Happy Vishu! : Papaya Coconut Halwa (Vegan,Paleo)

   Happy Vishu to all those who celebrate – Vishu falls on the 14th of April this year. In Kerala, the start of the Zodiac New Year is celebrated as ‘Vishu’. It is believed that what one sees when one first opens one’s eyes on Vishu morning is an indication of what one can expect in the year to come. Thus on the morning of Vishu, ‘Vishukkani’ is prepared, which is an assortment of beautiful things – the image or idol of Lord Vishnu, beautiful flower arrangements and a panorama of vegetables and fruits to show abundance. Even gold jewelry and gold coins are displayed as part of the kani. It is said to be auspicious to open one’s eyes before the decorated ‘vishukkani’ on Vishu morning. And an elaborate and delicious sadya just like Onam is prepared in all Malayalee households for Vishu.

Although I don’t usually prepare an elaborate sadya for Vishu, I do make some sweet dish at least. This year that was hard too considering my dietary restrictions. But I am one not to be easily discouraged – I decided to make this Papaya halwa.  Traditionally this halwa is made using milk and rice flour along with ripened papaya. But since I am on a paleo diet, I came up with some alternative ingredients – coconut milk instead of regular milk and coconut flour instead of rice flour. The coconut flour gave it a wonderful texture. I also skipped the sugar and used maple syrup instead. The halwa came out delicious!

Mind you, this version is indeed an easy version of the traditional halwa since I cooked it only for about 30 minutes until I got the desired fudge consistency. But I remember my aunts in kerala making the traditional version of papaya halwa by cooking it over slow fire for at least a couple hours stirring constantly. The resulting halwa under the laborious process is of course even more tastier with all the sugars in it getting caramelized completely. But the result of this easy vegan version is not far behind either. So I hope you do get to try making this!

The celebration of Vishu signifies the importance of ‘making a good start’ and of asking for divine blessings before embarking on a new project. Hope all your dreams for the following year come true!

Papaya Coconut Halwa (vegan, paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Indian, kerala, fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Papaya Halwa is a delectable dessert of Southern india and this version is a modified, vegan and paleo version of the traditional halwa using ripe papayas, coconut milk and coconut flour
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups ripe Papaya pieces pureed in blender
  • ¼ tsp or pinch salt
  • ½ cup thick coconut milk or coconut cream
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour (or desiccated coconut powder
  • ½ cup water
  • Chopped nuts for garnish
Instructions
  1. Take a non stick frying pan or a wok style pan (kadai). Add the coconut oil and when hot, add the papaya puree to it. Add the salt and Cook on low heat stirring frequently for about 10 mins. You should begin to see the oil separating from sides.
  2. Next add the coconut milk and maple syrup and continue cooking on low heat stirring frequently. After about 10 mins, when you see the oil separating out again, add the coconut flour with the water to the papaya mixture. Stir very quickly to avoid forming any lumps and then continue to slow cook for another 5 mins stirring regularly until the mixture attaining a 'halwa' consistency - i.e. semisolid and smooth. Remove from heat. Serve garnished with the chopped nuts.
Notes
For AIP version: Skip the cardamom powder and the nuts

  

Apricot Coconut Balls (Vegan, Paleo)

I have been ‘refined sugar’ free for more than a year now and tell you what…I don’t miss it at all!  In fact I feel so awful that I was eating all that unnecessary refined sugar all these years.  Once you go completely sugar free you will start reaching out for the natural sugars as in fruits, dried fruits and other natural products like honey and maple syrup.  And the best thing is that the natural products do not give you a sugar rush plus they all provide beneficial nutrients to your body in addition to just sweetness.

But sometimes you do crave for sweets because you crave for that texture.  For example even though I have not felt deprived for the most part, I sometimes have this craving for Indian sweets like coconut barfi (fudge) or coconut ladoo (sweetened balls)!  That’s when I began to experiment.  I made date, almond and coconut rolls which are absolutely delicious and are now a permanent snack in my home – my son just loves them! My Date nut truffles are also equally amazing and so decadent they feel like an absolute treat!  I also made a dates and Nut Barfi (fudge) with dates, almonds and walnuts and that is again absolutely delicious with the gooey fudge texture.

So two weeks ago my cravings for texture meant I had to experiment again since I am on the Autoimmune protocol diet and so I cannot do nuts either.  So I scratched my brains and scanned the available items for me in my pantry and apricots and dates were the winners!. I really wanted something that had a texture like a coconut ladoo and so that made me come up with these apricot coconut balls.  Oh boy, the texture of these balls are amazing. The coconut flour just gives it the soft but dense texture that I was craving for! And that’s not all – it gets even better! OK so all you need for this recipe are just 3 ingredients! Yes! Dried Apricots, Dates and coconut flour. And Shredded Coconut to roll them in.

And yes you do need a food processor. These balls came together in less than 15 minutes though from start to finish. The first time I made it, I had made a very small experimental batch and I could make around 8 balls and they were all gone in 2 days! And that was just me eating all of them!  SO then of course I had to make them again. And again. You see I had to perfect the recipe too so I could share with you guys 🙂

I used lemon zest the first time to get an additional burst of flavor and that gave a wonderful freshness to the balls.  The second time I tried cardamom powder so that I could get the taste to be very close to the Indian coconut ladoo.  I loved that too. SO you can pick your flavor. Maybe you will come up with some additional ideas. Even if you don’t add anything the apricots give it enough flavor already. If you are 100% AIP compliant then you cannot do cardamom.  Over the past one month I have been able to add all my spices (Indian) back to my diet without much complaints. So I am ecstatic. And completely blissful when I eat these apricot coconutties!

Linking this recipe to the Plant based Potluck party Link up this week!

Apricot Coconut Balls (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Healthy Snack
Cuisine: Raw, Vegan, Paleo
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Delicious and healthy treat made of dried apricots, dates and coconut
Ingredients
  • 10 Apricots
  • 10 Dates
  • ½ cup warm water for soaking
  • About ½ cup coconut flour (I used 'Let's Do Organic' brand)
  • ¼ tsp zest of one organic lemon (or ¼ tsp cardamom powder)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut for rolling (I used 'Let's do organic' brand)
Instructions
  1. Soak the dates in a small bowl in the warm water for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor bowl, add the apricots and the dates along with the water used for soaking. You should get a thick pasty mixture.
  3. AT this stage, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the coconut flour and the lemon zest or cardamom powder to it.
  4. Mix the coconut flour with the apricot date mixture using a spatula or your hands to form a smooth non sticky dough. (You may need to add slightly more coconut flour if your dough is sticky)
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and roll in shredded coconut
Notes
You could add the coconut flour also to the food processor and form the dough in it.
For AIP compliant, use only lemon zest and no cardamom

Carrot Cake Smoothie

Since my recent post on smoothies, many folks have continued to ask me for ideas on different combinations of veggies and fruits that I use. And so I thought of creating a new post for every smoothie that turns out to be really spectacular!  When it comes to food (and drinks), I always love to experiment! That breaks up the monotony – of both – the task of cooking/making it as well as eating/drinking it!  So every morning as I slide into my kitchen and get the blender out, I mentally survey all the fresh fruits I have on hand and the ones in the freezer and go about trying new combinations. One thing I like to do is to pair fruits with similar colors together – this gives a great color impact.  And that’s what I decided to do the other morning. I have also decided to make it a point to add at least one vegetable to my morning smoothie so that it becomes extra nutritious!

So I decided to go with carrots this time. Papayas seem to be a perfect pairing with the carrots in terms of the color. And then banana and avocado for the creaminess! Yum.  As I started making it, I thought of ‘Carrot cake’ and so decided to add some spice to it – a bit of fresh ginger and then pumpkin spice!  I also had a bot of coconut cream left so I added that too towards the end but even without that the smoothie came out absolutely delicious! Such a beautiful and colorful way to start the day 🙂

Linking this healthy smoothie recipe to Plant-Based Potluck Party Link Up and Saucy Saturday

Carrot Cake Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: International
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
A delicious blend of carrots with papaya,banana and avocado with a dash of coconut cream and spiced with ginger and pumpkin pie spice
Ingredients
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup ripe papaya, chopped
  • ½ of a ripe avocado
  • ½ of a banana
  • about a ½ inch by ½ inch piece of fresh ginger (or 1 tsp dry ginger powder)
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or all spice)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk (or coconut cram) - optional
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a high power blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a tall serving glass.

Happy Diwali!: Chocolate Nut Burfi (Vegan, Sugar free)


dsc_0609With Diwali just being around the corner….it falls on Oct 30th this year,  it is going to coincide with Halloween and we know what that means, right? Yes, just sugar overload! The traditional Diwali sweets mostly all require dairy and tons of sugar.  Oh boy!

This past year has been one where I have spent tons of hours doing research on what constitutes a healthy diet.  And I am still continuing with my dietary experiments on myself and continue to remain confused about a lot of things – meaning what is good for you vs what is bad for you. One reason for my confusion is that some diets seem to work on some folks but do not seem to work as well on other folks. One thing, however, is crystal clear and that is this – that sugar is one thing that is absolutely not good for anyone. Period. Especially white sugar.  Hence I am going to do my part to treat myself and my family in a healthy way for Diwali this year by cutting down on the sugary sweets.

dsc_0607And thus the genesis of this decadent chocolatey burfi.  Burfis are in general made with lot of milk and sugar.  But I substituted nuts for the milk and added dates for sweetness. Now how could I make them irresistible? Easy! Just add cocoa 🙂 I had to do some trial batches before getting the perfect texture.  Yum o Yum. Have your burfi guilt free this Diwali. It is actually so good for you! Loaded with the goodness of nuts and dates. Pure, decadent and heavenly! Happy Diwali to you and your family! May this Diwali usher in good health, peace and prosperity in your homes.

Chocolate Nut Burfi (Vegan, Sugar free)

  • Servings: Makes 20 pieces
  • Time: about 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 16-18 dates (pitted)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup whole walnuts
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • extra whole walnuts for decorating

Method:

In a food processor, powder the almonds and the walnuts in batches such that there are no big pieces. The powder will be coarse.(Do not over powder since the nuts will turn into butter)

In a small cooking pot, boil the water and the dates together for about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off.  Cool for 5 minutes and then puree the dates along with the water until you get a creamy texture.

Take a large mixing bowl and add the powdered nuts. To that add the date mixture and the cocoa powder and the cardamom powder.

Using your hands, mix everything thoroughly to form a well-blended dough.  Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and dump this mixture onto it.  Using a cup dabbed with coconut or olive oil on the surface, press the dough lightly to fit into the square pan. Place walnuts on top and place the pan in the refrigerator for a few hours(at least 2 hours) to set.

Take pan out of the refrigerator and make slits on the dough to form square pieces.

Note:

To make this buffi sweeter, you can either increase the amount of dates or add a bit of powdered jaggery into the date water mixture.

 

dsc_0610

 

 

Mumbai Vada Paav with home made Paav


Mumbai Vada PaavOne of my favorite street foods in Mumbai is the  ‘Vada Paav’ or the poor man’s burger which is made with potatoes and chick pea flour.  Vada Paav is as basic to Mumbai as cheese burger is to America.  It is the most ubiquitous street food in Mumbai and you can find it almost at every street corner, at railway stations, near temples, next to parks and of course outside schools and colleges and offices. I am sure every Mumbai-ite will have a favorite joint that they solemnly swear by that makes the best ones in town! I do too! Whenever I visit Mumbai, I absolutely have got to have the vada paav from our  local street corner  vendor in the suburb of Chembur whose dry garlic chutney powder is the ultimate – the bomb! My dad indulges me by going out to get a parcel (vadapaav wrapped in newspaper) for me !

Thankfully I am married to a Mumbai-ite too who shares my passion for Vada paav and so we end up making it quite often in our kitchen:) This time I went one step ahead and decided to make the Paav (bread rolls) also at home. Omg! The home made rolls came out so perfect – very much like the freshly baked Paav you get in the streets of Mumbai.

Eggless PaavSo much better than the store bought burger buns or dinner rolls. Nothing like having hot potato vadas stuffed inside freshly baked rolls! And with the 3 different chutneys – red chili garlic chutney, green coriander chutney and tamarind date chutney slathered generously on them – I was in heaven!

Vada Paav

Linking to Throwback Thursdays. Also Linking to Fiesta Friday where 2 of my favorite co-bloggers – Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Apsara @ Eating Well Diary are co-hosting this week. Cheers!

Mumbai Vada Paav

  • Servings: Makes about 12 patties and 20 bread rolls
  • Time: about 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 4-5 small green chillies, chopped fine (use less for mild hot)
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 large potatoes (or 5-6 medium), boiled, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves chopped finely
  • 1 tsp lime juice

For the chick pea coating:

  • 1 cup chick pea flour or gram flour (besan)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
  • pinch baking soda
  • about 1 cup water

Method:

Heat a wok style pan or kadai and add the oil. When hot add the cumin, onions, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves. Stir fry for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat or until the onions are browned. Add salt and turmeric and stir well. Add the mashed potatoes and stir to incorporate the onion mixture with the potatoes. Add the cilantro and the lime juice.  Turn heat off and let this stuffing cool for about 15-20 minutes.

Take the cooled stuffing and make patties / balls.  Set them aside on a plate.

Heat a deep frying pan with oil.

Make the batter by mixing all the ingredients listed under batter except the water in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the water little bit at a time to get a smooth mixture without lumps. Batter should be thick to get a thick coating on the patty.

When the oil is hot, dip each patty in the batter to coat evenly and deep fry until golden on both sides. Drain well on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Home made Bread Rolls or Paav recipe (makes 20 rolls):

Adapted from thebakerupstairs

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (I used active dry yeast)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used cane sugar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
about 4 cups flour, more or less as needed
3 tablespoons ice cold water, for brushing on top

Method:

In a stand mixer bowl, add the warm water, yeast and sugar. Leave covered for 5 minutes until foamy. Then add 3 cups of flour, the salt and the oil. Start the mixer to bring the dough together. Continue adding little bit more flour at a time about 1/4 cup until you get a sticky dough. The dough should be formed but its should be sticky to touch. That’s when you stop adding the flour. Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F ( 200 deg C)

Then punch the dough (the dough would have risen by now) and break into about 20 pieces. Line a baking tray (13 by 9 inches) with parchment paper. Place the rolls in the tray and keep aside for  an additional 15 minutes at room temperature to rise.

Brush the rolls with ice cold water and place the tray in the oven and bake at 400 Deg F for about 12-15 minutes (check after 12 minutes) until the tops are golden brown.

For assembling the Vada Paavs:

Take a bread roll and spread with green chutney on one side and tamarind chutney on the other side. Place the potato patty in between and top the patty with the dry garlic chutney. (See recipes for all 3 chutneys given below)

Home made PaavEggless Paav batata vada

IMG_2767Recipe for green chutney:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp peanuts (or roasted chana dal)
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut(optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp water

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend to get smooth paste.

Recipe for dry garlic chutney:

  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup coconut grated
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp peanuts, roasted
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tiny (penny size ) piece of tamarind
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Dry roast separately the garlic, the coconut and the sesame seeds until brown.

Transfer all ingredients to a food processor/dry grinder and blend till coarse.

Recipe for tamarind date chutney:

  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • quarter size piece of tamarind (pit removed) soaked in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp cumin powder

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you get a smooth puree

 

Mumbai Vada Paav