Crispy Chicken Bites (Paleo, Gluten Free)

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!

Crispy Chicken Bites (paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main course
Cuisine: IndoChinese, Fusion
 
Chicken pieces marinated with the flavors of ginger, garlic and cayenne pepper and coated with tapioca starch and fried to get crispy nuggets
Ingredients
  • 1 lb chicken pieces, boneless thigh pieces, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger and garlic paste (made by crushing equal quantities of fresh ginger and garlic without any water in a mortar pestle or a food processor)
  • 2 tsp coconut aminos or soy sauce (use coconut aminos for paleo)
  • About 3-4 tbsp coconut oil for shallow frying
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, add the chicken pieces and blot dry using paper towels.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all the rest of the ingredients and stir using a spoon to form a thick paste.
  3. Add this paste to the bowl with the chicken pieces. Mix using your hands to coat the chicken pieces completely.
  4. Add about 1 tbsp oil at a time in a small frying pan and shallow fry the chicken pieces in batches until they are cooked well and crispy on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Notes
For AIP version, skip the red chili powder

 

Yucca/Tapioca ‘Rice’ (Kappa Puttu using grated kappa)

If you have been following my blog, you might wonder why I am posting this kappa Puttu recipe again? Well guess what this is a different way of making kappa puttu.  I guess this is the traditional way of making it.  What I had posted earlier was an easy or short cut version.  Actually speaking both versions are not that hard and if you already have some cooked leftover kappa (yucca) then you can go for the recipe I posted earlier.  My aunt had suggested I try making Kappa puttu since that would be a great grain free bread option for me.  I loved the version I made before.  However my darling cousins kept insisting that I should try making it using raw grated yucca (tapioca) and that tastes much better. So then how could I not give it a try right?

My husband was kind enough to grate the yucca for me. Since yucca is hard, it is really a little tough on my weak RA stricken hands to grate this. Hence so kind of him to volunteer!  Well the resultant ‘puttu’ was moist and delicious and the texture was ‘rice’ like.!  And goes perfect with some chicken curry or fish curry! Yum!

Puttu is traditionally steamed using an utensil called “puttu Kodam’ which basically consists of a long mould that fits on top of a steamer pot.  Since I don’t have this contraption, I make do with a strainer fitted on top of a cooking pot.  To get a round shape, I pack the cooked ‘puttu’ in a small bowl and then invert it onto the serving plate. But if you have a puttu maker, you can make it in that.  You can check out what a puttu maker looks like over here.

This Yucca Puttu or Yucca Rice as I like to call it as become my staple ‘bread’ for eating with fish / chicken curry and has made my transition into a Paleo diet so much more acceptable! I don’t miss rice anymore since this yucca rice is so delicious and perfectly complements curries since it has the wonderful ability to sop up all that gravy! yum! Traditionally, kappa Puttu uses a mix of kappa (yucca/tapioca) and rice flour. But I replaced rice flour with coconut flour to keep it Paleo. But you can use same recipe replacing rice flour with coconut flour too.

Yucca/Tapioca 'Rice' (Kappa Puttu)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala, Paleo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Freshly grated yucca mixed with coconut / rice flour and steamed to get a 'rice' like consistency that is a perfect complement to spicy Indian curries like chicken curry, fish curry or vegetable curries
Ingredients
  • 1 cup freshly grated Yucca (tapioca or kappa)
  • ½ cup coconut flour (or rice flour) - Use coconut flour for Paleo version
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut (or frozen grated coconut thawed)
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the freshly grated yucca/tapioca. Add the coconut flour (or rice flour) and salt. Add the freshly grated coconut. Mix well using your hands.
  2. Steam this mixture using a Puttu maker or using a make shift steamer as explained below.
  3. For make shift steamer, fill a large cooking pot ¼ th with water and heat till water boils. Place a strainer that fits on top of this pot on it and spread the yucca mixture over it. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and steam cook for about 10 minutes. To serve, pack in small bowls or moulds and invert onto a plate.

 

Coconut Calamari (Paleo)

OK so ever since I made those beef cutlets with a coconut crust, I have been thinking of using that technique to make other crispy coatings! I got my chance to try it again when hubby picked up squid last weekend while picking up seafood.

I usually cook squid(calamari) Kerala Style which is to sauté it with onion and red chillies and with coconut. I have posted that recipe before. Have also tried frying it using chickpea batter which is a great gluten free alternative. However now since I am on a paleo diet, chickpea batter wouldn’t do and so I thought why not give my tapioca flour batter and coconut crust technique a try?  The ‘paleo version’ of the beef cutlets was very well received in my house. It tasted even better than the breaded version!

So considering that I was pretty confident that the fried calamari with coconut crust would work. And I wasn’t disappointed!  The fried coconut calamari came out so nice and crispy plus the shredded coconut topping imparted such great flavor.  I also ended up shallow frying it using coconut oil vs deep frying. It still came out nice and crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. Perfecto 🙂

I added a bit of cayenne pepper (Kashmiri red chili powder) but you can skip that for an AIP compliant recipe.

Coconut Calamari (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, main course, seafood
Cuisine: American, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A Paleo version of the 'Fried Calamari' - Crispy coconut crusted Calamari fried in coconut oil!
Ingredients
  • ½ lb squid, cleaned and cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • ¼ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (skip for AIP version)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the crust
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (I used 'Let's do Organic' brand)
For frying
  • About 2 tbsp coconut oil
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, add the cleaned calamari and dab dry with paper towels. Add the chills powder(if adding) and salt and mix well. Keep aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the tapioca flour with water to from a slurry. (This settles down very fast so again stir before using)
  3. Place the shredded coconut in a separate plate.
  4. Heat a small frying pan and add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Keep on medium heat and when hot, dip the squid pieces one by one in the tapioca slurry and then dip them in the coconut to coat completely and drop these one by one into the frying pan. Fry these in batches and serve hot!
Notes
For AIP version, skip the red chili powder

Easy ‘No Bake’ Breakfast Bars (Sugar free, Vegan)

Healthy snacks are a big thing for me. I am constantly trying to make snacks that are nutritious and wholesome and that will satisfy two growing kids. One of whom is a teenager!  The hunger pangs start as soon as they get home from school although I make it a point to pack a healthy lunch and a snack for them. So the pantry is constantly being raided. I make them a healthy fruit smoothie and then try to stock up on lots of fruits so that they can eat those first before loading up on the crackers, bread etc.  I bake most weekends so that I can create goodies with less sugar or even make them sugar free (by using honey or maple syrup). That way there is always a stock of something homemade and healthy for that huge mid-day hunger attack!

Last week I decided to make something with oats since I had a huge bag of them leftover in my pantry.  Before I started on a Paleo diet 3 months ago, I used to eat oats regularly for my breakfast. And after I stopped eating them it was lying there unused since my husband is sensitive to oats and the kids just didn’t want to change from their regular cereal. So I was determined to use them up – I was thinking of making just some granola  like I posted before. But then suddenly I remembered seeing some recipes of oats bars on  pinterest. So I looked for those recipes and I ended up making a version of my own based on what I had on hand – I added pecans for nuts since that was the only nut I had in my pantry that day and used peanut butter for the base. I also used the food processor to puree the dates and to coarsely chop the nuts and the oats since I knew that would give them a better texture. I have been making a version of these bars – My healthy breakfast bars for quite sometime now and I always felt like chopping the nuts in a food processor gives the bars a better texture.

My experiment was very successful – thanks to all the other bloggers out there with their different recipes which makes it easier to innovate and come up with your own version. The kids as well as the hubby love these bars and considering these are much easier to make than my old version, I know these are going to be a ‘regular’ in my house going forward 🙂

Easy 'No Bake' Breakfast Bars (Oat and nut bars)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snacks
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 bars
 
Healthy 'breakfast bars' or 'anytime snack' with oats and nuts; No Baking needed!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts (or any other nuts)
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (NOT quick cooking)
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ cup unsalted organic peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. In a large baking tray lined with parchment paper, spread the oats and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Transfer the oats to a plate.
  3. To the same tray add the pecans or walnuts (or other nuts if raw) and toast for about 5 minutes.
  4. In a food processor or chopper, pulse the oats and the nuts together for about 20-30 seconds until the nuts get crushed (big chunks) and oats also get chopped a bit. Keep aside.
  5. In a food processor, add the dates along with the hot water and blend until you get a thick pasty consistency.
  6. In a cooking pot, add this date mixture, the maple syrup(or honey), salt and the peanut butter (or almond butter) and heat for about 2-3 minutes until everything blends together. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and the oats and the nuts mixture. Mix well using a large wooden spoon/spatula.
  8. Dump this mixture into a square brownie pan lined with parchment paper with an overhang. Pat the mixture using the back of a small bowl (or use another sheet of parchment to press on the top).
  9. Place pan in the freezer for an hour (or refrigerator for about 2 hours)
  10. Take out the pan from the freezer/refrigerator and slide the parchment with the bar onto a cutting board and cut the block into bars of desired size using a large knife.
Notes
You can toast the oats and nuts in a pan on the stove too instead of toasting them in the oven.
Once set, bars can be stored at room temperature (65-75 deg F) for about 5 days or in the refrigerator for unto 2 weeks.

 

Beef Cutlets with a crispy coconut crust (Paleo)

Beef Cutlets are a specialty of Kerala’s Christian community.  Growing up in Mumbai, we had ‘Mallu (short for malayalee which in turn means someone who belongs to Kerala 🙂 ) Christian’ neighbors.  Kunjimol aunty always hosted great parties – be it Christmas or Easter or her kids’ birthday parties! One of the appetizer dishes was always these crispy and spicy beef cutlets! We all loved them! Our parents did not eat much beef however even they liked these cutlets perhaps because ground beef is used to make them and the nice flavors from the ginger, garlic and other spices makes the beef very delicious. And then the best part is the crispy coating that the beef patty gets from the bread crumbs!  Pan fry or deep fry these babies and serve them with either ketchup or a sweet spicy sauce and they are gone in seconds!

My mom who actually never cooked beef regularly at home did learn this recipe from Aunty. I am so glad she did! And so over the years I have made cutlets the same way using either ground chicken or beef. And they are always a crowd pleaser!  However now being on a paleo diet for the past year, I hadn’t eaten any cutlets in a while 🙁

And this had to change…and so this is how it happened. I had some cooked ground beef leftover in my fridge.  So one fine afternoon when I was really really hungry and was really craving for something really really satisfying , the image of beef cutlets popped into my head!  At first I brushed it off thinking there was no way I would be able to make a paleo version! And that too an eggless paleo version since I am sensitive to eggs too! But then necessity is indeed the mother of invention, right? 🙂 🙂

And so in about 30 minutes I had these crispy beef cutlets with a coconut crust that were ‘melt in your mouth’ delicious!  I gorged about 3 of them and had to stop myself from eating more!

So how did I do it? What were the substitutions? Well first for the potato, I subbed yucca (cassava). Incidentally I also had some leftover boiled yucca in the fridge. How convenient was that! Then for the crust part, I used shredded coconut and tapioca starch slurry. These came out so delicious. My kids ate the rest of the cutlets as a snack when they came back from school! The yucca made the cutlets somehow feel more richer than when you use potato.

Reading the recipe you might think its too time consuming but that can be easily rectified if you plan to make the kheema curry beforehand i.e. cook the ground beef with spices.  This kheema curry can be eaten with a salad on the side. That is one of my regular Paleo meals.SO once you have some leftover kheema then making these cutlets is a cinch! Either way guys this is totally worth the effort!

Linking to Saucy Saturday this week.

Beef Cutlets with a crispy coconut crust (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, main course
Cuisine: Kerala, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Paleo version of the Indian Beef cutlets made from ground beef and yucca cooked with Indian spices and coated with shredded coconut and shallow fried in coconut oil
Ingredients
Precooking the Beef:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2-4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin powder (omit for AIP version)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper) (Omit for AIP version)
  • 1 bay leaf
For making kheema
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • ½ of a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder (sub cilantro leaves for AIP version)
  • 1 tsp garam masala (skip for AIP version)
For the cutlets:
  • about 1 cup of boiled yucca (cassava or kappa) pieces, mashed well
  • 2 tbsp of tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
  • ½ cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil for pan frying
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients under 'pre cooking the beef' into a pressure cooker (or an ordinary pot with a tight fitting lid) and cook for 3 whistles. If not using a cooker, you need to add about ¼ cup water.let cool and keep aside.
  2. In a sauté pan, add the oil and add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions get softened and you get the cooked smell of ginger and garlic. Next add the coriander powder and garam masala and stir for a minute.
  3. Next add the cooked ground beef to this onion mixture and let cook together for 4-5 minutes or until all water is gone.
  4. Let this kheema mixture cool nicely before you start making the cutlets.
  5. For making the cutlets, take a large mixing bowl and add the cooled kheema (beef mixture) and the mashed yucca pieces.
  6. Make patties out of this mixture and keep aside.
  7. Place shredded coconut in a plate and in a small bowl mix the tapioca starch with about 2 tbsp water to form a slurry
  8. Next Taking one patty at a time, dip the patty first into the tapioca slurry and then coat with the shredded coconut. Place the coated patty onto a plate. Repeat similarly for all of the patties.
  9. Heat a non stick frying pan and add the coconut oil to it.
  10. When the oil is hot, turn heat to medium and shallow fry the patties until both sides turn golden brown!
  11. Transfer to paper towels to remove excess oil and serve warm!
Notes
For an AIP compliant version, omit all the spices as indicated above in the recipe