Indo Chinese cuisine is pretty popular in India with the craze first starting sometime in the early 90s I believe. I was in college those days and we would sneak out from college to have lunch at one of these make shift stalls outside our campus to have delicious lip smacking ‘chicken manchurian’ soup and chill chicken curry. The origins of this fusion cuisine is a bit ambiguous I think because the last time I tried to research about ‘manchurian curry’, I only ended up finding out that Manchurian is a historic region in NE china and there is no curry chicken or otherwise by that name from that region. So I decided to end my research. Anyways, I am so glad that this fusion cuisine came into being combining the best of flavors from both the sub-continents even though the ‘how’ of it is not clear. Hey, let’s enjoy the food right?
I cooked these crispy chicken bites similar to the chili chicken recipe where corn starch is used as the starch/binder. Only thing I did was replaced corn starch with tapioca starch and replaced soy sauce with coconut aminos to make it paleo. As I have mentioned before, even though I am following the stricter autoimmune version of paleo which restricts even chili peppers, I have been having small quantities of red chili powder and other spices occasionally. But you could easily skip the red chili and these chicken bites would still be delicious I can guarantee.! I also pan fried (shallow fry) these using coconut oil and they still came out very crispy!
When salads are your whole meal, you want to pack a lot of punch in it. At least I do. Most days for lunch I will have some left over protein from dinner the previous night – usually some fish or chicken and then I just eat that along with some lettuce and celery. I don’t even bother chopping the lettuce or celery since – hey what does it matter, my teeth can do that 🙂
But somedays I get motivated. To create something fancier. Fancy meaning not as in ‘gourmet’ or ‘classy restaurant’. Fancy as in ‘whatever makes me happy’ 🙂 I had been making broth with chicken legs the previous day and had added some kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass to the pot along with my usual spices of whole black pepper and bay leaves. The broth came out very tasty and the chicken legs gave out a lot of meat which I saved up for my salad. Now as I opened the container of the chicken pieces, the smell of kaffir lime and lemongrass was still lingering and reeled my senses. hmm…I got transported to ‘Thai’ world or Thai..land rather!
So I decided to just continue with that theme and make a flavorful and colorful salad out of it.! I guess I was thinking of the ‘Thai Larb gai’ (which I totally love!) although what I ended up with was not similar to that although you could say that some things were common like the lemongrass and lime flavor.
For my dressing, I just decided to mix Lemon juice, ginger and honey which further accentuated the already ‘flavorful’ chicken. And Avocados and pomegranate went in to do their ‘colorful’ bit! And voila, within 15 mins I had this beautiful looking and fantastic smelling chicken salad looking at me. Last minute I decided to quickly make some instant pickled onions and throw them as a garnish! The salad was just perfect! It seemed like a large plate but oh the flavors were so good I just couldn’t stop eating and cleaned up the entire plate!
I think you can guess from the title of my post that I was struggling to come up with a proper name for this creation 🙂 It started with me coming across a caribbean mango cucumber chow recipe on a recipe forum. My sensory buds tingled at the mention of mango. And with cilantro and lime thrown in? Wow, even more mouthwatering stuff.
So that was the inspiration for my salad. So I got myself a mango two weeks ago – yes mangoes have started making an arrival here in our grocers! And note I said ‘ got myself a mango’, which meant that I was NOT willing to share this with anyone else at home. Yes I mean it. When it comes to mangoes, I become an infant …’Its mine!” OK OK so my family left me alone. They had the infinite wisdom that once mangoes start making more of an appearance especially at the Indian grocers, mom would get a crate of them and at that point she will be willing to share some with us.
So the recipe I had seen was fairly simple – onion, garlic, green chillies, lime juice and …Culantro. Yes no typo there, it is Culantro. I looked it up and it says that culantro or shado beni is a special herb grown in the caribbean. It is supposedly slightly different from Culantro or shado beni but cilantro is a close substitute. I am definitely very interested in laying my hands on this herb! Please let me know if any of you know where I can get it in the US?
Continuing with my salad, I added diced avocado, cucumber and mango together. For the caribbean chow, you pound together the onion, garlic, chillies and culantro and add this to the mango/cucumber pieces. Toss with salt and pepper and you are good to go! So I did this and then decided to add some chaat masala since the green chili and cilantro mixture along with lime was so reminiscent of the chaat we used to have back in the streets of Mumbai. So I added some chaat masala – the salad started tasting so good and I continued to sprinkle more and more of the chaat masala till I felt that it was just perfect – ‘You could eat the whole bowl’ kind of perfect! Yum!
After that day I started getting mangoes every week and I have made this salad at least three times in the past two weeks!. This last time I made it, i also added cooked beets and sweet potatoes to it. Tasted wondrous and a perfect side dish to my pan fried salmon.
Chaat masala btw is a blend of several different spices and has a dominant sour/tangy flavor from the dry mango powder and the black salt (pink salt) but it has a little bit of heat also from the other spices and cayenne pepper. I always buy store bought chaat masala but here’s a recipe for it if you would like to see the ingredients – Chaat masala recipe
A tangy and sweet tropical salad consisting of cucumber, avocados and mango deliciously spiced with cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and chaat masala
½ cup cilantro
1 garlic clove
¼ red onion
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
½ ripe mango, cut into medium size chunks
½ cucumber, peeled and diced
½ boiled potato (or sweet potato), diced
½ of a medium beet cooked (optional), diced
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chaat masala
In a mortar or pestle or a small food processor, add the cilantro, garlic, red onion and the lemon juice. Blend well until you get a chunky kind of paste. Keep aside.
In a large bowl, add the avocado, cucumber, mango, potato (or sweet potato) and beet (if adding). Add the cilantro mixture to this. Add the salt, pepper and the chaat masala. Toss well to mix the spices well with the vegetables and fruits. Serve fresh!
For Paleo version, Use sweet potato instead of potato For AIP version, Use sweet potato instead of potato and Skip chaat masala
Super Bowl was this past weekend and game night is synonymous with lots of food. This year we hosted the party for our neighborhood friends at our home. Folks signed up to bring different kinds of appetizers and dips. We had a good balance of junk food with healthful foods – grilled vegetables and salads made for a less greasy overall meal! And I decided to make Chicken wings. Since I am on a Paleo diet these had to be strictly paleo with only natural ingredients with no artificial anything!
So I decided to bake the chicken wings asian style! I added kashmiri chilli powder for the heat and used honey for the sweetness. Sesame oil and coconut aminos (soy sauce for non paleo) provided the distinct asian flavors and ginger, garlic provided additional flavors that made these chicken wings unforgettable!
My son called these ‘wickedly insane’ ! I think that translates to ‘fantastic’ in high schooler lingo 🙂 These babies are double baked to give them the extra crispiness and the extra sauce on top makes these simply ‘to die for’!
I am not a big sports fan. Game night is exciting to me only for the company of friends and for the food! However last weekend’s game was pretty exciting …at least the last quarter. And I personally thought it had a good message for everyone in all walks of life. And the message is ‘ Do not give up, ever. Keep positive till the very end and you can indeed turn things around magically if you believe enough in yourself!’
Asian Style Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings (Paleo friendly)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 40-42 pieces
Delicious, sticky chicken wings marinated in a chill vinegar lemon marinade and double baked to get perfectly crisp on the outside and smothered in a sticky sauce made with honey, soy sauce, red chilli and ginger-garlic.
Chicken wings around 4 lbs or about 40-42 pieces
for the Marinade:
Juice of two lemons abt ½ cup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp black pepper powder
½ tsp chinese five spice ( optional)
2½ tsp sea salt( 2 tsp if regular salt)
2 tbsp olive oil
for the Sauce:
¾ cup coconut aminos (substitute soy sauce for non paleo)
½ cup orange juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp garlic crushed or finely chopped
2 tbsp ginger finely chopped
2 tbsp sesame oil
Pat dry the chicken wings using paper towels to remove any excess water.
Mix all ingredients listed under marinade together in a bowl.
Marinate the chicken wings in the marinade for at least 1 hour.
Pre-heat oven to 425 deg F (210 deg C)
Line 2 large trays with Al foil and brush lightly with olive oil.
Place the chicken wings on the tray spread separate from each other.
Bake at 425 deg F for between 20-25 minutes (or until the chicken pieces are cooked). Make sure you don't overcook at this point - the wings should just appear cooked but not turn crispy. remove wings from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 deg F (180 deg C)
In a small cooking pot, add all sauce ingredients and cook for about 10-12 minutes until you get a thick sauce. Turn heat off. Keep sauce aside.
Reserve some sauce for dipping and dip each chicken wing into the remaining sauce to coat it completely and again bake them at 350 deg F (180 deg C) for about 10-12 mins until crispy on the outside. Flip the wings once mid-way i.e. at after about 5-6 minutes. (It would be best to arrange the wings over a grilling mesh at this point with a pan under to catch the drippings - see picture below)
Serve warm drizzling the extra sauce over top.
Step wise pictures:
Marinate wings in the chills lemon vinegar marinade for 30-60 minutes.
Cook honey soy chill sesame sauce
Cook marinated wings at 425 deg F for 20-25 minutes on a baking tray
Dip baked wings in honey sauce and place on mesh/grill and over tray and bake again at 350 Deg F for 10-12 minutes flipping them half-way through.
OK not going to babble much here. Thanksgiving is tomorrow! One by one the dishes are coming together. We are celebrating as usual with our close friends – we are all a big family 🙂 So I have signed up for only a couple. But you know me, I do have to make an extra one too 🙂 And how could I not make this baby potatoes dish which was such a huge hit last year! I never got to post the recipe before. Hence this year I am determined to! Everyone needs to get a chance to taste this yummy dish – did I say baby potatoes? Yes and that too slow cooked with lots of herbs and garlic and some lemon zest. A bit of curry flavors mixed with some of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors of rosemary and thyme! And then a final drizzle of EVOO! Need I say more!