Spice Grandma Guest Post - Delicious Goa

I am overjoyed to introduce our guest blogger this week - my true love, my best friend, my inspiration, my mom. Spice Grandma has influenced me in the kitchen and in life in countless ways. I will never be able to recreate her culinary delights entirely but thanks to her recipes and her patience with me on long-distance phone calls at odd hours (while things are boiling on the stove and I haven't a clue what to do next), I can come close. Here she shares a Goan dish that brings back indelible childhood memories of deliciousness, love, home, heart and spice. I love you mom. 

Guest Post
by Shobha Mirchandani

Goan Fish Curry always reminds me of our family holidays in lush Goa with its palm fronds skirting golden beaches, glorious sunsets and foam-crested waves cascading along the shore. After splashing around the pool or the ocean, the children would be ravenously hungry and our favorite lunch would be Goan fish curry and rice. The fish would be succulent from the fresh catch of the day and the coconut milk manually squeezed from the coconuts growing on the hotel grounds. 

On a recent visit to see my grandson in Hong Kong, we decided to recreate Goa in our home kitchen to ward off the dreary, wet cold. The turmeric infused coconut gravy laced with curry leaves and the piquant touch of a little tamarind took us back to the golden sunshine of Goa and we forgot our monsoon blues!



Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has demonstrated anti-depressant effects in animal and some small scale human studies. More trials are necessary but given it's anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin could be a promising treatment for neurological diseases like major depressive disorder, Alzheimer's and Parkinsons. Limitations include the poor bioavailability which could be enhanced with new formulations or the addition of piperine from black pepper. 



Goan Fish Curry
12 months+, Toddler,
id, Adult

Goan Fish Curry
12 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult

We've discussed the superduperfood status of fish and the benefits of coconut milk previously here and here. Fish is so important for the developing brain, heart health and as an anti-inflammatory that we should ensure our kids get the recommended 2 1-2 oz servings of fish a week (excluding high mercury shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish). Coconut milk is rich in antioxidants, vitamins B, C and E and other minerals like manganese. It contain lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties and can help lower levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and improve heart health. Due to BPA and other contaminants in canned coconut milk, I prefer to buy the boxed kind from my local Thai shop. A good option for those in the Western Hemisphere is Native Forest which can be purchased on Amazon. It's organic and in BPA-free cans. 

Science Corner
Several studies in animals have reported anti-depressant, anti-Alzheimer's and anti-Parkinsons effects of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. These benefits are most likely linked to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin as there is a strong link between low levels of inflammation and various neurological diseases. More recently, small studies in humans have also shown promising results for curcumin for depression - in a study conducted by Australian scientists, 56 individuals with major depressive disorder were treated with a placebo or curcumin for 8 weeks. Between weeks 4 and 8, the curcumin-treated group saw a significant reduction in several mood-related symptoms. Larger trials are necessary but these studies suggest a potential role for curcumin either alone or in combination with existing medications for depression. Limitations include the poor bioavailability of curcumin which can be enhanced with new formulations or the addition of piperine from black pepper.

2 adult or 3 toddler portions

1 tablespoon coconut oil, preferably the unrefined or virgin variety
1/2 yellow onion very finely chopped or ground into a paste 
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
6-8 curry leaves (found at Indian grocery stores but if hard-pressed to procure, can do without)
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1-2 teaspoons turmeric powder depending on intensity of color and flavor desired
Salt to taste
500ml coconut milk
250g firm fish like halibut or salmon cut into 2 inch cubes
1.5 teaspoons tamarind paste (found in Indian or Asian grocery stores)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red chili  / cayenne powder FOR ADULTS ONLY :)

In a pot for which you have a lid, heat the coconut oil on a medium-high flame. Sautee the onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, curry leaves, coriander and turmeric powders and salt and sautee for a minute. Add the coconut milk and reduce the flame to low. Gently add in the fish pieces and let them simmer with lid on for 6-8 minutes. Take the lid off and gently flip the fish to coat well with the coconut milk. Stir in the tamarind and red chili powder if using (adults only!) allowing the mixture to simmer for another 2 minutes. Serve with brown or white rice and a side of green beans with caraway for a complete and heartwarming meal, the kind only grandma can concoct.