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

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.

Squid Stir fry with coconut (Koonthal thoran)

As I have mentioned many times before, we are all seafood lovers in our family.  My son when he was younger, he loved to stick his nose inside the fresh seafood counter over at the Asian supermarket. He loves the smell of seafood so much 🙂 We usually get different varieties of fish and also shrimp.  Crabs and lobsters are much rarer since they require some amount of work.  One thing we have been getting more of lately is squid. We love it fried – Fried calamari. And you may recall a few months ago I made a grain free, paleo version of fried calamari with shredded coconut which was awesome.  I have also made a gluten free chick pea batter version of fried calamari before. And then I make a spicy sauté Kerala style with red chillies and coconut chips.

  Today I am posting yet another way to make squid – yes you can use squid and calamari interchangeably they mean one and the same thing! Calamari is the Italian name for squid. This recipe uses grated coconut and yet it has a fairly moderate amount of heat using red chillies and black pepper.  There is slight tanginess to this dish which is brought on by the addition of Kodampuli (Kokum) which is a special kind of sour dried fruit. If you cannot get your hands on this ingredient, substitute some lime/lemon juice in its place.

Btw, I feel so lucky that I do not need to clean the squid since it comes already cleaned here where I purchase it from. If your squid does not come like that, you can look up videos on youtube where they show you how to clean it. Do try this recipe and let me know how you like it!

Print
Squid Stir fry with coconut (Koonthal thoran)
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Tasty Squid/Calamari spicy stir fried with aromatic spices and fresh grated coconut.

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
Author: Indu
Ingredients
  • 1 pound (lb) squid, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 no. green chillies slit length-wise
  • 4-5 no. fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper) or as needed
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp fennel powder freshly roasted
  • 1/2 tsp salt or as needed
  • 1 cup grated coconut fresh or frozen(thawed)
  • 1 no. kodampuli (kokum) soaked in 1/4 cup warm water for 10 mins
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder freshly powdered
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil optional
Instructions
  1. Cut the squid into 1/2 inch thin rounds. Remove as much water as possible from them using paper towels.

  2. Heat the coconut oil in  a medium size kadai (wok style pan) and add the sliced onions. Stir for 1 minute.

  3. Add the chopped garlic, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves and stir for 2 mins.

  4. Now add all the spice powders and salt. Add the squid pieces and stir to coat the squid with all the onion and spice mixture. Cover with a lid and let cook for about 5 mins on medium heat. 

  5. Open lid and add the grated coconut and the kodampuli(kokum) and its water. Also add the black pepper powder and stir well. Cover and cook for another 5 mins on low heat.

  6. Now open lid and cook uncovered stirring occasionally for another 5 mins or so until very little water is left. Turn heat off. Drizzle fresh coconut oil on top before serving.

Recipe Notes

If you don't have Kodampuli(kokum), you can use a dash of lemon juice instead for tanginess.

Other Squid recipes:

Gluten free Chick pea batter Fried Calamari

Coconut Calamari (Paleo version)

Spicy Sautéed Squid Kerala Style

Kerala Style Vegetable Mappas (Vegetable coconut milk curry) and Cassava Paratha

  Mappas is a coconut milk based curry that is unique to Kerala and particularly among the Kerala Syrian Christian community.  Fish mappas, Chicken Mappas and also vegetable mappas. Last week I wanted to make some kind of vegetable korma since I was so excited that I was finally able to make grain free parathas using cassava flour. After being deprived of all kinds of breads the past two years, I am now ecstatic that I can finally eat parathas. And so I was looking to make a curry that will go well with parathas / rotis – I was craving for a flavorful and rich curry where I could use my cassava paratha to soak up all the gravy.  I suddenly remembered my friend Reena’s mixed vegetable curry that she had brought to a potluck some several thousand moons ago!  Yes, I am weird like that – I remember everything about who brought what dish to what potluck even if it was several years ago 🙂

Reena doesn’t stay near us anymore but in these days of whatsapp messaging, distances hardly matter! So I messaged Reena to give me her recipe and lo and behold, a very beautifully crafted recipe was delivered to me 2 days later. I wasn’t surprised since Reena is the most meticulous of all my girl friends – she likes to go about things in an organized fashion. And she is a fabulous cook too being a Keralite brought up in Chennai, she has the best recipes from both the worlds! Thank you Reena for this fabulous recipe. I made it exactly as her recipe only replacing peas with carrots and then also adding green beans. We had the curry with rotis (for the family) and my cassava paratha. The gravy was finger licking good and even my 10 year old daughter who is allergic to vegetables(not clinically but you know what I mean right?) also took seconds!  God bless you Reena darling 🙂

Hope you all enjoy this recipe. I have also included the recipe for cassava (tapioca) paratha here. Check out my youtube channel for a video of this curry and my grain free cassava paratha recipe.!

 

Kerala Style Vegetable Mappas (Vegetable coconut milk curry) and Cassava Paratha
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
 
A finger licking, flavorful curry of mixed vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, green beans and carrots cooked in a rich gravy of coconut milk and spices
Ingredients
For masala:
  • Red chilly powder or cayenne pepper - 2 tsp (I used Kashmiri chill powder for a mildly spicy and for color)
  • Coriander powder - 3 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - ¼ tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon - 1 inch long piece
  • fresh Ginger - about 1 inch by 2 inch piece
  • fresh Garlic - 4 big cloves
  • ¼ cup warm water
For making coconut milk:
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • about 2½ cups hot water
  • Coconut oil - 1.5 tbsp
  • Shallots/red onions, chopped 1 cup
  • Potatoes- peeled and cubed - 2
  • Carrots - ¼ cup
  • Green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 cup
  • Cauliflower - florets - 2 cups
  • Vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar but any vinegar is fine)- 1 tbsp
  • Thinned Coconut milk (2nd extraction) - 2 cups
  • Thick Coconut milk (1st extraction) - 1 cup
  • Salt about 1 tsp (or per taste)
  • fresh Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
  • extra coconut oil for drizzling on top
For cassava parathas:
  • ½ cup cassava flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • ½ cup hot water (water that has been boiling and just removed from heat)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients listed under 'masala' in a small blender jar and grind together to form a fine paste. Keep aside.
  2. In a blender mix the grated coconut with about 1 cup of the hot water and blend for 1 minute. Using a strainer, extract the coconut milk. Keep aside this first coconut milk. Now add the rest of the water and blend again. Strain to get the 2nd extract. Keep both extracts aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil and sauté the shallots for 2-3 mins.
  4. To this add the ground masala paste and sauté for about 1 minute on low heat until the raw smell dissipates.
  5. Add all the veggies, stir to mix veggies with the spices, cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins.
  6. Add the 2nd milk, vinegar and salt. Cover and cook for about 8-10 mins or until the vegetables are cooked.(Take care not to overcook)
  7. Now add the 1st milk and the fresh curry leaves.
  8. When the curry comes to a boil, remove from heat and drizzle extra coconut oil on top and serve warm with rotis or parathas!
For making cassava paratha:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the cassava flour. Add the salt and the oil. Then add slowly the hot water in 2-3 portions and continue stirring with a spoon. When all the water is added, add 1 more tsp of oil and then knee with your hands to form a smooth dough.
  2. Roll dough into chapatis and cook on a frying pan cooking about 2 mins on each side. Apply ghee or oil as needed.
Notes
This curry tastes best with homemade coconut milk. But you can use organic canned unsweetened coconut milk too. If using canned milk, you can just use the entire quantity - 3 cups of coconut milk together.
For AIP, skip red chili, coriander and fennel powder

 

Okra Yoghurt Soup (Vendakka Pachadi)

In Kerala cuisine, Pachadi is a side dish which is made using yoghurt. I have posted recipe for ash gourd pachadi or kumabalanga pachadi and beetroot pachadi before.  Pachadi can be made using different vegetables and sometimes even fruits like pineapple  are used. Although I make okra coconut milk curry often, I had never tried to make vendakka (okra) pachadi before since my amma  never made it at home.

These days being on a Paleo diet, I usually like to have the curries as soup. Now that I make my coconut yoghurt at home, I have more options for curries. And so I thought of making this vendakka pachadi where you add fried okra pieces to a coconut and yoghurt base.  Since the soup base is made by blending coconut meat and coconut yoghurt, it is really creamy and filling and of course , super delicious! I fried extra okra pieces so I could just have those on the side along with this wonderfully healthy and satisfying soup. Traditionally, regular yoghurt preferably slightly soured is used for pachadi. But I used coconut yoghurt instead of regular yoghurt to keep it dairy free. And I added a dash of lemon juice since my coconut yoghurt was not tangy enough.

Okra Yoghurt Soup (Vendakka Pachadi)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, Soups
Cuisine: Kerala, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A delicious soup made with coconut and coconut yoghurt blended with cumin and curry leaves with fried okra on top.
Ingredients
  • About 2 cups Okra (Bhindi), cut into ½ inch rounds (you can use fresh or frozen okra)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
For grinding:
  • ¾ cup grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder (optional)
  • 2-3 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¾ cup plain yoghurt (use coconut yoghurt for vegan/paleo)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (optional to give tanginess)
For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 4-5 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 dry red kashmiri chilli, broken into two pieces
Instructions
  1. Pat dry the okra pieces with paper towels (especially if using frozen okra pieces). Sprinkle the salt and turmeric over the pieces.
  2. Heat the 2 tbsp coconut oil in a small frying pan and shallow fry the okra pieces in batches until they turn crispy. Keep aside.
  3. Ina food processor, add all the ingredients listed under 'For grinding' except the yoghurt and blend well until you get a fine paste. Then add the yoghurt and lemon juice and blend again for about 30 secs.
  4. In a small kadai or a wok shaped pan, add the 1 tbsp coconut oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and the kashmiri chillies and stir for 30 secs.
  5. Add the ground coconut and yoghurt mixture into the pan and turn heat to low. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble (about 1 min or so), turn heat off. Check for salt.
  6. Add the fried okra pieces just before serving so that they retain their crispy texture.
Notes
For AIP recipe, skip mustard seeds, cumin and chillies