Indian Spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney

This crunchy, spicy mint and coriander chutney, which is almost like a pesto, goes brilliantly with grilled meats, prawns and fish. It is a great accompaniment for any Indian meal, Aussie BBQ or just spread on toast! I have also used it as a chutney with cheese and biscuits.

Easy and quick to make, it will keep well in the fridge for up to a week. Best to bring to room temperature before serving.

Traditionally made by roasting and then grinding the peanuts, I cheat and use super-crunchy peanut butter which works very well to bind the herbs into a pesto like texture.

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:
1 bunch mint – leaves removed from stalks and washed well
1 bunch coriander – with roots removed, washed well and chopped into large pieces
1-2 red chillies chopped into large pieces
2 cloves garlic and equal amount of ginger crushed to a paste
1 medium onion finely diced
1 medium ripe tomato finely diced
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons super-crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Method:
Whizz coriander, mint and chillies in a food processor until finely chopped

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Mint, coriander and chilli chopped finely in a food processor

Heat oil in non-stick frying pan, add cinnamon, cummin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until mustard seeds pop, but be careful not to burn

Add onions and cook slowly over medium-low heat until translucent

Add ginger and garlic paste, tomatoes and a pinch of salt and fry with onions until soft and slightly caramelised

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d garlic with onions and spices

Add mint, coriander and chilli mixture and heat through

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Add mint, coriander and chilli to tomato onion mixture

Just as leaves start to change colour, add peanut butter and mix through as it starts to melt, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat

Allow to cool slightly so peanut butter firms up again, then serve warm or at room temperature as an accompaniment.

Amazing Chicken Maryland with tomato, thyme, garlic, and eschallots

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chicken marylands with tomato, thyme, garlic, eschallots and chilli ready for oven

The combination of these classic ingredients cooked slowly in the oven creates a succulent chicken dish that is healthy and full of flavour. Of course, I can’t resist adding some chilli for a bit of a kick but it is just as lovely without. You can also add large cubes of potato which absorb the juices as they cook. (You might need to add a bit more stock during the cooking if you use potatoes.)

Served with a simple green salad and some crunchy bread to mop up the juices, “amazing chicken”, as our family calls it, is a great staple for weeknight dinners or as a main dish for casual lunches.

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 1hr-1.5hrs
Ingredients:
4 chicken marylands or 6 chicken thigh fillets
6 cloves of garlic
1 large tomato cut in large chunks
2 red chillies sliced in half(optional)
8 eschallots
Half a bunch of thyme, leaves stripped off stalks
Salt and crushed black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 tablespoons Olive oil
Parsley to garnish

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius
Heat oil in large frying pan and brown chicken marylands on both sides to a golden brown colour

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fry chicken marylands until golden brown

Remove chicken and place in a flat,deep casserole dish in one layer
Add eschallots and cloves of garlic to frying pan and fry to create a caramelised finish to eschallots and garlic cloves
Remove from oil and spread over chicken in casserole dish
Add tomato, chilli, if using, and thyme leaves to chicken
Sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper
Pour over stock and white wine
Place dish in oven uncovered to cook until chicken is tender, onions and garlic cloves are cooked and liquid is well reduced.(at least 1 hour)
Turn up oven to max or to top grill for about 5-10 minutes, to further brown and crisp up the top of the chicken
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so before serving with salad and crunchy bread to mop up juices

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Make sure you have crunchy bread to mop up the amazing chicken juices

Serves 4

Fish Briyani with Tomato Chutney & Turmeric Rice

This Fish Briyani is based on a recipe from my Aunty Vimala who inspired my interest in cooking when I was young. I can still vividly recall the enticing smells of spices cooking and the delicious flavour combinations that came from her kitchen. I wrote this recipe down, taking notes as she made it, when I last visited South Africa in 1997.

The spicy tomato chutney, fresh herbs, sweet caramelised onions and lightly fried fish combine to create a more-ish, layered fish dish that is delicious on its own or with youghurt, mango or mint chutney and pickles to the side.

This is a lovely dish to serve as part of a buffet lunch or dinner as it is actually nicer warm, rather than piping hot, and even better the next day.

Don’t put off by the number of steps and spices, it really is a matter of making each of the components seperately and then combining into the completed layered dish. Once you’ve done the prep it’s just a matter of putting it in the oven and because it can be prepared even a day ahead and reheated in the microwave it is excellent for entertaining.

Preparation time: 30-35 minutes Cooking time: 60 minutes
Ingredients:

700g firm white boneless fish fillets like snapper or flathead, cut into medium size pieces (I used small flathead fillets in this recipe)
1 1/4 cups basmati rice par-boiled with 1/4 tspn turmeric to make it golden in colour

2 medium size brown onions sliced thinly
3 medium size ripe tomatoes chopped
5 cloves garlic chopped roughly
Large Knob (equal to amount of garlic)of ginger peeled
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2-4 small green chillies chopped finely
4 tablespoons coriander leaves and same amount of mint leaves chopped
1.5 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons or so vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter

Dry Spices – (see quantities in method below)
Chilli powder, cummin powder, turmeric, fennel powder, cinnamon sticks, cummin seeds, fennel seeds, salt, sugar

Method:

1. Crush ginger and garlic together in a mortar and pestle.

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Marinating fish fillets for briyani

2. Marinate fish fillets, for half an hour, at least with 1/2 tspn chilli powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric, 1/2 tspn cummin powder, 1/4 tspn fennel powder, 1/2 tspn crushed ginger and garlic, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.

3. Par boil basmati rice with 1/4 tspn turmeric, strain and set aside. Make sure rice is only half cooked or it will turn gluggy when cooked in oven.

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Par boiled basmati rice cooked with turmeric

4. Make tomato chutney: Heat oil over medium heat in heavy based pot, add 1-2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tspn cummin seeds, 1 tspn fennel seeds, curry leaves from both sprigs and fry until fragrant; add 3/4 of the sliced onions and fry gently until translucent, add 1/2 tspn chilli powder, 1/2 tspoon fennel powder, 1/2 tspn turmeric powder, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tsp. sugar, add green chillies and rest of the ginger and garlic and sautée gently for 1 minute being careful not to burn spices, add tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmer for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes degenerate and stock evaporates and oil starts to reappear. The resulting chutneys should be moist but not watery. Taste to see if extra salt is needed.

5. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees Celsius

5. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in pan and fry fish fillets for 1 minute on each side to “seal” – remove from oil and drain on paper towel.

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Lightly fried “sealed” fish fillets

6. Chop coriander and mint roughly

7. Assembly: coat medium size ovenproof dish with 1 tablespoon of oil, put a thin layer of rice on the bottom, put a thin layer of tomato chutney over rice(remove cinnamon sticks from chutney), sprinkle 1/2 of fresh herbs over the tomato chutney, place all the fish gently on top of the chutney, put remaining chutney over fish trying to spread evenly across dish, sprinkle remaining mint and coriander on fish, add remaining rice to cover fish. Using a spoon sprinkle 1/4 cup of stock over rice. Cover dish with foil or lid and place in oven for 35-40 minutes. Check on dish to add more stock if rice is drying out too much. Ten minutes before the end, add little “dollops” of butter across surface of rice, cover again before placing in oven for last ten minutes.

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Layer rice, chutney, fresh herbs and fish

8. Fry remaining sliced onion in oil or butter until golden brown and lightly caramelised, drain on paper towel.

9. Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with onion and herbs for coriander and mint for garnish. Allow to rest for 10-30 minutes.

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Fish Briyani garnished with fried onions and fresh coriander and mint

10. Serve as a feature dish in a buffet with yoghurt raita, salads, pickles and chutneys of your choice.

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Fish Briyani with tomato chutney and turmeric rice

Serves 3-4 depending on size of serves

Mussels in Thai Broth

An easy, healthy and delicious main courses or starter – can be served with crispy bread rolls or jasmine rice. Make sure you use fresh mussels. It’s all the better made using homemade Thai prawn stock(see recipe below) but bought fish or chicken stock will do if you are short on time.

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 10 minutes
Ingredients:
1 kg of mussels, beards removed (do not use any broken mussels)
1 small brown onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 pieces ginger/fresh galangal finely chopped
1-2 hot red chillies chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 coriander stalks and roots cleaned and chopped, leaves reserved for garnish
thai basil for garnish
750 ml prawn or fish stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method:
Heat oil in large pot that has a tight fitting lid
Add onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and sautéed over medium heat until onions are translucent
Add coriander, stock, fish sauce and sugar
Add mussels, fit on lid and bring stock to boil.
Shake pan and check after 3-4 minutes, once mussels are open, garnish with coriander and basil leaves, and serve in deep bowls with soupy stock. (Throw out any mussels that don’t open)

Homemade Thai Prawn Stock
Ingredients
Heads and shells of 12 prawns
4-5 small pieces of galangal
2 pieces about 1 finger length of ginger
1 stalk lemongrass chopped
1 brown onion cut into quarters
4-5 coriander roots cleaned of any soil
3 cloves garlic
3 litres water

Method
Put all ingredients into stock pot and bring to a rolling boil
Simmer for an hour-1.5 hours
Strain to remove solids
freeze unused portions for use as a base in Thai soups and Curries

14 Top Ubud Restaurants & Warungs

We’ve just arrived home in Sydney from Ubud after a wonderful 2 weeks there. I thought I’d share our favourite restaurants from this trip, including some old favourites and new finds while it was all fresh in my mind.

When we travel we like eating like the locals do, whilst also trying out the gastronomical stars. This trip to Ubud we did just that, eating at some great local warungs and places like Mozaic, Hujane Local and Spice Gastrocafe. We also tried on this trip to go to a few places that are off the beaten track of the main Ubud streets, so this is quite an eclectic mix!

Here’s an overview of  our favourite places for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

Melting Wok
Our absolute favourite place for dinner. There is also always a warm welcome from owner Geraldine and the team at Melting Wok who excel at great service and being hospitable. Geraldine is French and her husband Phillipe is Laotian and these cultural influences are evident in the  delicious main courses and desserts. The menu is small and simple, featuring the legendary stir fries and light coconut based curries with fresh herbs that have a unique fragrant Laotian flavour. Desserts include chocolate fondue, creme caramel and my favourite, the coco crepes with brown sugar and coconut cream. I could not write up Melting Wok without mentioning the stand out Mojitos which at IDR55,00(AUD $5.50) are an absolute steal. Great value for money dining overall with great fresh food and excellent service. Hugely popular restaurant with local expats and tourists so make sure you book ahead to guarantee a table.

Made’s Warung
In the ricefields behind Penestanan, follow the path which starts next to Bubu’s Warung on Jalan Penestanan Kelod and then turn right. Made’s Warung is up some stairs in a beautiful garden setting. The menu features Balinese, Indonesian and International favourites all freshly cooked. The Soto Ayam(chicken soup)!here is an absolute standout and the chicken with honey and chilli is a great take on sweet and sour chicken. Servings are very generous and the food is delicious. Warung prices so you will be pushing to spend more than AUD$15-20 unless you drink a lot of Bintang at $3.50 for a large bottle!

Kafe
Kafe is an Ubud institution, and a focal point for the Yoga Barn set. Serving delicious organic food, Kafe’s menu features soups, sandwiches,   Small plates and main courses. The rice paper sping rolls, kitchri, Indian plate, Ayam Rica Rica, and Soto Ayam are all excellent and the list of drinks includes Indian style lassis as well as fresh juices, coconut water and smoothies. In Jalan Hanoman.

Soma
Relatively new on the Ubud scene, SOMA is in Jalan Gootama in a Balinese courtyard setting, with tables set in the shade of frangipani trees and bamboo plants. The menu has a mixture of raw and cooked, healthy organic goodies. SOMA is all about healthy cooking, so if it’s not raw the food is created using slow cooking techniques. My “live” porridge with fresh fruits was absolutely delicious as are the fresh fruit juices. Good healthy lunch and dinner options and excellent for vegans and vegetarians. Service is a bit slow but worth the wait for the ambience and menu options.

Yellow Flower Cafe
Yellow Flower Cafe is tucked away in the Penestanan ricefields, on the walk between Penestanan and Bintang supermarket. If you are coming from the Campuhan end then follow the path from the stairs next to Bintang and if going from Penstanan, the path starts near the “taxi stand” opposite the real estate office. It is a quintesentially hippie cafe, frequented by the yogis staying in the ricefields. Run by a local Balinese family, the Cafe is great for breakfast with items like – Feta,Avocado and Tomato toast, on crispy baguette, which I suspect comes from the nearby Kue bakery in Penestanan; fantastic pancakes with bananas, coconut and strawberries and excellent egg shasuka which are eggs poached in a tomatoey ratatouille type sauce. Once again great frsh fruit juices, smoothies and Balinese “Jammu” or medicinal drinks.

Kue Bakery and cafe
There are 2 Kue bakeries in Ubud, one on Jalan Raya Ubud just down from Jalan Sugriwa and the other smaller outlet on Jalan Penestanan Kelod. If you need a fix of fresh croissants, crispy baguette or to indulge your sweet tooth with a cake or dessert, then Kue is definitley your answer when visiting Ubud. Everything is organic and freshly baked each morning and both bakeries operate as Cafes as well with sandwiches and organic wraps.

Wayan’s Juice Bar
On Jalan Penestanan Kelod, next to Warung Mendez, this is Boost Juice, Balinese style! The kitchen is more like a storeroom for the fruit, vegetables and herbs used in the juices. There is a huge list of combinations of fruit and vegetable juices, all made to order. My favourites include the banana, pineapple and passionfruit and the Beetroot, carrot, lime and  ginger! Delicious 🤗

Hujan Locale
Will Meryck’s Ubud restaurant offers a smorgasbord of regional Indonesia dishes in an elegantly colonial style restaurant in Jalan Sri Wedari. Using ingredients sourced through their partnership with local farmers and suppliers, the dishes range from tasty appetisers such as crispy pig’s ears through to stir-fries and curries, as well as dedicated vegetarian and gluten free menus.  Quality of food and service is excellent as one would expect from a Will Meryck establishment.
Smorgasbord of Indonesian delights

Mozaic
Mozaic restaurant is one of Ubud’s finest dining experiences and has won numerous awards to attest to this. The restaurant is very elegant and features dining in an tropical garden setting – very romantic at night. Chris Salans and his team use French and European cooking methods to create imaginative and divinely delicious dishes, each inspired by one key Indonesian ingredient. Mozaic offers set course menus of 6 or 8 courses and prices are high by Bali standards, but I recommend at least one visit as a true gastronomical adventure. Mozaic also has a lounge bar for cocktails and snacks.
See the review of our New Year’s Eve dinner.

Spice
Spice is Mozaic’s Chris Salan’s latest Ubud offering which he is calling a gastro-cafe. If you can’t make it to Mozaic, and even if you can, make sure you try out the fabulous more casual dining offer at Spice, on Jlan Raya Ubud. The menu features small plates as well as as more substantial mains and a daily specials menu. We tried gorgeous vegetarian dumplings; crispy pork belly with turmeric sauce, cauliflower and dukka, green salad and a very authentic Malaysian prawn laksa. The wine list is good, and wines are available by the glass. like Mozaic, each of the dishes incorporates local herbs,spices and sambals in a creative and thoughtful manner. The attention to detail in presentation and great fit-out make for a very pleasant casual dining venue as you watch the action of Ubud’s Main Street through the glass frontage. Must visit!

Warung Saya
Always a very eclectic experience at this tiny Warung, with only 4 tables, now relocated from Jalan Gootama to Jalan Sugriwa in the centre of Ubud. The owner Amir is a one man band, for taking reservations, serving the food, cooking it and entertaining guests with his loyal miniature poodle, Princess by his side. As well as being a fabulous cook, Amir designs dog costumes and Princess is usually decked to the nines! Bookings are essential and Amir usually requests food orders are placed ahead of your arrival by email so he can prepare ahead and cut down what can be otherwise a long waiting time while he cooks your dinner from scratch. The food is really delicious, and I always enjoy the Indian inspired dishes such as the Mysore Chicken. The fried tofu is to die for as is the stunning grilled eggplant served with yoghurt and tomato chutney. Amir is not a fan of hot chilli, so the dishes are delicately spiced. I’m not sure how he manages to do it all on his own but it is always feels like you are in his home and he is cooking for special guests.

Warung Mendez
Specialising  in Javanese food, Warung Mendez in addition to tasty appetisers such as their corn and spring onion fritters, battered tempeh, and lumpiah(spring rolls); soups such as Rawon, rice dishes like Nasi Goreng; Warung Mendez also serves special dishes like BBQ leg of goat and Beef ribs marinated with herbs and spices and served with rice and Lawar (green vegetables with coconut and spices). The meat dishes are perfectly slow cooked over coals and are redolent of smoky spicy flavours. The accompanying sambals and the green papaya salad are perfect accompaniments to the bbqed meats. Would highly recommend the special Gado Gado which is topped with fried tofu, a poached egg and delicious peanut sauce. Never tasted a Gado Gado like it before. Located in Jalan Penestanan Kelod. Warung Mendez Lunch Review

Bubu’s Warung
Down the road from Warung Mendez, Bubu’s Warung allot feels like an Australian cafe with chalkboard messages explaining the provenance of the ingredients as being fresh from the markets each day, and a light airy setting which is quite minimalist. This could be the influence of Bubu’s son Kadek who lives and works in Australia. The family run Warung is cheap and cheerful with wholesome, good food prepared by Bubu herself. Menu is a mix of local and international favourites. Balinese special dishes must be ordered 24 hour ahead. The service is excellent.

Warung Ibu Suna
For an authentic Babi Guling experience, outside the famed Ibu Oka which is now filled with bus loads of tourists, I’d recommend you venture up Jalan Sangingan to Ibu Suna, which is on your left hand side as you head out of Ubud, just before the turn to Kedewatan village. Most local warungs serving Babi Guling only open until that day’s pig/s has been finished so I’d recommend you factor in Babi Guling at Ibu Suna for brunch and go before 12.30 or you might find it is closed. The Babi Guling here is served traditionally with crispy crackling, tender white meat, bits of crispy fried innards(which you can skip), a spicy lawar(green ferns and coconut), hot chilli sambal and rice. Ibu Suna’s version gets top marks and is understandably very popular with locals.  A real Babi Guling experience

Review: Bali Asli Fishing and Cooking Class experience

This is the second cooking class experience that I have done through Bali Asli, which is based up in the hills of East Bali overlooking Mt Agung.

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The Jungkung, traditional Balinese fishing boat, that took us out for our fishing experience.

This time we chose the Fishing Experience package that combines a morning boat trip departing at 8am from White Sand Beach, near Jasri village and out into the surrounding bay. We were picked up from Turtle Bay Hideaway and driven right down to White Sand beach where a local fisherman was waiting for us with his Jungkung(traditional Balinese outrigger fishing boat). We were pushed out into the water by a number of other fisherman and soon were speeding along to our first fishing spot as the sun climbed higher into the sky over the glistening waters.

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Great views out to island outcrops and back to the shore in the waters off Jasri, East Bali

We were given substantial hand reels and bait to use in our endeavours to catch fish, but despite trying a number of spots we only managed to catch one small fish which we threw back. The currents were really strong, swirling the waters in the bay, which our local expert told us was “no good” for fishing. The local fishermen go out at 5am – early bird …and all that!

The boat trip itself was really enjoyable as we got great views back to the shore and close up to some of the island outcrops. Lovely way to start the day.

Afterwards we were driven up through some of the towns of East Bali, like Amlapura, with beautiful gardens and spotless streets winding up the hills to the stunning location of Bali Asli, which is owned and run by Australian expat Penelope Williams.

There we were greeted with a cooling drink and morning tea goodies including Sumping (steamed coconut custard cakes with ripe jackfruit) and Nangke Goreng (battered, fried jackfruit fritters) – both delicious. This was to get our energy up for the pounding of the Bumbu Bali (spice paste), mouldings of chicken satays, wrapping of fish and tofu in banana leaves, mixing of salad and stir frying of Nasi Goreng which was to come!

Dewa, one of the senior chefs at Bali Asli restaurant, first sat us down and explained the various herbs and spices we would be using, before taking us on a short tour of the garden where much of the restaurants herbs and vegetables are grown.

We were then allocated our own work area and guided through the making of each dish with very helpful tips and a few tricks e.g how to make little banana boats and “money bags” for grilling of the fish and steaming of the tofu.

The cooking class itself goes for about 2 hours but the time flies and we were very pleased with ourselves when we sat down to eat all the delicious dishes we had cooked around 1pm.

Whilst I had done the same menu when I last visited Bali Asli, I still learnt a lot this time again, and as there were only 2 of us in the class this time we received much more personal attention.

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Pesah Be Pasih – spiced fish fillet in banana leaf parcel

The cooking experiences at Bali Asli are just that – total experiences, combining a great insight into Balinese tradition and culture with excellent advice, guidance through the step by step process for each dish, and the opportunity for personal hands-on practice, rather than just watching an instructor making everything.

On both occasions that I have participated I have thoroughly enjoyed the “immersion” experience (See review of Balinese Village Cooking Class Experience)and the beautiful drive up and back from Bali Asli with its stunning views across the green valleys and ricefields to Mt Agung.

For more information, visit: http://www.baliasli.com.au

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Stunning views from Bali Asli, Karangasem, East Bali to Mt Agung