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 šŸ™‚

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 jalapeƱos 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, sautƩ 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, jalapeƱos 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.

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.