Our ninth stop on our culinary journey will be one of the most fascinating countries in the world - India
A country full of contrasts, amazing people, and beautiful landscapes. India is home to Ayurveda and Bollywood, holy cows and high tech, ancient temples, and skyscrapers, all at the same time.
Imagine taking a trip on a houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala, taking in the lush vegetation and the incredible sounds of the wildlife along the rivers, enjoying ripe papayas and mangos, as a welcome refreshment on a hot day.
Imagine trying to digest the countless impressions you gained on a round trip through India, from mountain to sea, from Rajasthan with its incredible palaces to hustling and bustling Mumbai, with the world famous dabbawallas delivering home-cooked meals by bike and train from the suburbs of Mumbai right into the workplaces in the middle of the city, from world famous Taj Mahal to Bangalore, the “silicon valley” of India.
In the evening you explore the city of Cochin, watching the fishermen at sunset, with their unique nettings bringing in the catch of the day… you end up in a tiny restaurant enjoying the most delicious fresh fish of your life.
India’s cuisine is as diverse as it’s states, and as it’s people. We easily could do a culinary journey just in India, with all the famous dal’s, curries, biriyanis and many more options.
I guess you can imagine how hard it was to choose from that abundance.
So, I decided to present a probably lesser known type of recipe, from the south of India, a flavorful cilantro infused coconut fish in a banana leaf.
For cilantro infused coconut fish for 2 hungry people you will need:
· one-pound skinless fish fillets like haddock or cod
· one big bunch or 2 small bunches of fresh cilantro
· half a small bunch or a quarter bunch of fresh mint
· 1 fresh green chilli pepper minced
· ½ full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
· ½ cup shredded coconut
· 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
· ¼ tsp ground Turmeric
· ¼ tsp ground Cumin
· ¼ tsp ground black Pepper
· ½ tsp Himalayan Salt
· Fresh banana leaves or alternatively aluminium foil
1. Heat the oven to 350-degree Fahrenheit
2. Mix the shredded coconut with the coconut milk, let stand a bit
3. The mixture should be creamy, but not fluid. The shredded coconut should be fully combined with the coconut milk. If necessary, add some filtered water until you reach a creamy consistency.
4. Trim off the long stems of the bunch of cilantros and place the rest of the bunch with leaves and stems in a food processor
5. Add the mint (leaves only), the chilli and the lime juice
6. Process until you get a smooth paste
7. Combine the green paste with the coconut mixture and all spices
8. Wash and dry the fish
9. Place the fish in the middle of a banana leaf 8’’ x 8’’ (resp. aluminium foil)
10. Top each fillet with the cilantro – coconut mixture
11. Fold the banana leaves / foil like a package and place them on a baking sheet
12. Bake the packages for about 20-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the filets) in the oven, then
A good accompaniment is basmati rice, or coconut rice, as well as steamed vegetables like Bok choy, which can be easily prepared while the fish is in the oven.
Wild caught haddock or cod are an excellent source of protein. They also contain healthy omega-3-fats which help reduce inflammation, such as in rheumatoid arthritis.
Limes are a good source of antioxidants as well as of Potassium and Magnesium. Their rich contents of Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids helps to reduce inflammation and fights infections like the common cold.
Cilantro contains an abundance of antioxidants like Quercetin, Vitamins such as A, C and K as well as minerals like Potassium, Manganese, and Iron. It supports the detoxification process of heavy metals and acts anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Besides abundant phytonutrients Mint supports the digestive system and helps to soothe an upset stomach.
Chilies are loaded with Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene both supporting a healthy immune system. The most potent ingredient in chili peppers is Capsaicin, its heat can stimulate secretion to help clear mucus from a congested nose for instance. Capsaicin has been shown to boost metabolism by stimulating heat production. Topically it is also used for backpain or sprains.
Coconuts and their milk contain so called Medium Chain Triglycerides, which support brain health and seem to benefit weight loss despite their high calorie count. Many supplements like Vitamin D are especially embedded in MCT oils to support absorption.
Turmeric is a common ingredient in South-Asian cuisine. It is part of the ginger plant family and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory processes and the digestive system. Turmeric is well-known as a potent anti-inflammatory especially used for joint pain. It is best absorbed in combination with black pepper.
Cumin contains a substantial amount of iron, about 17% of the recommended daily value. Additionally, Cumin supports the digestive system by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes.