Pan fried Salmon with a Coconut Dill Chutney

Dill is one herb (the only one perhaps) that I took a long time to appreciate. May be because it was not available in western India where I grew up. And Dill being so different from some of the other herbs that I was used to like cilantro and mint, it took a while before I started appreciating its fragrance and flavor. One of my close friends is originally from Iran and she makes a delicious Lima beans Pilaf where Dill flavor is predominant. That was my first exposure to Dill and that first time I wasn’t crazy about it.  But over the years I slowly started to like its strong flavor and smell.

I started first appreciating it in pickled cucumbers. I absolutely relish pickles. And now I have grown to be quite fond of it 🙂 I still won’t use it that liberally since it can be too overpowering if you overdo it but every now and then I like to get a fresh bunch and use it sparingly in salads and baked potatoes etc. A few weeks ago I found a large bunch in our local farmer’s market and was tempted to pick it up. At that time I didn’t know what I would make with it but it somehow had such a fresh and refreshing smell that I had to bring it to my kitchen!

And then the next day as I got the Salmon out of the freezer, the idea of making a sauce popped in my head. And knowing me you won’t be surprised that I decided to make a coconut based sauce, kind of like a chutney using coconut, lemon juice and dill. So glad I did! I was thinking of baking the salmon but last minute decided to just do a quick pan fry. The dish was just perfect – the crispy salmon and the creamy coconut dill flavored chutney was like a marriage made in heaven! Mmm…Mmm good!

Pan fried Salmon with a Coconut Dill Chutney
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, seafood
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Pan fried Salmon, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with a delicious creamy coconut and dill chutney
Ingredients
  • 2 salmon filets (about 6-8 oz each)
  • About 2 tbsp Coconut or Olive Oil for pan frying
Marinade for salmon:
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper pow (I used kashmiri chill powder which is mild)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the coconut dill chutney:
  • ½ cup grated coconut or coconut pieces(fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • 1 green chili (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (or per taste)
  • ¼ cup hot water
Instructions
  1. Thaw the salmon and remove any scales from the skin side. Pat dry using paper towels.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients.
  3. Apply marinade paste to the salmon filets and keep aside for 15-30 mins.
  4. In a food processor, blend all the chutney ingredients until creamy and fine.
  5. Heat a frying pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the marinated salmon pieces. Cook for about 2 mins on medium high heat. Flip and cook on the other side for about 2 mins more. Transfer to a dish.
  6. Serve Salmon with coconut dill chutney on top!
Notes
For AIP version, skip cayenne pepper and green chili.

Blueberry Tartlets (Vegan, Paleo)

A lovely afternoon.  A lovely lunch. With a lovely lady. I had been wanting to invite my next door neighbor over for lunch since a few months now. Finally, it happened last week. This lovely lady is actually an octagenarian but behaves nothing like how a typical 80+ yr old would! She is bubbly, energetic, witty, chatty, open minded and so kind.  I first met her 9 years ago when we moved to our current house and we instantly clicked.  The 40 plus yrs age difference between us never felt like a barrier! We talk about so many different topics like gardening, home renovation, raising kids, health issues and occasionally we also indulge in some neighborhood gossip 🙂

She is not just a kind neighbor but a very caring one too. Two years ago when I was first diagnosed with RA, she was the first one to bring me an enormous amount of food – enough food to last a week actually!. She said that since her mom had RA, she knew how physically challenging this disease was! I was overwhelmed and all teary eyed by her kind gesture. Anyways, now that I was feeling much better and since I had more free time during the day having quit my job, I really wanted to make her a special lunch. She had also not been doing well lately. She had a fall recently injuring her shoulder and knee and was undergoing physical therapy. I asked her if she would like fish and her answer was a resounding ‘yes’!

So what did I make? Main course -Pan grilled Salmon with a honey lemon sauce and some ‘Pulao’ rice with vegetables. A small salad – With mangoes in season, I made my caribbean salad. And then I wanted to make a really special dessert since she had a sweet tooth! And I obviously wanted to make something that I could eat too!

So drawing inspiration from my raw vegan cake and my berry panna cotta recipes, I decided to make a tart/pie by making the base like the raw cake and use the filling like the panna cotta. Also I decided to make ‘tartlets’ since I had bought these cute tartlet pans recently and they were begging to be used!

I was so happy how great these blueberry tartlets came out! Not only did they look so pretty – My guest was totally blown away by how cute they looked…but they also tasted awesome! The blueberry coconut milk pudding was so so delicious! The crust with the shredded coconut and dates is to ‘die for’ and the combination just rocked. How great is it when you can bake your tartlets and eat them too without any feelings of guilt? Dairy free, refined sugar free and grain free dessert that is so damn delicious! My guest at the end of our meal told me that I was the best cook in the entire town! Now isn’t that something coming from someone who has been around for a bit? 🙂 🙂

Happy Mother’s day weekend to all of you lovely moms! You deserve a treat like this one!

Bringing this gorgeous and ‘feel good’ dessert to the Vegan, plant based party potluck

Blueberry Tartlets (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Dessert, Raw Cuisine
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Mini Tartlets with a delicious crust of coconut and dates and a creamy blueberry and coconut filling.
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (I used Bob's Mill )
  • 18 dates
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
For the filling:
  • 2 cups full-fat organic coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. gelatin (use agar powder for vegan version)
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Instructions
For making the crust:
  1. In a food processor blend all the crust ingredients to form a thick dough / mixture. Place parchment paper to cover the base and the sides of the pan. Press this mixture to the bottom of the tartlet pans. Freeze the pans for 30 minutes.
To make the filling:
  1. Place the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add gelatin keep aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In a small pan, heat half of the coconut milk (about 1 cup) over medium heat. Add the maple syrup (or honey) and the gelatin (or agar) mixture. Stir until dissolved completely.
  3. Pour this mixture into the blender, along with the remaining coconut milk and the blueberries. Blend at low speed until smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the tartlet pans and place in refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours to set.
  5. Slide the tartlets out onto a serving dish and serve with fresh berries on top!

 

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

Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)

 

Avial (pronounced as Aveeh-ial) is a delicious and sumptuous mixed vegetable dish that is essentially very simple to make (if you follow the directions carefully!) I would say the only  complicated part of this dish is the use of many different vegetables and the different cooking times that they require.   Avial is made with a mix of hard vegetables like green(raw) plantain, chembu (taro root),  suran (elephant’s foot) etc.  as well as soft vegetables like white pumpkin (bhopla),  green beans, carrots, eggplant etc.  Avial is an absolute must in any sadya.  Sadya is a traditional vegetarian feast and is served at weddings, festivals like Onam and Vishu and any other auspicious functions.   As I mentioned before, the only challenging part in making avial is to make sure all the different vegetables are cooked to proper consistency (and not overcooked) otherwise the avial will not taste good.

Because of the many different vegetables used in this dish, it is a very healthy and also a very satiating dish.  Hence you can just serve it with rotis or any other bread for a complete meal. Since I am on a Paleo diet of late, I make Avial almost every week. Avial along with grilled fish is a perfect paleo meal!

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Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Kerala, South Indian
 
Avial is a traditional Kerala dish of mixed vegetables cooked and smothered in a sauce made with coconut, cumin and turmeric and garnished with fresh curry leaves and coconut oil
Ingredients
  • 1 Green(raw) Plantain , scraped to remove strings and chopped into 1 inch long pieces - do not remove skin
  • 3 medium size taro root(arabi in hindi or chembu in malayalam), skin scraped and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Green beans, cut into about 1 inch long pieces, about 2 cups
  • Carrots, cut into 1 inch long pieces , about 1 cup
  • 2 small zucchini,
  • White pumpkin (Ash gourd), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about 1 cup
  • Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about ½ cup
  • 1 medium onion, cut into long, thin slices
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 small piece (about ¼ inch ball) of kokum, soaked in hot water(optional)
  • 5 green chillies, slit lengthwise (if you prefer to keep it mild, use only 3 )
  • 1½ cups grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
  • ½ cup warm water (for grinding the coconut)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp thick plain yoghurt (use coconut yoghurt for dairy free)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves (with stem preferably)
Instructions
  1. Take a big cooking pot which is wide and has a tight-fitting lid. First add the hard vegetables (green plantain and arabi) along with 2 cups of water and the salt and cook uncovered for about a minute till the water starts boiling and then cover and cook on medium flame for about 3-4 minutes till the vegetables are a little soft.
  2. Next add the medium hard veggies like green beans and carrots and cook covered for another 2 minutes. Now open and stir and if there is not much water left, then add about ¼ cup more water
  3. If there is still sufficient water to cook the other remaining veggies, then DO NOT add any more water.
  4. Next add the soft vegetables - eggplant/zucchini, white pumpkin,pumpkin and the onions. Also add the turmeric, green chillies and the piece of tamarind at this point and again cover and cook for another two minutes.
  5. Now open and stir to make sure the veggies are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Put the stove off at this point.
  6. Now, we need to make the coconut masala. For that take the grated coconut in a blender or a grinder and add the cumin seeds and the garlic(if adding) to it. Add ½ cup of warm water to this and grind to a fine paste. Add the yoghurt and blend again till smooth. Add this paste to the pot with the vegetables and stir slowly and carefully trying not to mash the vegetables too much. Now put the pot back on the stove turning the heat to low and cook for about 1 minute (DO NOT cook longer ) and turn the stove off.
  7. Immediately add the fresh curry leaves and the coconut oil and mix lightly. Avial is ready and you can eat it with plain cooked rice or with rotis.
Notes
The way the vegetables are cooked is very important - use just the right amount of water to cook them or else the avial will become watery. By the time all the vegetables are cooked, there should not be any water left (the cooked vegetables should be still identifiable individually and not mashed).You can use any combination of vegetables but make sure to stagger them for cooking based on above.
I use kokum(special kind of tamarind found in western india to give a sour taste but if your yoghurt is sour enough, you need not use any tamarind. Or you can also use raw/green mango pieces if you have them instead of the tamarind. Or if you don't have any of the above , use lemon juice.