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.

 

Caribbean Style Grilled Shrimp (Paleo)

Shrimp is an all time favorite of mine!  My parents having been born and raised so close to the coast in Kerala, shrimp was my amma’s ‘go to’ ingredient for added flavor.  Yes she would add prawns in even vegetable dishes to enhance the flavor!. And boy that sure got us kids to eat all their veggies plus lick the plate!  Shrimp or ‘Chemeen’ as they are called in Kerala are used to make so many wonderful dishes like chemeen curry with coconut(thengarachu curry), chemeen varatharachu curry,  chemmeen green mango curry, prawn masala, prawn cutlets,  dried prawns chutney, prawn pickle etc etc.  Gosh my mouth is watering!

So you can imagine my joy when I was allowed to eat shrimp again by my naturopath after having abstained from eating it for more than a year! This is one of the reasons I like my Paleo diet. !

When we had visited Cancun a couple years ago, the resort we stayed in had a beautiful lunch buffet menu. One of the items on that buffet was ‘carribean style’ sizzling shrimp! My husband would grin at me as I loaded up my plate with these wonderfully spiced and perfectly grilled shrimp every single day of the 5 days we were there!

Last week as I pulled out shrimp out of the freezer to grill some quickly for my lunch, on a sudden whim I decided to try making it the carribean style – the way we had it at the resort. Going by my memory of the flavors, I quickly put together a marinade using cilantro, ginger,garlic,lemon juice, pepper, and some honey and this wonderful dish was created in less than 30 minutes.  My son was home that day with me for lunch and we both couldn’t stop marveling at how good these shrimp turned out to be! And they were pretty darn close to the ones we had at the resort!  Chef Mom deserves a pat on the back!  ‘Thank you’ Thank you’ , I say taking my bow as I clean up the table 🙂

I made this recipe again a couple days later since I wanted to share these ‘wicked good shrimp’ as my son had called them, with my husband. That time I tried grilling in the oven since I had pan fried it the first time and the grilled ones came out perfectly too. So I give directions for both ways in my recipe below.  What are you waiting for? 🙂

For a strict Paleo AIP version, omit the chillies and these will still be fantastic I am sure.

Linking this recipe this week to the following link parties:

Saucy Saturdays

Inspiration Galore Project Party

 

Caribbean Style Grilled Shrimp (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer; Main course
Cuisine: Caribbean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Shrimp marinated in a tangy, sweet and spicy marinade consisting of cilantro, lemon, garlic and honey and grilled or pan fried in coconut oil to perfection!
Ingredients
  • 16-18 pieces of medium size shrimp (or about 10-12 pieces of jumbo shrimp)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 by 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 green (serrano) chilies
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp sea salt or as needed
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Place all of the listed ingredients other than shrimp and coconut oil in a food processor (use small grinder) and blend well. Mixture may be a little chunky and that's ok. Marinate the shrimp in this mixture for about 10-15 mins.
  2. Heat a non stick frying pan. Add the coconut oil. Grill the shrimp in the pan and cook 1 min on each side.
  3. If grilling in oven, turn oven to Broil setting. Place the shrimp in an Al foil lined tray on skewers and place on the top rack about 4 inches from the flames. Cook for about 2 mins and then flip once and cook for about 1 minute on other side. Take the shrimp out and serve immediately. (Do Not overcook the shrimp as they will turn hard)
Notes
For a Paleo AIP version, skip the green chillies and use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegetable Korma – Navratan Style (Vegan, Paleo)


Navratan Korma is a rich, creamy and highly delectable dish of vegetables, fruit, nuts and paneer.  It is very rich since butter/ghee, heavy cream and cashew nut paste is used to make the gravy. A blend of different spices is used in this curry along with several garnishes like nuts, seeds and herbs like mint and cilantro.  ‘Navratan’  or ‘Navratna’ means nine jewels and this dish having originated during the Mughal regime really is befitting for a king.! The nine jewels stand for a combination of nine different vegetables, fruits and nuts.

I had been wanting to make vegetable korma since the past few weeks. Now that I am on a paleo diet, I need to eat lots of vegetables to keep me satiated!  My favorite dish lately has been the Keralan Avial which is mixed vegetables in a coconut gravy.  Since this has plantains and other root vegetables like taro root, yam etc this really fills me up.!

Vegetable Korma in Kerala is made using coconut paste or coconut milk and that is what I wanted to make. However, I had some leftover pineapple and so I decided to add some pineapple too and make it spicy and sweet …kinda like ‘navratna korma’. As I began to make it, I thought of adding some swiss chard leaves too! Greens are not common in either vegetable or navratan korma but hey I thought it can’t go  wrong.  And hence this dish was born!  I used only five jewels – cauliflower, carrot, winter melon, swiss chard and pineapple. maybe I should call it panchratna (five jewels) korma 🙂 I decided to make my own spice blend for this curry adding fennel and cardamom along with other whole spices. I loved it very much and this is going to be another of my staple mixed vegetable paleo dishes for now. For a Paleo AIP version, you can still make this curry omitting all spices and using only cinnamon, star anise and cloves.

Vegetable Korma - Navratan Style (Paleo, Vegan)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Delectable curry of mixed vegetables cooked with an aromatic blend of spices and coated in creamy coconut milk sauce to be served over white rice.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup cubed winter melon (or you can use any other vegetables like squash or zucchini etc)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup swiss chard leaves, chopped roughly
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 1 /2 cups thick coconut milk (fresh* or canned full fat)
  • ½ cup pineapple chopped
For Spice blend:
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 -3 green cardamoms, outer shell removed
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 one inch long cinnamon stick
Instructions
To make spice blend:
  1. First lightly roast the fennel seeds on a small heating pan for about 2 minutes on low heat. Then add the rest of the whole spices and heat stirring frequently for another minute. Transfer to a spice (coffee) grinder and blend till you get a fine powder. Place in an air tight container.
  2. In a large cooking pot, add the coconut oil and heat. When hot, add the onion,ginger and the curry leaves and sauce for 2-3 minutes. Then add the cauliflower and carrot pieces and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Then cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked. Then add the winter melon, salt and water and again cover and cook for about 4 minutes.
  3. Open the lid and add the spice blend, red chili powder and the swiss chard leaves. Stir to mix well.
  4. Next add the coconut milk and let cook for about 2 minutes till it comes to a boil. Turn heat off and add the pineapple pieces and mix well.
  5. Serve warm!
Notes
For making fresh coconut milk:
1cup of freshly grated coconut or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed
1½ cups of warm water
Blend the coconut with 1 cup of the water and strain using a fine mesh sieve. Add the strained coconut meat back into the blender and blend with the rest of the water. Again strain milk thru the sieve. You should have about 1½ cups of milk.
For AIP version:
Omit all spices not permitted under AIP - use only star anise, cinnamon and cloves for spices

Spicy Masala Salmon (Chettinad Style Fish Fry)

Chettinad Fish FryPan Fried Masala SalmonFish Fry is as important to a Keralite as water is to fish. I apologize if I have said this before in my posts but this is so true!  Rice, Daal with a side of spicy pan fried fish was a very common fare growing up and thankfully due to my ‘fish’loving’ husband, it is quite common in our kitchen too! But Mr is very particular about how he likes his fish fry and he likes to keep it simple – just some salt,turmeric and red chili powder for the marinade and then the pan frying also has to be perfect – on low heat to yield perfectly cooked on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside!  And as you can guess, I readily outsourced this process a.k.a ritual to him very early on after our marriage. Hey why mess with the expert 🙂

I just realized that I never posted this simple recipe here before. I did recently do a video of  it as one of our friends was asking us about it.  Here is the link to that – Simple Fish Fry:

 

Anyways sorry I digressed..today’s post is about me trying something new with fish fry. Yes it was a risk I took ! What if hubby didn’t like it? But since these days I am eating lots of fish being on a paleo diet, I wanted to try something new.  I recently was browsing Chettinad style chicken recipes on youtube when I also came across chettinad style fish fry. I was instantly motivated to try this since the flavors of fennel and ginger -garlic in the marinade sounded wonderful!

I tried this recipe with Salmon although you can use any other fish too. In fact it turned out very good and I am going to try it with cod fish next! I also think I will try baking the fish next time to get the full flavor of this masala.  I absolutely love this marinade masala and I have plans to use them in many other dishes in the future – loads of possibilities:)

Spicy Masala Salmon (Chettinad Style Fish Fry)

  • Servings: Serves 4-6 served with rice/salad
  • Time: about 30 mins excluding marination time
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

6 -8 pieces of Salmon filet or any other fish (about 1 1/2 lbs of fish), cleaned, scales removed

For the marinade:

  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 of a small red onion or 2-3 pearl onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder (1 for mild hot and 2 for hot)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil for pan frying

3-4 fresh curry leaves

Method:

Pat dry the fish pieces with paper towels and place in a plate/tray.

In a small heating pan, add the whole peppercorns, cumin and fennel and lightly roast them on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes until you get the aroma of the spices. Turn heat off and transfer spices to a blender/food processor. To the same blender, add the rest of the marinade ingredients and blend till you get a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a bowl.

Coat each fish on both sides with the thick marinade paste and place back on plate. Finish coating all pieces this way.  (You can freeze or refrigerate any remaining paste).  Let fish marinate for 15- 30 minutes.

For pan frying, heat a large non stick frying pan adding the oil.  When hot, add the curry leaves and fry them for a minute.  Take them out and keep aside for garnishing.  To the hot oil, add the fish pieces and cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes. Make sure you cook the fish on medium heat (not very high) – you don’t need to cover the pan.

Transfer to a plate. Serve with sliced onions and lemon and the fried curry leaves!

Spicy Masala salmon

 

Pan Fried Masala Salmon