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 Рall one tablespoon or more. Garnish with olives, jalape̱os 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 sauté 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