmering salsa finta. Let it cook for 10 minutes. Sway the pan from side to side so that the sauce covers all the balls and cooks it evenly. Just before serving add the rest of the basil leaves to the sauce. I served the dish with some spaghetti ( a vegetarian take on spaghetti and meat balls) and grated parmesan and a few more basil leaves chopped up. You can choose to have the dish by itself like gnocchi or with pasta. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To tart or not to tart - Bourke Street Bakery, Surry Hills

Dear Readers,

Ok so I have been wanting to go to the Bourke Street bakery ever since I found out about it, things have been so busy that I didn't get a chance to until yesterday. For those who aren't from Sydney or new here like me, Bourke Street Bakery or BSB as it is lovingly called is sort of a Sydney Institution for baked goodies. They have four branches in Sydney and are very popular. They also conduct bread making classes.

So coming back to my little BSB adventure, I had a dental appointment in the city and as hubby cancelled our lunch date I decided to visit this beautiful little bakery in Surry Hills. This was a long-ish walk from Martin Place station and after 40 minutes I finally found this elusive bakery. I love walking and so did not really mind the 4km walk on a sunny Sydney afternoon, it was the fact that I did not know the way and iphone maps kept dropping out (3G signal is bad with all these high rise buildings around) I made it finally only to discover that it's a really tiny shop and it was really really crowded. 

I just stood gaping at the goodies, standing in the queue. There were muffins and tarts and danishes, beautiful artisan breads and lots of sourdough. Before I could really wrap my head around anything, it was time to order. I decided to do a take away and I was frantically thinking what should I get so that I can sample a few different flavours. And then I saw these mini tarts, to tart or not to tart that was the question as there were so many other delectable baked treats around. I decided to tart it up all the way and ordered 4 different ones, Rhubarb and almond, Ginger Brulee, Passion fruit Meringue and Chocolate Raspberry Mousse. 

I was famished by now and there was the walk back to the station, and then the train ride back home before I could enjoy these little beauties. To say I was tempted to take a bite would be an understatement, but I had to be patient as I wanted to photograph them before I ate them. Finally all the photography jazz was over and I cut all the little tarts into halves (one half of each for hubby) I believe in sharing. I wanted to be greedy but restrained from temptation somehow. Both of us really enjoyed the tarts and have planned to go there together next time for weekend brunch. If you are on the prowl for some delicious baked treats head to Bourke Street Bakery and if you are wondering what to try, TART it up!



Ginger Brulee Tart

I finally sunk my teeth into the fist one- Ginger Brulee and it was divine. It had the crunch of the caramelized sugar and then as you delve deeper you find the gingery custard filling. The ginger flavour is subtle, I would've preferred it to be a little more pronounced, apart from that it was very very tasty. The pistachios on top added to the crunch factor and the green looked beautiful against the burnt sugar backdrop, making it very photo worthy.

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Tart

This was a little bit of a disappointment for me. I am a chocolate lover and a raspberry lover so this was to be my favourite of the lot - sadly it was my least favourite. The choc-raspberry mouse really needed a more deep dark chocolaty taste and more berries. It just did not live up to my expectations. Pastry was as good as in the other tarts but the filling lacked that deep dark chocolate oomph.

Passionfruit Meringue Tart

I am so glad I picked this one. This was my favourite and hubby loved it too. It had a strong passion fruit flavour which was delightful with the soft fluffy meringue and melt in the mouth pastry. Eating the meringue was like eating a cloud, it was so light. Absolutely delicious.

Rhubarb and Almond Tart

This was the most photogenic tart of the lot in my opinion and it tasted even better than it looked. Short flaky pastry, sweet almond filling and tart rhubarb what a lovely combination. I loved it. It was hard to control myself and leave the other half for Karan. Sometimes I think I am a really good wife ;)

Each tart cost around $4.5-$5.5, I spent about $19 in total. Bourke Street Bakery lived up to it's reputation and I am looking forward to sampling more goodies from there. Bourke Street Bakery - definitely recommended!

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paradise Biryani House, North Strathfield

Paradise Biryani House is just across the street from where we live and we have done a lot of Biryani take aways from this joint. We have a friday night tradition of having biryani at home and then cuddle up and watch a movie. After a busy week we really look forward to unwinding at home with delicious biryani. We indulged in our friday nigh tradition and on saturday my brother had come over, we had planned to go to another restaurant but seeing the traffic on Parramatta Rd we decided to walk across to George St which is studded with a variety of restaurants. Paradise is one of the first few restaurants in the precinct and my brother really wanted to try it. So we decided to actually have a sit down dinner here and we are glad we did.

Paradise Biryani is a namesake of another Biryani Restaurant in Hyderbad , India which is world famous ( it really is!) People from the Middle Eastern countries get food packed and take it overseas with them. I have been lucky enough to try the Biryani and mirchi ka salan from there and it was one of the best I have ever had. So for this restaurant to use their name had a lot to live up to.

The menu has a good selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. We ordered two entrees, pappadums, three mains with breads and one Biryani. 

Entree: Papdi Chat

Crispy fried dough wafers made from refined white flour and oil (Papris). Papris are served with boiled potatoes, boiled chick peas, chilis, yoghurt and tamarind chutney and topped with chaat masala and ‘sev’


What a perfect way to start a meal. Papdi chat is a popular street food in India and is one of my favourite snacks. The papdi (flour crisps) was crispy, flaky and delicious. The tamarind chutney packed a punch and had a delicious sweet and sour flavour. It just tingled our taste buds and left us wanting more.

Entree: Seek Kebab

Lamb mince flavored with spices, fresh coriander and pistachio powder and Cooked in tandoor.


The Seekh Kebabs were flavourful and cooked very well. The chutney was a tasty accompaniment.

Main: Paneer Butter Masala

Cubes of homemade cottage cheese cooked with tomato and thickened cream to perfection.


This is the vegetarian equivalent of Butter Chicken and it certainly did not disappoint. All three of us love paneer and this was cooked beautifully. The gravy was creamy and delicious without being too sweet.

Main: Saag Chicken

Turmeric flavored thigh fillets with spinach and spiced with coriander, fenugreek and ginger.


Saag chicken was another hit dish of the night. The boys loved it and there was nothing left at the end of the night, which says it all.

Main: Gutthi vankai (House Specialty)

Whole baby eggplant (brinjal), stuffed with ground paste of cashew nuts, peanuts and sesame seeds and coconut, cooked to perfection in hyderabadi style


This was an interesting dish as neither of us had tried it before. This was a house specialty and a regional Andhra recipe so we were all keen to try. The gravy was nutty and really flavourful and spicy but lacked the coconut flavour promised in the menu description. The eggplant itself was a bit bland and mushy but with the gravy it worked well. 

Breads: The Naans and Garlic naans were fluffy, soft and delicious.


Rice: Mutton Biryani

Basmati rice cooked with pieces of mutton in a traditional dum method, served with mirchi ka salan and raita.


We have tried the biryani from here many times and it's always been good. I usually have vegetable biryani and hubby likes the mutton biryani which is what the boys ordered. It was spicy and the meat was cooked well and was enjoyed thoroughly by them. The South Indian version of Biryani is a lot more spicy compared to the Lucknowi and Delhi versions, I personally prefer the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani over the other variations. 

The service was good but there was a big delay with the biryani. Apart from that the food was enjoyable and we had a great evening. I definitely recommend this joint, great food at a very affordable price.

Service 6/10

Food 8/10

Ambience 6/10

Paradise Biryani house on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Southern Spice - Vegetable Kurma

Dear Readers,

I grew up in Madras (now Chennai) a city in South India. My father migrated from the north western state of Rajasthan to Madras more than 30 years ago. My childhood and teen years were deeply influenced by contrasting cultures, different foods, languages and more. I picked up an affinity for jasmine flowers, coconut oil, filter coffee and thayir sadam (curd rice) whilst also loving ghee smeared fulkas, dal baati (Rajasthani speciality), Lehenga choli (Rajasthani clothes), and Rajasthani folk dance. I spoke Tamil, Hindi and English and am happy to say this influence has lingered and evolved with my move to Australia. 

So my dear readers I present to you a little token of love from South India, a spicy, fragrant and nutty concoction - Vegetable Kurma. There is a restaurant called Sarvana Bhavan in Chennai, well now it's practically everywhere in the world except Australia (woe is to me) and they serve a mean kurma, usually paired with Appam (hoppers) or Idiappam (string hoppers) - so delicious. 

In my attempt to replicate Sarvana Bhavan's kurma and introduce my hubby (Delhi boy) to this delicious dish, I tried my hand at Appams (hoppers) too. Appams are like an inverted dosa with a thick spongy centre and crisp all around and are a speciality of Kerala cuisine. Mine did not come out the way they should have, I suspect the batter was not fermented properly. I have learnt from my little disaster that thou can't rush Appam batter. 

This kurma is really delicious, fragrant with the smells of South India - curry leaves, mustard and coconut. Since I failed at making good Appams I decided to serve the kurma with Pudina Parathas. You can find the recipe here for the parathas. 

I hope you enjoy my little creation, as it's from a place I call home.



Vegetable Kurma with Appam 


Serves 6


3 Carrots, cut into 3-4 cm long pieces

2 large Potatoes, cubed

2 cups Cauliflower florets

1 cup , chopped green beans

1 Onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 tbsp Ginger paste

1/2 cup cashews

1 can Light Coconut Cream

1 cup dessicated Coconut

2 tsp White Poppy Seeds (soaked  for a few hours)

2-3 Green Chillis, make it into a paste

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

7-8 Curry leaves

Salt to taste

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

For the Spice Mix

5 cloves

3-4 Cardamom

11/2 tsp black peppercorns

1 piece cinnamon

1 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 tsp Fennel Seeds


To start with chop all the vegetables and keep them aside. Next get started on the spice mix. Dry roast the spices on a pan till fragrant and slightly browned. Grind the roasted spices in a spice grinder till you get a really fine powder. 

Steam the potato and cauliflower in a microwave for two minutes. This will ensure the veggies cook quickly in the curry.

Next grind the cashews, dessicated coconut and the white poppy seeds to form a paste. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves once it's hot. Next add onions and saute till translucent. Add the green chilli, ginger and garlic next and cook till the raw garlic smell disappears. 

Add the spice mix and salt to the pan followed by the coconut-cashew paste and coconut cream Mix everything well and let it cook for 5 minutes. 

Now add the vegetables to the curry and cover it with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes on a low-med flame. Stir occasionally. If the gravy is too thick add a little water to losen it up. 

Vegetable kurma is ready to serve, enjoy with Appams, Idiappams, chappatis or Pudina Parathas.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pudina Paratha

Dear Readers,

Indian flat breads are some of the best breads in the world and the sheer variety of them ensures you can have something different every time. They are a staple in most Indian families and every family has their favourite. Roti/Chappatis are for everyday meals, parathas with potato or cauliflower stuffing make a good breakfast, puris are for festivals and the list goes on. 

Parathas are a generic term for thicker breads usually made of wholemeal flour, the breads are griddled on a skillet and usually have a smear of oil or ghee to add to the deliciousness. Different flours like millet and maize are also used to make flat breads. So you can imagine the variety is endless.

Pudina means mint in Hindi, and mint is used to give flavour to the dough.These parathas are multi layered, the technique used to make them ensures this. This makes them flaky and gives a nice texture. I have tried to explain the technique step by step so that it's easy to follow. I hope you enjoy these multi layered mint scented breads :-)



Recipe                                                                                               Print Recipe

Yields 10-12


2 Cups Atta (Wholewheat flour)


1/2 cup Mint leaves

1 tsp Salt


The quickest and least physically strenuous method is to use the food processor. I dunk all the ingredients except the water in the processor and then slowly trickle in water while the blade does it's magic. In a matter of minutes the dough is ready. I can not give you exact measurement of water but usually it's about half the quantity of flour. It really depends on the quality of flour you are using, the more water it absorbs the better- as it will be soft.

You can take the traditional route by mixing it by hand, add enough water so that a soft dough is formed. It should be soft but not sticky, also you have to work the gluten so work it till it's stretchy and soft.

Divide the dough into 10-12 rounds. Lightly flour your bench top or board on which you will roll out the dough. I have the Indian stone board called chakla which we use to roll dough on for making breads. It is quite handy as the whole bench does not get dirty. Keep a bowl with some dry atta (wheat flour) by the side.Now  flatten the round and dip it in the dry flour and roll out a 15 cm round.

Cut the round disc into thin strips, 1.5 cm wide. Now lay the strips on top of one another like in the image below. (You can also pleat the dough disc by folding it instead of cutting strips)

Now roll the strips to form a spiral. Dip the spiral in the flour and roll it into a 10 cm disc. Roll it only on one side so as to maintain the layers.

Now take a skillet (tava) and put it on the medium burner of your gas stove. Once it is hot enough carefully lay the dough disc on it. It will begin to cook and bubbles will appear on the surface, flip it on the other side to cook it. Take a tsp of oil and spread it on the top. Now flip it again and press down with a spatula, it will puff up as the steam cooks the insides. The bread should be browned evenly on both sides. Remove from the skillet and continue the process with the other dough balls.

Serve with a vegetable side dish. Enjoy!

A Citrust Twist - Mandarin and Grapefruit Tiramisu

Dear Readers,

Autumn has truly set in and that means time for a new season and produce. I had a little pop up on my facebook from Harris Farm Markets about Mandimisu (Mandarin Tiramisu) now that Imperial Mandarins are in season. This got me really excited as I love doing twists on traditional/classical dishes. I did not get the recipe from there, I have a really good tiramisu recipe which I modified to arrive on this citrus beauty - Mandarin and Red Grapefruit Tiramisu. It is so so so delicious, I couldn't stop tasting it. If mandarins or grapefruits are not available where you are, use clementines, oranges or blood oranges. I hope you enjoy my citrus twist on tiramisu.



Recipe                                                                                               Print Recipe

Serves 4


1/2 cup thickened cream

100 g Mascarpone cheese

8-10 Savoiardi (Sponge fingers)

4-5 tbsp Caster Sugar

1tsp Vanilla Extract

2 Mandarins

1 Blood Orange or Ruby Red Grapefruit

1 egg (separated)


Firstly zest the two mandarins and then squeeze the juice of one of them. Cut the grapefruit/blood orange in two halves. Squeeze the juice of one half and add it to the mandarin juice and keep it aside. Now peel and segment the other mandarin and the other half of the grapefruit

Juicy grapefruit

Mandarin and Grapefruit

Fruit segments

In a small bowl beat the cream till soft peaks and keep it aside. Beat the egg yolk and sugar till fluffy and pale. Add the vanilla extract, mascarpone cheese and fold in the whipped cream to get a soft light mixture. In another bowl beat the egg white till soft peaks and fold it into the mixture as well to get a light fluffy mixture. Now fold the mandarin zest through the mixture.

Mascarpone cream mixture

Sponge fingers

To start assembling the dessert in the glasses,take the sponge finger and dip it in the juice 2 seconds on each side.Break the sponge finger into two and lay it at the bottom of the glass. Top with 2-3 tbsp of mascarpone cream mixture. Top that layer with a few fruit segments. Now repeat the sponge finger layer, then the mascarpone cream mixture and then top with fruit segments. Repeat this procedure for the other three glasses. Chill the dessert for 2-3 hours before serving. The fruit and the cream mixture along with the sponge tasted divine.

Mandarin and Red Grapefruit Tiramisu

I love how the mandarin and grapefruit glisten like little jewels and the colours are absolutely gorgeous. As much as I love the cocoa, coffee and chocolate browns of the traditional tiramisu, this little experiment is a winner too. Enjoy!