Taco for party

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I started writing this as a set of individual posts of all the elements of a taco party, then I thought it should all be in one place. In one ready to reference post. It is also time for Diwali parties and while you do the tikkas and the kebabs, a Taco Party is more fun, it is a welcome change to greasy Indian takeaway food used for parties and it somehow brings people to a table, which is what parties are for.

So if I have to entertain people at home, then I have an inclination towards tacos as party food. And I think its fresh. A lot can be made ahead, and very freezer friendly too. The leftovers are again freezer friendly . Think Guacamole on toast with a fried egg for breakfast.

So this post is about getting ready to set up a taco party. From scratch. Yes.

Another reason I like them is that they leave scope for a seasonal twist. So when it is the season of mangoes and I had to had to make a mango salsa. A combination off sweet and sour mangos, with a dash of chillies and salt and cilantro. Thats it. A surprise to the taste buds.

So from the salsa to the guacamole to the tortilla itself. All are customisable.
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For the tortilla:
1/2 cup maize meal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup (approximately) lukewarm water
2-3 tbsp oil/ ghee/ butter
1. Take a bowl and mix all the dry ingredients.
2. Slow add the warm water and knead. The warm water helps in the binding and rolling of the tortillas. Once the dough is smooth, divide into approximately 6-8 balls.
3. Heat a flat bottomed pan, and grease it with oil/ ghee/ butter.
4. Roll out the dough into chapatti like discs. If you are not good at that, don’t fret, just use a roti maker or tortilla maker.
5. Place a rolled tortilla on the pan and cook both sides. Cover with a cheese cloth to keep it soft. For freezing, let it cool and freeze with butter paper in between each tortilla.
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For the Tomato Salsa:
1/2 kg ripe red tomatoes
1 onion minced
1 handful cilantro/ coriander leaves chopped
2-3 green chilies minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
To taste salt

1. Roast the tomatoes on an open flame. Instead of boiling them to remove the skin I like to roast the tomatoes. It just imparts a smoky flavour to the salsa.
2. Cool and peal the tomatoes. Mince the tomatoes by hand or roughly in a mortar and pestle the idea is to leave it slightly chunky
3. Mix all the rest of the ingredients and the salsa is ready.
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For the Guacamole:
2-3 ripe avocados
1 onion minced
1 tomato minced
1 handful cilantro/ coriander leaves chopped
2-3 green chilies minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 lemons juiced

1. Split just ripe avocados into two. Use a spoon to carve the pulp out of the avocados and use a fork to mush/pulp the avocados. Avocados discolour very easily so squirt the lemon juice and stir. Add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Store in the fridge till it is time to serve,
3. One more tip. Avocados are bland and sometimes require adjustment of the lemon juice and salt. So taste and adjust.
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For the Yogurt Dip (a great replacement of sour cream)
1/2 kg Yogurt
2-3 cloves Garlic
Salt to taste

1. Take a cheese cloth and hang the yogurt for about 3-4 hours.
2. The hung yogurt is creamier. Use a balloon whisk and grated garlic and salt to taste.

For the Kidney Beans
1 cup kidney beans
2-3 large Tomatoes
2-3 large Onions
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder (use the one whose heat you like)
1-2 cups water
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves
2-3 tbsp oil/ ghee
Salt to taste

1. Soak the kidney beans overnight. Cook the kidney beans till tender. You can use a pressure cooker to expedite the process.
2. Add the oil in pan. Once the oil is heated, then add the chopped diced onions and sauté. Remember to keep the heat on low. Once the onions start to cook add the chopped diced tomatoes and cook. Its better to cover and cook to ensure that you onions and tomatoes sweat well. Add salt at this stage to hasten the cooking process.
3. Once the onion and tomatoes are pasty add the spices and water and bring it to boil. Then add the cooked kidney beans and cook till the means are coated in the paste. Add the cilantro/ coriander leaves and they are ready.

Add a Salad:
250 gms cherry tomatoes
2 cucumber
1 carrot
1/2 lemon juice
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1. Slice the cherry tomatoes and julienne the carrot and cucumber.
2. Add the lemon juice and olive oil
3. This easy salad is a great way to add a fresh crunch tot he tacos. You can vary it as per your liking and seasonal vegetables

Assembling the taco:

Cheese of choice

1. Take out all the best bowls for the guacamole, salsa and the yogurt dip and the salad and the beans. I like to use colourful bowls and mix an match them
2. Grate some Jack Cheese and Cheddar Cheese
3. Use a microwavable platter for tacos, so that you can reheat them.
4. Your work is done. Now allow your guests to stuff their face with tacos that they make for themselves as per their taste.

P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Riverdale – Mystery, drama – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5420376/
Movie – Ordinary People – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081283/

Listen –
Koop – Koop Island Blues – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W3MpOU3OUU
Radiohead – Creep – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkzRNyygfk
Jem – Keep on Walking – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww5CYMI0V34

Read
Blog/ Webpage: http://inkimageideology.blogspot.in
Book: Old Man and the Sea – Earnest Hemingway – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2165.The_Old_Man_and_the_Sea

Poem

FINISTERRE

The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,
into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you
as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way
to your future now but the way your shadow could take,
walking before you across water, going where shadows go,
no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass
except to call an end to the way you had come,
to take out each frayed letter you had brought
and light their illumined corners; and to read
them as they drifted on the late western light;
to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;
to promise what you needed to promise all along,
and to abandon the shoes that brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,
and because, through it all, part of you would still walk on,
no matter how, over the waves.
– David Whyte

Potato Pancakes (Potato Chilla)

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The way of life in India and Yoga, is the current inspiration to the Western World. Especially the food we eat. We are traditionally whole grain and coarse grain and plant based eaters, with a vast variety of methods of cooking and a multitude of spices and thats probably why once Liz Hurley had once said that its easy to be vegetarian if you are eating Indian.

But twice a year at least, we give up grains as well. Once such time of the year started yesterday, the start of the Hindu month of Kartik, the end of Shradha (Autumn). This is the weather transition period and characterised by special food for the next nine days. The food is special because the focus is on a complete plant based diet, minimal to no spice and no table salt or sugar. Unrefined sugar and jaggery are allowed. And salt if at all required is Himalayan or Rock salt.

I am a vegetarian and I usually eat quite mindfully and since I travel a lot, sicking to 100 percent plant based diet for all meals can be tough. But this time around I am not travelling, so I decided to not eat grain for the next nine days. Its a tough challenge at hand and since I feel that some fun recipes can help kill the monotony of the food that you all are having at this time of the year.

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The quantity below makes 2 pancakes and serves one person. Multiply the portions as per the number of people.
Ingredients:
1 boiled potato grated
2 tbsp water chestnut flour
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 green chilli chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tsp ghee
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp mint chutney (just blend 1 green chilli, 1/2 cup mint leaves and 1/2 cup raw mango, 1 pinch rock salt, splash of water)
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

1. Heat thoroughly a non stick pan. Add some ghee on the pan and spread with a brush.
2. In a bowl add the grated potato, water chestnut flour, green chilli, dill and water. Whip through till well mixed. The batter should not be too thick of thin. It should coat the back of a spoon.
3. Pour half the mixture on the non stick pan and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Do not make the pancake too thin.
4. Now its time for patience. Do not touch the pancake till the edges have started to brown, else it will be difficult to turn and might break. Once the edges are browned, flip it over and gook on the other side as well. Repeat this activity with the rest of the batter.
5. Serve with yogurt, mint chutney and pomegranate seeds.
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Inspired Shroom 

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I was in Tallinn, this summer, meeting a friend, on a road trip in the Baltic. The Baltic in summer is full of fresh produce, with the markets wafting with the fragrance of ripe strawberries and farmers with cherry stained aprons offering the fruit in an array of yellowed to bright beautifully maroon sweetness.

One of the definite places to go visit in Tallinn is Telliskivi – art district, creative city. And boy it does not disappoint. Some of the street art had me staring for what could have been an eternity. And though till date I have not shared any picture on this blog other than that directly related to food, this time I feel compelled. It remains not just a gem in the Baltic, but also a great place for discovering art. With a bouquet of boutiques and stores offering knick knacks for everyone.IMG_3820

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From top;

A home furnishing store in Telliskivi loomelinnak

One of the many cafes and what beautiful blue sky

Is it a cat or a rat or a mouse with a grouse? Graffiti on the walls

Those eyes, they had me. Captivating. the best wall art I have ever seen

The Petunia dotted cafe balcony overlooking the parking

This whole old warehouse district is dotted with old carriage ways and station wagons done up to become cafes and old communist factory floors house lovely restaurants. One of the most popular one is F-Honne, known for its daily fresh bake of the regional brown bread, which is by the way on the house with unlimited balsamic and olive oil to dip, is a more or less perfect example of  industrial design done right. Here I had a spring mushroom soup, the flavour of which was surprisingly asian and close to Thai, fresh, simple button mushrooms, lemony, zingy and just the right tang to balance the coconut milk broth.

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The Interiors of F-Honne http://www.fhoone.ee

And I have here tried to recreate that same soup. Surprise, surprise, there is a cheats way of doing it added to the tip section, right before the post script. Do not miss it.
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Ingredients:

For the curry paste:
1 handful Thai basil
1 handful coriander leaves (with roots)
2-3 kaffir lime leaves and kaffir lime skin
2 inches lemon grass
1 green chilli
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion
For the soup:
500 gms button mushrooms (thoroughly washed and evenly diced)
400 ml light coconut milk
2 tbsp cooking oil ( I used ghee)
1 lemon
Salt to taste

  1. Blend all the ingredients of the curry paste in a blender, with a little water. Only one 1 table spoon per person is needed. So the rest can be easily popped in the fridge for later use.
  2. Add the ghee to the pan, and sauté the mushrooms on slow heat. As the mushrooms start to render the liquid add 2 table spoon (1 tbsp per 250 gms.  of mushrooms so that the flavour is not overpowering) of the curry paste and continue to sauté on low heat.
  3. This needs to cook for about 15 minutes. Please be careful not to turn the heat up. Once you see that the mushrooms are cooked and the curry paste that coats the mushrooms has lost colour, add the coconut milk and 400 ml water. Allow the broth to simmer for 15minutes or so on low heat.
  4. Cook till the broth reaches the consistency you desire and add the seasoning as per taste. Add the juice of one lemon, or as much as you like.
  5. Garnish with springs of mint, coriander leaves, thai basil, or basil flowers. 

Cheats Tip:
Skip the whole curry making step, and add 1 table spoon of thai green curry paste. Almost no one will notice.

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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Blood Line http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3520702/
Movie – The Blind Side. A great story for weekend watching if you have not already. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0878804/
Listen
Lost on the River – When I get my Hands on You (I think this is 1/4 Mumford Sons in here ) -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcMvZeFSuXE
Water – Jack Garratt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFuhB8N2CLk
You and I – Wilco – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USjuOWLyWIQ

Read
Blog – I need to lear a lot from here about social media management. In the mean time why don’t you try. https://www.agorapulse.com/blog
Book – Into the water by Paula Hawkins https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33151805-into-the-water
Poem:
Like all the rest of her poems, the poem does not have a title and is called by the first line of the poem.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

– Emily Dickinson

Spicy Green Broth

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So you want to make the kids eat more greens. You yourself are bored with the kale and the chard in your salad day after day and you wish if only you could somehow have your greens and not feel bloated or constipated with all that iron either? Do you recollect that as a child chutneys made of fresh coriander or mint or a combination of both were a staple in India.

Or you think a green soup and you think it will have maybe blanched spinach or bok choy, which is boring. But what if we meant fresh coriander, mint, thai basil, green chillies, lemon, garlic, ginger, the nutty creaminess of cashew and melon seeds garnished with coconut cream. Seems a lot of work with the ingredient list, but its not. It is all about a quick blitz in the processes and a single boil and there you have it.

The soup requires very little cooking and will save your digestive track from over exerting while you are still recuperating from any illness or antibiotic course and still provide abundant nutrition in the spicy broth. This recipe is inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Near & Far Green Soup. If you have any nut or chilli allergies, please skip them altogether.

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Ingredients:
1 bunch mint leaves
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 bunch thai basil
4-5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
2-3 green chillies
1/2 cup cashew
1/2 cup melon seeds
1 tin coconut milk
1 lemon
3 cups water

Soak the nuts for 2 hours. This helps in getting a smoother texture.
In a food processor blend the mint, coriander, thai basil, ginger, garlic green chillies and the soaked nuts. Blend till very a creamy paste is formed.
Boil 3 cups of water. once it starts boiling add the coconut milk. Turn off the heat.
Add the paste to this hot liquid. Stir and serve.
I used basil flowers and coconut milk and a squirt of lemon juice as garnish. This soup is a great base for adding vegetables and noodles for a full dinner. On its own its a great broth to ease a congestion and cold and flu symptoms.
You can also let it rest and serve cold with grated/sliced cucumber.
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P.S.
Watch
Netflix – Black Mirror – Recommended by my Geek Confidante, this British Series is a dark and satirical examination of modern society https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDiYGjp5iFg
Movie – Chasing Ice – Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4
Listen
We dedicate this section this time legends and the best mixes and covers on sound cloud
Bob Marley – Jammin – https://soundcloud.com/waldvolk/bob-marley-jamming
The Doors – LA Woman – https://soundcloud.com/mrfortunerisin/la-woman-tribute-the-doors-jim
U2 – The Elevation – https://soundcloud.com/maverickv8/elevation-mav

Read
Blog – I’ve spent the past few weeks, absent. In more meanings of the word than one. You know you’re doing something right when something, someone, consumes every moment of your existence. Every waking thought and feeling. Every drifted dream and sleeping movement. It’s always been that way though. I choose something, someone, to love, and allow myself to fall into complete absorption. Utter submission. Both mental and physical. That, for the most part, is the reason why commitment and I can never co-exist. I lose myself in the consummation of another. Neglect. Savagery. Desire. Its bloody work built for the brave. Stomaching the entire flesh of a person, devouring every inch of their shrunken soul. It’s no easy feat, to navigate between the impulses of passion and thirst. Creation. I starve for creation. We burn together, brilliantly. And flame with it. Until the remains of decayed being are singed blackly wax enough to bloom into a new form of heightened living. I cling to the light, the white heat found in the crevices, the cracks, the fragments of self. who would not want to read more. http://www.butterandbrioche.com/gather-autumnal-supper/
Book – A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There – Aldo Leopold – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/210404.A_Sand_County_Almanac_and_Sketches_Here_and_There
Poem -Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
End Entry Content

– Robert Frost