Chicken Burrito Bowl (Paleo)

 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!

Chicken Burrito Bowl (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Mexican, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Paleo and nightshade free version of the Mexican Chicken burrito bowl made with grilled chicken, cauliflower rice and guacamole
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken (preferably thigh pieces) cleaned and cut into bite size pieces
For marinating chicken
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper (or 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder)
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • About 2 tbsp coconut oil for sautéing the chicken
For Cauliflower rice
  • 1 medium size cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the guacamole:
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and mashed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
For the salsa:
  • ½ of a red onion, chopped fine
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
For assembling the burrito bowl:
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • white rice cooked(for non paleo members)
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Shred the cauliflower into small pieces using a food processor or by using a knife to get a 'rice' like texture.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Mix all the ingredients listed under salsa in a bowl and keep aside,
  7. 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!
  8. Serve white rice additionally if needed.

 

Vegetable Minestrone soup (Vegan,Paleo)

I am sure you will agree that there is no food more comforting than a warm bowl of soup.  In my house they are welcome on any nights but especially on cold, wintery nights. Although spring is here, last weekend ended up being chilly. As I was wondering what to cook for dinner on sunday night, I noticed that there were a lot of different vegetables leftover in the refrigerator. So what better meal than a soup to be able to use all of them?

I make this ‘fridge clean up’ soup quite a lot. And usually it is on sunday nights.  Best part about soups is that you can create variations by just changing the combination of vegetables and the spices used. Before I went paleo, I used to make Minestrone soup all the time where I would add vegetables to the beans and use tomatoes to make the typical Italian favorite. So now I decided to make some changes – since I wasn’t going to add the beans, I decided to add in more of the starchy vegetables like turnip and taro root. And I used my favorite substitute for tomatoes – cranberries!  The soup turned out fabulous. The family ate it with some whole grain bread while I had mine with a small piece of boiled yucca on the side. Yes and that’s how I got the idea of adding the grated yucca on top!  I couldn’t resist – the grated yucca looked so much like grated mozzarella! But tasted so much better 🙂 Yum! 

Vegetable Minestrone soup (Vegan,Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main course
Cuisine: Italian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A vegan and Paleo version of the Italian Minestrone soup - hearty and comforting with a variety of vegetables cooked in a delicious blend of Italian and Mexican spices
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 large cloves of garlic chopped
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ of a large purple turnip, chopped about 1 cup
  • 2 medium size taro root, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 cup chopped pumpkin
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup cubed zucchini or smooth gourd
  • 6-8 frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 6 cups water
For garnish:
  • Boiled yucca, grated
Instructions
  1. In a large cooking pot, heat the oil. Then add the chopped onions and celery.Saute for about 2 minutes.
  2. Next add the garlic and ginger and the bay leaf. Sauce for a minute.
  3. Then add the turnip, taro root and green beans. Add the salt and all the spices. Stir for a minute.Then cover the pot with a lid and turn heat to low. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next add the pumpkin, cabbage, the zucchini (or gourd) and the cranberries. Add the water and cover and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are cooked.
  5. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed. Turn heat off.
  6. Serve soup warm with grated boiled yucca on top!
Notes
You can use any combination of vegetables. Just add the hard ones first to allow for more cooking time for them.
For AIp version, skip the cumin, coriander and cayenne powder

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.

Malvani Chicken Curry(Chicken curry with roasted coconut masala)

dsc_0230Born and raised in Mumbai by parents who were natives of Kerala, we grew up greatly influenced by both Keralan and Maharashtrian cultures. Our next door neighbor hailed from the Malvan region of Maharashtra which is also a coastal region just like Kerala. As a result there are lots of similarities in Kerala and Malvani cuisines like seafood specialties and the liberal use of coconut!

Our neighbor aunty used to make this lip smacking Malvani Chicken curry along with a doughnut shaped bread called as Kombdi vade.  Kombdi vadas are made with a mix of rice and different lentils and deep fried like puris. Oh the combination of this chicken curry with kombdi vadas are probably one of the most delicious culinary experience I have had.My mouth starts watering just thinking of the combination!  Whenever aunty made these, she would send over some to share with our family. And how we loved it!  We kids liked this chicken dish so much that we begged our mom to learn this recipe from our neighbor aunty and she gladly obliged by giving a cooking demo in her kitchen one time.  I was in college those days and had already developed an interest in cooking and so I took very good notes!  In the early years after my marriage after moving to the US, I made this curry a couple times. But after that somehow the craziness of work and kids made me forget this curry dish.

Anyways last year when my good friend Vaishali visited us and made Misal Paav for us, I was again reminded of this curry!  And ever since then I have been meaning to make this curry. I was hoping to make this with the kombdi vadas too. However, now that I am doing a Paleo diet, where grains are not allowed, I decided to pass the vadas for now. But I was still craving for the curry and so decided to just make the chicken curry. And I cheated by having the curry with some basmati rice :).  Was heavenly! So worth the little bit of extra effort of roasting the coconut and making the ground masala paste.

The way I remember distinctive tastes of different curries is by remembering the unique combination of spices used. For this curry, it is cumin and garlic that stands out along with star anise and dagad phool.  Dagad Phool whose literal translation means ‘rock flower’ is a spice that is a lichen and has an earthy , musk like smell.  Here’s a picture to those who are not familiar with this spice. Its botanical name is paramecia prelate and this is one of the ingredients of the Maharashtrian Goda masala.

Dagad Phool (Black Stone flower)

There is no coriander (seeds or powder) used in this curry. Also dried coconut or Khopra is used traditionally in this curry however I used fresh coconut which is fine too.

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Malvani Chicken Curry(Chicken curry with roasted coconut masala)

  • Servings: Makes about 4-6 servings with rice
  • Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Ingredients:

2 lbs whole chicken (1kg ) cut into bite size pieces

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

For the ground masala:

  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut or khopra(or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed)
  • 2 medium onion, sliced long
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 4 garlic pods
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup warm water

For dry grinding:

  • 2 star anise
  • 1-2 dagad phool
  • 4 about 1 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 8-10 whole black peppercorns

2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp garam masala powder

1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp salt (or as needed)

2 cups water

Method:

Clean the chicken and pat dry with towels. Add the salt, chill powder and turmeric and rub the mixture well into the chicken pieces. Let marinate for 15-30 minutes.

In a non stick frying pan, add the sliced onions and fry them on medium heat stirring frequently until they turn reddish brown.( about 3-4 minutes). Take them out of the pan and transfer to a blender. Next add the fresh coconut (or khopra) and roast that stirring frequently until they start turning brown (about 6-7 minutes). Towards the end add the cumin and garlic pods. Stir for 1 more minute and transfer this coconut mixture also to the blender. Add the water and grind to a fine paste.

Dry grind the whole spices using a spice grinder. Keep aside.

Heat a wide bottomed cooking pot. Add the 2 tbsp oil. When hot, add the chicken pieces in batches and lightly fry them (no need to cook fully) just to get a nice sear on the outside. Transfer to a plate.

To the same oil in the pot, add the chopped onions and the ginger and garlic. Lightly fry them until the onions are golden brown. Now add the ground masala to this and add the dry spice blend (ground earlier) along with salt, red chili powder and garam masala. Keep stirring the masala continuously for 4-5 minutes until the oil starts separating out (This is an important step)

Finally add the lightly fried chicken pieces back into the pot.  Add the 2 cups water. Check for seasoning and add salt or more red chili powder as needed.

Turn heat to low and Cover the pot and cook for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid any sticking of chicken pieces to the bottom.

Serve chicken curry hot with plain white rice or chapatis!

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Lamb Coconut Curry (Kerala Mutton Stew)

dsc_0329Mutton ‘Ishtew’ is a mildly spiced but rich mutton/lamb stew cooked in coconut milk and garnished often with cashew nuts and raisins.  This curry is really mildly spiced – The mutton pieces are slowly cooked with whole black peppers, cloves, cinnamon along with some fresh ginger and green chillies.  There is no red chili used in this curry at all and hence it has this pale color.  Turmeric is not usually added but by habit I added a pinch when I pressure cooked the meat.

Growing up I enjoyed this curry in our neighbor’s house often and especially on Christmas or Easter where aunty cooked this rich and yummy curry. Its perfect for kids since its not spicy and overpowering. The coconut milk makes it creamy and rich and the potatoes in the stew are so delicious since they soak up all the fat from the meat.

dsc_0335I thought of making this curry today since I am on a Paleo diet (PAI – Paleo autoimmune version) since last two weeks. It has been hard without any grains. I miss my rice and my potatoes even more. I also cannot have any red chillies. However since coconut and coconut milk are welcome in this diet , I thought of this curry.  I decided to use taro root instead of the potatoes.  I also avoided the cashew nuts and raisins this time because nuts are not included in the PAI diet. In any case, this stew ended up being a perfect meal for me 🙂 Do try this – of course you can use potatoes instead of taro root although the taro root also was so creamy and tasty in this stew.

Bringing this rich and creamy stew to Throwback Thursdays and also to Fiesta Friday where the co-hosts this week are Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Tânia @ Iwanttobeacook

Lamb Coconut Curry (Kerala Mutton Stew)

  • Servings: Makes about 2-3 servings when served with rice or 2 servings as a meal
  • Time: 30 minutes preparation time and 15 minutes cooking time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of lamb/mutton pieces cut into small pieces (include bone pieces too)
  • whole spices – 4-6 whole black peppers, 2 bay leaves, 1 half inch piece of cinnamon stick, 4-5 cloves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium size red onion sliced thinly
  • 2 medium taro root peeled and cubed (or potatoes, peeled and cubed)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 green chillies, slit length wise
  • 1 cup coconut milk (fresh* or canned)
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Optional garnish: cashew nuts and raisins toasted in some coconut oil or ghee

Method:

In a pressure cooker, add the mutton pieces along with the whole spices , sea salt, turmeric (if adding) and water.  Pressure cook on medium heat for 3 whistles. Turn heat off and let cool. (Alternatively you can cook the meta in a large cooking pot with a lid on low heat slowly for 30 minutes or so)

To the same pressure cooker or cooking pot, add the taro root (or potatoes), onions, ginger and green chillies. Cover with lid (no whistle) and let cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes until the taro root (or potatoes) are well cooked. Open and add the coconut milk and let simmer for 1 minute. Add the curry leaves and coconut oil. Turn heat off.

*: To make fresh coconut milk

Take 3/4 cup of freshly grated coconut or frozen grated coconut that has been thawed and grind with 1 cup of warm water. Pass the ground mixture through a fine mesh sieve to get fresh coconut milk.

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