Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mexican Black Bean Wrap with Pico De Gallo

Mexican cuisine is very dear to my heart for various reasons. One of the first cuisines I tasted, after I came to US was undoubtedly, Mexican. Since the food packs quite a punch with good level of heat and tangy flavors, it sings to my heart and appeals to my Indian palate. Be it the gooey Guacamole with rich buttery mashed Avocados dipped in Corn chips, the overloaded and stuffed Tacos which is a super cheap, quick meal if you are a student in US studying on a limited budget for food or the humble everyday dish of re-fried beans served with Mexican rice, the truth clearly stands out - they are all made with zesty and fresh ingredients, have a spicy edge and are very easy to fix.

One of the biggest blessing for the Roti lover in me is the unlimited options and varieties of Tortillas available at my local grocery. From the traditional Corn Tortillas made from Masa flour to the healthy variety of Tortillas made of Whole Wheat Flour and often even Spinach Tortillas, the options are endless and one can plan a decent meal with less than 15 minutes of prep work.

Days when I do not have the inclination to move a muscle, I happily opt for Black Bean Wraps made of Honey-Wheat Tortillas. They have a mild sweet taste and do not break easily when added with a stuffing. Pico De Gallo is the version made in many Mexican homes similar to what Kachumbar or Koshimbiri is to all Indians.  The wraps are very portable and great as outdoor foods.

Mexican Black Bean Wrap with Pico De Gallo 
A quick and easy wrap made of Black Beans

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Processing Time: 10 minutes

For Pico De Gallo -
Tomatoes (ripe, finely chopped, pulp drained) - 1 cup
Shallots (finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
Jalapeno (seeds and membranes removed, finely chopped) - 2 tbsp
Lime juice -  1 tsp

Black Beans (soaked, pressure cooked with salt) - 2 cups
Cheese of choice (grated) [Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapenos] - 1/2 cup
Coriander leaves (roughly chopped) - 3 tbsp
Crushed Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp

Tortillas (Honey-Wheat variety) [store bought] - 4-6

Remove the inner membrane of Jalapeno and finely chop into tiny bits. Mix with chopped Tomatoes, Shallots, lime juice and salt (remove the seeded pulp of Tomatoes as the water content will make the wrap soggy, just retain the outer thick skin).
Mix the cooked black bean with little salt and crushed black pepper powder and keep aside. Grate the cheese on box grater.
Warm both sides of a Tortilla on Tawa for a minute. Transfer to a work surface. Place a tbsp of Pico, add a tbsp black beans, garnish with a a tsp of grated cheese and coriander leaves. Add a dash of lime juice. Fold the sides and then wrap like a log. Too much stuffing and the wraps break, stuff with caution. Slice diagonally with a knife to divide into two portions. Transfer to a serving dish. The wraps are portable and great as appetizers. Warm for 30 seconds in MW just before serving for home style flavor.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Horsegram Side Dish - Konkani style (Kulith Upkari)

Horsegram also known as Kulith in Konkani is a popularly used pulse. I've earlier blogged about Kulith Saaru, a family favorite and Kulith Koddel, which is another personal favorite dish. Once cooked, Kulith beans pack a powerhouse of energy and are equally high in Calcium and Protein. In India, its also popularly cooked and offered to cows as cattle feed.

Kulith Upkari, a side dish made in many Konkani homes pairs well with Rotis. Strangely, it was not the most sought after dish in my parents home nor in my grandparents home. Guess, the default option was always a Koddel because it was a one pot meal and fed many mouths. Much respite and easier day for the home cook!

Kulith Upkari 
A Konkani style side dish made with Horsegram

Prep Time: 6-10 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Horsegram (soaked, pressure cooked) - 3/4  cup

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red Chillies (split into two) - 2
Green Chillies (slit lengthwise) - 1
Curry leaves - a sprig
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Coconut oil

For Garnish -
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp

Clean the beans and remove any grime and dirt. Wash and rinse in multiple changes of water. Soak for 8-10 hours. Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles. Allow to cool. Save the stock of cooked beans for  making Kulith Saaru.
In a deep bottomed vessel, heat a few spoons of coconut oil. Once the oil is hot enough, season with mustard seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and broken red chillies. Add the asafoetida now and give a good stir. Transfer the cooked beans to the seasoning, give a good mix. Season with salt, sprinkle 1/2 cup of warm water and cover with a lid. Cook for 5-10 minutes by bringing to boil and then simmer away. Once done, garnish with grated coconut. Fish out the chillies if required before serving. Serve with Rotis or as a side dish.