Don’t miss Udupi on your way along the west coast of Karnataka, India – a real treat!

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Udupi’s famous 900 yr old Sri Krishna Temple is a relaxed and personal kind of place at this time of year, with less visitors because of the monsoon rains.

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In the dry season it gets thousands of visitors each day. Worshippers come to see the young Lord Krisha whose attire is changed daily. No two days are ever the same.

He is also famously turned to face east ( or backwards). The story tells that when a devotee was not allowed in to see him, being an untouchable, Krishna instead turned around so that the devotee could instead see him through a crack in the west wall.

All this I know from the kindness of Smitha and her family who were visiting from Mumbai and took pity on my ignorance.

And the kindness continued as Sathya, a priest in the temple showed us around the Sri Krishna Temple’s Goshala, home to the temple’s cattle.

Sathya explained that the temple is part of a community of 400 students and priests who live on site and showed us the huge dining hall that serves meals, free of charge to the many pilgrims who visit, many traveling long distances.

In peak times they feed 5,000 to 10,000 people a day. The food is cooked in huge pot and was indeed very good.

Smitha’s lovely family invited me to sit with them and Smitha shared her interest in nutrition and helping people to eat a traditional Indian diet despite modern challenges.

We waited for the dishes to be brought around by temple priests: rice with rasam…

…a great jackfruit, pumpkin and eggplant sambar…

…payasam for dessert and a sweet doughnut type pastry.

My efforts don’t do justice at all to the good food. Being extra slow to eat by hand my dishes sadly ended up mixed together!

But I did save room for the famous Gadbad Icecream at Woodlands nearby!

And while we were there we had to sample their other specialties like banana buns with chutney, rawa idli with sambar and coconut chutney and pineapple kesari bath.

Woodlands also had this really interesting Moode ‘leaf’ idli steamed in a banana leaf.

And you can’t leave Udupi without seeing the lovely Malpe Beach which surprisingly was allowing swimming.

Malpe had that real Goan feel (Goa is pretty close really) with the lovely bright houses in amongst the coconut palms. It would be a great place to stay a few nights.

 

 

Cooking Kerala Appams in an Aussie Kitchen!

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Traditionally these wonderful rice pancakes are eaten for breakfast with either a vegetable coconut based stew or dipped in sweetened coconut milk.  So Yummy!

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I enjoyed them often in Kerala for breakfast , lunch and dinner…

…and miss them terribly!

So I was very excited when my friend Maya taught me to cook Kerala style appams back in my Canberra kitchen.

With Maya’s help I based the recipe on the YouTube and instructions from Show Me The Curry but tweaked it.

I first mixed 1 tsp dried yeast with 1 Tbsp sugar and ½ cup warm water and fermented to become bubbly/foamy.

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Then I used it to grind 2/3 cup cooled cooked Basmati Rice in a blender/food processor.

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Every time I visit India, I bring back something extra for my kitchen. This time it was a Preethi ‘Mixi’ Blender carried in the hand luggage! This makes easy work of grinding grains and seed spices.

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I then used 280ml (2/3 tin) coconut milk and added this gradually to grind 2 cups Raw Ponni Rice that had been washed and soaked for 4-5 hours. Ponni rice is available from Indian grocery store and is essential to the recipe. This needed to be ground until the batter was very smooth.

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Then I fermented the batter in a warm place for 8 hours (in a large pot with a lid) before adding 4 Tbsp sugar and extra coconut milk added (the rest of the tin).

You need to put the batter in the fridge after it’s fermented where it will keep for a few days.  However, it needs to be room temp for cooking though and a ‘custard –like’ consistency.

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I sped this up after work by putting the pot in a sink of hot water and stirring it occasionally (add extra cow’s milk or coconut milk if needed).

I then used about ½ cup of batter and swirled around an unoiled non-stick medium hot appam pan to achieve a lacy edge and soft crumpty centre and covered it with the lid to cook for a few minutes.

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These are also easily cooked in a frypan if you don’t have an appam pan, although it’s not nearly as good as the appam pan version. Kallappams are cooked like that.

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Appams are great served with a Kerala style coconut based ‘stew’ for breakfast or any curry any time. Great for mopping up the gravy and more delicious than plain rice.

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And completely gluten and dairy free, and FODMAPS friendly!

Exploring South Indian dining in Canberra – First stop Binny’s Kathitto

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Hankering for some much missed Kerala cuisine, I was delighted when Elissa from Five Beans Food suggested Binny’s Kathitto for dinner where Majeesh from Kottayam is cooking appams, puttu, idyappam, Kerala parotta, moilee, aviyal, pollichathu and so much more!

It’s been lovely watching Binny take his specialty Indian street food from the Hamlet pop-up to his bricks and mortar home on Lonsdale Street.

The decor echoes Binny’s warm welcome backed up by the rest of the team, Rose and Khush.

Elissa’s been experimenting with Marsala Dosa…

…so we needed to try that for entree..

Masala Dosa $16 – a crepe wrapped around a savory filling of mashed potatoes, onions, crackled mustard seeds, and tempered spices with sambar and coconut and tomato chutneys.

As there were four of us we shared another three dishes with breads, all of which were very delicious!

Erachi Puttu with Chicken Curry $19 – a steamed rice cake layered with meat masala, along with pappadum and served with a gravy (perhaps my favourite as I loved the puttu)

Kanava Roast $23 – squid cooked in traditional Kerala spice with ginger, fried chilles, onions, tomato and squeeze of lemon with a Kerala Parotta – puffed softbread made from flour $4. Loved the tender squid and it went well with the parotta (thanks for the tip Khush).

Tharavu Curry $23 – duck cooked in coconut milk, green chilli, ginger and spices flavoured with curry leaves with an appam – a Kerala style hopper pancake made of fine ground raw rice and grated coconut $3. This was a very generous serve of, fall off the bone, well flavoured duck meat.

Good news for Canberra Entertainment Book holders, Binny’s now offers a 25% discount up to $30.

Binny’s is licensed and also offers BYO wine at $10 corkage a bottle.

This wasn’t my first visit to Binny’s Kathitto but this time I had a much greater appreciation and understanding of what I’d ordered.

So looking forward to trying some more dishes!

Binny's Kathitto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas in July at Contentious Character – Passionate, warm and personal

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My favourite foodie events are those where I glimpse the passion of the makers. But Christmas in July at Contentious Character Winery last weekend, was so much more.

Packed with passion, the night was the clearly the culmination of a huge effort from Tony, Ross, Ben and Jeremy, the team behind Contentious Character…..

….and Felicity whose Executive Events Solutions, pulled it all together.

The wine flowed generously, matched to three fine courses from the kitchen of Chef Tom Stoneham…

A glass of Pinot Gris 2009 on arrival (my favourite of the night) was followed by..

Entrée: Parsnip and local chestnut soup (delicious) paired Glass of Riesling 2005 or the Whisky cured salmon with chive hollandaise with Chardonnay 2016 or the 2016 Pinot Gris…

Main: Roast Turkey with all the trimmings (and Union 2008), Terrine of local nuts and mushrooms (with 2004 Chardoannay (very nice!) or 2006 Pinot Noir) or Fresh market fish, baked with vegetables and lemon verbena butter, with a glass Chardonnay 2016…

Dessert: Christmas pudding with brandy custard or Classic sherry trifle paired Glass of 2010 Sweet Patch…

…with lovely mulled white of red wine also on hand!

Mike of the Christmas Emporium had decked out the newly refreshed venue….

…. and live entertainment (with carols) roamed the tables.

It was professional and well done, but very personal and relaxed.

Picked up at the door, we were transported to Wamboin but the warm and freindly Kayne, supporting his partner Felicity also delivering her handwritten welcome note and goodie bag.

Most, I enjoyed the conversations and meeting  both creators and the partners who support them. Like Kayne, again, who quickly changed from bus driver to wine waiter.

Passionate people have such inspiring stories like Mike’s whose love of Christmas is grounded in deeply meaningful childhood experiences.

And speaking of inspiring stories, Can who is the passion behind Canberra Instagram photo project, The Embassy of Kindness shared his great story and treated me to an Embassy interview! I was very impressed by how a few thoughtful questions and some careful listening can not only discover a complete stranger’s meaningful story but also leave them blessed by a few minutes of self-reflection and self-kindness.

Thanks Can for the photo!

Great to catch up with fellow food bloggers on the So Frank table it was just a very lovely night, well priced at $135 for everything including the door to door service.  Perfect on a cold mid-winter Canberra night.

If you missed this opportunity do keep an eye out for other events that Executive Events Solutions or Contentious Character offer, or drop by the Winery for brunch or lunch on the weekends.

Go for the food and stay for the views at Waves Beach Resort, Northern Kerala

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We arrived at Seema’s Waves Beach Resort to an impressive balcony view from this cute garden cottage at Thottada Beach near Kannur, Kerala.

One of the few good places to stay between Calicut and Mangalore in the monsoon season, it’s part of the extensive, well-run network of Kerala Homestays that are the best place to find wonderful home-cooked Kerala cuisine and experience a local lifestyle.

Room 1 is the pick! On first glance the room looks clean and very spacious!

But then you realize that every window and the door way has a wonderful view.

Looking further I discovered the lovely garden setting for meals…

…the hammocks for relaxing….

….and the gate down to the private beach below.

The two cottages each have upper and lower rooms….

…and are perched on the cliff at the end of gorgeous Thottada Beach.

The surrounding village is lovely for walking and chatting to people along the way.

Being the low season we pretty much had the place to ourselves with the wonderful Waves team looking after us…

….Jithin’s happy auto service, who waited for our late train, Liju who shared his cooking secrets and delivered the most delicious fresh, tasty Kerala dishes and Adash, a great all rounder and kitchen hand.

And that’s when I come to perhaps the very best reason to stay at Waves Beach Resort. The food is superb and in the low season all three meals are included in great value rate of about $60 AUS per day for two people sharing a room.

Liju, in his kindness allowed me to watch him cook and I’ve posed these simple but spectacular recipes.

They have worked beautifully back home in Australia!

But just to give you an idea of what we enjoyed and the links to the recipes…

Our first night’s dinner was a wonderful Malabar prawn biriyani with a date pickle, coconut chutney and cabbage thoran.

Next day our Kerala breakfast  was an aromatic, beautifully spiced egg curry and chappati.

Lunch was wow! Served with fat Kerala rice and pappadoms, my favourites were the avial and the pachadi but the long bean thoran and Malabar coconut fish curry were wonderful too.

Second night’s dinner was again remarkable. Liju included two dishes that used the flavours of toasted coconut. The style Liju used for the Nadan Chicken Curry, special to this Kannur area, is possibly used in no other dish.

But the sweet potato smash that also used toasted coconut in another style, was the real standout for me. Look for the recipe and do try it. Along with this was a green bean and carrot thoran, a very simple raita style salad and a very wonderful ghee rice cooked in the biriyani style.

As we had not yet tasted the pathiri breads distinct to Malabar Moplah cuisine,  Liju so thoughtfully asked a friend’s mother to make these for our last breakfast that first visit.

Apparently pathiri take the place of appam and are not fermented with alcoholic coconut toddy. They are delicious, a little like pancakes and made from rice flour, water salt then steamed. Sometimes I think coconut milk is used. Liju served these with a tasty kadala (chickpea) curry, but like appam they were also good rolled around a banana.

We couldn’t stay away for long and when we returned after our visit north to Mangalore and Udupi. Even though we arrived late for lunch, with great thoughtfulness Liju and Adash had collected oysters from Thottada Beach and fried them with chili, coconut and garlic. Liju  served this with a long bean thoran, tomato pachadi and sambar, all beautifully flavoured. It was so very kind and so very delicious, the very best of food!!!

When dinner followed it was another fabulous Kerala meal from Liju’s kitchen – Kerala Fish Curry, Beetroot Thoran, Tapioca flavored with toasted coconut and spices, cucumber and carrot curd based ‘salad’  and that gorgeous ghee rice.

 

Our last and final meal at Waves Beach Resort (at least for this trip) was superb oothappam a spongy, rice pancake flavoured with green chilli and curry leaves, accompanied by an excellent egg curry.

I’m adding Waves Beach Resort to my list of favorites in Kerala. The food alone is worth the trip, but the views from the balcony and windows room in no.1 make it very hard to leave!

For more information and bookings get in touch with Seema wavesbeachresort@gmail.com

 

Bringing the Tastes of Two Regions to Canberra! 11-13 August

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A foodie weekend exploring the wineries and produce of the Rutherglen and King Valley regions is right up there on my wishlist! So I’m very excited that those lovely wines and foods are coming to me in Canberra!

King Valley vineyard

Last year’s Taste of Two Regions was brilliant! And this year I am invited again!!

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I loved the wines last year, but it was meeting the people behind the wines that was really special! The stories of these passionate families was inspiring. Wendy Killeen and her daughter Natasha (the seventh generation of Stanton & Killeen wine makers) brought along their  wonderful range of Muscats….img_1078img_7606

…. and Tanya from Brown Brothers Wines introduced us to the King Valley Prosecco market leaders in this wine.

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This year Taste of Two Regions is promising more than 200 wines and dozens of local foods from more than 25 regional artisans at their expo at Pialligo Estate on Sunday 13th of August. There’s two sessions 10-1pm and 2-5pm. Masterclasses run all day, but these are filling fast.

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There’s also a King Valley Prosecco Breakfast, an Italian Family Lunch and Dinner with the wine makers (also very popular).

My favourite wines through life have always come from the Rutherglen of King Valley regions. I can remember the first time I tasted a Durif, from Campbell’s Winery, and a time when my favourite wine was Brown Brothers’ Crouchen Riesling and how I loved All Saints Moscato.

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So my expectations are high and I’m looking forward to discovering what my new favourites will be and enjoying a gorgeous relaxed day of fine wine, foods and inspiring wine-makers and producers….a taster for that long awaited foodie weekend!!!

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For a quick look check the Brochure Tastes of Two Regions 2017. All the details are on the website.

Program of Events

Tastes of Two Regions Exhibition

Sunday 13 August, Pialligo Estate

Tickets $35pp

Alternative Varieties Dinner with Winemakers of Rutherglen (Booked out sadly)

Saturday 12 August, Otis Dining Hall

Tickets $130pp

King Valley Prosecco Breakfast

Sunday 13 August, Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Restaurant

Tickets $55pp

King Valley Italian Family Lunch

Saturday 13 August, Yarralumla Woolshed

Tickets $85pp, children play and eat free