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 ūüôā 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 saut√©¬†Kerala style with red chillies and coconut chips.

  Today I am posting yet another way to make squid Рyes 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!

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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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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

Kerala Peppery Chicken Curry (My husband’s Chicken curry)

¬†¬†I really struggled with what name to give this curry and I had a good mind¬†to just leave it at ‘My husband’s chicken curry’ ūüôā It is also the most delicious chicken curry you will ever have! My husband loves to cook and when¬†we got married, he would cook this chicken curry every now and then. When I was pregnant with my second child, I had severe nausea and I did not feel like eating anything that I cooked. The smell of Chicken curry would make my nausea worse and so I pretty much gave up eating chicken for most of my pregnancy.¬†Then everything changed when my husband decided to cook this chicken curry once sometime soon after my delivery. I tasted it and it was like ‘heaven on earth’! ¬†That first time after a long¬†hiatus from chicken, I stuffed myself with¬†chicken curry and rice! ¬†It was that good! And yay! I was back to loving chicken again ūüôā

And my husband continued to perfect his¬†chicken curry over the years. Since I don’t eat tomatoes now, he has stopped adding tomatoes too. Yet his curry remains so tasty! You may ask what is so special about this curry? Actually I used to wonder too since I use almost the same spices and everything else. For one, my husband is very systematic in the kitchen. (He is very systematic, period.) He will first clean the kitchen counter, chop up everything and arrange¬†them in different bowls, blend up the spices etc. and only then begin making his curry. Its like a ritual for him. You see I am nothing like that! I chop and cook at the same time moving from stirring to chopping and chopping to stirring! Over the years I would ask him multiple times to note his recipe down but he¬†never bothered to do that.

Finally a few weeks ago, I decided to video record him while he was making the curry. I noted down all the quantities of spices etc too and so finally I have this super tasty recipe to share with you too! Hey when a curry is this good, you have got share the love you know! I am still working on editing the video and will post it soon too.

So did I find what he did differently? I think its the magic of his hands. lol ūüôā Jokes apart, the key thing here is slow cooking. I realized that he saut√©ed¬†his onions slowly till they get really really soft, added very little water and added lots and lots of black pepper and not many other spices.¬†And finally the curry¬†is slow cooked to get a perfect chicken curry!The potatoes are also an important part of this curry – sometimes I can’t decide what I like more – the chicken pieces or the ‘curry smothered’ potato pieces. (My mouth is watering!) This curry tastes delicious with rotis or plain white rice.

If you are strictly paleo and avoid potatoes, then you can substitute taro root for potatoes as I do sometimes. Well this recipe is for you guys. As for me, when it comes to chicken curry in our house, 9 out of 10 times, you can guess who will be making it¬†ūüôā

Watch Video:


Kerala Peppery Chicken Curry (My husband's Chicken curry)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
 
A fiery and flavorful 'chicken and potatoes' curry slow cooked with lots of black pepper and other spices
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs chicken thigh pieces, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
For marination:
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli pow (use less if you want mildly hot)
  • 2 tsp coriander pow
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • ½ tsp turneric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
For the curry:
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • About 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger chopped finely
  • 2 green chiles, slit length wise (optional)
  • 10-12 whole black pepper corns (use fewer for less spicy)
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large (or 3 medium) onions thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp coriander pow
  • 2 tsp black pepper powder (freshly ground)
  • 1 tsp fennel powder (freshly ground)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 small potatoes cubed (or 2 medium taro root cubed)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Instructions
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces with all the ingredients listed under marinade and let sit for at least 15 mins (up to 30 mins)
  2. Heat a broad bottomed cooking pot (which has a tight fitting lid). When hot add the coconut oil and the garlic, ginger and green chillies. After 30 secs, add the whole spices - black pepper, cloves and bay leaves. Saute for 1 minute on medium heat.
  3. Add the onions and sautee for about 8-10 mins on low until onions turn slightly golden and soft(This is very important step)
  4. Next add all the spices - coriander pow, black pepper powder, fennel powder, turmeric , salt and garam masala. Saute for about 2 mins on low till you get the nice aroma from the roasted spices.
  5. Add about 2 tbsp of water at this point to avoid burning of the spices.
  6. Add the marinated chicken pieces and the potato/taro pieces and mix everything well together.
  7. Cover with the lid and cook on low heat for about 25 mins stirring every 10 mins to stir and avoid scorching.
  8. Add the fresh cilantro and turn heat off.
Notes
It is very important to use a tight fitting lidded pot for this recipe. The chicken needs to slow cook. The ground black pepper and ground fennel should be freshly ground otherwise you won't get the same flavors.

 

Spicy Baked Fish in banana leaves (Meen Pollichathu)

Fish roasted in banana leaves is a specialty of Kerala cuisine and if you have ever taken a houseboat tour in the backwaters of Kerala you would have most certainly been offered this culinary treat! Traditionally, ‘Kari meenu’ or pearl spot fish is used for this where an entire fish is marinated in spices, coated with a masala of fried onions with ginger garlic and other spices, wrapped in banana leaves and roasted (over a pan usually). It tastes heavenly and I must say that ‘Pearl spot’ fish is really the best for this as the naturally sweet and salty flavor of the fish combined with the flavors of coconut oil and banana leaves makes this an irresistible dish anytime of the day!

Since we do not get Kari Menu (Pearl Spot)fish here in the US, I use whole Mackerel to make a similar dish using frozen banana leaves from the Chinese supermarket. Although the end result is not as great as the traditional one, it is quite close. Plus what an unusual presentation – Try making this for your special guests sometime and you are bound to impress!

Extra virgin coconut oil and fresh curry leaves are an absolute must for this dish! This method of first pan frying the fish and then baking it results in a fish that is crispy fried on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside. Absolutely delicious! Enjoy!

Spicy Baked Fish in banana leaves (Meen Pollichathu)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Kerala, Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Whole Mackerel lightly pan fried and then coated with an onion and spice mixture and baked wrapped in banana leaves resulting in a fish that is crispy fried outside and moist and flaky on the inside
Ingredients
  • 4 Whole Mackerel or any other fish (cleaned from inside, you can retain head or cut it off)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil for frying
For the marinade:
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp red chili (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (melted)
for the onion masala:
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • one 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 green chili, slit length wise
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp red chilli (cayenne pepper)
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala(optional)
  • 1 small piece of kodampuli/kokum soaked in ¼ cup warm water (optional)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 fresh or frozen(thawed) banana leaves, washed and wiped dry
Instructions
  1. Clean the fish and make cuts on it horizontally with a knife so that the marinade can creep inside.
  2. Mix all the ingredients listed under marinade in a small bowl and coat each fish with the marinade paste lightly.
  3. Heat a frying pan with coconut oil. When hot add the marinated fish and cook on medium to high heat for about 2 minutes on each side so as to get a crispy skin(Do not overcook). Keep the fried fish aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 deg F (or 200 deg C)
  5. In the same frying pan, add the rest of the coconut oil and heat. When hot, add the sliced onions and sauce for about 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.
  6. Add the garlic, ginger, the green chili and curry leaves. Saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Next add all the spice powders and sauce for another minute.
  8. Add the kodampuli with the water (if adding or just add plain water) and the vinegar and cover and cook for about 2 minutes until you see the oil separating off. Turn heat off.
  9. Take each banana leaf and cut in half so you have 4 pieces.
  10. Place a fish inside the center of each piece and place some of the onion and spice mixture over it to cover it. Wrap the leaf edges to form a packet (you can use a string or toothpicks to make parcels)
  11. Place all the parcels on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 400 deg f (200 deg c) for 20 minutes.
  12. Serve warm right out of the oven. Garnish with red onions and lime wedges!
Notes
Kokum/Kodampuli is optional - it gives an additional tangy flavor to the dish but vinegar alone is sufficient too.
For AIP version, skip cayenne, coriander and garam masala.