Its amazing how creative you can get when you are forced to be on a restrictive diet. As a kid, ‘Kozhukkatta’ used to be the occasional sweet treat my mom would make for us. Usually she would make it as an evening snack to be had with tea. I loved these dumplings made with rice flour and filled with a sweetened coconut filling. These are incredibly delicious and are quite filling at the same time. So these would be a perfect snack for us kids coming back famished from school. I would gobble up like 5 or 6 in one sitting. My mom would also almost always make extra coconut filling and save that for me since I loved to just eat that by itself:)
For a while now I had been thinking of trying to make these Kozhukkatta using sweet potato instead of rice flour. This idea came to my mind because I saw a recipe on instagram where someone had made ravioli using sweet potato. That was inspiration and I immediately thought of making these sweet dumplings. Finally last week I got to experiment with this and luckily for me the dumplings came out successful! I used a bit of tapioca starch to help form the dough. And also used Indian sweet potatoes which are less sweet and whitish in color. And of course, I replaced the jaggery with maple syrup.
I offered these to my kiddos as they came home from school not sure if they would appreciate these. Oh boy, I need not have worried – they loved it! I had made only a small batch of about 12 and pretty soon all three of us were fighting for the last one 🙂
Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukutta)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
A Paleo version of the traditional rice dumplings from Kerala using sweet potatoes and coconut
2 large sweet potatoes,boiled and peeled (Use indian or japanese white sweet potato)
about ¼ cup of tapioca flour (you can use coconut flour or rice flour too)
For the filling:
1 cup grated coconut(if using frozen, thaw it beforehand)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cardamom powder
In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed sweet potato and add the tapioca starch (or rice flour) and mix with your hands until you form a smooth dough. Keep aside.
Heat a flat bottomed pan and add the coconut to it. Cook the coconut for about 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the maple syrup and continue cooking it for another 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Add the cardamom powder and turn heat off. Keep aside and let cool for a few mins.
To make the dumplings, take a golf size ball of dough and flatten it with your hands to form a small circle. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then pinch the edges towards the center to form a round dumpling. Repeat same process until all dumplings are made.
Steam the dumplings in a steamer basket. You can create your own steamer assembly by heating a large vessel with water and placing a strainer on top. Place the dumplings on the strainer and then cover with a lid. Steam for about 10 mins.
Paratha is typical North indian food right? So why am I trying to ‘southernize’ it? He he…just happened like that one day by accident and a new ‘paratha’ was created in our household 🙂 So here is what happened. Once in a week I make Methi theplas for my kiddos’ lunch box. And usually I make more theplas for them once they come home from school for a healthy snack. One time I had a boiled potato left over too and so I thought of stuffing the thepla with the potato. I just wanted to keep it simple and decided to just add some ‘chaat masala’ to the potato stuffing. I quickly grabbed the ‘chaat masala’ pack from the fridge and sprinkled on the mashed potato. But after I had added it, I realized that I had actually added ‘sambhaar masala’ 🙂 So that was the birth of this Methi Aloo paratha with sambhaar spices!
The kids just loved the hot, spicy parathas and gobbled them all up in a few minutes. Then I made them again on a weekend when my husband enjoyed them too and that’s how these parathas came to become so popular in our house now. My youngest always wants me to make the ‘stuffed Aloo’ ones instead of just the plain methi theplas 🙂
Isn’t it fun when mistakes lead to sweet (or in this case, spicy) innovations ? 🙂
Methi Aloo Paratha with south indian flavors (Potato and Fenugreek leaves stuffed flatbread)
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course, Breads
A whole wheat flatbread stuffed with fenugreek leaves and potatoes with a hint of south indian spices
For the dough (outer covering):
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh or frozen methi(fenugreek) leaves
1 tsp ajwain seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper powder (use kashmiri chill powder for mildly spiced)
about ¾ cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
For potato stuffing:
2 large Boiled potatoes, peeled and mashed
1 tbsp sambhaar powder (I use Aachi brand)
1 tsp salt (check if your sambhaar masala has salt already before adding)
Add all the dough ingredients except water and oil in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the water little bit at a time and form a dough. (You can use a stand mixer also to form the dough). Add the oil and mix again so that the dough is soft and smooth. Divide dough into small balls about a golf ball size.keep aside covered.
Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a small bowl and use a potato masher to make the mixture really smooth - there should not be any lumps. Keep this aside.
Heat a chapati pan (or any non stick pan).
Roll each dough ball into a small circle and place 1 tbsp of the potato stuffing in the center. Bring the outer edges of the circle into the center to pinch at the center (like a dumpling) and then again roll carefully to form a paratha. (use lots of extra wheat flour for dusting to prevent sticking)
Place the paratha on the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes on one side before flipping. Apply oil or ghee on the flipped side and again flip to the other side and apply ghee again. Flip once more to cook on the second side and when you see golden brown spots on both sides, transfer to a dish. Keep warm covered with foil until serving.
Repeat process for the rest of the dough and stuffing.
Lassi is a traditional North Indian yoghurt drink which is highly refreshing on hot, summery days. Most common is the plain sweet lassi with only added sugar and no flavor. The thick sweetened cream on top used to be the best part for me. Yum! Mango lassi is a popular, modern variation of this traditional lassi where fresh or frozen mango pulp is added to give a most delectable combination of yoghurt and sweet ripe mangoes. In the US, Mango lassi can be found in the menus of most Indian restaurants.
Being dairy free, I had been missing my lassi! But not anymore! Coconut yoghurt to the rescue! I make coconut yoghurt at home now – I recently posted the recipe for the same. You can also buy coconut yoghurt from most organic supermarket stores.
Since Mangoes have been in season (Oh how I am loving it!), now was my chance to try making a mango lassi with my new found love, ‘coconut yoghurt’! I decided to add a few frozen mangoes too to give it a nice creamy consistency. I added a tiny piece of raw turmeric to give it a healthy, anti-inflammatory boost! Yum!
Happy Memorial Day weekend folks. Maybe you can make this delicious mango lassi this long weekend 🙂
I love everything coconut! No surprise there right since the tagline for my blog also has the word ‘coconut’ in it 🙂 But even though I love coconut, I am extremely picky about the coconut or coconut product – it has to be absolutely fresh smelling. And unfortunately not a lot of products pass my ‘smell test’. Even most organic Coconut milk brands have a slightly rancid smell that fresh homemade coconut milk does not have. For making coconut milk, using fresh coconut is the best. However, since in the US we don’t see fresh coconuts regularly in the grocers, I find ‘fresh frozen coconut’ – either grated or sliced as the next best alternative. And that is what I use for all my Kerala curry recipes. You could also use dried shredded coconut for making coconut milk however you will need to blend it with hot water and for a longer period of time. I blend the frozen coconut (after thawing) and strain through a strainer to get fresh coconut milk. Nowadays, having been avoiding dairy completely, I use coconut milk even for other things like making myself a hot beverage like matcha coconut latte or chicory coconut latte and also for making my smoothies and ice creams! (Check out my instagram page for all these recipes). Since I need to have coconut milk handy for such purposes, I make a small batch of fresh coconut milk every week and store it in the fridge.
Now as I have started using coconut flour for some of my snack recipes like the apricot coconut balls, I started making coconut flour at home too. And if you make coconut milk at home, it makes total sense to make coconut flour too since that is made from the leftover coconut after extracting the milk.
And most recently, I have started making coconut yoghurt also using coconut milk. Check out all 3 recipes below. It is really quite easy to make all three together every week – it takes me about 30 mins really…that’s all! And the quality of all the products especially the coconut milk makes it just worth your time and effort! And as a bonus, you will save a few dollars too 🙂
How to make home-made coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Vegan, Paleo
Cuisine: Kerala, Fusion
Step by Step method for making delicious home made coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt
2 cups fresh or fresh frozen coconut (grated or sliced) or dried shredded coconut
1½ cups warm water (not boiling)
2 tsp tapioca starch mixed in 1 tbsp water
2 capsules of any probiotic supplement (ideally having 50 Billion or above of probiotic bacteria)
For making coconut milk:
If using frozen coconut, thaw it first at either room temperature or in the microwave for about 30 secs.
Blend the coconut with half of the the warm water(about ¾ th cup) in a food processor or blender.(If using dried shredded coconut, blend for longer time)
Place a large fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain the coconut mixture through this to get coconut milk in the bowl. You can use your hands to squeeze the coconut meat.
Put the squeezed coconut meat back into the blender along with the rest of the warm water (3/4 th cup) and again blend for another 30 secs or so.
Once again pass this mixture through strainer. You will get about 2 cups of coconut milk. Pour half of the extracted coconut milk in a bottle or jar and place in fridge. Keep the rest aside.
For making coconut flour:
Pre heat oven to 170 deg F (or lowest setting)
Place the strained coconut meat on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Spread it to form a thin layer.
Place this tray in the oven for around 2 hours or until the coconut meat is completely dry.
Place the dried coconut meat in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until you get a coarse flour.
For making coconut yoghurt:
Pour half of the extracted coconut milk (about 1 cup) into a small cooking pot and heat on low.
Mix the tapioca starch and water to form a thick slurry and add this paste to the warmed coconut milk. Stir continuously until the coconut milk turns thick. Turn heat off. Let the coconut milk cool down to about lukewarm (meaning when you put your finger in it, it should not be too hot).
Now open the probiotic capsules and add the contents into the lukewarm coconut milk. (do not add the outer shell of the capsule).
Stir well using a spoon to help dissolve the probiotic contents well with the coconut milk.
Pour this mixture into a glass jar and cover with a lid. Place jar in a warm place like the inside of an oven or at room temperature (if room temperature is above 70 deg F) for about 24 hours for the yoghurt to set.
What does the word ‘probiotics’ mean? It seems to be the new buzzword? Everyone seems to be talking about probiotics and gut health. For the last 18 months or so I have been reading up a lot on the relationship between the gut and the immune system and thereby the implications for autoimmune diseases. I have been following a strict paleo diet(autoimmune protocol version) . Many of my friends and family have asked me about the relationship between diet and disease. Some of them seemed confused that our gut would have so much of an impact on our health and wanted to know why ‘probiotics’ were important.
So I thought of writing up this post explaining the basics for my readers.
Significance of gut health on our overall health: As I was reading up about the impact of diets on disease, one of the facts that really helped me understand this relationship was that “80% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract”! Now, once you begin to appreciate this, it all begins to make sense doesn’t it? yeah, so if immune system is located in the gut, then what you eat has an impact on the immune system! Ta Da! Many health issues, such as thyroid imbalances, chronic fatigue, joint pain, psoriasis, autism and many other conditions originate in the gut.
Good bacteria vs bad bacteria: The secret to restoring your digestive health is all about balancing out the good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10 times more probiotics in your gut then cells in your body! If you don’t have enough probiotics, the side effects can include digestive disorders, skin issues, candida, autoimmune disease, and frequent colds and flus.
Probiotic ‘Killers’ or Eroders: In the olden days, our ancestors used plenty of probiotics in their diets from eating fresh foods from good soil and by fermenting our foods to keep them from spoiling. However, because of refrigeration and dangerous agricultural practices like soaking our foods with chlorine, our food contains little to no probiotics today, and most foods actually contain dangerous antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in our bodies. Following are some ‘probiotic killers’ in our environment today: prescription antibiotics, Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory medications (NSAIDs/Pain killers), sugar, tap water , GMO foods, Grains, emotional stress etc.
Thus adding probiotics to our diet can help to provide us with a
Stronger immune system
Increased energy from production of vitamin B12
Healthier skin, since probiotics naturally treat eczema and psoriasis
Reduced cold and flu
Healing from leaky gut syndrome and thereby all autoimmune disorders
What are some natural probiotics?
Sour foods and fermented foods like apple cider vinegar, yoghurt (dairy free coconut yoghurt is best), kefir, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), Kimchi (fermented vegetables), beet kvass (fermented beets) are all great sources of probiotics.
What are some other sources of probiotics?
Nowadays you can buy probiotic capsules from the pharmacy and GNC stores that contain the good bacteria inside a capsule. Make sure you use a probiotic supplement that has a mix of strains from the two main genus lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Pick a brand that has at least five billion CFU (colony forming units) of bacteria. Otherwise it is not good enough. And always store them in a cool place always.
I recently came across this lovely recipe for an Indian probiotic drink called as Beet kanji from Myheartbeets. This drink has been traditionally made in Northern India and I am so glad that I got to know about this drink. I have been making it regularly now. The first time I made it , it came out too strong and so after a couple variations, I have the process nailed down – adding just the right amount of mustard and keeping it for fermenting for the right amount of time. I love having this drink chilled! At our dinner gatherings at home, I sport a glass of bright red kanji while others have their alcoholic drinks 🙂 Oh, and you can use the fermented vegetables to add to your salads!
Probiotic 101 and a recipe for a homemade probiotic drink: Beet Kanji
Author: Indira Shyju (adapted from Myheartbeets)
Recipe type: Healthy drink
A healthy traditional indian probiotic drink made from fermenting beets and carrots.
1 large organic beet, peeled and cut into thin, long slices
1 large organic carrot, scraped and cut into thin, long slices
6 cups filtered water
2 tsp powdered mustard seeds (coarsely powdered is fine)
2 tsp sea salt
Take a large glass jar and add the vegetables and the mustard and salt. Pour the filtered water to cover all the vegetables completely plus leave about 1-2 inches of water above. Cover the jar with a lid and keep it aside on the kitchen counter for 4-5 days or until you see bubbles on top. Taste the liquid to see if you get a strong fermented taste and that's when it is done.