Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo)

 Gulab jamuns, literally translated as ‘rose scented’ balls are a traditional Indian dessert that is now famous all across the world. If you have ever visited any decent Indian restaurant, you would have definitely noticed ‘gulab jamuns’ on the menu! The mention of ‘Gulab jamuns’ always makes me feel hungry and I start salivating!  The soft dough balls slightly crispy on the outside but fully moist and spongy on the inside soaked with sweetened and rose flavored syrup can help you forget about all your problems and give you a few moments of sheer ecstasy!

Having said that though, I am quite finicky about how the gulab jamuns should be. They cannot be too too sweet. Yes I repeat that. A lot of the gulab jamuns you find at restaurants are overtly and so overpoweringly sweet that you fail to taste the flavor of rose. And no thank you, no cardamom for me in Gulab jamuns please. Saffron is ok but no cardamom. For the same reason – it is Gulab jamuns for heaven’s sake – Gulab means rose, got it? Only rose flavor should be prominent.

You may wonder – all this fussiness for what? I cannot even eat the traditional gulab jamuns now since I have given up dairy and refined sugar. Yikes. So what do I do? Knowing me you can guess! Yes I came up with a vegan and paleo version of gulab jamun. Last year sometime I had seen a bengali dessert using sweet potatoes which was similar to gulab jamuns. And so I looked up recipes for that. That recipe however used rice flour and sugar and since I wanted to make a grain free and sugar free paleo version, I had to make some substitutions. I used arrowroot flour for binding. And then it also had to be refined sugar free so I made a syrup using maple syrup and honey. An instagram post of gulab jamun by one of my besties gave me a huge craving for it and so I instantly scrambled and put together this recipe this past week to satisfy my craving!  Turned out perfect! Yummy and healthy too!

Sweet Potato Gulab Jamuns (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Healthy dessert
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Sweet potato balls fried in coconut oil and soaked in a sweetened syrup made of maple syrup and honey flavored with rose flavor.
Ingredients
For the sweet potato balls:
  • 1 large white sweet potato(Indian or Japanese), boiled, peeled and mashed
  • about 2-3 tbsp arrow root starch
  • Coconut Oil for frying (or grass fed ghee for paleo version)
For sweet syrup:
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp honey (omit for vegan version)
  • 2 drops of pure rose extract
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add the mashed sweet potato. Add arrow root starch 1 tbsp at a time and mix using your hands to form a dough - It will be slightly sticky. (You may need to add 2 to 3 tbsp of arrowroot starch depending upon how big your sweet potato is)
  2. Roll the dough into small ping pong size balls. You can apply some coconut oil in your palms to help roll into smooth balls.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a small frying pan (or deep frying pan)
  4. Add the sweet potato balls in batches of 4 and fry them on medium heat until reddish brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
  5. Place all syrup ingredients in a cooking pot except the rose flavor and heat for about 3-4 mins until you get a thickened syrup.
  6. Turn heat off and add the rose flavor.
  7. In a medium size bowl, place the fried balls and pour the hot syrup over them. Let the balls soak for about 15 mins before serving.

 

Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukkatta)

  Its amazing how creative you can get when you are forced to be on a restrictive diet. As a kid, ‘Kozhukkatta’ used to be the occasional sweet treat my mom would make for us. Usually she would make it as an evening snack to be had with tea. I loved these dumplings made with rice flour and filled with a sweetened coconut filling.  These are incredibly delicious and are quite filling at the same time. So these would be a perfect snack for us kids coming back famished from school. I would gobble up like 5 or 6 in one sitting. My mom would also almost always make extra coconut filling and save that for me since I loved to just eat that by itself:)

For a while now I had been thinking of trying to make these Kozhukkatta using sweet potato instead of rice flour. This idea came to my mind because I saw a recipe on instagram where someone had made ravioli using sweet potato.  That was inspiration and I immediately thought of making these sweet dumplings. Finally last week I got to experiment with this and luckily for me the dumplings came out successful!  I used a bit of tapioca starch to help form the dough. And also used Indian sweet potatoes which are less sweet and whitish in color. And of course, I replaced the jaggery with maple syrup.

I offered these to my kiddos as they came home from school not sure if they would appreciate these. Oh boy, I need not have worried – they loved it!  I had made only a small batch of about 12 and pretty soon all three of us were fighting for the last one 🙂

Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukutta)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A Paleo version of the traditional rice dumplings from Kerala using sweet potatoes and coconut
Ingredients
  • 2 large sweet potatoes,boiled and peeled (Use indian or japanese white sweet potato)
  • about ¼ cup of tapioca flour (you can use coconut flour or rice flour too)
For the filling:
  • 1 cup grated coconut(if using frozen, thaw it beforehand)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed sweet potato and add the tapioca starch (or rice flour) and mix with your hands until you form a smooth dough. Keep aside.
  2. Heat a flat bottomed pan and add the coconut to it. Cook the coconut for about 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the maple syrup and continue cooking it for another 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Add the cardamom powder and turn heat off. Keep aside and let cool for a few mins.
  3. To make the dumplings, take a golf size ball of dough and flatten it with your hands to form a small circle. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then pinch the edges towards the center to form a round dumpling. Repeat same process until all dumplings are made.
  4. Steam the dumplings in a steamer basket. You can create your own steamer assembly by heating a large vessel with water and placing a strainer on top. Place the dumplings on the strainer and then cover with a lid. Steam for about 10 mins.
Notes
For AIP version: Skip cardamom powder

 

 

Mango Coconut Lassi (Vegan, Paleo)

Lassi is a traditional North Indian yoghurt drink which is highly refreshing on hot, summery days.  Most common is the plain sweet lassi with only added sugar and no flavor.  The thick sweetened cream on top used to be the best part for me. Yum! Mango lassi is a popular, modern variation of this traditional lassi where fresh or frozen mango pulp is added to give a most delectable combination of yoghurt and sweet ripe mangoes. In the US, Mango lassi can be found in the menus of most Indian restaurants.

Being dairy free, I had been missing my lassi!  But not anymore! Coconut yoghurt to the rescue!  I make coconut yoghurt at home now – I recently posted the recipe for the same. You can also buy coconut yoghurt from most organic supermarket stores.

Since Mangoes have been in season (Oh how I am loving it!), now was my chance to try making a mango lassi with my new found love, ‘coconut yoghurt’!  I decided to add a few frozen mangoes too to give it a nice creamy consistency.  I added a tiny piece of raw turmeric to give it a healthy, anti-inflammatory boost!  Yum!

Happy Memorial Day weekend folks. Maybe you can make this delicious mango lassi this long weekend 🙂

Mango Coconut Lassi (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks, Breakfast
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A delicious smoothie made with fresh mangoes and coconut yoghurt with a tinge of turmeric
Ingredients
  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and cubed
  • ½ cup frozen mango pieces
  • ½ cup thick coconut yoghurt
  • ¼ cup thick coconut milk
  • ½ inch piece of raw turmeric root or ¼ tsp organic turmeric powder (optional)
For topping:
  • fresh mango pieces
  • dried shredded coconut / coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Blend everything together in a high powered blender till you get a creamy smoothie. Serve chilled topping with fresh mango slices and shredded coconut!
Notes
If the mango is ripe, you don't need to add additional sweetener. But if you desire, you can add some light maple syrup

Blueberry Tartlets (Vegan, Paleo)

A lovely afternoon.  A lovely lunch. With a lovely lady. I had been wanting to invite my next door neighbor over for lunch since a few months now. Finally, it happened last week. This lovely lady is actually an octagenarian but behaves nothing like how a typical 80+ yr old would! She is bubbly, energetic, witty, chatty, open minded and so kind.  I first met her 9 years ago when we moved to our current house and we instantly clicked.  The 40 plus yrs age difference between us never felt like a barrier! We talk about so many different topics like gardening, home renovation, raising kids, health issues and occasionally we also indulge in some neighborhood gossip 🙂

She is not just a kind neighbor but a very caring one too. Two years ago when I was first diagnosed with RA, she was the first one to bring me an enormous amount of food – enough food to last a week actually!. She said that since her mom had RA, she knew how physically challenging this disease was! I was overwhelmed and all teary eyed by her kind gesture. Anyways, now that I was feeling much better and since I had more free time during the day having quit my job, I really wanted to make her a special lunch. She had also not been doing well lately. She had a fall recently injuring her shoulder and knee and was undergoing physical therapy. I asked her if she would like fish and her answer was a resounding ‘yes’!

So what did I make? Main course -Pan grilled Salmon with a honey lemon sauce and some ‘Pulao’ rice with vegetables. A small salad – With mangoes in season, I made my caribbean salad. And then I wanted to make a really special dessert since she had a sweet tooth! And I obviously wanted to make something that I could eat too!

So drawing inspiration from my raw vegan cake and my berry panna cotta recipes, I decided to make a tart/pie by making the base like the raw cake and use the filling like the panna cotta. Also I decided to make ‘tartlets’ since I had bought these cute tartlet pans recently and they were begging to be used!

I was so happy how great these blueberry tartlets came out! Not only did they look so pretty – My guest was totally blown away by how cute they looked…but they also tasted awesome! The blueberry coconut milk pudding was so so delicious! The crust with the shredded coconut and dates is to ‘die for’ and the combination just rocked. How great is it when you can bake your tartlets and eat them too without any feelings of guilt? Dairy free, refined sugar free and grain free dessert that is so damn delicious! My guest at the end of our meal told me that I was the best cook in the entire town! Now isn’t that something coming from someone who has been around for a bit? 🙂 🙂

Happy Mother’s day weekend to all of you lovely moms! You deserve a treat like this one!

Bringing this gorgeous and ‘feel good’ dessert to the Vegan, plant based party potluck

Blueberry Tartlets (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Dessert, Raw Cuisine
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Mini Tartlets with a delicious crust of coconut and dates and a creamy blueberry and coconut filling.
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (I used Bob's Mill )
  • 18 dates
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the filling:
  • 2 cups full-fat organic coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. gelatin (use agar powder for vegan version)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Instructions
For making the crust:
  1. In a food processor blend all the crust ingredients to form a thick dough / mixture. Place parchment paper to cover the base and the sides of the pan. Press this mixture to the bottom of the tartlet pans. Freeze the pans for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
  1. Place the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add gelatin keep aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small pan, heat half of the coconut milk (about 1 cup) over medium heat. Add the maple syrup (or honey) and the gelatin (or agar) mixture. Stir until dissolved completely.
  3. Pour this mixture into the blender, along with the remaining coconut milk and the blueberries. Blend at low speed until smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the tartlet pans and place in refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours to set.
  5. Slide the tartlets out onto a serving dish and serve with fresh berries on top!

 

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan ‘Cheese Cake’

I have to confess…until a few months ago I did not know that there were an increasing number of folks in the world who were following a totally ‘raw foods’ diet!  My first reaction was – wow, that’s great – so healthy and ‘no need to cook’!  I looked over a lot of raw food bloggers’ websites  and saw how creative they were getting with their raw food recipes!  Gosh, it is mind boggling! Personally for me I don’t think I can manage a complete raw food diet since I would crave for warm food from time to time!  However, hats off to those who can pull it off and doing well with it.

So anyways as I have started following more raw food bloggers on my instagram, I continue to get inspired by their creations. One of these was the ‘raw cheese cake’ which is only made using nuts, dried fruits and other fruits! Watching numerous such vegan ‘cheese’ cakes and reading their recipes, I have been meaning to try making one for a few weeks now. The fact that I am currently on a AIP (autoimmune protocol) version of the Paleo diet was one reason – cos I am not allowed to eat nuts on this diet :(.  However, last week was hubby dear’s birthday. Him being a lover of cashew nuts , I thought why not give this raw cheese cake a try?

I looked for recipes and found that the basic recipe was pretty much same – nuts and dates for the crust or the base. And then a cashew nut cream filling. Then you can use your imagination for flavors – I decided to use mixed berries to create a two layer cake. And then topped it with a lot of fresh berries.  I also decided to do the crust only with shredded coconut and dates. I was so proud of my creation!  Our rhododendron had just blossomed too and the color of the topping of the cake perfectly matched with the light purple flowers! What a beautiful evening it was – my husband absolutely loved the taste of the cake!  He said it was better than any dairy cheese cake that he had before! The kids also loved it. I also had a couple bites – I had to see the result of my efforts, you see? 🙂  – Creamy, mildly sweet filling combined with the wonderful coconut crust  made for a delectable dessert! Simply superb is my verdict.

Btw, I would like to mention here a few of the bloggers who have inspired me to make this cake and whom I love to follow:

Edgar raw: https://www.instagram.com/edgarraw/?hl=en

Olivia from Lovehealthok : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoCEQG-JcqA

Sophie from A squirrel in the kitchen : http://asquirrelinthekitchen.com

Bringing this raw, vegan cake to the Plant based Potluck party this week.

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan 'Cheese Cake'
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sugar free dessert
Cuisine: Vegan raw cake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 9 dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • Pinch sea salt
For the Filling:
  • 2 cups cashew nuts soaked overnight
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup mixed berries
Instructions
  1. Soak cashew nuts in warm water and let sit for at least 24 hours.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. For making the crust, in a food processor blend all the crust ingredients except the shredded coconut. Then mix this with the shredded coconut in a bowl to form a thick mixture. Press this mixture to the bottom of the pan. Freeze the pan for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients (without adding any water) except the berries to get a thick creamy filling.
  5. Pour ¾ of the this filling mixture onto the pan after the base has set. Then to the rest of the filling mixture, add the berries and again blend to get a creamy smooth mixture. Pour this over the top of the white filling layer. Place pan back in freezer for at least 5-6 hours.
  6. Remove pan from freezer about 30 mins before serving the cake.
Notes
For making the crust, I do not blend the shredded coconut with the dates since then the mixture becomes too fine and the crust will become a hard crust. When you have loosely packed crust, it firms up perfectly after freezing.