This week I wanted to make a very simple dish based on a recipe my mother-in-law brought with her from Kerala. My Shrimp Curry Rustica contains several of my favorite vegetables that are cooked in a flavorful paste.

Shrimp Curry Rustica

Shrimp Curry Rustica pairs seafood and vegetables in a gently seasoned tomato coconut sauce. This easy to make recipe is delicious over plain rice.

The paste, which is ground in a food processor or blender, is made from ground onion, garlic, ginger, coconut, green chile and cumin. After that I add a few spices just for flavor, not heat, and fry everything in hot coconut oil.

I cook bite-size pieces of carrots, zucchini, bell pepper and onion in the paste. The selection of vegetables can be changed based on your preferences.

When the vegetables are nearly cooked, I add equal parts of tomato sauce and coconut milk which make a thick and creamy sauce. After it bubbles, I simply cook the shrimp in the sauce.

Before serving the curry many recipes in Kerala add Seasonings which are spices that have been tempered in hot oil. The purpose of Seasonings is to add another layer of flavor to the finished dish. Typically, this is coconut oil. For my Seasonings, I use mustard seeds, curry leaves, a thinly sliced shallot and some bits of coconut. When the shallot and coconut begin to turn brown, I pour all of this, including the oil, over the curry.

Shrimp Curry Rustica is a very easy recipe to make because it doesn’t involve a lot of spices and complex steps. The hardest part of this recipe is cutting up the vegetables!

My recommendation for serving Shrimp Curry Rustica is to prepare plain basmati rice. My husband prefers to eat it with chapati; I like rice with it. The approach should be to keep the menu simple. If you want to add a green vegetable on the side, that should complete the menu perfectly.

My husband and I have fallen in love with Chilean sea bass. I wanted to create a recipe for it that has a sauce with a definite flavor presence. I have been fascinated with chermoula for a long time. I like the flavors of fresh herbs seasoned with spices, rich olive oil and lime juice. This sounds a lot like pesto but richer. Chermoula originated in the countries along the northern coast of Africa, each one incorporating its own unique flavor. It is used as a condiment alongside many dishes, as a marinade for meat before it is grilled and as a sauce on top of meat.


Originally from Morocco and enhanced with Indian spices, my Chermoula recipe is a versatile condiment that can be used as a marinade, sauce or curry.

In my recipe for Chermoula, I add some of the flavors of India. I roast saffron, cumin seeds and coriander seeds over an open flame then grind them into a powder. I also add turmeric, paprika and a whole green chile. Like pesto, parsley, cilantro, garlic and all of the spices are puréed in a food processor along with olive oil and lime juice.

I make several cups of chermoula at a time, so I have plenty left over for my next recipe. I love the layers of flavor in this recipe: (mild) heat from the chile, sour from the lime, bright flavor from the herbs, pungent spice from garlic and smoky floral from the saffron. It makes a great sauce to top sea bass.

Sea Bass Chermoula

Pan Fried Chilean Sea Bass with Chermoula is easy and delicious. It features an Indian spice inspired herb sauce from Morocco served over rich buttery fish.

I love the mild buttery flavor of Chilean sea bass so I chose to serve it with the chermoula sauce. I simply seasoned it with salt and pepper then pan fried it in a little bit of oil over medium-high heat until the outside was golden brown, and the center was just done, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. The fish could also be grilled but I prefer the appearance and texture when it is pan fried.

Place a piece of sea bass on each plate then top with a generous amount of chermoula on top. Serve Chilean Sea Bass with Chermoula with your favorite vegetables on the side.

In my next post I will share my recipe for chermoula marinated chicken for another easy and delicious dish.

Recently I had a craving for steamed mussels. The most popular recipes for mussels steam them in a delicately seasoned broth of white wine, tomato, garlic and parsley. I wanted something with a bit more spice and attitude.

When I was planning the recipe, I decided to prepare them in the cooking style of Kerala where my husband was born. Since Kerala is on the southwestern coast of India, the residents there eat a lot of fresh seafood, including mussels. The preparations usually involve a curry. After the mussels are steamed open, the meat is added to a well-spiced sauce filled with tomato, green chiles, ginger and garlic. The dish is usually served with rice or parotha.

Malabar Spiced Mussels

Malabar Steamed Mussels bring the flavor of Kerala to a traditional recipe. The rich tomato broth is flavored with saffron and spices for a delicious dish.

In my Malabar Steamed Mussels recipe, I start by browning onions and garlic in a large pot with some cumin. After a few minutes, I add tomato and two green chiles. After another minute, I add dry white wine to release the fond and deglaze the pot followed by fresh water. At this point I add a mix of turmeric, red chile powder (not too much) coriander, fennel seed and homemade garam masala. The secret ingredient to add richness to the broth is a generous helping of saffron threads. To give the broth the flavor of Kerala, I add a sprig of curry leaves.

When the broth is ready, I steam the mussels in it to allow them to absorb the flavor of Kerala. After they open, I serve the Malabar Steamed Mussels in individual bowls and top them with a bit of chopped cilantro. I serve the mussels with a hot fresh naan or layered parotha. Serving the steamed mussels in a large bowl over a mound of steamed basmati rice ensures that all the vegetables and rich broth are eaten and enjoyed.

This recipe can generously serve two as a main course or four as an appetizer.

I make crab cutlets at home all the time because they are so delicious and easy to make. My family loves crab so I keep a jar of lump crab in my refrigerator at all times. It is a perfect standby meal since it keeps for many months.

This week I made crab cutlets that are infused with Indian spices to make a change from my usual Maryland style recipe. I temper a blend of Indian spices in hot oil along with minced shallots, garlic and green chile. This brings out their flavor and eliminates the raw spice flavor from the cutlets.

Crab Cutlets

Crab Cutlets are easy to make and can be served any meal. My recipe incorporates tempered Indian spices into this recipe. Serve with Sweet Chile Aioli.

The crab is mixed together with the tempered shallot-spice mix, egg, bread crumbs, cilantro and lime juice. After dividing the mixture into portions, I form the individual cutlets. They are browned on both sides in a hot skillet before being served.

I form my crab cutlets to serve 6 people. You can make them larger or smaller according to your preferences. They can be made into bite-sized cutlets that would be perfect for serving as an appetizer or at a party. Including crab on a party menu makes guests feel that they are important and this event is special.

Since crab cakes or cutlets are always served with a dipping sauce, I thought I would combine sweet and heat in this sauce. To make Sweet Chile Aioli, I use local honey that blends smoothly with the mayonnaise and mix in a generous amount of red Madras chile powder. I don’t use so much that your mouth is inflamed, but just enough that you notice a bit of heat with the sweet. The red color of the aioli complements the light color of the cutlets.

One of the most delicious dishes in Indian cuisine is biryani. It originated in Persia and was brought to India when the Mughals invaded India in the sixteenth century.  It is popular because it is a complete, delicious meal in one dish that includes rice, meat and vegetables.

Everyone loves the sophisticated flavors of the spices, the mouthwatering aroma and the delicate texture of the rice and main ingredients which can be lamb, chicken, seafood or vegetable. In India, each state and each household makes it slightly differently by varying the meat, vegetables and spices. With so many ways to make it, I can never get tired of it.

Seafood Biryani

Delicious layered Seafood Biryani prepared in an authentic Indian recipe features marinated shrimp, scallops and calamari baked in layers of basmati rice.

My Seafood Biryani recipe is a traditional layered biryani in which alternating layers of rice and seafood are placed in the pot before it is baked. Since this takes a little more time, some recipes skip this step, like I did in my Chicken Biryani recipe. My husband believes that layered biryani tastes better. I think it is better because the appearance is more pleasing, therefore it must taste better.

In my recipe for Seafood Biryani, I use a combination of bay scallops, shrimp and squid. Any combination of seafood will be delicious. A firm fish like swordfish or halibut, mussels, clams, lobster or any of your favorites will be tasty. The seafood is marinated in a blend of Indian spices for a short period of time so the flavors can be absorbed. It is then cooked in a specially seasoned oil.

After the basmati rice is boiled, the biryani is assembled. Alternating layers of rice and seafood are placed in an oven-safe pot. Between each layer, a few grains of rice that have been dipped in food coloring and a bit of saffron milk are drizzled on top.

When the layers are completed, spiced caramelized onions and whole cashews are placed on top. Baking the Seafood Biryani for 15 minutes allows the flavors to blend. When the biryani comes out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Place a generous scoop of biryani on each plate, making sure to include each layer. This dish is best served with Onion Raita.

The seafood is tender and full of flavor. Each rice grain is different in color, from white to orange or red. The caramelized onions add a little sweetness, the saffron infuses a complex taste of mystery and the cashews bring a bit of sophistication to this delicious recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!


Additional recipes from Kachi’s Kitchen for biryani:

Sweet Corn Biryani (2015) incorporates fresh Iowa grown sweet corn sent to me by friends. Perfect for summer dining.

Dum Pukht Chicken Biryani (2012) traditional and most delicious biryani cooked to perfection inside a sealed pot. Perfect for a dinner party.

Langoustine Biryani (2012) is a simplified biryani recipe that uses a packaged spice mix imported from Kerala.

Chicken Biryani (2010) traditional recipe for biryani.

During the last days of summer, I am finding that I don’t want to prepare a lot of complicated recipes that heat up my kitchen. My family and I want to eat something quick and easy but no one wants to compromise on flavor.

Spicy Shrimp Salad

This delicious shrimp salad recipe is served in a richly spiced dressing. Perfect as a salad or on a naan as a sandwich.

This Spiced Shrimp Salad Recipe uses cooked small or medium-sized shrimp that can easily be eaten in one bite. I mix them in a large bowl with all of the spices, a bit of mayonnaise and some lime juice for the dressing.

This shrimp salad can be served as a sandwich on fresh naans that have been cut in half with a crisp lettuce leaf. It can also be served on top of a plate of fresh lettuce and garnished with lemon wedges.


Since July 4th is right around the corner and I want to enjoy every minute of this day with my family, I am making a recipe that is really flexible so I can prepare most of it in advance. When I am ready to serve the meal, I simply grill the shrimp then set all of the components out on the table. This way I let everyone have the fun of making their own tacos just the way they like them. After all, what is easier than tacos? And everyone will love my Spicy Shrimp Tacos.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Spicy Shrimp Tacos are delicious with the blended flavors of TexMex and India.

I based the shrimp seasonings for this recipe on a blackened spice mix I created a few years ago. I jazzed it up with some ground cumin and coriander to add a bit of India to the mix. The shrimp marinate in the spice mix for a short amount of time so you can prepare the accompaniments while you wait. Everything except the shrimp can be made in advance. Just throw the shrimp on the grill or skillet for a few minutes before you want to serve the tacos.

In this recipe, I use chapatis but whole-wheat tortillas work just as well. I make several different items, including my Avocado Sauce, Sautéed Vegetables and Tomato Salsa to put on top of the spiced shrimp. I provide a variety of garnishes to add texture and flavor, including: shredded cabbage, lime wedges and chopped cilantro.

I set everything out on the table in individual bowls so everyone can customize their tacos to suit their individual preferences. This feast recipe is flexible enough to please everyone’s palate while satisfying seafood lovers and vegetarians alike. My Spicy Shrimp Taco recipe is very easy to make but much more fun to eat.

Try out this recipe for your Fourth of July party. I promise it will be a hit!

Have a happy and safe July 4th!

Based on my previous post about the usefulness of banana leaves, I thought I would share a delicious Indian recipe for Spiced Halibut Steamed in Banana Leaf. The name in Malayalam, the language of Kerala, is Meen Pollichathu, or Steamed Fish. Creating my own blend of spices for this easy to make recipe, the marinade delicately flavors the fish while it steams in a beautifully wrapped banana leaf package. Since steaming fish takes just a few minutes, this is recipe can be easily prepared during the week. It will impress your guests as well. Serve it simply with steamed rice and a vegetable or two on the side. 


Spiced Halibut Steamed in Banana Leaf Indian recipe.

Spiced Halibut Steamed in Banana Leaf Indian recipe.


Next week, learn what you can do now so you have banana leaves ready throughout the winter.


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Pondicherry (a city in Tamil Nadu, India) cuisine is a fascinating blend of Indian spices and French techniques. I encountered it when I visited the area earlier this year. Since the food was absolutely delicious and unique I decided that featuring a recipe based on Pondicherry cuisine would be a wise decision for my recipe of the month. So, the recipe for August is my version of Pouillabaisse the Pondicherry version of Bouillabaisse.


Pondicherry cuisine makes Pouillabaisse a delicious Indian fusion recipe.

Pondicherry cuisine makes Pouillabaisse a delicious Indian fusion recipe.


My recipe is a combination of the traditional Bouillabaisse from Marsailles, France and one from Pondicherry. I found the two interestingly similar and different at the same time. In the French version, one creates a rich broth and then adds the seafood before serving. In the Pondicherry version the seasonings and seafood are cooked first before water is added to make the broth. The French version has very few vegetables in the final product whereas many vegetables are added with the seafood. In both cases, they are very delicately and richly seasoned for a delicious meal.


I hope you enjoy my recipe for Pondicherry Pouillabaisse.


How did Pondicherry cuisine come about?

You might ask how Pondicherry cuisine became fused with French techniques. Since Pondicherry had been conquered by many different nations in its long and colorful history, it is not surprising that some of the dominating cultures remained after the colonists left. Since France ruled for off and on for centuries until Pondicherry became part of India in 1954, it had the opportunity to become deeply engrained.


Unfortunately this cuisine is not very well known outside of this city as it has been passed down through generations of local Pondicherry families and restaurants.


What makes Pondicherry cuisine unique?

The most distinctive feature is in the sauce. They are prepared in a French way over low heat with herbs as well as Indian spices often using cream. The flavors are well matched and refined in contrast to a traditional curry. Pondicherry cuisine also employs cooking techniques that are not often used in Indian cooking like baking and grilling.


Other features include the frequent use of fresh seafood in the recipes due to its location right on the Bay of Bengal. Not only is seafood used but it is used in combination, such as shrimp and fish, to give unique tastes in each bite. Potatoes are found not only in various dishes but are served alone as French fries and mashed potatoes.


If you enjoy my recipe for Pouillabaisse, I strongly recommend you purchase The Pondicherry Kitchen by Lourdes Tirouvanziam-Louis in which she documented traditional Pondicherry recipes from her family and others.

Don’t forget to try my Pondicherry Pouillabaisse recipe!

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Spicy Grilled Swordfish South Indian Recipe

Spicy Grilled Swordfish South Indian Recipe

The second time I visited India, my family and I were invited to one of my husband’s many cousin’s home for dinner. Maya and Bob Reddy were absolutely charming and bonded instantly with my children. Ever since that evening, they have had a special connection with each other. Over the years we visited each other and the friendship strengthened. Unfortunately Maya passed away in 2009.


That evening in 1996, we dined on her patio under traditional Indian lantern light. Maya served us the most delicious feast I have ever tasted. Everyone ate their fill on the exquisitely selected and prepared food. I don’t recall that we ate much the following day. One dish in particular had a huge impact on my impression of Kerala cooking and became my favorite preparation for fish. I call the recipe Maya’s Karimeen Pollichathu. This recipe uses the local freshwater specialty, pearl spot fish, which is found throughout Kerala. The fish was sliced into thin steaks, about a ½-inch thick. They were marinated in a special blend of spices then grilled to perfection.


This month I chose my version of Maya’s recipe as the South Indian recipe of the month. I call it Spicy Grilled Swordfish since I have changed the fish from the local specialty and the method of cooking. I hope this grilled swordfish recipe becomes part of your repertoire!

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