Red Bean Vegetarian Burrito and Why not to kill a Mocking Bird.

COURAGE is not a man with a gun in his hand. It is knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through, no matter what – Atticus Finch.

Red bean burrito

Red bean burrito

Some writers impress, some inspire while some simply fade away in the light of day. But Harper Lee, with just one glorious book under her belt, sits firmly in my head – bag, baggage and all. I just can’t seem to replace her. A lot many others try to occupy the coveted seat, but she just won’t budge.

‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ is not an ordinary book. And Atticus Finch is no ordinary hero. The book is a bolt of lightning. A revelation. And Finch’s kindness, courage and tenacity – invigorating.

To each his own

To each his own

Now what does a burrito have to do with Finch, courage or any mocking bird. Well.

I introduced the story to my eight year old this summer in her holidays. And although she seemed more fascinated with Scout and Boo and the title itself, it was Atticus Finch’s character that the relentless mother chose to dissect. Now, at our own very personal level thus began a truly interesting character dissertation of Mr. Finch. All this, while we prepped lunch using whatever we could find in the pantry. The detailed explanations were simplified for her unpolluted mind. What does an 8 year old know about racism or tolerance or black or white or courage without a gun? Though exhausting, the discussion was a revelation.

Tomato salsa

Tomato salsa

Untainted, pure minds have the most basic humane questions, to which, mostly you will have no answers. It is the way it is, was all that I could say. Their usually winged imagination falls short when human nature is in context. To explain that it takes more courage to stand up for your beliefs than to hold a gun was an insightful discussion for both of us.
At one point, I felt I rather stop, maybe I’m destroying her innocence. But I wasn’t.

Innocence is not crushed by an honest dialogue, rather it is enlivened and enlightened. It was a good thing that the deep discussions were laced with good food. This way you make happy memories and remember things for a longer time. She associates salsa and beans and guacamole with so many aspects of the book. Somehow, the food rendered the analysis less morbid, less sad and more hopeful. While little hands assembled the wrap, the mind too voiced it’s own opinions. How she would have punished Bob for being ‘so bad’ and how Tom would not die and how she would like to smack some more sour cream if I let her.

As you like it

As you like it

A red bean burrito is as satisfying to prepare and enjoy as it to read a well written book. Well, almost 🙂

The recipe:

To make 4 burritos –

Ingredients

4 flour or corn tortillas
8-10 tablespoons of red beans corn mix(recipe below)
4 tablespoons of guacamole
4 tablespoons of sour cream
4 tablespoons of tomato salsa
4 tablespoons of cabbage onion salad
a handful of olives and jalapeños for taste.
lime wedges, tomato salsa and hot sauce to serve

For the Red Bean Vegetable Mixture:

1. 1 cup boiled red beans or rajma
2. 1/2 cup sweet corn
3. 1/4 cup chopped peppers
4. 1 tsp minced garlic and ginger
5. 1 big onion, chopped
6. salt, pepper powder and paprika according to taste
7. 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

For the red bean mix –
In a skillet, heat oil, sauté ginger garlic and onions, till they sweat and turn pink. Add chopped peppers and corn. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Then add boiled beans along with salt, pepper powder and paprika. Mix well. Coarsely mash with the back of the ladle. Remove from flame. Keep aside to cool.

To assemble:
Take one tortilla, spread 2 tablespoons of red bean mix lengthwise in the centre. Top with guacamole, salsa, red cabbage salad and sour cream – all one tablespoon or more. Garnish with olives, jalapeños and a dash of lime. Fold and serve immediately with more salsa n cream!

stack, smear, dollop

stack, smear, dollop

Note: You can add any other vegetable with red beans if you like. Broccoli, zucchini or tofu will be equally delicious

Note: Cheese lovers – grate some up before the final folding.

Note: The cabbage onion salad is nothing but thinly sliced veggies marinated in little salt and lime juice for an hour.

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

A bit of hot sauce to liven it all up

I asked for the moral of the story in one or two lines only.
And this is what she said – To not be bad like Bob and to be good and courageous like Atticus. Hmm…. I think she got that right?

Good to go

Good to go

I painted a pretty decent picture without stressing on the heart breaking pathos of the story but I’m glad I introduced it to her this early. Later at every stage when she reads it, the book will reveal something new to her, as it still does to me.
It’s quite magical, isn’t it?!… This process of reading.

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Spicy Sprouts Vegetarian Fajitas

He doesn’t get the difference between a burrito and a fajita.
‘Why have different names, when they have essentially the same stuff in it’….. I don’t have any witty piquant rhetoric for it. So I try to elucidate the serving styles which are remarkably different. Also the analogy that we have million names for chappathis which are made in slightly varied way doesn’t convince him either.

Spicy Mexican Fajitas - Vegetarian!

Spicy Mexican Fajitas – Vegetarian!

I go back to assembling my warm fajitas. I know before making them they would be appreciated because … I know the kind he likes 🙂

He absolutely loves Guacamole, then top with some sour cream and a bit of more lime and I know for sure, the lunch is good. But its the stuffing that I am weary about. To substitute the meat, I sautĂ© mixed sprouts with some julienne veggies. Ah.. this was going experimental. I add another succulent sweet sour salsa to top – the mango salsa. What am I doing??….I am combining disparate flavours and hoping for it to be devoured like never before. Sigh! Wishful thinking this.

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

Guacamole and Mango Salsa by the side

SPICY SPROUTS VEGETABLE MIX

Ideally beans/rajma is used in the vegetarian version of Tex Mex cuisine. But I had a bowl of sprouts to finish before they went bad. Bored of its presence in salads and currys, the family ostracized these protein rich germinated grains. But when you throw them in a wok full of thinly sliced veggies, and season with herbs they are so delicious, you forget that you hated them a while back.

My meat substitute!

My meat substitute!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup julienne vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, corn etc
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 green chillies, minced – optional
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

Heat oil in a wok, stir fry garlic, green chilies and onions till they turn translucent. Throw in the other veggies, along with salt and pepper. Cover and cook till almost done. At this stage, add the parboiled sprouts along with oregano and chopped cilantro leaves. Mix well. Keep aside.

SOUR CREAM

Another surprise that day was the sour cream. I made a faux one with yoghurt – its fat free and healthier! Tis so easy peasy, that I find myself making it every other day now.

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

Sour Cream substitute, made with yoghurt

In a cup of hung curd, add juice of half a lime, crushed garlic, bit of pepper powder and salt. Mix in a tbsp of cream. Churn or mix well for a creamy consistency – Thats it!!

ASSEMBLING THE FAJITA

To assemble 4 fajitas:

Ingredients

  • 4 flour tortillas, I used whole wheat. You can use flour or corn, anything you like.
  • 8 tbsp sprout veggie mix
  • 4 tbsp guacamole
  • 4 tbsp mango-salsa
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • sprinkle of taco seasoning on each fajita
Assembling the Fajita

Assembling the Fajita

Method

Warm each tortilla, place 2 table spoons of the sprouts veggie mix, top with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Sprinkle taco seasoning. Serve immediately.

Warm tortillas

Warm tortillas

Note: Go experimental by replacing mango salsa with tomato or peach salsa.

Note: Replace the sprouts with beans or cheese or meat

Sweet, spicy and the tartness intact - all at the same time

Sweet, spicy, sour, tart – all at the same time

Vegetarian Chili

It was a cloudy cold evening, the sun ready to bid us adieu. Outside the breeze was crisp and biting. The White Plains country side offered such majestic views that I for once sat awestruck and tongue tied throughout the drive. It was my first visit in the US. You know how it is with the firsts. We always remember those moments vividly. What is it about them that makes it so special… is it the visuals? Or maybe the setting sun or those beautiful stone imperial houses which carry a sense of mystery around them. The triggers are many. But for me, one thing that remains etched in my memory is the aroma. The divine cumin flavored fragrance which was so intriguing that it haunts me even now.

Vegetarian Chili with brown rice

Vegetarian Chili with brown rice

We were invited by his boss for dinner. I was to meet them for the first time. And I was anxious, not to forget vegetarian and exotic in my cuisine, 10 years back, included just chinese and pizza-burgers. I ate a bit before we left fearing that what would a firangi feed? Maybe canned food or some frozen pizza.

Well, we reach his august house, set in the outskirts of White Plains, NY. Dreading an anxious evening ahead, I was at my reserved best. I had decided to speak little, smile more and hardly eat.
Ah! well, preconceived notions about a culture or a country can be so misleading! It isn’t really what Hollywood or those silly sitcoms show you – realized it pretty soon.

The Spens family turned to be the most gracious hosts, ever! They greet us like they have known us all their lives, the man’s formidable appearance gets shadowed by his bear hug, the lovely delicate wife’s soft warm hands envelope mine in simple affection. The kids are so well mannered and amiable that I vowed to trash all my prized albeit deceitful DVDs. The house inside is warm, cosy and so inviting, a contrast to the august exteriors. The genial ambience made me chatty and smiley more than what I had planned! 🙂

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

Inside on the stove, sat a simmering pot. A pot which emanated such amazing whiffs of cumin and spices and tomatoes and garlic. The entire house radiated with its essences. Apparently Mr Spens is the cook in the family. And that night, he made us a bubbling pot of Mexican Chili, a vegetarian version of the famous Chili Con Carne. Chili is a spicy stew consisting of meat, spices, tomatoes and cheese. But te vegetarian version replaces the meat with a meat analogue, such as textured vegetable protein or tofu, or a starchy vegetable, such as potatoes. These chilis nearly always include beans.

Goes great with rice

Goes great with rice

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans or rajma
  • 1 cup assorted vegetables, zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tofu – optional
  • 1/4 cup, mixed bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 2 tomatoes, red and ripe, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika or red chily powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp oregano powder
  • red chili flakes, optional
  • salt to taste
  • Cheese to garnish
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method

In a deep thick bottomed pot, heat oil. Saute onions, garlic and green chilies. Once slightly pink, then add the peppers. After a couple of minutes, add the tomatoes, along with some salt. Cover and cook till almost done. This will take about 10 minutes. At this stage add the chopped vegetables and pre cooked beans. Give it a mix. Add the tomato puree, along with paprika. Mix well and let the entire thing smolder for at least 15-20 minutes. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning.

Season with cumin and oregano. Just before serving, garnish with cheese and chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with rice or enjoy as it is.

Rajma with vegetables

Rajma with vegetables

“Simmer… simmer as long as you can.. thats what brings out the flavors of the spices..”, he advices. He served the delicacy with basmati rice and some red wine. Needless to say, our dinner was divine.

Memories

Memories

No matter how long I bubble, the spices I add or the beans I cook, I somehow fail to replicate the taste of the that night. Is it because it was my first, I wonder.

Mexican Red Rice and a Burrito

Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

Mexican Rice is basically white rice simmered in a tangy tomato gravy – I lectured to my rapt mother. It’s a different feeling when you are educating someone who has actually tutored you all their life. The scene was no different from my 6-year-old playing teacher-teacher with me. Well.

‘Ah! Tomato bhaath’, mom said. I took a deep breath, ‘yes, tomato bhaath made a little differently’. Mom likes to relate anything she eats for the first time to something that she is familiar with. She does that a lot! For instance, Mexican chili is nothing but rajma rice with lot of vegetables for her or all our fancy dips are chutneys or Thai green curry is Kerala stew! But my almost 60 year old mum is game to new cuisines with such an infectious zest that she usually leaves you smiling and wondering what else could she come up with. 🙂
Sweet mother of mine!

I used corn and beans in my rice, topped with jalapeno and cheese.. umm yum! Wait, there is more. Layering with guacamole, fresh veggie salsa and loads of rice on soft tortillas – the lunch was a massive crowd pleaser and for once mother found nothing to compare it with. Yay!

Mexican Red Rice Burrito

Mexican Red Rice Burrito

Mexican Red Corn Bean Rice

Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes. I used white, can use brown rice too.
  • 1/2 cup boiled red kidney beans/rajma beans or any beans of your choice.
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 3-4 tomatoes, washed
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil, or any oil
  • 4-5 pods of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder/paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: chopped jalapenos, corinader leaves and grated cheese

Method

In a pot of hot boiling water, make half way incisions on whole tomatoes, drop them in boiling water. After a couple of minutes. Remove the tomatoes, peel the skin, liquidize in a blender to get about a cup of tomato sauce.
Now, in another pot, heat oil. Fry garlic and onions till they turn translucent. Then add corn and beans, along with the soaked rice(no water). Saute the rice, corn and beans for a couple of minutes. Now add tomato sauce, sprinkle cumin powder, salt, pepper, paprika and oregano. Simmer for another minute or so. To this add another 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook till the rice is almost done. If required, add more water. Once done, cover and keep for some time, say 10 minutes. The covering makes the rice fluffy and soft.
Garnish with cheese, chopped jalapenos and coriander leaves.

Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

Mexican Rice Burrito

This burrito is healthy, filling and so tasty! I made it with whole wheat chappathis/Indian flatbread, you could use corn tortillas too.

Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

To make 2 burrito:

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas, any kind. Corn, Maida/Flour tortillas can be used. I made mine with chappathis.
  • 4-6 tbsp of mexican rice, or as much as you want.
  • 2 tbsp of guacamole
  • 2 tbsp of tomato salsa OR 2 tbsp of freshly thinly sliced veggies like carrots, onions, cabbage, peppers – all mixed with salt and lemon juice.
  • 2 tbsp of jalapenos, minced
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • sprinkling of mexican spice mix – I used a mixture of dried herbs like oregano and some chaat masala. Feel free to add any flavor you like.

Method

On a tortilla, spread 1 tbsp guacamole. Line your salsa or veggies in the center of the tortilla. Place 2 tbsp of mexican rice on the bed of veggie-guacamole. Now, top with jalapenos, cheese and mexican spice mix. Try to make a tight roll. Place a toothpick to hold it in place if required. Serve immediately.

Note: The original recipe called for tomato salsa, I didn’t have any, so I substituted with mixed thinly sliced vegetables.

Note: Mexican Spice Mix is readily available in stores, but since I had none, oregano and chat masala came to my rescue.

Note: Serve the burrito with sour cream by side – divine!

Note: The husband likes things crisp and extra roasted. So I roasted the filled burrito on a hot flat griddle again, with the help of little olive oil. You can serve the burrito as it is too.

Makes a beautiful burrito

Makes a beautiful burrito

Guacamole and a very colorful Mexican Sandwich

Guacamole and a very healthy - yummy sandwich!

Guacamole and a very healthy – yummy sandwich!

20 years back in India, we had never even heard of a fruit called Avocado, let alone benefit from its abundant natural nutrients. But the last 10 years have changed this scenario, pretty much. Cognizance of exotic fruits and veggies is now more evident and more adaptable. Avocados are now easily available in Indian markets and are here to stay.

The first thing that comes to mind with the mere mention of Avocado is the very famous super creamy dip/sauce ‘Guacamole’. The dish will stun you with its flavors and texture. Inanely simple to make, the hardest part that I found was to wait for an Avocado to ripen. It takes like forever for a fresh hard green Avocado to turn nice n fleshy from the inside and brown outside.

Holy Moly Guacamole

Holy Moly Guacamole

It’s a common misconception that Avocados are high in fat and calories. They are high in fat compared to many other fruits, but most of it is monosaturated fat and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of various groups where access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy products, etc.) is limited. Meaning: EXCELLENT for vegetarians and vegans. Do you guys hear me?

Here are 5 surprising health benefits of this wonder fleshy fruit:

  • Avocados are packed with carotenoids: Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).
  • Avocados help lower the cholestrol.
  • Avocados help stabilize blood sugar – they slow digestion and help the blood sugar from spiking after a meal
  • Avocados protect your heart and are great source of folate, hence excellent for pregnant mothers.
  • Avocados can help you lose weight!! – Yes.
Rich, Creamy and Nutrient Dense

Rich, Creamy and Nutrient Dense

Recipe:

To make 1 cup guacamole:

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe fleshy big avocado
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced or 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • salt to taste, 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper – optional: For the extra kick!

Method

Slice an avocado, remove the seed, spoon out the flesh into a bowl. Gently mash with the back of the spoon or a fork. I like it chunky, so I don’t overmash. But if you like yours smooth, then you could pound it well. Add lime juice, salt, green chili, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Mix well. If using cayenne or red chili powder, add it now. Mix well. Serve cold.

Lime Juice: is integral to the guacamole, if you want to retain the color. Mashed avocado tends to brown and age. But with lime juice, the color stays fresh and intact.

Serving Suggestions: When I make this heavenly rich sauce, the uses are myriad.

  • As a dip with tortilla chips or any chip or khakhras
  • Spread it on bread to make yummy sandwiches
  • Guacamole makes great quesadillas and wraps
  • as a sauce to coat your pasta, instead of a pesto or a marinara – makes one mean creamy rich yummy pasta!

So with the guacamole ready, we made these amazing Mexican sandwiches, replete with grilled veggies, paprika and cheese:

Whole wheat, Healthy and Tasty

Whole wheat, Healthy and Tasty

To make this divine sandwich:

Ingredients

  • 6 slices whole wheat bread
  • 4-5 tbsp guacamole
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of mixed veggies, sliced lengthwise. I used broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrot and baby corn
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 3 lettuce leaves
  • 3 tbsp grated cheese, I used slices.
  • Optional: 2-3 tbsp of mayonnaise, chili flakes and sliced green olives

Method

To make the veggie stir fry: In a wok, heat olive oil, saute garlic, onions. Once the onions are translucent, then add the thinly sliced veggies along with salt. The salt helps them cook faster. Stir fry on high, till almost done. Add oregano, pepper powder and chili flakes. Mix well. Keep aside.

The stir fried veggies

The stir fried veggies

Now for the assembly:

Take a slice of bread, place a lettuce leaf, dab generous amount of guacamole. Place the stir fried veggies on it. Sprinkle more chili flakes if desired. If using olives, add it now. cover with grated cheese or slice cheese. Take another slice of bread, either coat it with mayonnaise or guacamole. Place it facing down, by covering and completing the entire ensemble. Best would be to grill your sandwich using very little butter. I don’t have a griller, so I had mine as it is. Husband roasted it on a flat griddle, that tasted nice too. But grilling would be the most apt thing to do.

Thats it. Serve with tomato ketchup and any hot sauce.

Colorful Supper

Colorful Supper

Signing off on this note, here’s wishing dear friends and fellow Indians a very Happy Independence Day.

Red Bean Corn Quesadilla

Have you ever wondered that there are more same gender families than the ones with both girls and boys. Like more people have all girls or all boys. Growing up with the commoness has some real intricate implications, which forms the basis of your entire life. Usually.

My house homed giggling, naive, shopping, merry, fighting, expressive girls, who never failed to assert our feelings for each other. Whereas the better half belongs to a serious boy gang of 4! Stoic, reserved, tight lipped, the boys went about their life, without interfering much in the other. I found it so weird.
Husband reminisces, one of the few things that they ever bonded over was …food.
Well, the way to these boys hearts was surely through their stomachs. But you know how it is when you have 4 teenage boys who play football and are forever hungry. Oh! I would never want to be in my mother in laws shoes – ever.

Now, that they are much older with work taking priority, the food bit seems to fade. But, I have this one particular brother in law who is a treat to feed. Being the eldest, he had big responsibility to shoulder. Giving up his dreams and passion to make a lucrative career took over and some where the love for food paled.
Ever since, big brother started visiting Mumbai for work, little brother re ignited the man’s love for taste. Goading me to try something new and serve him every time he came over. I did it hesitatingly first, but, to my surprise he turned out experimental, curious and extremely accommodating. Perfect for someone like me, who has her decent share of mishaps in the kitchen. I love to cook. He loves to EAT. Splendid. What more could I ask for.

And of course, Super touched by my man’s expression of affection towards his brother. Now, this I can relate to.

One of brother in law’s all time favorite are crisp, veggie stuffed quesadillas. Apart from satiating his taste buds, the guy also has a festish for all things healthy. Its always a challenge to make something nutritious yet yumm.

Bean Corn Quesadillas with fresh salsa

Bean Corn Quesadillas with fresh salsa

Red kidney beans, corn and mozzarella layered between two thin tortillas, and roasted to golden brown. Oh so yumm! This crisp finger food needs no dipping sauce or sour cream. But I did have tomato salsa faithfully sitting by its side… which was never scooped up with a quesadilla but with corn chips.

Protein enriched rajma enveloped in tortillas

Protein enriched rajma enveloped in tortillas

These are essentially mexican appetizers, but they can make a decent meal in themselves when served with some soup or a light salad.

bean, corn, cheese - yummilicious

bean, corn, cheese – yummilicious

No more chatting, a delish gooey cheesy recipe awaits:

To serve 2 people –

Ingredients

4 flour tortillas or thin Indian flatbread/Chappathi

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans or rajma, soaked and well boiled
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green chilies, minced – optional
  • 2 tbsp spring onion greens or chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp olive oil + little more for roasting the quesadilla
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp tomato salsa
  • 4 tbsp grated mozzarella – or as you like it. More the better for me 🙂

Method

In a pan, heat oil, saute the garlic, green chilies and onions. Once pinkish, add the corn and beans. Sprinkle salt, oregano and the chopped greens(spring onions or coriander). Mix well. Keep aside.

when ready to serve:
Take a tortilla, spread salsa on half of it. Place 2-4 tbsp of the filling on the applied salsa. Spread a tbsp of grated mozzarella. Fold the other side and make a semi circle. Press the corners tightly, so that when you roast, the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Now with the help of little olive oil, roast on a hot flat griddle, from both sides till crisp.

Once done, cut into neat triangles and serve with any sauce or sour cream by the side.

Roasted to golden brown perfection, with very little oil

Roasted to golden brown perfection, with very little oil

You could alternatively, spread the filling on an entire whole tortilla, then cover it with another tortilla and roast it from both sides. But in this case, you need to be super careful when you pick up the assembly to roast on the griddle. It tends to all fall apart. So its you’re call and experience basically.

Gooey Cheese oozes its way out

Gooey Cheese oozes its way out

You could use fresh kidney beans or rajma or from the can. The fresh one is healthier but canned version is faster.

Fresh tomato salsa served on the side..

Fresh tomato salsa served on the side..

Done with dinner, the brothers stand staring out in to the star studded sky. No talk, no discussion, no laughter, no fight… but plain pure peace. Silence can convey more affection than a thousand words of love. I get that now.

Fresh Mango Salsa

Ambrosial. Piquant. Palatable. Delicious. The adjectives wear out, the flavors of this colorful melange of fruit and veggies does not. One of the most sensational relish of this summer. I made it several times, serving family, friends and loved ones. The sweetness of the mangoes, the tartness of the lime, the saltness of the rock salt and the crunch of the veggies… all add their best essence to this phenomenal salsa. The best bit?…. it’s inanely easy to make it.

Fresh, Juicy, Flavorful

Fresh, Juicy, Flavorful

Salsa is the mexican term for our humble Indian veggie kachumbar. Basically used as a relish to dip your chip in. I found, it works wonders with our Gujrati khakhra too.
So, in essence, kachumbar with khakhra is the Indian cousin of a salsa served with tortilla chips!

piquant mango salsa in combo with the others.

piquant mango salsa in combo with the others.

A chip to go with your dip!

A chip to go with your dip!

Serve the melange with quesadillas or as a side to Burritos or with any chip/scoops or with dosas/khakhras.

Ambrosial

Ambrosial

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe but firm mango, chopped into small squares
  • 1 tiny onion, chopped
  • 1 tiny tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chili – minced
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • rock salt to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander leaves and mint leaves, chopped

Suggested Accompaniments: Tortilla chips/Quesadillas/Burritos/Khakhras.

Method

Really? you need a method???
Well, combine all the ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for all the flavors to combine.

Serve cold.

See? Super easy isn’t it.

I have an idea, chop up all the stuff, ask your kid to combine the fruit-veggie-seasonings. Watch your child glow with pride. Praise the flavors. Bask in the goodness going down your child’s digestive tract.

To go with your salsa.

To go with your salsa.

Satiate those cruel hunger famished pangs, with a bowl full of magic:

For those crazy hunger pangs.

For those crazy hunger pangs.

This is my entry to Preeti’s (simplytadka.com) to dishitout event.

Baked Corn Chips

Baked Corn Scoops.

Baked Corn Scoops.

Choosing a healthy between-meal snack can be quite a daunting task. The popular options are usually deep-fried or sweet. I usually grab a few cream biscuits(me and my forever famished sweet tooth… sigh!) or end up making a “chaat” involving deep-fried savory crackers along with a hosts of sweet spicy chutneys.

So, when I initially tried the baked version of these crunchy appetizing chips, I was taken aback. The little scoops tasted sooo great and the flavors sooo full, and what’s more???… with varied options to dip them in… I didn’t get bored!

Crunchy Appetizer

Crunchy Appetizer

Creamy herb Cheese, Flavorful hummus, Tangy tomato salsa or the piquant simply ambrosial Mango salsa (My favorite!) are few of the innumerable options to dip your chip in.

With these little beauties in hand, an entire tex mex platter can be served in no time. It’s always a great crowd pleaser.

Options Galore!

Options Galore!

I used to make the fried version which is yumm… and would get over in like a day. So, when I embarked on the baked path, it was with much caution. The outcome was so awesome, I have made several batches since. And?? Yeah.. they get over soon too. 🙂

Baked Bites.

Baked Bites.

Fresh maize flour and all-purpose flour, seasoned with crushed oregano and chili flakes is all that you need to make these crunchy snacky bites.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup maize flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour/maida
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 2 blobs of butter
  • luke warm water to knead

Method

Sieve the maize flour and all-purpose flour. Throw in the oregano, chili flakes, salt and butter. rub the butter till it is well incorporated into the flours. Now make a soft pliable dough with the help of some luke warm water. Keep aside for 30 minutes.

Once the dough is ready. Get a flat griddle ready. With the help of some flour, roll out thin rounds, I mean.. really nice and thin rounds… taking care not to tear it. Gently lift the rounds with the help of a spatula, and slightly roast both sides on a hot griddle. Make several tortillas like this. Once you have replenished the dough. Cut the tortillas into triangles/scoops.

Thin rounds ensure a crisp scoop.

Thin rounds ensure a crisp scoop.

Now, you could deep fry the cut wedges or get your oven nice and hot, and bake these little beauties at 150 degree celsius for just about 5-6 minutes. Try to spread the triangles in a neat manner so that they get baked uniformly. Remember they are nice and thin, so they hardly take time to turn dark and burn. So, keep an open eye people.

Once done, let them cool off a bit and then store them in an air tight container. It would stay good up to 3-4 days, I never get a chance to judge because I make very small batches and they get over in a day or two.

Just a few things to take note of:

  • Maize flour is not easy to roll out, the tortillas keep breaking, hence you might have to adjust the quantity of all-purpose flour to suit your skill.
  • You could skip the added flavors of oregano and chili flakes to make plain simple chips.
  • Butter is essential, as it makes the chips soft yet crunchy… you know what I mean.
  • If you get tired of rolling out the dough, make a few and refrigerate the rest of the dough to make another batch later.
Mexican Platter

Mexican Platter

Kids love it.

Kids love it.

Veg Burritos

My entry to Vardhini’s (Cooks Joy) “Dish It Out – Lentils/ Legumes and Vegetables” Event:

Dishing it Out!

Dishing it Out!

Mexican Burritos are essentially wraps with an assortment of leftovers. To arrange beans, Veggies, salsa, sour cream and cheese on maize flour tortillas, is really no big deal. But the result is soul satisfying. When you are famished, and lucky enough to have the right ingredients in your fridge, it will take no time to make this quick simple and healthy wrap. Devour it with a drink, in front of your television set or with a fabulous book in your hand. You might just end up eating more than you should.

Mexican Veg burritos.

Mexican Veg burritos.

To make 4 Veg Burritos –

Ingredients

  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup refried beans
  • 4 spoon full’s of sour cream
  • 4 spoon full’s of tomato salsa
  • ½ cup of thinly shredded veggies – cabbage, tomato, onion, carrot
  • red sauce and green sauce to taste
  • 2 spoon full’s of grated cheddar cheese

Method

For the beans: You could saute onions in oil along with bell peppers. Add the refried beans. Mix well and keep aside. If you dont have the time, use the refried beans as it is.

For the red sauce: mix tomato ketchup and red chili sauce.

Now, Place a tortilla on a board, take a big spoon full of beans and place it in the middle. Then, spread 1 spoonfuls each of sour cream and tomato salsa. Top with little shredded veggies. A few dots of green sauce and red sauce. 1/2 a spoon of grated cheese, and you are done decorating the tortilla. Now roll it up tightly. Traditionally the burritos is served as it is, but I tweak it into my Indian style by toasting the rolled up package again on a flat griddle, till it is crisp.
Carefully remove on to a serving plate, serve with sour cream, salsa on the side. We like extra refried beans and veggies beside our burrito. So that’s how I plated it up.

Note: I used corn tortillas, you can also flour tortillas .

Essentially a frankie with rajma and hung curd!

Essentially a frankie with rajma and hung curd!

Filling and satisfying.

Filling and satisfying.

Green Sauce

Green Sauce is used extensively in mexican cuisine. In tacos, burritos, fajitas. As a dip with chips. Uses are multiple, execution is super easy. You could make a good quantity of it and freeze for up to a month.
Recipe Courtesy: Tarla Dalal

Green Sauce

Green Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4-5 raw green firm tomatoes
  • 1 big onion
  • 4-5 green chilies
  • 1 tsp of vinegar
  • salt to taste

Method

Chop all the vegetables. Boil together for 5-8 minutes. Cool, remove excess water and grind to a fine paste.
Add vinegar and salt.
Store in an air tight container, keep refrigerated.

Tangy and spicy

Tangy and spicy