Spiced Cashew Nuts || Masala Cashew Nuts || Homemade Holiday Gifts (Paleo, Whole30, Vegan)

  Happy Holidays to all! With Christmas just being around the corner, sweet treats begin to surface everywhere. You see them at holiday parties, on food network, on instagram and also in all newspapers and magazines!  There is no harm in making sweet treats once in a while – especially during the festive season and I will be doing the same …baking a few cakes and cookies.  I will try to use healthy ingredients as much as I can for example replacing sugar with coconut sugar and / maple syrup or honey etc.

Before embarking on the sweet bakes brigade though, I thought of making some kind of savory nuts.  My brother who lives in Singapore paid us a visit last week and being a foodie that he is, our dinner chats invariably revolved around food! Oh his descriptions of all the variety of food available in Singapore – thai, malayan, indonesian, chinese etc etc made me  drool and made me and my husband want to add Singapore to our list of future vacation destinations!  And I hope and pray to God that the future happens to be ‘near future’ 🙂

My brother himself is a good cook too and one evening as I was making my chicken biryani with cashew nut and coconut  and got the cashew nuts out, he told me an easy way to make a really tasty snack – spiced cashew nuts kerala style!  Since cashew nuts are grown abundantly in Kerala, they also have different recipes to eat them! The recipe seemed so simple and yet I knew this would taste awesome with the curry leaves and the cayenne kick.  Cashew nuts are the only nuts that I have been able to re-introduce successfully into my diet after being on strict AIP this past year. So I couldn’t wait to try this recipe! Plus my husband being a cashew nut lover too, I just had to make this soon!

Came out so yum! This is one recipe you should try this holiday season! It is sure to wow your guests plus it is so easy to make! Actually these would make great holiday gifts for your friends and family too!

Spiced Cashew Nuts || Masala Cashew Nuts (Paleo, Whole30, Vegan)
Recipe type: Appetizer, Snacks
Cuisine: Indian, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
Toasted Cashew nuts lightly spiced with curry leaves and a slight kick of garam masala and cayenne makes for a tasty snack in any season!
  • 1½ cups cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves (8-10 leaves), separate stems and tear the curry leaves into smaller pieces
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (I used Kashmiri chilli powder to keep it mild)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  1. Heat a frying pan and when hot, lower heat to low and add the cashew nuts. Roast the nuts on low heat for about 4-5 mins stirring frequently until the cashew nuts have one or two brownish spots on them. Transfer the cashew nuts onto a tray. Keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the coconut oil. When hot, turn heat to low and add the fresh curry leaves and the stems and stir fry for about 30 secs. (Make sure to stand away as the curry leaves will spurt in the oil if they have any moisture in them). Add the cayenne pepper and the garam masala and stir fry on low for about 15 secs.
  3. Now add the already roasted cashew nuts to the pan and stir fry everything to mix well and again toast in the pan for about 4-5 mins stirring frequently until the cashew nuts are well toasted and crispy. Turn heat off. Let cool and transfer to an airtight dish.

Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukkatta)

  Its amazing how creative you can get when you are forced to be on a restrictive diet. As a kid, ‘Kozhukkatta’ used to be the occasional sweet treat my mom would make for us. Usually she would make it as an evening snack to be had with tea. I loved these dumplings made with rice flour and filled with a sweetened coconut filling.  These are incredibly delicious and are quite filling at the same time. So these would be a perfect snack for us kids coming back famished from school. I would gobble up like 5 or 6 in one sitting. My mom would also almost always make extra coconut filling and save that for me since I loved to just eat that by itself:)

For a while now I had been thinking of trying to make these Kozhukkatta using sweet potato instead of rice flour. This idea came to my mind because I saw a recipe on instagram where someone had made ravioli using sweet potato.  That was inspiration and I immediately thought of making these sweet dumplings. Finally last week I got to experiment with this and luckily for me the dumplings came out successful!  I used a bit of tapioca starch to help form the dough. And also used Indian sweet potatoes which are less sweet and whitish in color. And of course, I replaced the jaggery with maple syrup.

I offered these to my kiddos as they came home from school not sure if they would appreciate these. Oh boy, I need not have worried – they loved it!  I had made only a small batch of about 12 and pretty soon all three of us were fighting for the last one 🙂

Sweet Potato dumplings with sweetened coconut filling (Sweet Potato Kozhukutta)
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
A Paleo version of the traditional rice dumplings from Kerala using sweet potatoes and coconut
  • 2 large sweet potatoes,boiled and peeled (Use indian or japanese white sweet potato)
  • about ¼ cup of tapioca flour (you can use coconut flour or rice flour too)
For the filling:
  • 1 cup grated coconut(if using frozen, thaw it beforehand)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed sweet potato and add the tapioca starch (or rice flour) and mix with your hands until you form a smooth dough. Keep aside.
  2. Heat a flat bottomed pan and add the coconut to it. Cook the coconut for about 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the maple syrup and continue cooking it for another 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Add the cardamom powder and turn heat off. Keep aside and let cool for a few mins.
  3. To make the dumplings, take a golf size ball of dough and flatten it with your hands to form a small circle. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center and then pinch the edges towards the center to form a round dumpling. Repeat same process until all dumplings are made.
  4. Steam the dumplings in a steamer basket. You can create your own steamer assembly by heating a large vessel with water and placing a strainer on top. Place the dumplings on the strainer and then cover with a lid. Steam for about 10 mins.
For AIP version: Skip cardamom powder



Tips for hosting a Kerala sadya at home

Since Vishu, the zodiac new year celebrated by Keralans is just around the corner, I thought doing this post now might be useful for some of my followers. I have been consulted a few times regarding tips on cooking a ‘sadya’ meal at home.  Having been cooking sadya meals every Onam (and sometimes for Vishu too) for the past 18 years in our US home does qualify me for advising folks I guess. We usually host an average of 3-4 families. I get a lot of questions from new cooks all the time! “Chechi, help!” ‘How many dishes to cook?’ ‘How much quantity to cook’ ‘Will there be enough food?’ ‘I have never cooked for so many people’ ‘Will all the food be fresh for the sadya?’  And so on and so forth. Well, my response is always the same – “Take a deep breath. Don’t worry. Its all about planning and once the plan is perfect, execution will be a breeze!”  I guess all my years leading projects at work has also helped me to execute successful sadyas 🙂  Plus I did have the best resources available to me – my husband and I together make a great team 🙂 So before embarking on this particularly adventurous mission, my strong recommendation to you is to first enlist your spouse’s or family members’ support! It will be much needed!

These are some steps that I follow for hosting a successful sadya whether it is for Onam or Vishu or just any other day when you feel like having a sadya meal.

  1. Create a Menu:  Take a pen and paper and scribble down the menu items.  I prefer pen and paper to doing it electronically since paper makes it easy to scratch off things while still letting you see what changes you have made. Just my personal preference but you can use a notepad on your phone or computer as well. Write down the different dishes you would like to make.  Sambhar and Avial I think fall in the ‘must-have’ category meaning they absolutely need to be on the sadya menu or else you won’t have a sadya! Another ‘must have’ are pappadums! After that, come all other lentil or bean type curries – let’s call this ‘Other curries’ – like erisseri, parippu, moru kootan, green mango curry, potato stew etc. I like to include at least two from this category.  Next would be ‘dry vegetable dishes’ like cabbage thoran or green beans thoran or kadala and kaaya thoran etc.  A fourth category would be all spicy and tangy ‘pickle type’ curries called as ‘thodu curries’ – these include paavakka varatharachu curry, pearl onion curry(Ulli curry), Pulli inji (ginger curry). Another very important ‘must-have’ item of the sadya is the ‘Paayasam’. Which paayasam to make?.  Although it is traditional to make two varieties of Payasam, I would recommend doing only one since not only is it time consuming to make two different payasams but after the heavy sadya, in my experience, folks generally will not have room for two different payasams and so it becomes a waste of effort. Decide which one you want to make. ‘Paladda’ is always the easy one and everyone loves that so its a safe bet. If you are ambitious enough to make Parrippu paayasam then so be it – you just need to plan adequately for it.

Here’s what a sample menu would look like. Other than the ‘Must-haves’, you can      pick one or two from each category

Main Dishes (Must-haves) Other Curries: Vegetable side dishes: Spicy and tangy (Thodu) curries:
Sambhaar Erishery Cabbage thoran Pulli Inji
Avial Mooru Kootan Kadala kaaya koottu Paavakka varatharachu
Paayasam Pacchadi Paavakka thoran Ulli curry
Pappaddum Rasam Manga curry
Parrippu curry Manga Pickle
Potato curry Lime pickle

2. Decide how much quantity to cook for each dish:  This depends on your final count. hence get a final count of people sufficiently in advance. Once you have the final count, divide by 4 (for the 4 categories of dishes you have) and that’s how many people you should cook each dish for. The logic behind this is that since you have so many dishes, you don’t need to make huge quantity of each dish.  For deciding the quantity of rice, I take the total headcount and take about 25% off – again the logic being that having a variety of dishes means that folks get full without eating too much rice. So if I have a head count of 20 people and say in general we cook about 1/2 cup of rice(uncooked) for 1 person for a regular meal, which would mean cooking 10 cups of rice, but for the sadya 75% of 10 i.e.  7.5 cups of uncooked rice should be sufficient. For doing all the above, if you are going to be following some recipes from your favorite sites, then make sure you print all of them first and then prepare the grocery list.

3. Plan the grocery shopping: Prepare the grocery list based on 1 and 2 above. And do the shopping sufficiently in advance -at least 2-3 days before the sadya weekend. Include all other ancillary items like plantain chips, plantain leaves, small bananas and any ready made pickles. Make sure you check the quantity of rice you have in your pantry and add to the list if you are short.

4. Stagger the cooking – Begin cooking in advance: 3-4 days before you can make the pickles or tangy curries like the paavaka curry or inji puli since they don’t spoil and keep well. 2-3 days before you can make moru kootan or mango curry etc.  1 day before you can make sambhaar, erisseri and payasam and also finish all the prep work for all the rest of the dishes. For example, finish chopping all vegetables for avial which is best when prepared the morning of the sadya. All thorns with fresh coconut should also be prepared on the morning of the sadya. You can fry the papadums the previous day but make sure to keep them in airtight containers to prevent them from getting soggy.  Create a project plan one week before the sadya so you don’t forget any important steps.  The plan need not be detailed but would look something like this :

Sample project plan:

  • Weekend 1 week before sadya/ 3-4 days before sadya day – Grocery shopping,
  • Thursday – Moru kootan, Pachadi, Inji Puli,
  • Friday – Chopping all vegetables for avial and sambhaar, make sambhaar, make payasam, fry papadums
  • Saturday(Day of sadya): Cook rice, avial,cabbage thoran

5. Ask for help: After completing steps 1-3, take a step back and do a reality check. See how you feel about executing the plan. If this is your first time doing something like this and if you don’t have enough help at home (for example having young kids etc), then consider delegating some tasks to some of your expected guests. Chances are some of your guests may call you in advance offering to help and if you are feeling overwhelmed then that would be a perfect time for you to ask for some help. You can outsource tasks like grocery shopping – either all or some items, ask them to cook one dish or just request if they could stop by early that day in the morning before the sadya – a set of hands always helps, right?

Hope these tips are helpful! What are some tricks you use for hosting a sadya at your home? I would love to know! Happy Feasting – Have a spectacular sadya this Vishu!

Spicy Egg Roast (Kerala Mutta Roast)

Egg Roast

IMG_0947You may wonder ‘Egg roast’? …now, what in the world is that? Well if you like your eggs spicy, you will just love this! This recipe is indigenous to Kerala where it is called ‘Mutta(egg) roast’. This is a dish often paired with Vella appams (rice hoppers or pancakes) or with Idiyappam (which are steamed rice noodles).  This is an easy recipe …well for those of you who do know how to ‘hard boil’ eggs ! LOL 🙂  So you hard boil your eggs, saute them a little bit with some spices and then make a spicy and tangy onion masala and drop your eggs into that and serve! hmm…sounds mouthwatering, right? I love eggs because they are so versatile – you could half-fry or do a sunny side up,scramble them up or do an omelette.! Omelette reminds me of a lovely hearty omelette that Angie of the Novice Gardener recently made – do check that out!.  And then continuing with the humble eggs’ multiple uses – you could make frittata or quiche adding a lot of veggies into those and make it really wholesome.!  And then finally you can make this spicy egg roast!

While we are on the topic of eggs, until a few years ago, eggs had earned a bad reputation for raising cholesterol levels. But in 2000, the American Dietary Association gave the green light for healthy adults to enjoy eggs once again! 1. Of course as is the case with everything else, moderation is key everywhere. Hey! eggs are good..eggs are fun..eggs are good for everyone! 🙂

I normally make this egg roast as a side dish with rice.  But sometimes I make it as an accompaniment to Idiyappams (steamed homemade rice noodles)! You could also just have it with some nice fresh bread. I will post the recipe for Idiyappam separately shortly! For now I am bringing the Mutta roast and Idiyappam to Angie’s for the Friday Fiesta! 🙂

Spicy Egg Roast (Kerala Mutta Roast)

  • Servings: about 4 servings when served with bread/rice
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
  • Print


  • 6-8 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper pow
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt 1/2 tsp
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli pow (use less for mildly spicy)
  • 2 tbsp coriander pow
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise (omit if you want less spicy)
  • 1 small tomato, about 1/2 cup chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 -1 cup water


1. In a small bowl, mix the salt, turmeric, fennel powder and the black pepper powder. Make slits on the eggs and then rub the dry spice mix onto the eggs.

2. Take a medium size heating pan and add about 1 tsp coconut oil and saute the eggs lightly for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Take a medium size wok or non stick cooking pot and heat the coconut oil in it.  Then add the onions and saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Then add the salt, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, the green chillies and continue sauteing for another 4-6 minutes on low to medium heat until the onions are really transluscent and soft. Then add the spices – turmeric, coriander powder red chilli powder and saute for 1 minute. Then tomatoes too and continue cooking for another couple minutes until the tomatoes turn soft.

4.Then finally add some water depending upon how thick you want your curry. if you really want it a little on the dry side, add little water. Then add the vinegar and stir and take off from heat.

5. Drop the spiced eggs into the masala and serve!





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Vegetable Stew (Kerala Style)

Vegetable Stew(Kerala Style)
Vegetable Stew(Kerala Style)

Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala and hence coconut milk , grated coconut and coconut oil are widely used in Kerala cuisine. One vegetable dish that uses coconut milk  and no red chilli powder and is therefore white in color is ‘vegetable stew’. The stew usually is made out of vegetables like potatoes , carrots and peas and goes well with Vellappams( white rice pancakes with a soft spongy center and a lacy crispy edge).  The non-vegetarian version of stew is usually made with mutton (lamb) and is a favorite of the Syrian Christians.You can eat this stew with any kind of bread too. They taste good with rotis or pooris too. The sauce is a coconut milk sauce infused with whole spices like cloves, cinnamon and black pepper.  The whole spices make the sauce mildly spicy and the coconut milk imparts a sweet and rich flavor.  The final garnish is a simple drizzling of coconut oil and fresh curry leaves.  You could also add cashew nuts toasted in ghee  and or raisins to make it extra rich. Hmmm…just yumm!

This is a quite simple recipe with the only slightly cumbersome part being getting the fresh coconut milk. Although now that I use fresh frozen grated coconut(and don’t have to grate coconut from a fresh coconut!), I don’t think it’s a huge chore anymore.  You can make this using canned coconut milk too but make sure to get a good brand that does not have a rancid smell.

This recipe will make about 3-4 servings as a side dish
Time Taken:  About 30 minutes
Ingredients :
3 medium size Potatoes (chopped into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 cup Peas    
1/4 cup Carrot(cut into 1/4 inch small cubes)
1 large Onion cut into thin slices
3 green chillies (cut length-wise)  Use 2 if you want it mildly spicy
4 whole cloves         
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick 
5-6 whole black peppercorns 
1 tsp fresh ginger, thinly chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
Thick coconut milk,(fresh or canned) 1 1/2 cup -
see method for extracting fresh coconut milk below
a sprig of fresh curry leaves (about 6-8 leaves)
1 tbsp coconut oil


If using freshly grated coconut (or fresh frozen grated coconut) for making the coconut milk, follow the procedure below and extract the milk and keep aside.

Cut the potatoes and carrots into cubes. Cut the onion into thin long slices. In a medium size cooking pot, add the potatoes, carrots,peas and onions along with the cut green chillies and ginger. Add the whole black pepper,cloves and the cinnamon. Add about 1/2 cup water and salt.


Bring the water to a boil and immediately cover the pot with a lid. Cook on a medium flame for around 5-7 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. At this point there should not be much water left. Turn the heat off. IMG_3274

Now add the coconut milk and mix slowly and cook on low flame for  about 1-2 minutes until you can see tiny bubbles beginning to appear in the milk. Immediately turn the heat off  and add curry leaves and the coconut oil. (Do not let the coconut milk boil or it will curdle.)



Serve hot with vellappams or rotis or pooris.

For extracting thick fresh coconut milk: 

Blend 1 cup grated fresh or  frozen fresh grated coconut (that has been thawed beforehand) with 1 cup warm water in a food processor or a blender  for about 2-3 minutes and then strain using a large strainer to extract coconut milk. Add the extracted coconut meat back into the processor and again blend using another 1/2 cup of warm water to get more coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat. You should get about 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk.

If using canned coconut milk, I recommend using ‘Thai’brand canned coconut milk, which has a better taste as compared to other canned coconut milk products.


If you dislike having whole spices in your final dish, you could use a bouquet garni to add the whole spices. That way they can be safely discarded before serving. Either way take care to avoid the whole spices when you eat!

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