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!
A tangy and mildly spicy green mango relish made by cooking Green Mangoes in coconut milk
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
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 dry red chili, cut into two(optional)
1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
For the spice powder:
Powder the mustard seeds and methi seeds in a dry spice grinder. Keep aside.
For extracting fresh coconut milk:
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:
In a medium cooking pot, add the mangoes, water, the powdered seeds, green chillies and salt.
Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the mangoes turn soft.
Now add the coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and turn heat off.
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.
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
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.
A delicious soup made with coconut and coconut yoghurt blended with cumin and curry leaves with fried okra on top.
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
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)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
4-5 fresh curry leaves
1 dry red kashmiri chilli, broken into two pieces
Pat dry the okra pieces with paper towels (especially if using frozen okra pieces). Sprinkle the salt and turmeric over the pieces.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Add the fried okra pieces just before serving so that they retain their crispy texture.
For AIP recipe, skip mustard seeds, cumin and chillies
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.
Mexican food had always been my favorite! I could eat a bean taco any day especially if it was nicely slathered in ‘hot sauce’ and with a dollop of sour cream on the side! Hence, since starting on Paleo a year ago, I had not had a proper Mexican meal. And the past 6 months I have been on the AIP version of Paleo which meant no nightshades and no spices as well. However in the past few weeks I have introduced spices slowly without any issues (I hope!) – I just add very small quantities of cayenne or any hot pepper though to my servings. Just so that I get a faint taste of the heat without it triggering any flare up.
So anyways, now that I had been able to introduce spices successfully, I was dying to make something ‘Mexican’! During the week of Cinco de Mayo, I saw a lot of bloggers posting recipes of Mexican Chicken Stir fry with rice (caulirice). And so last week I decided to try making a grilled chicken with cauliflower and veggies stir fry. But as I was marinating the chicken, I noticed I had a ripe avocado available and so thought why not go full blown and treat myself to a Paleo Chicken Burrito bowl! About 30 mins later, I served up these delicious ‘nightshade free’ burrito bowls that were so jam packed with Mexican flavors that all my cravings of the past one year were assuaged. Even without hot sauce there was enough flavor. The garlic, cumin and the cilantro mainly did the job! And the lemon juice more than makes up for the missing tomato. I licked up the bowl so well that it looked as if it didn’t need any further cleaning when I was done with it 🙂
I also served up some rice for the rest of my family. Yummy dinner that we all enjoyed!
Dab dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel. Add all the marinade ingredients to a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken pieces to this to coat well. Keep aside for 15 - 30 mins.
Heat a large frying/grilling pan and add the rest of the coconut oil. When hot add the chicken pieces and sautee lightly on medium until the pieces are cooked. (You may need to do this in batches since you don't want to crowd the pan).Transfer the chicken pieces onto a dish and keep covered to stay warm and moist.
Shred the cauliflower into small pieces using a food processor or by using a knife to get a 'rice' like texture.
In the same pan that you cooked the chicken, add some more coconut oil and when hot add the cauliflower and the garlic. Saute on medium heat for about a minute until the garlic is toasted. Then add the salt and cover with a lid and cook for about 2-3 mins on low heat until the cauliflower is cooked. Do not overcook otherwise it will get too mushy. Turn heat off and keep aside.
Mix all the ingredients listed under guacamole in a bowl using a masher. Check for seasoning and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Keep aside.
Mix all the ingredients listed under salsa in a bowl and keep aside,
To assemble the bowls, place a few tablespoons of the cauliflower rice into a bowl. Add some chicken pieces. Add the lettuce. Then top with the guacamole and salsa. Mix everything well and enjoy!