Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Black Bean and Sweet Corn kernels come together to make amazing flavor-packed tacos, using a taco-seasoning made from scratch.

Black Bean and Corn Tacos
Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe that is so simple and easy to put together, and results in such an extremely flavorful dish, you are going to be blown away.

That was a bold statement to start off with, right? Well, that’s because it’s the truth. Everybody needs a few recipes like this in their arsenal, because let’s face it, life can get hectic and recipes like this make it easy to get dinner on the table in a hurry. I know a lot of folks do ‘Taco Tuesday’. We personally don’t, but that’s just because we enjoy Tacos whenever we feel like it.

Tacos are usually associated with meat fillings, usually chicken, beef, pork and sometimes even fish or shrimp. But this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a really good taco if you follow a plant-based diet. And today’s recipe is going to show you just that.

We’ll be making a quick black bean and corn taco mix and a chunky guacamole to fill our tacos with. For the black bean mix, I use half a cup of dried black beans. These beans are soaked overnight and then pressure cooked the next day. I have a stovetop pressure cooker that gets the job done in under ten minutes. This works out so much better than buying canned beans because there is less waste, it works out to be more economical and I feel the beans are so much tastier. Try it out, if you have a pressure cooker or an instant pot. If not, you can simply use a can of black beans.

Black bean and Corn Tacos - taco mix

My chunky guacamole is also a very basic and simple recipe. It combines the richness of the avocado with the punchy flavors of a pico de gallo or a salsa. And like me, if you just need to serve 1 or 2 people, save the half of the avocado that has the pit still in it, squeeze some lime juice all over the cut surface, pop it into an avocado saver if you have one, or simply cover it with some cling film and pop it into the fridge for the next meal or the next day. This reduces the browning of the avocado. Do you have any tips for storing half an avocado? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to be able to store it without having to use any single use plastic.

Black bean and Corn Tacos - guacamole

Assembling your tacos is one of the most fun parts of this recipe. You can add whatever your heart desires to your taco. Here’s what I use to make up my tacos –

  • Hard corn taco shells
  • Black bean and corn mix
  • Chunky guacamole
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Plant based sour cream
  • Finely shredded lettuce

If you love a good taco, you simply have to try it out and I hope you love it as much as we do. This recipe makes enough of the bean mix for 12-15 tacos. If you’re serving 12-15 tacos in one sitting, double the guacamole recipe.

Vegan Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice

This Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice is packed with vegetables. It uses all plant-based ingredients but still has all the flavors found in Thai cuisine.

Vegan Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice

A good fried rice is a must have in every aspiring home cook’s arsenal. I enjoy fried rice a lot. Sometimes, I think, maybe a little too much. But in my defense, what’s not to love about it? While I love a good Chinese style fried rice, this Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice has become a new favorite.

Its a simple meal in itself that is super versatile. You can use a lot of different vegetables, whatever you have on hand. It requires just a little advance planning in the form of cooking the rice ahead of time. Combine that with a clever use of some sauces that I always keep on hand and I can sit down to a nice, hot, home cooked meal in a jiffy.

In the past, I’ve always relied on a Chinese style fried rice. But a couple of years ago, when I tried a Spicy Thai Chilly Basil Fried Rice at a local Thai restaurant, I was smitten. All this flavor and spice – this fried rice blew my socks off. I ordered it every time we went out for Thai food. After a few such instances, I knew that I simply had to learn to make this at home and so with some experimentation, I ended up with a recipe that was really close to my favorite version.

Fast forward to December 2019. Just a few weeks before Christmas, my husband and I decided to switch to a more plant-based diet. And I’m happy to report that we’re loving every bit of this new plant based diet. The last couple of months have involved a lot of experimentation and researching substitutes to make my favorite recipes vegan-friendly. And I have finally found the ever elusive ‘mushroom oyster sauce’ that always seems to be sold out at my local Asian grocery store. Obviously, the next step was to try a vegan version of my Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice.

It took a little tweaking, but OMG, this fried rice is phenomenal. I think I may like it a little more than the original recipe. So if you like Thai food, whether or not you follow a plant based diet, you must try this recipe out. Its a simple recipe, but is so flavorful and packed with veggies, that I promise you won’t even miss the meat.

So let’s talk about the recipe. There are a few steps involved but they are all really easy to follow. The fried rice is ready in minutes and its best to have all the components prepped and ready to go.

Step 1 – Making the rice

I used some Basmati rice as that’s what I had on hand. Wash the rice out a couple of times and soak it in some water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water, rinse with some fresh water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, add the rice and cook it till is done about 80%. The rice should still have a little bite and shouldn’t be too soft. Let it cool completely.

Spicy Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice - Boil the rice

It’s best to cook the rice atleast a few hours before you need to make the fried rice. You can even make the rice the previous day. Let it cool completely and refrigerate till you need to use it.

Step 2 – The spice paste

This couldn’t be simpler. Its a combination of some Thai birdseye chillies and garlic. We like our food spicy and this recipe is no exception. If you like Thai food but want to cut down on the spice, you can use a combination of birdseye chillies and some cayenne peppers or any other milder chilly. Grind this to a coarse paste.

Spicy Thai Chilli Basil Fried Rice - Chilli garlic paste

Step 3 – The sauce

This sauce makes this fried rice what it is. I have had to make a few substitutions to make this recipe vegan friendly but I believe this combination of sauces comes really close.

Simply stir together all the ingredients for the sauce – the miso paste, soy sauce, mushroom sauce, white pepper powder and sugar. Set this aside to use once we start cooking.

Step 4 – Prepping the veggies

Clean and cut all the vegetables and keep them ready. I use onions, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli.

Pick the Thai basil leaves and keep them in a separate bowl.

Prepping the Vegetables

Step 5 – Making the fried rice

This is by far the easiest part of the recipe. Now that all our prep work is done, the rest is just a matter of stir frying our ingredients in stages. Make sure you use a large wok or a large enough pan. At this stage, all the cooking is done on a high heat.

Now that you’re familiar with the process, let move on to the recipe.

Matar Paneer – Curried Indian cottage cheese

Matar Paneer is an easy, tomato based Indian cottage cheese curry that is full of flavor and pairs well with roti, naan, steamed rice or jeera rice too.

Matar Paneer
Matar Paneer


This recipe is one of the first curries I ever learned how to make. Paneer or Indian cottage cheese is not a typical ingredient used in most Goan / Mangalorean households, but it’s one that’s widely used throughout north India. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should. It’s one of the tastiest things I have eaten. Right from the first time my mother made this curry for us, I was hooked. I think this is one of the main reasons I actually wanted to know how it was made.

To really enjoy your paneer, you need to source some good quality paneer. In India, most dairy shops have some great, fresh paneer and it’s quite easy to find. Outside India, you will have to try a couple of brands out to find something you really like. I’ve found that the brands in my local supermarkets just don’t cut it. The paneer is rubbery and chewy and is not that flavorful. Now that goes against everything that good paneer is supposed to be. So after a lot of trial, I found some great quality paneer at my local Indian grocery store. This paneer is locally made and ticks all the boxes for me, when it comes to taste and texture.

This curry is a tomato based curry. Ideally, use fresh tomatoes if they are in season. If not, you can always use some passata, canned tomatoes or tomato puree. You can serve this curry up either with some roti or naan and it even goes really well with rice. Plain steamed rice is fine, but I serve it up with a beautiful Jeera Rice that is perfect for curries like this one.

Let’s have a look at the recipe, shall we?

Goan Pork Vindaloo

A good Pork Vindaloo is a must-have at any gathering, party or special occasion in most Goan households. Today, I’m sharing a much loved recipe in our family – my father’s Pork Vindaloo. It is such a simple recipe, but results in such a spectacular curry. You are going to enjoy this one. It is perfect to serve around the Holiday season, because this can be made a day or two in advance. In fact, the flavors are even better if it is served a day after it is made. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

 

GoanPorkVindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo

Goan Pork Vindaloo


1 kilo boneless pork (pick a slightly fatty cut)
1-2 tbsp oil
1 – 1 1/2 onion, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Vinegar, to taste
1 tsp sugar

For the masala – 
12 Kashmiri chillies, deseeded
6 black peppercorns
5 cloves
3 green cardamom pods
2″ cinnamon
6-8 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 inch ginger
Vinegar, to grind to a paste

Cut the pork into chunks and set aside.

Grind all the ingredients for the masala to a fine paste using vinegar. (Ideally Goan vinegar is used. If you don’t have access to it, malt vinegar or red wine vinegar will work well too.)

Heat some oil in a large pan. Saute the onions till they have softened and start caramelizing.

Add the masala and fry off well for a couple of minutes.

Add the pieces of pork and salt, to taste. Stir well to coat all the pieces with the masala and let the meat fry off for a few minutes.

Add enough water for the pork to cook through and achieve the consistency you want. I used about 2 cups of water. (You can add more water, if required, later on, when the meat is cooking.)

Cover and cook till the meat is tender.

Check for seasoning and adjust as required.

Add 1 tsp sugar to balance out all the flavors.

Serve hot. This Pork Vindaloo goes very well with some steamed rice, a Peas Pulao, some bread or sannas too.

Enjoy!

 

Goan Sausage Pulao

Goan sausage pulao is soul food for almost every Goan. And I definitely fall into that category. I’ve only been able to make this now, more than 5 years after we moved away from India, mainly because I haven’t had access to a good Goan sausage. Goan sausages are called Chorize / Chorise and they are the spicier and tangier cousin of the Portuguese Chorizo. I recently tried making my own sausages at home and while I need to tweak the recipe just a tiny bit, I was pretty stoked with the results. They are the tastiest sausages I’ve had.

Anyway, on to the pulao. This pulao is a brilliant one-pot meal that comes together in a jiffy. You don’t need to make your own sausages to enjoy this pulao. If you do, kudos to you. Otherwise, simply buy some good Goan sausages. Your pulao will only be as tasty as your sausages are. This pulao is a culmination of my Peas Pulao and my Goan sausage chilly fry, which by the way, make a stunning combination too.
Are you ready for it???

GoanSausagePulao
Goan Sausage Pulao

Goan Sausage Pulao
Serves 2
2/3 cup Basmati rice
1 tbsp oil
2 green cardamom pods
2″ cinnamon
8 black peppercorns
5 cloves
1/2 onion, chopped
1 chilly, finely chopped (or to taste)
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 large link of Goa sausages
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup green peas
Salt, to taste
Wash the rice in some water and drain. Repeat this 3-4 times. Then soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. The water level should be an inch above the level of rice. After 30 minutes, drain the rice, rinse through with some fresh water and drain. Your rice is now ready to be cooked.
Heat the oil in a vessel on a medium heat.
Add the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns and cloves) to the oil and saute for about 30 seconds.
When the spices are nice and fragrant, add the onion and chilly. Saute till the onions have softened and turn translucent.
Add the turmeric powder and stir well.
Add the sausage and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomato and cook till the tomato has softened.
Now add the rice and gently stir through, using either a wooden or silicon spoon, to prevent the grains from breaking.
One the rice has fried off a little for about a minute, and is coated well with all the spices add the green peas and 1 1/3 cup of room temperature water. (The ratio of rice to water should be 1:2)
Add salt to taste. (Remember the sausage also has some amount of salt in it.)
Stir well.
Cover and cook on medium heat till all the water has been absorbed by the rice.
Take off the heat and keep it covered. Let it rest for a couple minutes.
After a couple of minutes, fluff up the pulao gently with a fork.
Serve hot.

Goan Prawn Curry

Everyone has atleast one meal that takes them right back to their childhood. For me its this prawn curry. This curry with some rice, for me, is the ultimate soul food. And I must say, my mother makes the best prawn curry in the world. Atleast I think so. This is her prawn curry recipe that I’m sharing with you today.

Goan Prawn Curry

 
1/2 kg prawns, peeled and deveined
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 chillies, slit in half
1 piece of amsol (dried mango)
3-4 pieces of kokum
A walnut sized ball of tamarind
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vinegar
For the masala – 
1/2 cup grated coconut
6 Kashmiri chillies
2 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper corns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Sprinkle salt, squeeze some lemon juice and drizzle the vinegar over the prawns and set aside.
Pour a little warm water over the tamarind and set aside (I use about 1/4 cup of water).
Grind all the ingredients for the masala to a fine paste, using a little water as needed.
Heat some oil in a pot.
Saute the onions till they have softened and turn translucent.
Add the masala and let it saute for a few minutes.
Add some water to thin out your masala and get it to the consistency you like. Remember the curry will thicken as it cooks. So add a touch more water.
Add the chillies and bring it to a boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer, add the amsol and the kokum and let the curry simmer for 6-8 minutes. Halfway through, stir the curry through and add water to adjust the consistency, if needed.
When the curry is almost ready, add the prawns. Add some of the tamarind extract and cook for another 2 minutes or till the prawns are just cooked. Don’t overcook the prawns.
Check for seasoning and adjust as required.

Serve hot with rice.

Enjoy!

Veggie Pasta in a Tomato Sauce

Pasta is a very popular meal option at home, like I’m sure it is in a lot of homes. I love how versatile the recipes can be and how quickly pasta meals come together. This recipe is no exception. I use a mix of vegetables, usually whatever I can find in the fridge. I use Passata to make my sauce and that gets it ready in a jiffy. This recipe is ready in under 30 minutes and that includes all the prep work too. It has so much flavor, its hard to believe how simple the recipe actually is. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.





Veggie Pasta in a Tomato Sauce 

4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/3 – 1/2 cup capsicum, chopped (I used a mix of red and green peppers)
1/2 zucchini, thickly sliced
A handful of broccoli florets
1/3 cup corn kernels
10 olives, sliced
1 cup passata / tomato puree / canned tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Red chilly flakes, to taste
1 tsp mixed herbs (dried)
1/2 tsp oregano (dried)
1/2 tsp sugar
Pasta
Parmesan cheese, to grate over the pasta

Start by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, season the water generously (I use 1.5 tsp salt) and add the pasta to the pot. Stir immediately, to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other and to the bottom of the pot.

When the pasta is cooking, heat another pan.

Add olive oil to the warm pan and add the garlic. Saute till the garlic turns fragrant.

Add the onions and cook over a medium heat till they soften a bit.

Add the peppers and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or till they start to soften.

Add the broccoli florets and saute for another minute or so.

Now, add the zucchini and corn and stir through. Cook for another minute or two.

Season with some salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the red chilly flakes and the herbs. Stir through.

Add the passata and the stock.

Let it come to a boil and leave to simmer for 5-7 minutes or till the veggies cook through and the sauce develops good flavor.

Add the olives and the sugar and stir through. Take off the heat and set aside.

By now the pasta should be cooked. Reserve 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain t
he pasta.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Place the pan on medium low heat. Add a couple of tbsp. of the reserved pasta water. Stir through and let the extra liquid cook off for another minute or so, or till your pasta reaches the desired consistency.

Grate some parmesan cheese over the pasta and serve.

Enjoy!

Lamb Kebabs … and how to make quick pickled onions and a yogurt dip.

Nothing says ‘Spring is here’ more than some Lamb kebabs. Spring Lamb is in stores now and while some of the premium cuts can be very pricey, today’s recipe uses ground lamb (lamb mince). This is not just easy on the hip pocket, but cooks up really fast too.

You can serve these kebabs as a starter, or with a salad as a main too. Today I’m serving it up as a wrap with some homemade, quick pickled onions and a yogurt dip. Start off by making the pickled onions and the dip, so that they have a little time to let the flavors develop. 

Quick Pickled Onions

1/2 onion, sliced
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp Lemon juice
Separate the half rings of the onion slices. 
Sprinkle salt and lemon juice over the onion and mix well to let the seasonings get to all the onion slices. 
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. 
Yogurt Dip / Spread

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
A few mint leaves, finely chopped
Mix all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. 
Lamb Kebabs

500g lamb mince
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 chillies, finely chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
Oil, for frying
Mix all the ingredients and shape into kebabs. 
Heat some oil in a pan. 
Fry kebabs for a couple of minutes on each side, or till you get a beautiful golden brown color on each side and till its cooked through to your liking. 
Serve hot. 
** To make the wrap, I use some homemade, whole wheat chapatis, layer some salad greens on top, add a couple of the kebabs, smear some yogurt dip over and top with some pickled onions. Wrap up and enjoy.  

Moong Dal Khichdi

Up until a few years ago, I wasn’t the biggest fan of khichdi. At the time, I had never made it myself and the few versions that I tried, always fell short. That is till I tried Gloria’s recipe. Gloria used to be my brother-in-laws housekeeper and she was very skilled in the kitchen. While I didn’t have the opportunity to spend to much time with her, this was one recipe, she very willingly shared with me. I have tweaked it to suit our tastes and I love this version. To me this khichdi has now become comfort food. So, whenever I’m under the weather or even if its just a cold, wet day, I feel myself yearning for a bowl of this moong dal khichdi. Have I mentioned that this is a ridiculously easy recipe? Well, it is and today I’m sharing this little gem with you. I hope you try it out and like it as much as we do.

Moong Dal Khichdi
Serves 2
1/3 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup moong dal
1 tbsp oil
1 chilli, cut into large pieces
1/2 a medium sized onion, chopped 
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Fresh coriander, chopped (leaves and stalks)
For the tempering – 
1 1/2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Wash the rice and the dal separately. Repeat this process a few times, till the water runs clear. Soak the rice and the dal separately. The rice needs to soak for about 20 minutes and the dal for about 10 minutes. (So I soak the rice first, and 10 minutes later, I soak the dal). Drain the water in each of the bowls and run some fresh water through and drain again. 
Heat the oil in a vessel on medium heat.
Add the chillies and saute for a few seconds. 
Add the onions and saute till they have softened and are a little translucent.  
Add the pepper and turmeric powder and stir well, to coat the onions. 
Add the rice and the dal and stir through. 
Now, add 2 1/3 cup of water. (I use a 1:3.5 ratio. That is, 1 part rice to 3.5 parts of water. Towards the end if you feel the need to add some more water, you can. I added another 1/3 cup towards the end. So this time I used a 1:4 ratio. The quantity of water will depend on your rice. So start off using 3.5 parts)
Add salt to taste and stir through. Once the salt has dissolved, you can taste the liquid in the pot and see if it is seasoned to your liking or add more salt, if needed. 
Bring the water to a boil. Then cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the rice and lentils cook off till tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. (At this point if you feel the need to cook it further, add a little more water and continue cooking as stated above.)
When done, take off the heat and start working on the tempered spices. 
In a small vessel, melt 1 1/2 tbsp ghee. 
Add the chopped garlic and stir around. Let this cook gently till a little of the rawness of the garlic goes away.
Then, add the cumin seeds and gently cook a little more. This will infuse the ghee with beautiful flavors. Make sure to watch carefully, as you don’t want the garlic to take on any color or burn. 
Add this to the pot of khichdi and stir through. 
Finish off with some chopped coriander and stir to distribute well. 
Serve hot. Garnish with a little extra coriander and serve with a pickle of your choice. I recommend a Mango Chundo / Chunda (a sweet and slightly spicy Mango pickle).
Enjoy!

Goan Prawn Curry with Okra

Like some of you already know, my mother’s family originally is from Goa. Growing up, we spent almost every summer in our ancestral home in Goa. It was a sprawling old Portuguese styled house with large grounds surrounding it. In our garden grew a variety of mango trees. We also had a great big coconut tree. Our garden also housed some custard apple, pomegranate, chickoos / Sapota, jackfruit, cashews, guavas, bananas and so much more. Some of my fondest memories have got to be me tagging along with my aunt harvesting all the lovely organic produce right through our holidays and enjoying all the yummy food my mum and aunt would whip up for us.

This prawn curry made a regular appearance on the table along with some Goan red rice and whatever vegetable was in season. Our Goa house had 2 kitchens, one was a traditional old wood fired one and the other was a modern one with a gas stove-top. However, almost all the cooking was done in earthenware pots in the old kitchen. While everything took a lot longer to cook, the taste was unbeatable. 
I would give anything to experience something like that again. While that might still be a pipe dream, for now, I just make do replicating some of the good old recipes. This prawn curry is a coconut based curry, known for its vibrant orange color and its spicy and tangy flavors. I hope you try it out and enjoy it as much as we do. 
Goan Prawn Curry with Okra

500g prawns, shelled, de-veined and washed a couple of times
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 chillies, split lengthwise
A couple of pieces of Kokum / Aamsol (dried souring agents)
6-8 okra pods, trim off the stalk and cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
Salt, to taste
1-2 tbsp oil
A small ball of tamarind (about half a walnut in size)
For the masala / spice paste – 
1/2 cup grated coconut
6 Kashmiri chillies
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp black pepper corns
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Sprinkle a little salt on the prepped prawns and set aside. 
Soak the tamarind in a little warm water in a small bowl and set aside. 
Grind all the ingredients for the masala into a fine paste using a little water, as needed
Heat the oil in a large vessel. 
Add the onions and saute till they soften. Add the kokum / aamsol.
Add the ground masala / spice paste to the pan and let it fry for a couple of minutes. 
Add a cup of water to the mixer and swirl around to pick up any of the remaining spice mix and add to the pan. Add more water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
Add the chillies and bring to a boil. Season lightly with a little salt (The prawns also have some salt on them so add salt accordingly).  Lower the heat to a simmer and add the okra. 
Cook gently till the okra is almost cooked. Check for seasoning.

Mash the tamarind up and discard any pieces of fibre or shell and add some of the tamarind paste, to taste. 

Add the prawns. Continue cooking just till the prawns have cooked through. (This usually just takes a couple of minutes depending on the size of the prawns.) Do not overcook the prawns. 
Check for seasoning and adjust, if needed. 
Serve hot.