Potato and Bean Tacos

It does not get simpler than this

When we get really hungry but are really tired to cook, I bring out my Mexican toolkit. Mexican food is so simple to put together. No hassles with serving or plating up, especially when serving tacos. This DIY meal makes it fun for the whole family to get involved. 

Recently I made some rather indulgent tacos with crispy smoked paprika potatoes and refried beans. Yes, we are a potato loving family that isn’t afraid to eat all the potatoes and look like potatoes.  Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to take step by step photos because we were really hungry and there was a war to get stuck into crispy potatoes.

Ingredients: 16  Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

  • One packet of soft tortillas 
  • Six to eight medium potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
  • 400 gms of refried beans 
  • Two medium tomatoes, chopped
  • One onion, chopped
  • 400 gms of corn, steamed
  • One bunch of coriander, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon
  • One packet of taco seasoning
  • Two teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to season 
  • Sour cream for topping 
  • 200 gms grated Parmesan 
  • Lemon wedges for garnish 

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add dried mint and smoked paprika. Once aromatic add the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are soft and crispy. Garnish with fresh coriander and parmesan.

I used canned refried beans for this dish.  You can also used cooked kidney beans as an alternative, simply mash them. Empty the beans in a bowl, add a tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Microwave for three to four minutes. Keep aside.

Mix the chopped onion, tomato and coriander leaves. Add one teaspoon of taco seasoning. Two tablespoons of lemon juice. Your salsa is ready.

In another bowl mix corn, remaining coriander, lemon juice and taco seasoning. Your corn salsa is ready too.

Finally microwave your tacos to heat them through. To assemble the tacos, put a layer of beans, followed by potatoes. Add tomato and onion and corn salsa. A dollop of sour cream and a drizzle of lemon. A midweek meal does not get simpler than this.

 

Palak Khichdi 

A spoonful of health and flavour…

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This humble old recipe is every Indian mothers answer when someone in the house says they are feeling under the weather. 

Traditionally defined as bland, boring but healthy. Khichdi is made from lentils, rice, turmeric and a bit of salt. As a child I labelled this dish ‘bimaaron ka khaana’ i.e. ‘ill people’s meal’. I never wanted to eat it and you wouldn’t blame me! 

Today Khichdi and I are good friends. What changed? Well Khichdi became a little more glamorous. Different spices and veggies have elevated this dish and put it at par with risotto from Italy or paella from Spain. All Khichdi is missing now is an exotic name.

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Ingredients: 14  Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 250 gms of rice
  • 250 gms of yellow split peas (channa dal)
  • 500 ml of spinach puree
  • One brown onion, finely chopped
  • Two pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • One large cinnamon stick
  • Six to eight cloves
  • One to two blades of mace
  • One teaspoon garam masala
  • One teaspoon coriander powder
  • One teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Salt to season 
  • Fresh lemon for garnish 

Begin by washing the rice and lentils thoroughly. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.

In a heavy-set pot, melt butter. Add mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and mace. Mace gives this dish a subtle peppery flavour and goes really well with any rice dish. If you can’t find mace you can use half a teaspoon of grounded nutmeg, but add it along with other powdered spices later in the dish.

Once aromatic add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes or until the onion is lightly browned.

Drain the rice and lentils and add them to the onion mixture. Now add garam masala, coriander powder and nutmeg if using it. Mix well, evenly coating all the ingredients.

Finally add the spinach pureè, about four cups of water and season with salt as desired. Cover the pot with a lid and let the Khichdi simmer on a low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. Whilst Khichdi is simmering remember to stir it occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Your lip smackingly delicious Khichdi is ready to be served. I have served it with a side of crispy cumin potatoes and garnished it with a wedge of lemon. Here’s to health and happiness in every bite of life!!!

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Savoury Crepes with a Crisp Baby Cos Lettuce Salad

Like Paris, Crepes are always a good idea…

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I have been living away from home now for the past eight years. Nothing can ever replace Bombay or India in my life, but Australia is surely feeling more like home with each passing year. It is such a wonderful country! Full of natural beauty, laid back lifestyle, wonderful people and a melting pot of different cultures. Honestly, it would be hard to define who is a real Aussie because everyone here has their roots from another country. This is what makes Australia a truly magical place.

Imagine the food scene in a country where people from different origins live together in harmony! I could take a culinary cruise around the world all in a days time just by choosing what and where to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Moreover living in Melbourne which is the art, food and culture Mecca of Australia, I have had the privilege of eating beautiful food and meeting wonderful people from different countries.

Speaking of meeting people from other countries, I met some wonderful French expatriates whilst working with a French company and we are now really good friends. The connection was in some ways quite instant because the French love their food as much as I love mine! From social gatherings to serious work meetings talking about food seemed to navigate through every conversation seamlessly. Although I am yet to find out why French women don’t get fat!

Today’s recipe is a shoutout to all the wonderful Frenchies in my life. I love that you take your food seriously and make it look just as beautiful as you make it tasty. While I may not eat Foie gras or Pâté, I love hearing you gush about it. I look forward to many more culinary adventures with you, but for now I just want to thank you for introducing me to Crepes. My world has never been the same again!

Ingredients: 25  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

For the Crepes
  • 250 gms of plain flour
  • 500 ml of milk 
  • Two free-range eggs
  • Two tablespoons of melted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for cooking
For the Sauce
  • One leek (white part only), finely chopped
  • Four to five pods of garlic, finely chopped
  • 125 gms of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Three tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 300 ml of light cooking cream
  • 100 ml of white wine (I used a Riesling)
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • Salt to season
For the Topping
  • Three strips of bacon (for the non vegetarian topping)
  • One medium-sized brown onion, finely sliced
  • One teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of cracked pepper
For the Salad
  • One bunch of baby cos lettuce
  • Quarter teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • One tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • One teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • One teaspoon lemon juice
  • Toasted black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

To make the crepes mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk thoroughly. The batter should be thin and smooth. 

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Spray a medium, non-stick frying pan with oil. Heat over medium heat. Pour approximately 2.5 tablespoons of batter into pan. Swirl to cover base. Cook for two to three minutes or until light golden. Turn over and cook for one minute. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

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To make the sauce, melt butter in a pan. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Now add the leeks and cook until soft.

Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. Cook until the sauce has reduced and the wine smell has evaporated.

Now add chopped parsley, cream and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt as required and let the sauce simmer on a low heat for another three to four minutes.

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To make the toppings, cook the bacon until crispy and cut it in cubes. For the vegetarian topping if using an oven pre heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.  Combine the onion slices, rosemary and olive oil and bake until the onion slices are golden brown. If cooking on a gas stove top, heat olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and rosemary, cook on a medium heat until onions are golden and caramelised.

To make the salad, wash the lettuce bunch thoroughly, break the leaves and assemble on a plate. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste the dressing and increase the quantity of either ingredient depending on your taste. Pour the dressing on the lettuce and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

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To assemble the Crepes, place crepes on a warming serving plate. Add one to two tablespoons of the leek sauce in the middle and roll the crepe by folding both sides towards the centre and turn it over. Repeat the same for the remaining crepes. Drizzle remaining sauce on top of the crepes, garnish with the desired topping and serve alongside the chilled and crisp baby cos salad.

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Pepper Mushroom Stroganoff with Cous Cous

Show off at dinner with your Stroganoff…

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The key to a successful marriage along with love, respect and trust is good food. After all a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – gentleman this holds true for your women too!

I love surprising my husband with new and innovative culinary experiments, especially midweek because there is nothing like coming home to a warm, hearty meal.

Stroganoff originated in Russia around the mid 19th century (there’s a bit of food trivia for you). Today it is a popular dish world over and has many variations.  My version is vegetarian given the meaty flavour of mushrooms, this stroganoff will satisfy the carnivores too. Quick and easy to make yet so full of flavour, one would think you spent hours cooking it.

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Ingredients:   8     Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 200 gms of sliced mushroom
  • Two portobello mushrooms 
  • One medium brown onion sliced
  • Two pods of garlic finely chopped
  • One tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • One tablespoon smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon chilli flakes
  • Five tablespoon light sour cream
  • Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

In a pan add olive oil followed by sliced onion. Once the onion is soft and translucent add garlic and cook the onion mix on medium heat for four to five minutes.

Now add the sliced mushrooms and chopped portobello mushrooms. The portobello mushrooms give this dish its rich flavour. Flavour the dish with all the spices, add pepper, chilli, paprika. Cover the pan and let the mushrooms cook on a medium heat for five to seven minutes.

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Once the mushrooms are slightly soft add the sour cream and mix up all the ingredients. Let the stroganoff cook for another five minutes on medium heat.

Serve hot with steamed rice or pasta. I served this lip smackingly delicious dish with couscous and a side of steamed veggies.

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