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Fall always brings a sense of contentment in me. The vibrant colors makes you want to go for leisurely walks trying to soak in all that beauty. The change in weather makes me want to snuggle in blankets all day long and plan for the imminent holiday season. This year has been a particularly relaxing year for me after I decided to quit my job early in January. I took this hard decision with careful thought and reasoning and my desire to get my RA under control was the influencing factor in this decision. Stress is a trigger and an aggravator for most autoimmune diseases and I am fairly convinced that the stressful work environment that I was in for the last few years was one of the factors responsible for the sudden onset of my RA two years ago.
So it was time to take care of myself after being 100% focused on only the needs of the children and the family for the past 18 years. And let me tell you – this was long, long overdue. A lot of times, we, especially women become such ‘busy’ beings that we don’t even realize that we have become machines, working like clock work. I didn’t realize when I made the decision to quit that it would have such a profound impact on my health and well being. I quit because I felt I could not do both the things – do the job as well as take care of myself. Now I feel…. ‘liberated’. I am so thankful to God for being able to take this break. I can indeed vouch for the fact that lifestyle changes can have a profound impact on your disease and well being. I am not sure when and if I will ever get back to my previous professional life. But for now its all about taking a step back and rejoicing in all the positive things that has happened this year. I am just lazing around, enjoying the beauty and doing what I enjoy the most – cooking all day! For the past two weeks, its about warm and comforting soups and this pumpkin coconut soup is one such comforting bowl of deliciousness that makes you relax, unwind and be thankful.
Last week I roasted two large pumpkins and froze them in ziplock bags. That is what I used for this soup. To see how to roast a pumpkin, check this post of mine from before. I made this soup in the Instant Pot. I find it convenient to use the Instant Pot for soups since you can put it on and do your stuff without having to wait around. Plus it keeps the soup warm until you are ready to eat!
A delicious and comforting soup made from roasted pumpkin and coconut milk mildly spiced with Indian spices like turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium size onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
4-5 fresh curry leaves
2 serrano chillies, chopped fine (optional, skip for AIP)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
2 cups water
1 cup coconut milk (organic canned or fresh home made)
1 tsp cumin powder (skip for AIP)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Instant Pot method:
Put Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the coconut oil and then add the onions and celery. Stir on high for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and ginger and curry leaves and chillies (if adding) stir on low for 1 minute.
Next add turmeric, salt and cranberries. Stir for 30 secs. And add the pumpkin puree and water. Close the lid on the Instant Pot and set valve to sealing. Set pressure cook time to 10 mins. Release steam carefully, open the lid and add the coconut milk. Add cumin (if adding) and again pressure cook for 5 more mins. let pressure release naturally.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or use a blender/food processor to blend)
Add fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm.
Regular Pot Method:
Follow the same exact steps as above increasing initial cooking time to 20 mins.
Conventional Pressure Cooker:
Follow the same exact steps as Instant Pot.
Cranberries provide a nice flavor and tartness to this soup. I use them as a substitute for tomatoes so do not skip them. For making homemade coconut milk, check my recipe post 'How to make homemade coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut yoghurt'
In Kerala cuisine, shrimp/prawns are very popular. Especially in the areas closer to the sea like Kochi. My mom having grown up in Kochi, would add shrimp to most vegetable side dishes along with shredded coconut. Tiny shrimp were mostly reserved for such vegetable dishes where a handful of them were enough to impart lots of flavor to an otherwise boring vegetable dish 🙂 No wonder growing up, we sisters never fussed about eating our veggies!
So I have been continuing with my mom’s tradition of adding shrimp to veggies here in my US kitchen too. And the kids have been eating their veggies without any complaints 🙂 This past week I was cooking Ivy gourd. I had added a few shrimp to the water while cooking the ivy gourd. I, however, inadvertently added more water than what was needed for the vegetable to cook so I needed to drain the stock in order to end up with a ‘dry’ vegetable side dish. I obviously reserved the stock thinking I would use it in some soup. But as I quickly tasted a spoonful of the stock, the idea of this seafood and vegetable soup was born in my mind.
And the very next day, I had to make this! I added lots of other veggies in addition to the ivy gourd. All possible veggies that were available to me in my refrigerator went into the pot – daikon radish, taro root and spinach!. For flavor, I added turmeric and ginger. And also some dried seaweed (dulse). The soup as you can imagine turned out to be so so flavorful and takes less than 30 mins to put together!
I had this entire batch – about two bowls full of soup for lunch along with a small salad. Bringing this delicious and flavorful soup to the AIP recipe roundtable hosted by Phoenix Helix.
A delicious seafood soup made with vegetables and shrimp, flavored with turmeric and ginger and topped with seaweed
8-10 medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined leaving tails intact
½ cup ivy gourd, cut into long thin pieces
½ cup Daikon radish, cut into thin slices
2 medium taro root, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 cups water
1 inch by 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into thick round slices
½ tsp organic turmeric powder
¼ tsp sea salt
1 cup spinach and or bok choy leaves
3-4 pieces of kombu/dried seaweed
In a medium cooking pot, add the shrimp, the vegetables, ginger, turmeric and salt. Heat pot on stove and when the water starts to boil, turn heat to low and cover and cook for 6-7 mins or until the taro pieces are well cooked.
Add the spinach/bok choy and cook for 1 more minute. Turn heat off.
Transfer to 2 serving bowls. Add the combo/dried seaweed pieces on top. Serve warm.
You can use any combination of vegetables. Make sure to modify cooking time based on what vegetables you use.
Happy Onam to Malayalis all over the world who celebrate this auspicious harvest festival. This year I thought I will share the legend behind Onam as told to me by my dad when we were kids. Maybe you can share this with your kids 🙂
There are lots of legends that describe the origin of this festival. According to popular legend, Mahabali, who was a powerful king in Kerala, made the Gods fear that he was going to take over them as well. Hence all the Gods approached Lord Vishnu to end Mahabali’s reign. So Lord Vishnu took the form of a poor, skinny boy and approached Mahabali for alms. King Mahabali, generous that he was, agreed to give the boy whatever he wanted. The boy said that all he wanted was the property rights for a piece of land that measured three paces. Mahabali agreed instantly but realized his folly when the boy grew larger and larger and covered his entire kingdom in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered his head since he couldn’t go back on his word. At this point, Vishnu made an appearance and gave a boon to Mahabali that he could come and visit the people of his kingdom once every year and that was the birth of the ‘Onam’ festival. Mahabali’s people remembered Mahabali’s generous and virtuous nature in keeping his promise and began to welcome him every year by making an elaborate vegetarian feast.
Hope you liked the story 🙂 The main highlight of Onam however remains the Onam sadya, which is a vegetarian feast comprising of various vegeratian/vegan dishes served with steaming rice and served over a banana leaf!
I have posted numerous Onam sadya recipes over the past few years. Today I wanted to post one recipe that I hadn’t posted yet – it is a very simple curry made with green (raw) mangoes. Green mangoes being sour, this curry is more of a relish than a curry. Green mangoes are cooked in mild spices and coconut milk and tempered with mustard seeds and coconut oil. Yummy yum! My mouth is watering!
This year Onam is really special for me since I get to spend it with my family in India.! Happy Onam to all of you! Please tell me your favorite Onam dishes and I will tell you mine 🙂 Check out my this post where I have listed all Sadya dishes that I have posted before. Also you can check the ‘sadya dishes’ under category. Happy Feasting!
A tangy and mildly spicy green mango relish made by cooking Green Mangoes in coconut milk
1 cup green mangoes, skin peeled and chopped into small cubes
½ cup water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
2 green chillies, chopped
¾ tsp sea salt
¾ cup coconut milk (freshly extracted as explained below or canned organic)
For fresh coconut milk:
½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
About ¾ cup warm water
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 dry red chili, cut into two(optional)
1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
For the spice powder:
Powder the mustard seeds and methi seeds in a dry spice grinder. Keep aside.
For extracting fresh coconut milk:
Blend the grated coconut with half of the warm water and strain through a fine meshed strainer to collect the coconut milk. Blend the strained coconut again with the rest of the water and strain again. You should get about ¾ cup coconut milk.
For the curry:
In a medium cooking pot, add the mangoes, water, the powdered seeds, green chillies and salt.
Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the mangoes turn soft.
Now add the coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and turn heat off.
In a small tempering pan, heat the coconut oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, turn heat to low and add the dry red chillies if adding and the fresh curry leaves. Turn heat off and pour this flavored oil mixture over the curry and stir.
Mappas is a coconut milk based curry that is unique to Kerala and particularly among the Kerala Syrian Christian community. Fish mappas, Chicken Mappas and also vegetable mappas. Last week I wanted to make some kind of vegetable korma since I was so excited that I was finally able to make grain free parathas using cassava flour. After being deprived of all kinds of breads the past two years, I am now ecstatic that I can finally eat parathas. And so I was looking to make a curry that will go well with parathas / rotis – I was craving for a flavorful and rich curry where I could use my cassava paratha to soak up all the gravy. I suddenly remembered my friend Reena’s mixed vegetable curry that she had brought to a potluck some several thousand moons ago! Yes, I am weird like that – I remember everything about who brought what dish to what potluck even if it was several years ago 🙂
Reena doesn’t stay near us anymore but in these days of whatsapp messaging, distances hardly matter! So I messaged Reena to give me her recipe and lo and behold, a very beautifully crafted recipe was delivered to me 2 days later. I wasn’t surprised since Reena is the most meticulous of all my girl friends – she likes to go about things in an organized fashion. And she is a fabulous cook too being a Keralite brought up in Chennai, she has the best recipes from both the worlds! Thank you Reena for this fabulous recipe. I made it exactly as her recipe only replacing peas with carrots and then also adding green beans. We had the curry with rotis (for the family) and my cassava paratha. The gravy was finger licking good and even my 10 year old daughter who is allergic to vegetables(not clinically but you know what I mean right?) also took seconds! God bless you Reena darling 🙂
Hope you all enjoy this recipe. I have also included the recipe for cassava (tapioca) paratha here. Check out my youtube channel for a video of this curry and my grain free cassava paratha recipe.!
Kerala Style Vegetable Mappas (Vegetable coconut milk curry) and Cassava Paratha
Author: Indira Shyju
Recipe type: Main course
A finger licking, flavorful curry of mixed vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, green beans and carrots cooked in a rich gravy of coconut milk and spices
For masala paste:
Red chilly powder or cayenne pepper - 2 tsp (I used Kashmiri chill powder to keep it mildly hot and for color)
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - ¼ tsp
Fennel seeds - 2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 inch long piece
fresh Ginger - about 1 inch by 2 inch piece
fresh Garlic - 4 big cloves
¼ cup warm water
For making homemade coconut milk:
2 cups fresh or frozen grated coconut
about 2½ cups hot water
For the curry:
Coconut oil - 1.5 tbsp
Shallots/red onions, chopped 1 cup
Potatoes- peeled and cubed - 2 (replace with taro root for Paleo version)
Carrots - ¼ cup
Green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 cup
Cauliflower - florets - 2 cups
Vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar but any vinegar is fine)- 1 tbsp
Homemade coconut milk as Thinned Coconut milk (2nd extraction) - 2 cups and Thick Coconut milk (1st extraction) - 1 cup OR 3 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
Salt about 1 tsp (or per taste)
fresh Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
extra coconut oil for drizzling on top
For cassava parathas:
½ cup cassava flour
1 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
pinch sea salt
½ cup hot water (water that has been boiling and just removed from heat)
2 tsp olive oil
For the masala paste:
Place all the ingredients listed under 'masala' in a small blender jar and grind together to form a fine paste. Keep aside.
For making home made coconut milk:
In a blender mix the grated coconut with about 1 cup of the hot water and blend for 1 minute. Using a strainer, extract the coconut milk. Keep aside this first coconut milk. Now add the rest of the water and blend again. Strain to get the 2nd extract. Keep both extracts aside.
Making the curry:
Heat the coconut oil and sauté the shallots for 2-3 mins.
To this add the ground masala paste and sauté for about 1 minute on low heat until the raw smell dissipates.
Add all the veggies, stir to mix veggies with the spices, cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins.
Add the 2nd extract milk (or all of the canned coconut milk if using canned), vinegar and salt. Cover and cook for about 8-10 mins or until the vegetables are cooked.(Take care not to overcook)
Now add the 1st milk (skip if using canned coconut milk) and the fresh curry leaves.
When the curry comes to a boil, remove from heat and drizzle extra coconut oil on top and serve warm with rotis or parathas!
For making cassava paratha:
In a large mixing bowl, add the cassava flour. Add the salt and the oil. Then add slowly the hot water in 2-3 portions and continue stirring with a spoon. When all the water is added, add 1 more tsp of oil and then knee with your hands to form a smooth dough.
Roll dough into chapatis and cook on a frying pan cooking about 2 mins on each side. Apply ghee or oil as needed.
This curry tastes best with homemade coconut milk. But you can use organic canned unsweetened coconut milk too. If using canned milk, you can just use the entire quantity - 3 cups of coconut milk together.
In Kerala cuisine, Pachadi is a side dish which is made using yoghurt. I have posted recipe for ash gourd pachadi or kumabalanga pachadi and beetroot pachadi before. Pachadi can be made using different vegetables and sometimes even fruits like pineapple are used. Although I make okra coconut milk curry often, I had never tried to make vendakka (okra) pachadi before since my amma never made it at home.
These days being on a Paleo diet, I usually like to have the curries as soup. Now that I make my coconut yoghurt at home, I have more options for curries. And so I thought of making this vendakka pachadi where you add fried okra pieces to a coconut and yoghurt base. Since the soup base is made by blending coconut meat and coconut yoghurt, it is really creamy and filling and of course , super delicious! I fried extra okra pieces so I could just have those on the side along with this wonderfully healthy and satisfying soup. Traditionally, regular yoghurt preferably slightly soured is used for pachadi. But I used coconut yoghurt instead of regular yoghurt to keep it dairy free. And I added a dash of lemon juice since my coconut yoghurt was not tangy enough.
A delicious soup made with coconut and coconut yoghurt blended with cumin and curry leaves with fried okra on top.
About 2 cups Okra (Bhindi), cut into ½ inch rounds (you can use fresh or frozen okra)
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp turmeric
2 tbsp coconut oil
¾ cup grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder (optional)
2-3 fresh curry leaves
½ cup warm water
1 tsp sea salt
¾ cup plain yoghurt (use coconut yoghurt for vegan/paleo)
2 tsp lemon juice (optional to give tanginess)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
4-5 fresh curry leaves
1 dry red kashmiri chilli, broken into two pieces
Pat dry the okra pieces with paper towels (especially if using frozen okra pieces). Sprinkle the salt and turmeric over the pieces.
Heat the 2 tbsp coconut oil in a small frying pan and shallow fry the okra pieces in batches until they turn crispy. Keep aside.
Ina food processor, add all the ingredients listed under 'For grinding' except the yoghurt and blend well until you get a fine paste. Then add the yoghurt and lemon juice and blend again for about 30 secs.
In a small kadai or a wok shaped pan, add the 1 tbsp coconut oil. When hot, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and the kashmiri chillies and stir for 30 secs.
Add the ground coconut and yoghurt mixture into the pan and turn heat to low. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble (about 1 min or so), turn heat off. Check for salt.
Add the fried okra pieces just before serving so that they retain their crispy texture.
For AIP recipe, skip mustard seeds, cumin and chillies