Chestnut flour Halwa (Singhare ka Halwa) – Grain free, Dairy Free

  Chestnut flour is something that I recently got acquainted with. Thanks to my friend Monika. A few weeks ago when we were at their home for dinner, she told me about this flour which is called as ‘singhare ka atta’ in India and how this flour is used during religious fasting periods called as Vrat. She said that this flour came from water chestnuts and hence it is grain free. Wow, I was so happy to hear this and the next time I was at our local indian grocery store, I picked up a bag of this flour. I couldn’t wait to try this for making parathas as Monika had suggested!

I did make the parathas with aloo(potatoes) in them since that was the only way to make the dough. The parathas were good and now I started browsing more recipes using singhare ka atta. There are all sorts of things that showed up – dosas, samosas, etc and I started to drool looking at all these foods that are forbidden for me on my current grain free diet. I was feeling so excited already  and then I saw the recipe for ‘singhare ka halwa’! Omg! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Halwa has always been my favorite Indian dessert and for the past two years I have not had halwa being dairy free , gluten free and sugar free!  So looking at this recipe, I imagined the possibility of  a halwa in the near future for me. That was incredible! If it came out good, Monika, my friend deserved a treat from me!

And today happened to be the perfect day to try this recipe since it was Janmashtami which is Lord Krishna’s birthday. I started seeing all kinds of Indian traditional sweets recipes posted on instagram and in the afternoon, it was time for me to try making the singhara atta ka halwa.!

Turned out great – satisfied my halwa cravings totally. Even though I used coconut oil instead of ghee and maple syrup instead of sugar. The chestnut flour itself has a nutty taste and aroma so the halwa tastes rich even without any ghee or milk in it.

Chestnut flour Halwa (Singhare ka Halwa) - Grain free, Dairy Free
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sweets
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
A delicious fudge made with chest nut flour and maple syrup flavored with cardamom
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chest nut flour (sing hare ka atta)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • cashew nut pieces-5-6
  • shredded coconut- 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. In a kauai (wok style pan), add the chest nut flour and roast it on medium heat stirring continuously. Keep roasting for around 3-4 mins on medium heat until it turns to light brown color.
  2. Now add the coconut oil and again stir to blend it in with the flour.
  3. Once it forms into a sticky mass (about 2-3 mins later) add the water, salt, maple syrup and cardamom powder. Stir continuously till you get a smooth halwa consistency.
  4. Turn heat off and top with cashew nut pieces and shredded coconut.

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Sweet and Spicy Chicken Meatballs (Gluten Free, Paleo)

 We all will agree that good food plays an important role in making a great party! Out of all the food categories, I think that a great appetizer is very important in making a party memorable! Hors d’oeuvres are actually the star of a party.  Early arrivals to stragglers all tend to look at the starters with great enthusiasm. So whenever I throw a party, I pay special attention to what I should make for appes!

I generally go with one vegetarian and and one non vegetarian option. And chicken or seafood is a favorite one on the non vegetarian side.  Every summer we throw a party around August. You see August is a special month in our house since both my children and my birthdays fall in August! Yeah my husband is the odd guy out 🙂 So anyways, speaking of our annual party, I start getting excited as soon as summer begins and I try pinning recipes on Pinterest – birthday cake recipes, dessert recipes as well as appetizer recipes.! So last weekend we finally had this party and I had been wanting to try this chicken teriyaki meatballs recipe that I had pinned. However the recipe had breadcrumbs and other ingredients that were not paleo. So I decided to create a paleo version of these ‘Chicken teriyaki meatballs’.  Came out perfect even without any breadcrumbs and best part is that these are baked so you don’t need to spend any time deep frying or pan frying them!

These meatballs are sweet and spicy with a smoky flavor (baking in the oven gives them a nice flavor).  I added a mix of Indian and other Asian spices – also added an unusual ingredient – crushed pineapple for some sweetness. Everyone enjoyed these meatballs at the party with the kiddos absolutely loving them!

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Meatballs (Gluten Free, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizers
Cuisine: Fusion, Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
Sweet and spicy chicken meatballs made with ground chicken using asian spices and covered with a hot and sweet teriyaki style sauce
Ingredients
For the meatballs:
  • About 2lbs (1 kg) ground Chicken (chicken kheema), thawed completely
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 5 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • One 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • ½ cup of fresh cilantro, chopped fine
  • ½ cup of spring onions (scallions), chopped fine
  • 2 green chillies, chopped very fine - seeds removed (optional)
  • ½ cup pineapple pieces, finely chopped(optional)
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp sea salt (or per taste)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
For the sauce:
  • ½ cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce for non Paleo)
  • ½ cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice (from can of pineapple) or orange juice or lemon juice
  • ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or red chili flakes)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch mixed with ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 500 deg F. Line a large baking tray with Al foil and brush it with coconut oil or olive oil.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients listed under 'For meatballs' and mix well using your hands to form a smooth well-blended mixture. Shape into smooth round balls and place on the tray. (you may need to use two trays or do in batches)
  3. Bake in the oven at 500 deg F (lower rack) for a total of 10-12 mins. Half-way i.e. after about 5 mins or so, flip them so they get browned on both sides. (be very careful while flipping as the oven and the tray will be very hot)
  4. While the meatballs are baking, you can make the sauce. Add all sauce ingredients except the tapioca starch slurry in a medium cooking pot and stir for about 3-4 mins. When it begins to bubble, add the tapioca flour mixed with water and try heat to low. Stir continuously until mixture thickens. Turn heat off.
  5. Just before serving, pour the sauce over the meatballs and mix slowly to coat the meatballs in sauce. Serve warm!
Notes
Make sure the chicken is fully thawed before you start mixing with the other ingredients. Also make sure there is no water in the chicken.
You can also deep fry or pan fry the meatballs instead of baking in the oven.

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Blueberry Pie (Vegan, Paleo)

It has been blueberry season these past few weeks and we have been enjoying it to the fullest! With two farms within a couple miles from our home, we are so fortunate to get the freshest of the freshest every season! This year I made two trips to each of the farms.  The kids being older now…they aren’t as excited about picking as they used to be some years ago. However, I still dragged them with me saying ‘mom cannot carry heavy stuff alone, remember?’. And that is the truth too. Although my RA has been under control now for the past few months with medications and my new diet, I still avoid carrying even moderately heavy stuff lest it stirs up a flare! And the kids know this. So that’s how I got them to go with me 🙂

We picked like about 4 quarts or 6 lbs each time and finished up all of it in a couple weeks! I had got more thinking I will freeze some but the blueberries were so delicious that between just gobbling them up and adding to my morning smoothies they were all gone. And so I was planning for a 3rd visit when my friend Monika happened to mention that she was planning to go that weekend with her kiddos. Rest you can guess …yeah I asked (em..ordered) her to get me another 4 quarts:)

OK so this time, I had to make the blueberry crostata for my children that I make every year and which they had been asking for. So I made that for my son on his birthday and then since I was craving for a pie myself, I made this Paleo version of blueberry pie for myself based on the Blackberry pie recipe by Autoimmune wellness. Since I was making this only for myself, I decided to make two mini pies using my cute tartlet pans. You might remember that I had made another blueberry dessert recently using these pans – Paleo Blueberry tartlets . Yeah what can I say? I am indeed crazy about blueberries 🙂

The pies turned out perfect. Since I was doing a small batch, I had to add a little more coconut flour than what the original recipe stated.  A lot of times in baking, the same proportions of ingredients do not hold when you do a smaller batch. In any case, the crust with the coconut flour was so yummy – almost shortbread like crumbly but very scrumptious! Thank you to Autoimmune Wellness site for this wonderful Paleo crust recipe. I think next time I might make a large batch for the whole family! Healthy and delicious you can’t beat that right?

Blueberry Pie (Vegan, GF, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Healthy Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A healthy and delicious blueberry pie with an absolutely tasty, grain free coconut flour crust!
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • ⅓ rd cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • ⅓ rd cup arrowroot flour
  • pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (semi solid)
  • About 1 tsp ice cold water
For the filling:
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp tapioca flour mixed in 2 tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 deg F.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, add all the crust ingredients except the water. Mix using your hands and add the water and form a dough. (You may need to add a little more coconut flour if you feel the dough is too sticky). The dough should be smooth. Divide the dough into two equal parts.
  3. Line two mini pie pans with parchment paper. Place the dough in each of the pans and press using your hands to cover the base and sides of the pan. Prick using a fork. Bake at 325 deg F for about 10 mins until the crust looks golden brown from top.
  4. While the crust is baking, in a small pot add all the filling ingredients except the tapioca flour. cook for about 5 mins on medium heat. Then slowly add the tapioca flour slurry and stir continuously until you get a thickened filling.
  5. Pour this filling onto the pie pans and bake the pies again at 350 deg F for 5 more mins. Let cool for 10 mins before serving!

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Perfect Chocolate Cake – a ‘healthier’ version (dairy free, refined sugar free)

I have probably said this before and will say it again – “Chocolate makes the world go around!” And there is something about ‘chocolate cake’ that makes everyone drool! And when it comes to both my children, they usually look for only one word in the dessert menu – yeah you guessed it – chocolate! Anything ‘chocolatey’ will fly with them! As you know, I usually try to bake ‘healthier’ versions of desserts and I mostly love to include fruits in my desserts. I also like to bake with either less sugar or using better alternatives like maple syrup or honey), try to avoid dairy (or use grassfed butter) and also use healthy ingredients like coconut oil and coconut milk.

Vital Proteins HomeBaking sweet treats at home helps to assure the quality of the ingredients and avoid unnecessary chemicals, colors and preservatives. I very rarely bake decadent treats like this one and reserve them only for special occasions like our birthdays. I believe having an occasional treat (essentially 3-4 times in a year) is not only ok but that it is also essential for a balanced approach so that you don’t feel deprived. I like to enforce the 80-20 rule at home where you eat healthy 80% of the time. Of course, if you have a chronic disease like diabetes or cardiovascular disease and or have an autoimmune condition like me, you need to try and avoid these completely for a period of time.

Anyways, for my son’s birthday this year, I decided to bake a ‘healthier’, slightly modified version of Ina Garten’s Perfect Chocolate Cake by replacing butter, refined sugar and milk with coconut oil, coconut sugar and coconut milk. For the eggs too, I used farm fresh pastured eggs. In the frosting too, I used honey and coconut sugar. And for the entire cake, I used fresh 100% cacao powder. Pleased to report that all these changes meant a really decadent, moist cake that was so over the top delicious that all of our friends at the birthday party were raving about it some even asking for seconds! No wonder I couldn’t even get good pictures of the cake:)

But let me assure you that this cake is going to be a keeper. With everyone praising the cake so much, even I was tempted to have a small bite and gosh, it was ‘heavenly, melt-in-the-mouth delicious’! I was actually feeling sorry that I tasted it since it made it harder for me to control myself from having anymore! And next time, I will try making this gluten free.

Please do try this recipe and I am sure you will thank me!

Perfect Chocolate Cake - a 'healthier' version (dairy free, refined sugar free)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
A decadent, moist chocolate cake covered with a delicious chocolate frosting baked using healthier ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut milk and honey.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups coconut sugar
  • ¾ cup 100% cacao powder (I used OMG brand)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs(I used farm fresh, pastured) - taken out of the refrigerator one hour before so they can be at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder(optional)
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup coconut oil(semisolid not completely melted)
  • ⅓ cup coconut cream (from top of a coconut milk can)
  • ⅔ cup raw cacao powder
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar(powdered finely)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg F. Grease a large 10 inch springform pan (or 2 smaller pans) and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In a large tray or a sheet of parchment paper, add all the dry ingredients - all purpose flour, coconut sugar, cacao powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt. Mix them well using a spatula. Keep this aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), add the coconut milk,melted coconut oil,vanilla and the eggs and beat using electric mixer until blended. Now slowly add the dry ingredient mix slowly in batches and continue to mix to blend everything well.
  4. Add the boiling water and coffee and mix again till well blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan (or pans) and bake at 350 deg F (or 175 deg F) for about 40-45 mins. Check after 35 mins. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Remove immediately from oven and cool for about 30 mins before removing from pan.
  6. If using large pan, you will need to cut the cake horizontally to from two layers.
  7. For making frosting, add all frosting ingredients in a small bowl and mix using an electric mixer until creamy.
  8. Frost between the layers and on the outside.!
Notes
Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before you add them to the coconut oil and coconut milk mixture. If they are cold, the coconut oil will solidify! It happened with me. So in the event that this happens, don't worry - just place the bowl in a larger bowl with hot water and wait for about 10-15 mins until the coconut oil comes back to room temperature again.

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Squid Stir fry with coconut (Koonthal thoran)

As I have mentioned many times before, we are all seafood lovers in our family.  My son when he was younger, he loved to stick his nose inside the fresh seafood counter over at the Asian supermarket. He loves the smell of seafood so much 🙂 We usually get different varieties of fish and also shrimp.  Crabs and lobsters are much rarer since they require some amount of work.  One thing we have been getting more of lately is squid. We love it fried – Fried calamari. And you may recall a few months ago I made a grain free, paleo version of fried calamari with shredded coconut which was awesome.  I have also made a gluten free chick pea batter version of fried calamari before. And then I make a spicy sauté Kerala style with red chillies and coconut chips.

  Today I am posting yet another way to make squid – yes you can use squid and calamari interchangeably they mean one and the same thing! Calamari is the Italian name for squid. This recipe uses grated coconut and yet it has a fairly moderate amount of heat using red chillies and black pepper.  There is slight tanginess to this dish which is brought on by the addition of Kodampuli (Kokum) which is a special kind of sour dried fruit. If you cannot get your hands on this ingredient, substitute some lime/lemon juice in its place.

Btw, I feel so lucky that I do not need to clean the squid since it comes already cleaned here where I purchase it from. If your squid does not come like that, you can look up videos on youtube where they show you how to clean it. Do try this recipe and let me know how you like it!

Print
Squid Stir fry with coconut (Koonthal thoran)
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Tasty Squid/Calamari spicy stir fried with aromatic spices and fresh grated coconut.

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4
Author: Indu
Ingredients
  • 1 pound (lb) squid, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 no. green chillies slit length-wise
  • 4-5 no. fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper) or as needed
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp fennel powder freshly roasted
  • 1/2 tsp salt or as needed
  • 1 cup grated coconut fresh or frozen(thawed)
  • 1 no. kodampuli (kokum) soaked in 1/4 cup warm water for 10 mins
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder freshly powdered
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil optional
Instructions
  1. Cut the squid into 1/2 inch thin rounds. Remove as much water as possible from them using paper towels.

  2. Heat the coconut oil in  a medium size kadai (wok style pan) and add the sliced onions. Stir for 1 minute.

  3. Add the chopped garlic, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves and stir for 2 mins.

  4. Now add all the spice powders and salt. Add the squid pieces and stir to coat the squid with all the onion and spice mixture. Cover with a lid and let cook for about 5 mins on medium heat. 

  5. Open lid and add the grated coconut and the kodampuli(kokum) and its water. Also add the black pepper powder and stir well. Cover and cook for another 5 mins on low heat.

  6. Now open lid and cook uncovered stirring occasionally for another 5 mins or so until very little water is left. Turn heat off. Drizzle fresh coconut oil on top before serving.

Recipe Notes

If you don't have Kodampuli(kokum), you can use a dash of lemon juice instead for tanginess.

Other Squid recipes:

Gluten free Chick pea batter Fried Calamari

Coconut Calamari (Paleo version)

Spicy Sautéed Squid Kerala Style

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