I love South Indian food, and I love rice. Makes sense really, given all the different sorts of rice the South Indians make. Lemon rice, tamarind rice, curd rice, the list is endless. One of my favourites though is tomato rice. It’s quick, easy and tastes amazing. It usually takes me only about 15 minutes to put together using left over rice from the night before, and the result is some amazing comfort food.

Ingredients (serves 1 – coz I eat a lot!):

250g tomatoes, diced (I usually use a punnet of cherry tomatoes, which have been halved)

1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried chillies
6 or 7 curry leaves
1 whole black cardamom (bara elachi)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 cup of rice, cooked
1 tbs oil

1. Heat the oil in a kadai.

2. Once oil is heated, temper it with the mustard seeds, dried chilli, curry leaves and cardamom pod for about 30 secs.

3. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well until the mixture has become mushy.

4. Add the garam masala, chilli powder and salt and mix thoroughly.

5. Add the cooked rice and remove from the heat. Mix the rice and tomato mixture well so that all the rice is coated.

6. Serve hot with yogurt.

I am a bit of an obsessive groupie. Back in the 90’s I was a massive cricket groupie, stalking all the visiting cricket teams at the hotels and net practices… these days I stalk chefs, and with the internet at my disposal, the job is so much easier! One of my favourite chefs to stalk is Kurma Dasa. I first discovered him when I was in primary school, on SBS TV where he hosted his own cooking show. Then I got super excited to find out he was actually from the Melbourne Hare Krishna temple and I even got to meet him!! Now the obsessive groupie in me has once again come to the forefront and in about a month and a half, Bazza and I are going to be doing a cooking course with him! You have no idea how excited I am!!!

Anyway, as a frequent visitor of his blog, I regularly peruse through his recipes, and try out various things he makes. He hasn’t let me down so far, and this strawberry cream shortcake was no exception :-)

Ingredients (serves 6 – 8):

The cake:

1 1/4 cups self-raising flour

A pinch of salt

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons caster sugar

13 cup ground walnuts (I ground mine in a coffee grinder)

About 13 cup buttermilk

The cream topping:

300ml double cream

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk powder

The remaining topping ingredients:

4 tablespoons strawberry jam

250g ripe, strawberries cut in half

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚C.

2. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar and ground nuts.

3. Pour in three-quarters of the buttermilk and gather the mixture into a soft manageable dough. If too dry, add some more buttermilk. Knead the dough until it is smooth.

4. Line a 20cm pie dish with baking paper and press the dough in, ensuring that the sides of the dish are also well covered.

5. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. Carefully remove the cake from the dish and peel away the baking paper.

6. Combine the cream, sugar, vanilla and powdered milk in a mixing bowl and whip it until the cream stands in soft peaks.

7. Spread the strawberry jam over the inside surface of the cake, then spread the cream over it, and finally top with the strawberries. Put in the fridge to chill for a few hours and then serve.

Bazza had been raving about St. Ali's for yonks and now that we have some spare time, she organised a girls' breakfast! The raving was definitely justified!

I had Sultan's Eggs... slices of toast, presented in such a cute manner, with a fried egg on a base of baby spinach leaves, a mint and cumin pesto and some sour cream... mmm....

Walking out, we saw lots of people sitting on the curb, waiting for a table... glad we got there early!
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