Cooking Kerala Appams in an Aussie Kitchen!


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


And completely gluten and dairy free, and FODMAPS friendly!

Treated to amazing Pakistani cuisine at Cooking Circles Canberra


Last Sunday Cooking Circles hosted a small in-home lunch when Hina introduced us to her passion for Pakistani cuisine and treated us to a delicious lunch of dishes lovingly and delicately prepared.

Hina is originally from Pakistan where she grew up. She first learned cooking from her mother and now continues to learn from cooking shows, recipe books, the internet and shared recipes from others. Cooking is her passion and her we would say…her gift!

As Hina created and chatted we enjoyed wine and canapés and often jumped in to work along side her.

She started on the Rasmalai dessert as it needed to chill in the fridge. It is a dough of full cream milk powder, ghee and egg  rolled and flattened into small discs and poached in milk and sugar reduced and infused with cardamom.

Next Hina started of the Beef Seekh Kabab, roasting and grinding spices and chickpeas to add to the mince, chill and shape for frying.

Lastly the complex dum style Chicken Biryani. Rice boiled with spices is layered with chicken and potatoes (first boiled with spices) cooked in a fragrant spiced yogurt and tomato gravy, along with crisp onion and other flavourings.

It is topped with a special essence and some orange food colour (in lieu of the expensive saffron). Lastly it goes back on the stove with the lid for all the flavours to infuse through.

Wow! What a feast we enjoyed.

And as Hina said “I can’t believe I made that”!

How lucky were we that Cathy introduced her friend Hina to Cooking Ciricles. Can’t wait for Hina to cook for us again!

Many thanks to Ruth Ellison who generously shared her photos!

3 top tips for hosting a Brunch event at home – the perfect meal for entertaining a crowd!  


Mid-week public holidays are a great opportunity to host an event!
There’s usually something to celebrate – hence the day off – and guests have fewer prior commitments to work around.
And brunch is the perfect meal!

It can all be done ahead.

It’s flexible enough to fit in any budget.

It’s easy to adapt to special dietary needs

It is just one course that can be set out ready, leaving plenty of time to chat to guests.

It can all be cleared up to allow for a relaxed evening before heading back to work the next day.
But these are the three top tips for success! 

  1. Set beautiful tables
  •  it sets the scene
  •   it leaves plenty of room in the kitchen to set out the brunch buffet for everyone to       help themselves
  •    it leaves the washing up on the tables and not in the kitchen getting mixed up with      the food. It also allows it to be cleared up gradually as the dishwasher capacity           allows.


2. Do everything ahead

Prepare dishes ready to serve and organise drinks



3. If you are accepting offers of help – ask guests to bring anything that needs to be done on the day ( eg fruit platters, fruit salad) as this keeps the day free for last minute organising.

Some menu ideas:


Lemon and mint ( or other flavours) infused iced water ( freeze ice in large containers to add)

Non- alcoholic fruit punch

Peach infused white wine

Sparkling wine and rose

Mango lassi shots



Baked French toast using croissants and other pastries in a bread and butter pudding recipe

Bircher muesli breakfast trifle using alternate layers of Bircher muesli, Greek natural yogurt and poached fruit and berries, topped with toasted muesli crumble, dried fruit and nuts and berries

Pancake stacks (banana pancakes are yummy) layered with Greek natural yogurt, brown sugar and sliced banana and cinnamon, topped with chopped almonds or walnuts ( assemble on the day)

Frittata or Spanish omelette

Corn and Chorizo muffins

Oven baked bacon

Banana bread

Scones with jam and cream

And generously offered by others:
Croque Madame




Fruit platters and fruit salads

The Boathouse by the Lake, Canberra – excelling at private functions!


The Boathouse by the Lake may well be Canberra’s best spot for function dining. This is where they really excel. Food and wine is elegant, delicious and well priced. Staff and service is delightful. The setting is perfect. But most of all, they offer a real sense of generosity.

A well set out Private Dining Function Brochure explains the options well.

Choose from three rooms, East End looking more towards Kingston Foreshore…


…Walters, looking more towards Kings Avenue Bridge and Russell…


…or West End, looking straight across the lake and more towards Kings Avenue Bridge.


All have access to lovely decks, although East End and West End are larger.

The minimum spend, particularly at lunch time, is very reasonable – $1,100 for lunch January and April to October, $2,500 in peak times of Nov-Dec and Feb-Mar.

Menu Options start at $77 per person for 3 courses. The beverages packages are particularly good starting at $31 per person for three hours for lovely Canberra wines, draught beer, juice and soft drinks.

Also good value is the Corporate Two Course Luncheon with 2 hours of beverages for $90 per person.

We were there for a Christmas Party dinner for 23 people and after much consideration we chose:

6 savouries $21 per person (3 is $12) to allow for plenty of time to mix and mingle on the deck…


… before being seated at the round tables.


3 courses with alternate entrée and a choice of three options for main and dessert – $87 per person

3 hour silver drinks package – $31 per person

Dan and Lauren took great care of us with drinks and savouries and this set the scene for a wonderful evening.



Pea and Haloumi Fritters


Persian Fetta Mousse and Tomato Puffs


Avocado and Cherviche Tarts


Roast Pumpkin, Leek and Cheddar Quiche


Popcorn Prawns with Sriracha Mayo


Marlin Rice Cracker (the highlight)


For entrée we chose two alternates:

Spiced pork belly with avocado, white balsamic, togarashi


Seared prawns, butter milk, chlorophyll juice, charred baby gem


Mains were a choice of three:

Chicken breast, pea puree, baby potatoes, roast, chicken jus


Black angus striploin, burnt onion, asparagus, potato mash


Slow cooked pork, cauliflower puree, currant & fried cauliflower salad, coriander

The brioche bread buns and cured butter was excellent too!


For dessert guests could choose from:

Banana parfait, dark chocolate, peanut brittle, Chantilly cream

Malt ice cream, caramel ganache, honeycomb, dehydrated milk


Mango mousse, coconut sorbet, caramelised white chocolate, passionfruit


Everyone was very impressed with their choices and the evening was a great success.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Boathouse by the Lake for all the ingredients of a successful event.

Boathouse By the Lake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Turkish Tapas – the easy way


It’s always great to find an easy way to entertain at home that’s also budget friendly.

Ordering Turkish Banquets from Lyneham Turkish Pide Kebabs, is one of these opportunities where you can transform a basic take away meal into something special in just one hour.

The Family $20 Banquet includes…

2 x Dips, 1 x Bread, 2 Zucchini puffs, 2 Falafel, 2 Fetta Spring Rolls, 2 Chicken Skewers, 2 Kofte, 1 x Rice and Salad, 1 x Pide, 1 x Chips

Minimum order is two and delivery is free.

Two $20 Family banquets arrives looking like this…

1. Cut the Turkish breads in half horizontally and spread with the dips, top with the salad, assemble the top layer of bread ( or leave open) and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2. Serve any remaining bread with the remaining dips.

3. Cut the zucchini puffs, falafel and feta spring rolls into halves and serves with the tzaziki dip.

4. Take the chicken pieces off the kebab skewers and cut in half. Serve with the tzaziki dip.

5. Cut the sides into bite sized pieces and serve with dip.

6. Slice the kofta and chips into smaller pieces and stir through warmed pasta sauce. Add a tin of drained chickpeas. Serve this over the rice, sprinkled with cheese.

7. Set these dishes out and add some small soups or desserts if you have these on hand.

Turkish Pide and Kebabs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chong Co, Woden – perfect for creating an easy dinner party with take-away


Buying some good quality takeaway that can be easily shared and replacing it at home is a great way to cater for a group without too much fuss or cost.

Chong Co in Woden has great dishes that are well sized for sharing.

Good choices include…
Thai beef salad $17.90

Prawn lemongrass stir fry $20.90

Beef massaman curry $16.90

Pork panning curry $16.90

Chilli basil mixed vegetables with tofu stir fry $14.90

(but better with chicken)

Add some steamed rice…and it’s done.

Chong Co efficiently wraps the takeaway in glad wrap so it stays warm enough for summer eating for ups to one hour without reheating.
NB The Fried tofu and sweet chilli sauce is not such a great choice as it’s fairly bland.

Chong Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Venues for large meetings around Australia – How do they rate?


If your work involves organising catered meetings or workshops for large groups you may be interested in a quick guide to the best venues around Australia.

From best to least (and ranked on the basis of venue, catering (a light morning/afternoon tea), service and cost) the list is as follows:

  1. Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Cnr Merivale & Glenleg Sts, Brisbane (Arbour Room 2)
  • Venue 1
  • Catering 1
  • Service 1
  • Cost 3


  1. Best Western Hobart, 156 Bathurst Street, Hobart (The Terrace)
  • Venue 4
  • Catering 5
  • Service 2
  • Cost 1


Do stay at The Best Western Hobart


  1. Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf Melbourne (Clarendon Room A)
  • Venue 2
  • Catering 2
  • Service 8
  • Cost  6


(Excellent stand up working lunch )



Stand-up working lunch

$34.50 per person

Sandwich selections

BBQ pulled pork with grilled pineapple, cos lettuce and coriander aioli on a mini baguette

Chicken banh mi (Vietnamese chicken rolls) – roasted chicken, pate, Asian salad, chilli, coriander and nam prik

Salad selections

Vietnamese chicken salad with cabbage and beans GF

Sweet potato, pearl barley, asparagus, free-range egg, chia seeds, beetroot and walnuts V (not as a good a choice)

Speciality items -Warm pide with lamb and feta (Not as good a choice)

  1. Crowne Plaza, 16 Hindmarsh Square Rundle Mall, Adelaide (Hindmarsh Room 2)
  • Venue 3
  • Catering 7
  • Service 3
  • Cost  4


  1. Parkroyal Melbourne Airport (Victoria Ballroom South)
  • Venue 3
  • Catering 4
  • Service 5
  • Cost  5

  1. Hellenic Club Woden, Canberra (Aegean Room)
  • Venue 6
  • Catering 3
  • Service  6
  • Cost 2


Gluten free options

  1. Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, 21 Mounts Bay Road Perth (Meeting Room 6)
  • Venue  4
  • Catering  6
  • Service  4
  • Cost  7


Do stay at the Hilton Pamelia

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  1. Alice Springs Convention Centre, 93 Barrett Drive Alice Springs (Ellery Room)
  • Venue 7
  • Catering  9
  • Service 7
  • Cost 5

Do stay at Doubletree Hilton

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  1. Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion St, Surry Hills, Sydney (Crowne Room)
  • Venue 8
  • Catering  8
  • Service 9
  • Cost 9

(Excellent stand up working lunch $34 per person)


Don’t stay at Rydges Sydney Central (too noisey).
Melbourne CEC


Indian Cooking lesson 3- Dal with Zucchini and Cauliflower Stuffed Paratha


Another differently textured and flavoured curry to add to a vegetarian feast repertoire is a classic dal.

At her Sunday afternoon Aroma and Spice Indian cuisine cooking lessons, Vinnys shows how to prepare a very good channa dal with zucchini ( or long melon) …..

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….with cauliflower stuffed parathas to accompany it.


Like the other parathas Vinnys has taught, the parathas can be made ahead even frozen and are quick and easy to create.

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The dishes planned for the next two lessons are:

Sunday 18 October

Raita, Lentil Parantha stuffed with Spinach and chick pea salad

Sunday 25 October

Butter Paneer and a Naan bread

Email Vinnys if you’re interested in joining in:


A second lesson with Aroma and Spice, Canberra – Smoked Eggplant dip/side and fenugreek parathas


Having successfully created the Potato and Spinach Curry at home that Vinnys taught in the first lesson, it’s great to learn a new side dish/entrée dip to go with it.


Vinnys helpfully demonstrates how to smoke the eggplant on the stove and even offers to source the special pans to use at home.

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Quick and easy, using tinned tomatoes, red chilli and coriander also with conveniently the same spices as the Potato & Spinach Curry, the dip comes together perfectly.

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Serve with breads as an entrée or side dish.


But also very handy, is knowing how to create the parathas. These layered breads can even be cooked ahead and frozen, before heating on a pan ready to serve.


There are several techniques for creating the layers and Vinnys shows several.

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Using just a few simple ingredients, they can be fancied up with herbs or made richer by adding butter to melt on the cooked parathas.

Stuffed parathas are also another possibility, but that’s a treat for another lesson.

For details of upcoming lessons email Vinnys on