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!
Squid Stir fry with coconut (Koonthal thoran)
Tasty Squid/Calamari spicy stir fried with aromatic spices and fresh grated coconut.
Main Course, Side Dish
1pound (lb)squid, cleaned
1 tbspchopped garlic
1 tbspchopped ginger
2no.green chilliesslit length-wise
4-5no.fresh curry leaves
1tspred chilli powder (cayenne pepper)or as needed
2tsp fennel powderfreshly roasted
1/2 tspsaltor as needed
1cupgrated coconutfresh or frozen(thawed)
1no.kodampuli (kokum)soaked in 1/4 cup warm water for 10 mins
1tspblack pepper powderfreshly powdered
Cut the squid into 1/2 inch thin rounds. Remove as much water as possible from them using paper towels.
Heat the coconut oil in a medium size kadai (wok style pan) and add the sliced onions. Stir for 1 minute.
Add the chopped garlic, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves and stir for 2 mins.
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.
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.
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.
If you don't have Kodampuli(kokum), you can use a dash of lemon juice instead for tanginess.
Dill is one herb (the only one perhaps) that I took a long time to appreciate. May be because it was not available in western India where I grew up. And Dill being so different from some of the other herbs that I was used to like cilantro and mint, it took a while before I started appreciating its fragrance and flavor. One of my close friends is originally from Iran and she makes a delicious Lima beans Pilaf where Dill flavor is predominant. That was my first exposure to Dill and that first time I wasn’t crazy about it. But over the years I slowly started to like its strong flavor and smell.
I started first appreciating it in pickled cucumbers. I absolutely relish pickles. And now I have grown to be quite fond of it 🙂 I still won’t use it that liberally since it can be too overpowering if you overdo it but every now and then I like to get a fresh bunch and use it sparingly in salads and baked potatoes etc. A few weeks ago I found a large bunch in our local farmer’s market and was tempted to pick it up. At that time I didn’t know what I would make with it but it somehow had such a fresh and refreshing smell that I had to bring it to my kitchen!
And then the next day as I got the Salmon out of the freezer, the idea of making a sauce popped in my head. And knowing me you won’t be surprised that I decided to make a coconut based sauce, kind of like a chutney using coconut, lemon juice and dill. So glad I did! I was thinking of baking the salmon but last minute decided to just do a quick pan fry. The dish was just perfect – the crispy salmon and the creamy coconut dill flavored chutney was like a marriage made in heaven! Mmm…Mmm good!
Pan fried Salmon, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with a delicious creamy coconut and dill chutney
2 salmon filets (about 6-8 oz each)
About 2 tbsp Coconut or Olive Oil for pan frying
Marinade for salmon:
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper pow (I used kashmiri chill powder which is mild)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp olive oil
For the coconut dill chutney:
½ cup grated coconut or coconut pieces(fresh or frozen)
¼ cup fresh dill
1 green chili (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt (or per taste)
¼ cup hot water
Thaw the salmon and remove any scales from the skin side. Pat dry using paper towels.
In a small mixing bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients.
Apply marinade paste to the salmon filets and keep aside for 15-30 mins.
In a food processor, blend all the chutney ingredients until creamy and fine.
Heat a frying pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the marinated salmon pieces. Cook for about 2 mins on medium high heat. Flip and cook on the other side for about 2 mins more. Transfer to a dish.
Serve Salmon with coconut dill chutney on top!
For AIP version, skip cayenne pepper and green chili.
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: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course
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
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
Place all the ingredients listed under 'masala' in a small blender jar and grind together to form a fine paste. Keep aside.
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.
Heat the coconut oil and sauté the shallots for 2-3 mins.
To this add the ground masala paste and sauté for about 1 minute on low heat until the raw smell dissipates.
Add all the veggies, stir to mix veggies with the spices, cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins.
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)
Now add the 1st milk and the fresh curry leaves.
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:
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.
Roll dough into chapatis and cook on a frying pan cooking about 2 mins on each side. Apply ghee or oil as needed.
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
Being a Keralan at heart, I always loved eating fish and all seafood. So incredibly tasty! And also so light on the stomach. This is the best part now on my Paleo diet. I eat fish 80% of the time for my protein and hence I am constantly looking out for new recipes. Well I have quite a bit of a stash of Kerala fish recipes but still any new fish recipe I see, I must try it! The recipe I am sharing today was developed due to that. I watched some youtube videos of street food vendors making fish fry and I saw one recipe that sent me salivating at midnight!
Fish first marinated in a mint and cilantro green masala and then deep fried by coating in a thick flour batter. All though mouthwatering, I needed to test grain free alternatives to flour. So the first time I tried by using tapioca starch. the coating was crispy however it didn’t hold well and came off easily. So this second time around, I decided to use cassava flour (which is also tapioca flour but it has all the fiber retained in it and hence its texture is different from tapioca starch which is more like corn starch). I added a bit of tapioca starch too to give some additional crispiness.
Pleased to present the recipe for Dhaba Style Masala Fish fry – paleo version! For non-paleo version, you can use all purpose flour, rice flour or chick pea flour for the batter
Dhaba Style Green Masala Fish Fry (Herbed Spicy Fish Fritters)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main course
Crispy Spicy Fried Fish (Fish fritters) made by marinating fish first in a blend of herbs and spices and then frying it after coating with cassava flour batter
About 1 and ½ pounds fish (or fish filets) - Any fish is ok -I used cod fish
For the marinade masala:
8-10 fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 green chili
2 cloves of garlic
½ inch piece of fresh ginger
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp black pepper powder
½ tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
2 tbsp cassava flour (I used Anthony's Goods)
1 tsp Tapioca flour
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
3-4 tbsp water
Coconut Oil for frying
Cut the fish into medium size pieces (about 1 inch by 2 inches). Dab dry and keep aside.
Grind all ingredients listed under marinade to a paste. (It will be slightly coarse that's ok)
In a bowl add the fish pieces and the marinade and using your hands coat fish pieces well with marinade. Keep aside at room temperature for unto 30 mins or in the fridge if longer than that (up to 3 hours)
Fry fish just before serving. In a small bowl, mix all the batter ingredients and stir to get a thick batter.
Heat a frying pan with the coconut oil (you can either deep fry or shallow fry - i prefer shallow frying as it takes less oil)
Dip each fish piece in the batter coating it well on all sides and place in hot oil. Repeat with all the pieces. Fry the fish for about 2 -3 mins on each side until crispy on the outside flipping carefully to turn.
Serve fried fish immediately!
For non-paleo version, you can use all purpose flour, rice flour or chick pea flour for the batter Cut the fish pieces or the filets such that they are at least ½ inch thick.
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’ 🙂 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 🙂
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 🙂 Jokes apart, the key thing here is slow cooking. I realized that he sautéed 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 🙂
Kerala Peppery Chicken Curry (My husband's Chicken curry)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course
A fiery and flavorful 'chicken and potatoes' curry slow cooked with lots of black pepper and other spices
2 lbs chicken thigh pieces, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
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
Marinate the chicken pieces with all the ingredients listed under marinade and let sit for at least 15 mins (up to 30 mins)
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.
Add the onions and sautee for about 8-10 mins on low until onions turn slightly golden and soft(This is very important step)
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.
Add about 2 tbsp of water at this point to avoid burning of the spices.
Add the marinated chicken pieces and the potato/taro pieces and mix everything well together.
Cover with the lid and cook on low heat for about 25 mins stirring every 10 mins to stir and avoid scorching.
Add the fresh cilantro and turn heat off.
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.