Instant Lemon Pickle/Relish (Vadukkapuli Achar)

Over the past 18 years since I got married, I have cooked and baked like crazy.  Curries, Stews, Chutneys, Breads, Cakes, Desserts.  Indian, American, South Asian, Mexican, Italian – you name it, I have tried it!  You just have to browse through the recipe categories on my home page to see what I mean! However, one category that I have not really ventured into a lot is that of ‘pickles’. And by pickles, I mean ‘Indian’ pickles which are an altogether different class of foods as compared to what pickles mean to the western world.  A pickle in India is usually something that is a relish – something that is either extremely sour or extremely spicy or in most cases both 🙂 The very mention of the word ‘pickle’ gets my salivary glands into hyperactivity! And I can confidently say that it does the same for most Indians 🙂

These pickles are meant to be consumed in very tiny quantities in a meal and is thought to tickle your palate thereby improving your appetite and aiding digestion. In fact, the way to enjoy these pickles is by dipping your finger in it and then licking it between eating portions of rice or rotis! The best pickles – the ones that I grew up eating were all home made! By my grandmas and my various aunts. Yes, my mom for some reason too did not make pickles.  But after I got married, I started getting pickles from my MIL regularly. That could very well be the reason why I never tried to make pickles. And the fact that it just seemed like a lot of hard work. Which is true in most cases since the pickled object for example the lemons or the green mangoes etc have to be washed, wiped and sun dried completely for one. Second of all, once the pickle was made, it needed to be sealed appropriately and stashed away for a few months before it was ‘ready’ to be consumed! Now who has the patience for that?

For the past two years being on a Paleo and AIP diet I have cut down considerably  on the quantity of pepper from my diet. I now only use kashmiri chill powder which is very mild – it gives the hot red color which I crave for without the added heat that I can do without.! So I had very much given up the hope that I could be eating pickles anytime soon.

However, last month while I was visiting India, my elder sister made the Kerala traditional Vadaukkapuli achar for Onam. God bless her! Vadukkapuli is the name of a variety of lemon that is much bigger than regular lemons and they have a thicker rind. The pickle made using these lemons are a side dish for the Onam sadya. makes sense right considering what I mentioned before about palate and digestion 🙂

Gosh, I very hesitantly tasted it telling myself that I was just going to have one tiny bit – a little indulgence since it was onam! What I didn’t realize was that this innocent tasting would open up the floodgates of pent up ‘pickle cravings’!  Having tasted it now, there was no stopping me. Luckily my sister had not made it too hot or spicy. I loved it so much that I begged her to tell me the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that she had made it that very morning. Meaning this was an instant version of pickle. She had peeled the skin off making the lemon pieces soften instantly. What a neat trick! I couldn’t wait to get back home and try a version that suited my needs – less hot and spicy and completely paleo friendly.  I used lesser quantity of all the spices and also used apple cider vinegar instead of synthetic vinegar and used regular organic lemons since I couldn’t find the large Meyer lemons.

Presenting to you a milder version of the traditional Kerala Naranga Achar!.  I have been currently enjoying this lemon relish with boiled yucca (kappa). Yum O!

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Instant Lemon Pickle (Naranga Achar)
Author: 
Recipe type: Relish, Pickle
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Spicy and tangy lemon relish made with lemon pieces sautéed in sesame oil along with spices like mustard, fenugreek and cayenne pepper.
Ingredients
  • 3 large lemons (I used regular organic lemons)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (gingelly oil)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Peel the lemons (removing the yellow rind) and then cut into small bite size pieces. Discard the seeds. Place in a strainer that is placed over a dish. Collect the juices and reserve.
  2. Heat a small pan or cooking pot and add the oil. When hot add the mustard seeds and the fenugreek seeds. When they splutter, add the lemon pieces and saute for 2 mins.
  3. Add all the spices and salt and sautee for 1 more minute. Turn heat off and add the vinegar and stir to mix.
Notes
Although I used regular lemons, you can use same recipe to make vadukka puli (Meyer lemons)achar

Korean Style Sweet Potato Noodles with chicken and vegetables (Paleo, Gluten Free)

 It is amazing how many new foods you come across when you are on a restricted diet.!  Starting on a grain free diet 10 months ago, I was a little apprehensive on how long I would be able to stick to it. But believe me, I have come across so many new grain free options that staying on the diet is not only possible but is also exciting and compelling!

I had come across ‘Korean sweet potato noodles’ a couple years ago at a potluck at work. It was absolutely delicious and I had learnt from the Korean co-worker who had made them that these were made from dried sweet potato noodles and that they were gluten free and grain free. At that time, even though I wasn’t looking for a grain free option, this dish had come across as incredibly novel and tasty and I had made a note to visit the Korean grocers sometime soon so I could pick these noodles.! She told me this dish was called as ‘Jap Chae’

Unfortunately I never got a chance to go to the Korean grocery store and I forgot all about these noodles. Until I went to a local Korean ‘Pick and Mix’ restaurant.  I love their Bibimbap with vegetables and chicken or beef. My entire family loves this place now and we get take outs from here regularly 🙂

A few months ago, a fellow Paleo blogger posted a sweet potato noodle dish on instagram. I asked her where she got her noodles from and imagine my happiness when she told me she got it from ‘Amazon’ 🙂 How incredibly wonderful I thought and this time I did not waste any time ordering a pack for myself!

I now regularly make these noodles adding a ton of vegetables along with chicken or shrimp or beef.  These noodles have so much flavor that the whole dish turns out be incredibly flavorful even without much spices or condiments. I only use a little bit of chilli peppers, fresh ginger and garlic and coconut aminos (soy sauce).  Yum O!  Thank Goodness for sweet potato noodles – staying grain free is not only easy but also delicious 🙂

Korean Style Sweet Potato Noodles (Paleo, Gluten Free)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Korean, Fusion
 
An incredibly delicious, sweet and spicy dish made with grain free sweet potato noodles, lots of sautéed vegetables and shredded chicken
Ingredients
  • ½ of a pack of dried sweet potato noodles (about 6 oz) - I use Assi brand
  • 2 -3 pieces of chicken thighs (about ¾ lbs)
  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 inch by 1 inch of fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup zucchini cubes
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes (or cayenne pepper powder)
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce or tamari sauce)
Instructions
  1. In a large cooking pot , fill upto about ¾ th with water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles into the pot and heat for about 5 minutes until the noodles our soft. Drain the noodles using a colander and wash it further with cold water and strain again. Keep these noodles aside.
  2. In a medium size cooking pot, add the chicken pieces along with the ginger, garlic, black pepper and sea salt. Add the water and cook for about 15 mins on medium heat until the chicken is well cooked. Let cool and then shred the chicken into small pieces. Strain the chicken stock and reserve.
  3. In a large wok style pan, add the oil. When hot add the vegetables and the garlic. Stir fry for about 1 minute. Then add the red chili flakes (or powder) and coconut aminos (or soy/tamari) and cover and cook for about 3-4 mins until the veggies are all cooked.
  4. Now add the chicken pieces and the noodles to the wok and also add the reserved chicken stock. Stir to mix everything well. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed. Serve warm or cold!
Notes
You can use any combination of vegetables - some examples, broccoli,mushroom, cabbage etc

 

Tapioca Pudding / Parfait (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)

Ever since I went grain free about 9 months ago, tapioca has been my savior! Tapioca has a variety of different names in case you are confused – tapioca, yucca, cassava! Yes they are all the same root vegetable.  The end product also comes in a variety of forms – fresh yucca roots, frozen yucca pieces, tapioca pearls (sabudana in hindi, also called a s sago), cassava flour, tapioca starch or tapioca flour.

And I use each of these different forms to create a multitude of dishes which enables me to not only stick to my grain free diet but also enjoy it! Tapioca pearls are a product made from fresh tapioca/yucca. In India this ingredient called as sabudana is primarily used during religious fasting periods. Sabudana Khichdi is one such popular dish.

Nowadays I have started using sabudana to make sabudaana kheer or pudding where I use coconut milk and coconut. This recipe is a variation of the tapioca pearl pudding recipe where I incorporated fruits to make it a ‘parfait’. So yum. This has become one of my regular items for breakfast now but this could easily be your dessert too!

I am bringing this recipe to the Paleo/AIP recipe roundtable.

For more of my day to day recipes and variations of existing recipes, please follow me on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/indus_international_kitchen/

Tapioca Pudding / Parfait (Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Desserts
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A delicious and light parfait made with alternate layers of tapioca coconut pudding and fresh papaya and pomegranate.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup tapioca pearls(sabudana or sago), soaked in water overnight (or at least for 4 hours)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup fresh papaya pieces, chopped
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate arils
Instructions
  1. Drain the tapioca pearls using a strainer. Wash thoroughly in running water while in strainer. Place the tapioca pearls in a medium cooking pot and add all the rest of the ingredients except the fruits.
  2. Cook on medium heat for about 7-8 mins stirring continuously until all the pearls turn translucent. Turn heat off. Let cool for a few mins.
  3. In a tall serving glass, layer this tapioca pudding with the fruits and serve!
Notes
You can use any combination of fruits for this recipe

Happy Onam: Green Mango Relish (Manga Curry)

 Happy Onam to Malayalis all over the world who celebrate this auspicious harvest festival. This year I thought I will share the legend behind Onam as told to me by my dad when we were kids. Maybe you can share this with your kids 🙂

There are lots of legends that describe the making of this festival. According to popular legend, Mahabali, who was a powerful king in Kerala, made the Gods fear that he was going to take over them as well. Hence all the Gods approached Vishnu to end Mahabali’s reign. So Lord Vishnu took the form of a poor, skinny boy and approached Mahabali for alms. King Mahabali, generous that he was, agreed to give the boy whatever he wanted. The boy said that all he wanted was the property rights for a piece of land that measured three paces. Mahabali agreed instantly but realized his folly when the boy grew larger and larger and covered his entire kingdom in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered his head since he couldn’t go back on his word. At this point, Vishnu made an appearance and gave a boon to Mahabali that he could come and visit the people of his kingdom once every year and that was the birth of the ‘Onam’ festival. Mahabali’s people remembered Mahabali’s generous and virtuous nature in keeping his promise and began to welcome him every year by making an elaborate vegetarian feast.

Hope you likes the story 🙂 The main highlight of Onam however remains the Onam sadya, which is a vegetarian feast comprising of various vegeratian/vegan dishes served with steaming rice and served over a banana leaf! I have posted numerous Onam sadya recipes over the past few years. Today I wanted to post one recipe that I hadn’t posted yet – it is a very simple curry made with green (raw) mangoes. Green mangoes being sour, this curry is more of a relish than a curry. Green mangoes are cooked in mild spices and coconut milk and tempered with mustard seeds and coconut oil. Yummy yum! My mouth is watering!

This year Onam is really special for me since I get to spend it with my family in India.! Happy Onam to all of you! Please tell me your favorite Onam dishes and I will tell you mine 🙂 Check out my this post where I have listed all  Sadya dishes that I have posted before. Also you can check the ‘sadya dishes’ under category. Happy Feasting!

Happy Onam: Green Mango Relish (Manga Curry)
Author: 
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A tangy and mildly spicy green mango relish made by cooking Green Mangoes in coconut milk
Ingredients
  • 1 cup green mangoes, skin peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ cup coconut milk (freshly extracted as explained below or canned organic)
For fresh coconut milk:
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • About ¾ cup warm water
For tempering:
  • 2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chili, cut into two(optional)
  • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
Instructions
For the spice powder:
  1. Powder the mustard seeds and methi seeds in a dry spice grinder. Keep aside.
For extracting fresh coconut milk:
  1. Blend the grated coconut with half of the warm water and strain through a fine meshed strainer to collect the coconut milk. Blend the strained coconut again with the rest of the water and strain again. You should get about ¾ cup coconut milk.
For the curry:
  1. In a medium cooking pot, add the mangoes, water, the powdered seeds, green chillies and salt.
  2. Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the mangoes turn soft.
  3. Now add the coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and turn heat off.
  4. In a small tempering pan, heat the coconut oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, turn heat to low and add the dry red chillies if adding and the fresh curry leaves. Turn heat off and pour this flavored oil mixture over the curry and stir.
  5. Serve this dish with white rice.

Chestnut flour Halwa (Singhare ka Halwa) – Grain free, Dairy Free

  Chestnut flour is something that I recently got acquainted with. Thanks to my friend Monika. A few weeks ago when we were at their home for dinner, she told me about this flour which is called as ‘singhare ka atta’ in India and how this flour is used during religious fasting periods called as Vrat. She said that this flour came from water chestnuts and hence it is grain free. Wow, I was so happy to hear this and the next time I was at our local indian grocery store, I picked up a bag of this flour. I couldn’t wait to try this for making parathas as Monika had suggested!

I did make the parathas with aloo(potatoes) in them since that was the only way to make the dough. The parathas were good and now I started browsing more recipes using singhare ka atta. There are all sorts of things that showed up – dosas, samosas, etc and I started to drool looking at all these foods that are forbidden for me on my current grain free diet. I was feeling so excited already  and then I saw the recipe for ‘singhare ka halwa’! Omg! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Halwa has always been my favorite Indian dessert and for the past two years I have not had halwa being dairy free , gluten free and sugar free!  So looking at this recipe, I imagined the possibility of  a halwa in the near future for me. That was incredible! If it came out good, Monika, my friend deserved a treat from me!

And today happened to be the perfect day to try this recipe since it was Janmashtami which is Lord Krishna’s birthday. I started seeing all kinds of Indian traditional sweets recipes posted on instagram and in the afternoon, it was time for me to try making the singhara atta ka halwa.!

Turned out great – satisfied my halwa cravings totally. Even though I used coconut oil instead of ghee and maple syrup instead of sugar. The chestnut flour itself has a nutty taste and aroma so the halwa tastes rich even without any ghee or milk in it.

Chestnut flour Halwa (Singhare ka Halwa) - Grain free, Dairy Free
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sweets
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A delicious fudge made with chest nut flour and maple syrup flavored with cardamom
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chest nut flour (sing hare ka atta)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • cashew nut pieces-5-6
  • shredded coconut- 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. In a kauai (wok style pan), add the chest nut flour and roast it on medium heat stirring continuously. Keep roasting for around 3-4 mins on medium heat until it turns to light brown color.
  2. Now add the coconut oil and again stir to blend it in with the flour.
  3. Once it forms into a sticky mass (about 2-3 mins later) add the water, salt, maple syrup and cardamom powder. Stir continuously till you get a smooth halwa consistency.
  4. Turn heat off and top with cashew nut pieces and shredded coconut.