Coconut Calamari (Paleo)

OK so ever since I made those beef cutlets with a coconut crust, I have been thinking of using that technique to make other crispy coatings! I got my chance to try it again when hubby picked up squid last weekend while picking up seafood.

I usually cook squid(calamari) Kerala Style which is to sauté it with onion and red chillies and with coconut. I have posted that recipe before. Have also tried frying it using chickpea batter which is a great gluten free alternative. However now since I am on a paleo diet, chickpea batter wouldn’t do and so I thought why not give my tapioca flour batter and coconut crust technique a try?  The ‘paleo version’ of the beef cutlets was very well received in my house. It tasted even better than the breaded version!

So considering that I was pretty confident that the fried calamari with coconut crust would work. And I wasn’t disappointed!  The fried coconut calamari came out so nice and crispy plus the shredded coconut topping imparted such great flavor.  I also ended up shallow frying it using coconut oil vs deep frying. It still came out nice and crispy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. Perfecto 🙂

I added a bit of cayenne pepper (Kashmiri red chili powder) but you can skip that for an AIP compliant recipe.

Coconut Calamari (Paleo)
Recipe type: Appetizer, main course, seafood
Cuisine: American, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
A Paleo version of the 'Fried Calamari' - Crispy coconut crusted Calamari fried in coconut oil!
  • ½ lb squid, cleaned and cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • ¼ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (skip for AIP version)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the crust
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (I used 'Let's do Organic' brand)
For frying
  • About 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. In a small bowl, add the cleaned calamari and dab dry with paper towels. Add the chills powder(if adding) and salt and mix well. Keep aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the tapioca flour with water to from a slurry. (This settles down very fast so again stir before using)
  3. Place the shredded coconut in a separate plate.
  4. Heat a small frying pan and add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Keep on medium heat and when hot, dip the squid pieces one by one in the tapioca slurry and then dip them in the coconut to coat completely and drop these one by one into the frying pan. Fry these in batches and serve hot!
For AIP version, skip the red chili powder

Crispy Lentil Fritters (Parippu vada)

Parippu VadaParippu Vada is something you will find in all tea stalls in Kerala along with the ubiquitous Pazham Pori or plantain fritters. I had posted the recipe for pazham pori before in a post where I shared some lovely pictures of Kerala.  To me nothing says Kerala more than plates of pazaham pori and parippu vadas served with steaming cups of chaaya (tea as it is called in malayalam).  When we were kids, we used to wait for parippu vada vendors to come in our train whenever we traveled to Kerala. The many pleasures of journeying by train (it took us 32 hours from Mumbai! ) included eating mom’s home made snacks, playing cards perched on the top berth, watching beautiful scenery go passing by and who can forget these vadas! Savoring these hot tasty vadas… gulping them down with a cup of coffee was what made these 2 day trips totally memorable and satiating 🙂

DSC_0529Whenever I ask my husband for ideas on appetizer dishes, his instant response will be ‘Parippu vadas’! He just loves them and cannot have enough of them. That’s him – my simple fella – No gourmet dishes for him please! Give him his chaaya, parippu vada and a newspaper to make his day!

Looking at Sri Lankan recipes lately for my ‘Around the world’ series I realized that parippu vadas are quite popular in Sri Lanka too!

I am bringing these tasty fritters to Throwback Thursdays and Fiesta Friday this week.


Crispy Lentil Fritters (Parippu vada)

  • Servings: makes about 20 vadas
  • Time: about 45 mins
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 2 cups Toor dal (yellow lentils) soaked in water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 inch by 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped (or about 1 tbsp)
  • 4-6 green chillies, chopped fine (use less or omit if you don’t like biting into green chillies)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 4-6 fresh curry leaves, chopped roughly
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Drain the water from the soaked dal. Reserve about 2 tbsp of the dal and place the rest in a food processor and grind it using very little water – about 1/2 cup or so.  The ground mixture should be very thick. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the ground dal mixture and the reserved dal and mix using a spoon.Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Test the oil by adding a drop of the mixture. If it comes up immediately then the oil is ready.  Keep heat on medium.  Using your hands make small patties of the dal mixture into the oil and deep fry turning it once so that the patties are golden brown and crispy on the outside.  Drain on paper towels.Serve the vadas hot with coconut chutney or just ketchup.Notes:
    • Reserving a few whole dal grains gives the vadas additional crispiness and texture.
    • Make sure to use very less water while grinding; the mixture needs to be shaped into patties so it needs to be thick. If you add too much water to grind, you will get a loose batter and then you will not be able to make the vadas.

DSC_0525Parippu Vada


Easy One Pot Shrimp Pulao (Prawn Pulao)

DSC_0699One pot dishes ? Now that’s my kind of dish! Easy to make, easy to serve and easy to clean up. A busy mom’s best friend and ideal for weeknights! I rely on shrimp a lot when it comes to weeknight quick meals. My hand quickly reaches for that shrimp pack in the freezer when I have had a busy day and do not have too much time to think about what I should be making. Shrimp tastes great anyway you cook it so that’s another reason why it is so popular with me.

DSC_0698This one pot shrimp pulao has to be my most common one out of all my shrimp dishes. This dish holds a lot of memories for me. All of which are wonderful and transport me to nostalgia world.  Growing up we had a Goan couple, Mr and Mrs F as our next door neighbor.  This couple did not have any children but they were very loving and always loved to have us kids in their home. One of the beauties of city living is that apartments being so close to each other, wonderful aromas used to come out of different kitchens around meal times and lurk in the common veranda. There used to be quite a bit of food exchanges also happening between the different neighbors. Mr F loved to cook and we had grown to love a lot of his dishes. And this prawn pulao was one of them! The pulao Mr F made was so tasty and I still remember the aroma coming out from their kitchen when this was being cooked.

Those were the days…when everything seemed to be so slow paced – the long lazy afternoons where the kids would play outside – games with marbles,gulli danda and the likes. And the moms chatted standing near their own doorsteps for hours …when neighbors meant more than family and exchange of food and recipes happened. No youtube video demos were there to search but actual demos in kitchens occurred over endless cups of tea and snacks…Oh those were the days…

This pulao recipe relies on only whole spices like cloves,cinnamon and black pepper for the flavors. And lot of butter. (I think mr F used Lard which really gave it extra flavor). I use a combination of olive oil and butter. This time I also added some herbs from my garden. I usually also add some vegetable like peas or green beans to make it a complete meal.

I am bringing this very tasty prawn pulao to Fiesta Friday this week.

I am linking this post to Recipes of the week.recipe-of-the-week


Easy One Pot Shrimp Pulao (Prawn Pulao)



  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, about 16-20 medium,de-shelled and deveined,
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or combination of olive oil plus unsalted butter)
  • 4-6 whole cloves
  • 1 1 inch’ long cinnamon stick
  • 4-6 black peppercorns
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • about 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 small tomatoes,chopped fine
  • 1 tsp red chilli pow (use less for less spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 1/4 cups water


Wash the rice thoroughly in water draining the water. Keep washed rice aside.

Clean the shrimp and keep aside.

In a food processor, grind the mint,cilantro,garlic and ginger to a smooth paste with little water. Keep aside.

Take a large flat bottomed cooking pot with a tight fitting lid.  Place it on the stove and add the oil in it and heat. Add the cloves,cinnamon and peppercorns and stir for a few seconds on medium heat and then add the sliced onions. Cook the onions for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat stirring frequently.

Then add the ground mint paste and stir for about 30 seconds. then add the chopped tomatoes too. Continue cooking on medium heat for about 2 -3 minutes until the tomatoes are softened.  Add the red chili powder, turmeric and salt.  And then add the shrimp to this mixture and stir well for a couple minutes till all the shrimp pieces get coated with the spice mixture.

Add the rice and the peas and again stir well for about 2 minutes. Add the water and stir. Continue to heat until you see the water boiling. At that time lower heat to simmer and cover the pot. Cook for about 10-12 minutes or until rice is cooked and hardly any water remains. Turn heat off and take pot off the stove but keep covered for about 5 minutes. Then open the lid and let the rice cool off a little bit and then fluff it slowly with a fork to get the grains separated.


  • The mint cilantro masala is my addition to the original recipe. But the pulao tastes great even without it so you can skip that if you don’t have time.
  • Cooking rice can be tricky since different varieties of rice may have different cook times. Hence the 10-12 minutes I mention here is approximate. Check after 10 minutes. if rice is not cooked – if you still some pieces of raw rice and all water is gone then add a little bit of water and continue to cook more.







Easy Shrimp Pulao

Quinoa South Indian style (Quinoa Upma)

Quinoa Upma (Quinoa South Indian style)
Quinoa Upma (Quinoa South Indian style)

Quinoa, pronounced as ‘kin wah’ is not a true grain but is high in protein and is also gluten-free. Hence it has become sort of the new rage because it provides a great option for folks who are on gluten free diets. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. For more info, check this link:

Quinoa is easy to cook and is great in salads. I have just recently started experimenting with it.  Here’s something quick and easy – I tried to make quinoa upma. Upma is a traditional ‘South Indian’ dish which is made using semolina.  So I tried to do the same here with some variations using Quinoa.  I added sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes to give it a slight tangy flavor.  Also added sliced coconuts and peanuts. Real simple and delicious!  I also grilled some veggies – some broccoli and spinach to have on the side.

This recipe will make 1 serving

3/4 cup quinoa
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 tsp coconut oil (melted)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 pinch of red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
2-3 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp thinly sliced coconut pieces or unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
1/4 tsp or pinch of salt
For the grilled veggies:
1 tsp melted coconut oil
1 cup chopped veggies- broccoli, spinach or any other vegetable
1/4 tsp garlic sea salt


Take a medium size cooking pot and heat it on the stove. Add the oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, immediately lower the flame and add the sun-dried tomatoes, the red chilli powder and the curry leaves. Stir for about 30 seconds and then add the quinoa and the salt.IMG_2580

Then add the water and stir to mix well and heat on medium until the water starts boiling. immediately lower flame to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until all the water has evaporated checking in between to avoid burning.  Place the cooked quinoa on a plate and garnish with roasted peanuts and the sliced coconuts.

For grilling the veggies, heat a skillet or a medium size pan and add the oil.  When hot, add the veggies and the garlic sea salt.  Stir uncovered for 1 minute and then cover with a lid and cook for about 2 minutes or so until the veggies are cooked.

Serve the quinoa with grilled veggies on the side.


Puffy Steamed Rice and Lentil bread (Idlis )

Idli (Rice and Lentil bread)

Idli is another breakfast item from the South indian kitchen, which is a close cousin and a healthier version(since they are steamed) of the Dosas.  The batter for the two are very similar with slight differences. In fact one can make idles or dosas interchangeably with the same batter too making slight modifications. You need to have an ‘idli mould’ to make idlis.  The idli moulds are then placed in a big stockpot filled with water (or the idli stand) to steam the idlis.

Idlis are really soft, spongy and are usually eaten dunked in a spicy and tangy lentil and vegetable curry (sambhaar) or by dipping them into a fresh coconut chutney.

My recipe for Idlis is as follows:


1 cup urad dal (split black gram lentils), washed thoroughly and then soaked in water overnight

1 cup rice flour

1 cup idli rava (coarse rice flour), soaked in water overnight

1/2 cup cooked rice (preferably parboiled rice)

1 tsp salt


Grind the soaked urad dal, the idli rava and the cooked rice in a grinder (or blender) with some of the water that was used to soak the urad dal  and then pour this mixture into a big vessel (or a pot that has room for the dough to rise and expand to double its volume).  Then add the rice flour and mix with a wooden spoon slowly till all the rice flour is mixed well and there are no lumps. Slowly add some more water and mix until you get a thick consistency batter but which is pourable.


Now cover this pot with a lid and place in a warm place overnight and leave it to ferment. In the US where room temperatures are mostly much lower than in India, I place the pot in a warm oven (I put the oven on the lowest setting and then after it reaches that, immediately turn it off and then place the pot inside).


Once the dough has fermented and you get a loose batter, you add salt and then steam the idlis by pouring the batter onto idli moulds.   Steam for about 10-12 minutes on medium heat making sure the idli stand or the steaming pot has enough water.  Once cooked, get the moulds out of the stand/pot and let cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Then take a small paring knife and scrape the sides of each mould and get the idlis out gently.  Enjoy warm dunking into sambhaar or coconut chutney.



1. If you don’t have idli rava, you can just use 2 cups rice flour instead- you will still get good idlis.

2. The consistency of the batter is very important for it to ferment. So make sure that your batter is thick but still pourable consistency. If it is very thick, then your idli batter won’t ferment and rise well.  At the same time if your batter is too thin, then again the batter will not ferment and rise well so the consistency has to be somewhere in the middle.

3. If you live in a warm tropical place where room temperatures are high (above 80 deg F) then do not leave the batter to ferment for a long time – Not only can it overflow out of the vessel (yes it has happened to me once !) but it can also overferment  giving it a very bad odor and a very sour taste.

4.If you do not have an idli mould, you could steam the idli batter in a small shallow vessel, placing it inside a larger vessel which has boiling water(a steam bath) and then cut the steamed large piece of idli into squares. Idli moulds and stands are available in Indian grocers in the US.