Nilgiri’s with Hürol and Peren

It has been a crazy week for me. I had a lot to do; taking donations to Salvation Army shop (when I say that, what I really mean is carrying the actual donations to the shop. Twice), things to mail, people to catch up with, give support to a dear friend at the time of her mother’s operation. I must admit, all in all, this is who I am. A loyal friend who is there for all the people I LOVE.

Among all that, one of our dear friends, Hürol, had his niece (Peren) who was visiting from Turkey. A bright, young girl who did her apprenticeship here in Sydney. And she was leaving on Friday. So, we had to catch up quick. And the good thing was, Nilgiri’s was our safe heaven. I quickly booked a table for us. It was a great place to have a fantastic meal and say goodbye to Peren, too.

So, here’s what we had at Nilgiri’s:

PALAK SAMOSA (spiced spinach, ‘paneer’ & potatoes, green herb pastry, mango & tamarind chutney)

SHAKARKHAND CHAAT (smoked sweet potato patties, hung yoghurt & mint chatni)

LAHSOONI DAL MAKHANI (slow-cooked trio of lentils fresh garlic, green chillies, ginger & tomatoes)

ADRAKI PALAK PANEER (house-made fresh paneer, spinach with cumin, fenugreek & ginger crisps)

Zarda Pulau

Our very first Chinese hot pot experience

A dear friend of mine, Qi, invited us around to their place for a vegetarian Chinese hot pot. Her sister brought her an electric hot pot—all the way from China—as a present. So, Qi wanted to share this authentic experience with us by cooking everything vegetarian. How cool is that?

It was also the cold at the time. She told me that Chinese hot pot is the ultimate winter food; the ultimate comfort food for the winter. I totally agree with her.

Before I explain what Chinese hot pot is, I’d like to share a photo of our starters for the night: Garlic chives and egg dumplings. The pastry is made with boiled water which sets it apart from other dumplings. And, they are made by Qi’s sister.

OK, back to the description now:
Chinese hot pot is a cooking method or a dinner style, so to speak. Basically, a soup base is simmering at the table and ingredients are dropped into the pot. Once they are cooked to your satisfaction, you serve yourself along with the condiments. So, the whole cooking process is done at the table. It’s quite social because your involvement is required.

A typical hot pot would include meat, fish and seafood. However, my friend went out and bought some vegetarian meatballs to substitute. The great thing about that was, aside from her thoughtfulness, even the non-vegetarians loved those vegetarian meatballs!

The vegetarian hot pot my friend prepared for us had two different stock: one savoury, one hot. She told me that some people cannot handle a hot soup base so the host should provide an alternative. This style of hot pot is called yuanyang. I’m guessing it’s yin-yang?

Our vegetarian hot pot ingredients included:
• Tofu
• Wontons
• Various vegetables, especially white (Chinese) radish, sliced lotus root
• Various mushrooms such as shitake and fresh black fungi
• Bean curd skin
• Noodles (ours was sweet potato noodles which were quite interesting)

Condiments:
• Chopped spring onions
• Coriander
• Soy sauce
• Peanut sauce
• Chopped peanuts
• Hoisin sauce
• Fresh coriander
• Crushed garlic

Here you can see our food gently simmering…

Thank you Qi, Shawn and Harry for sharing this incredibly authentic experience with us. Next stop: our place 🙂

Meyhanee, Balmain – Sydney

Yes! Finally, we have a meze place in Sydney. And a good one, too. I am so happy to have discovered this place called Meyhanee.

One of our dear friends, Hürol, was talking about a meze place in Balmain for some time. When it was time to catch up with Hürol and Chris again, we decided to go to Meyhanee. I must admit, it turned out to be an incredible night. The food was fantastic. So was the company. Each one of us shared a story with the others. It’s what you do at a meyhane, Peoples 🙂

Meyhane is a traditional pub. Not just in Turkey but also in Azerbaijan, Iran (not surprising as the word ‘meze’ is coming from Iran) and the Balkans. Some general information about meyhane can be found on the cover of Meyhanee’s menu. So, check it out before you order your food.

I chatted with the owner of Meyhanee, Aşkın, only to find out that we lived within the same part of Turkey. He is new in Australia compared to me but his business is doing well. So, that’s good to hear.

Meze fridge with all the fresh mezes on display. That one is purslane salad with yoghurt.

This one (above) looks like haydari.

Salad of mustard green (above). We didn’t try this but it was on display so I took a photo of it. On the other hand, here’s what we had:

This fava was to die for. It was so delicious, we ordered another one. It’s a broad bean pate with lots of olive oil, onions and fresh dill. My husband is not a huge fan of beans but he loved this one. That should be telling you something.

Şakşuka (above). The name may suggest Tunisian but this variety is Turkish. As you move down to the Mediterranean region, you notice that it’s done with yoghurt. At Meyhanee, it’s more Aegean style.

Salad of smoked eggplant with walnuts, tomatoes and a touch of chilli. It was amazing.

Zeytinyağlı Yeşil Fasulye (fresh green beans cooked in a tomato base with olive oil).

Zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and herbs (above). They were light and quite tasty. Normally there are only 3 dolmas in one portion but they gave us 4 because it was 4 of us sharing.

Stuffed artichokes with peas and potatoes (above). OK guys, these are difficult to make and the main ingredient in this dish is hard to find in Australia. I don’t know how they managed to get it but it was a triumph!

Purslane salad with yoghurt (above) and as for dessert we had Fırında Sütlaç (below) which is a Turkish rice pudding.

We also had complimentary Turkish tea and coffee and an extra portion of rice pudding. It was very nice of them. We were very well looked after.

After Hürol finished his coffee, I read the cup for him. It was all positive, Peoples! 🙂 

I must have missed my Turkish tea because I had 2!

We are definitely going back to Mehanee in Balmain and taking more friends with us.

Meyhanee can be found at this address:
374 Darling Street
Balmain, NSW 2041

Tellicherry

It was a last minute decision to go to Tellicherry this time. We thought it’d been a long time since our last visit, so, there we were. It was lucky that we got in by making a booking on the day. Friday, that was.

So, here’s what we had…

ONION BHAJI (green & red onion fritters in an ajwain-flavoured chickpea flour batter, spicy tomato chutney)

KEERAI MACHIAL (split pea lentils & spinach)

POOKOSU URULAKAZHANGU (potatoes & caulifl ower, tossed with onions, tomatoes, ground chillies & coconut flakes)

KATHRIKKAI KOZHAMBU (eggplant in a tamarind, ground coriander & garlic sauce)

Naan bread

The Malaya with Berfu

We had so little time left with Berfu. So, we took her to one of our favourite places for dinner: The Malaya. Here’s what we had:

Vegetable San Choy Bow (above) before all wrapped up. Water chestnut, onion, mushroom, carrot and shallot stir-fried. Served in a lettuce leaf.

Salt and Pepper Cauliflower (above).
Cauliflower florettes lightly battered, deep-fried and tossed in fresh chilli, salt, cracked black pepper and shallots.

Szechuan Eggplant (above). This is pretty much everyone’s favourite. Marinated eggplant stir-fried dry style with shallot, cashew nuts and dry chillies. Served on a bed of Chinese water spinach.

Sayor Masak Lemak (above)
Malay style vegetable curry cooked with fresh chilli, lemongrass and coconut milk.

Sago Pudding (above). Sago and coconut pudding flavoured with palm sugar and topped with coconut sorbet.

Dinner for the evening: Vegetable Frittata, Celeriac Salad with Green Salad

I was walking back home after my singing class and decided to pick up some ingredients for dinner. I found a vegetable frittata and designed the side dishes around it in my mind while I was still at the supermarket. The sides were going to be some green salad as well as my famous garlicky celeriac salad with walnuts and fresh dill. So, I picked up all the ingredients and put them together when I got home. It was a delicious meal and everyone enjoyed it, too.

Introducing Berfu to the wonders of Indian cuisine at Nilgiri’s

People who know us really well know darn well that we are a huge fan Nilgiri’s. This is the place I write about excessively on my food blog VegFusion and this is the place we take our guests and friends because we know that we’ll be looked after very well by Ajoy Joshi and his lovely wife Meera.

This time round, we took Berfu there for an exquisite meal and it was her first time at an Indian restaurant at this caliber. We asked if there was a favourite dish that stood out during the night, she said “They were all fantastic dishes, I can’t really pick one!” She loved them all basically.

Here’s what we had on the night:

Starters

Pappadums and Dips (lemon pickles, raita of the day, sweet mango & nigella marmalade)

Cauliflower and Broccoli Pakoda

Bharwan Mirch (paneer-filled banana chilli, spinach batter, garlic chutney)

Moong Dal Samosa (pepper-flavoured pastry, spiced mung lentils, mashed potatoes, tamarind chutney)

Vegetarian Mains

Zeera Aloo (chat potatoes, cumin & green chillies)

Achari Gobhi (cauliflower florettes, ‘pickling spices’ nigella & cumin, mustard oil & fresh ginger)

Sukhe Baingan Tamata Tari (baby eggplant, coriander tamarind and dry coconut sauce)

Desserts

Gulabi Jamoon

Coconut Kulfi

Mango Kulfi

A Day Out with Berfu

Berfu is the daughter of a very good friend of mine. She’s staying with us at the moment, attending English classes and most of all enjoying Sydney to the fullest.

On one of those days we decided to go out and do some shopping, have lunch at Bodhi in the Park and visit Hyde Park. Sydney has a lot to offer. Here’s some of the photos…

We asked a nice lady to take our photo. She was quite creative with it as we have many photos to prove it.

Sydney Hyde Park

Bodhi at the Park. This is where we had vegan yum cha.

I am definitely J. J. Abrams of food photography. Look at the lensflare. I mean add a few spaceships, you have sci fi movie. He would’ve been so proud of me.

These apple pies were awesome.

St Mary’s Cathedral

Berfu, outside St Mary’s Cathedral.

Chatkazz, Harris Park with Madhu and Kushal

Our friends, Madhu and Kushal, took us to Chatkazz last night for a night of Indian street food. It was fantastic! We are thinking of bringing Dad here. He would love it.

It is such a busy place. With all the hustle and bustle it actually feels like you are in India!

They have chairs, menus, pens and order slips outside where you wait for a table. While you’re waiting, you choose what you want from the menu and then scribble it down on the order slip.

Once you are inside, food just keeps coming so fast; you wouldn’t believe. Here we are, just before having incredible street food…

And, here’s what we had:

Sabudana Vada (above)

Chhole Bhatura (above)

Pani Puri (above) They are one of my old time favourites.

Dahi Puri (above)

Khaman-Dhokla (above). Another old-time favourites of mine.

Chinese Bhel (above): This was everyone’s favourite. I have just tracked down the recipe this morning. I will make it.

Chatkazz has a separate sweet shop. Those colourful sweets were so inviting when we popped in before dinner. I mean, look at them.

So, we bought some sweets after dinner but Kushal had already picked up some jalebi before dinner. He says jalebi is the first one they run out at the shop. Jalebi is one of my favourite Indian sweets. Thanks to Kushal I came home with some.

 

Miscellaneous Sydney