If one defines a taco as “a single fold tortilla holding a tasty filling” then one can move geographically far beyond the beans and salsa of Mexico for awesome tacos. Replace the pinto beans, refritos, or black beans with dhal, and the salsa with chutney, and presto! Indian tacos. It’s funny how some of the ingredients are the same, beans, rice, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime. But the differences translate into an entirely different dish.
Indian Curry Tacos:
Warmed tortillas of choice
cooked rice (optional)
chutney of choice
plain vegan yogurt
First, make a Dhal.
1 C dhal of choice: red lentils, moong, toor, chana, etc.
1/2 C chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t minced fresh ginger
1 hot chili pepper, chopped, optional
1/2 t turmeric
pinch each of lightly crushed cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds
1-2 t curry powder or garam masala
4 C water
1 tomato, chopped
1 C chopped spinach
handful of frozen peas
Method 1: Faster Cooking Dhal, like moong or red lentils
In a soup pot, saute onion, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper until onion softens and your house smells good. Add spices, except curry powder, and saute for a minute. Add dhal and water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until dhal is soft. (about 20-30 minutes) Add tomatoes and curry powder and continue to simmer for about 15 more minutes. If dhal is too thick, add a little water. Continue simmering until dhal is completely cooked. About 5-10 minutes before serving, stir in spinach and peas and allow to wilt. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Method 2: Better for longer cooking dhals like toor or chana
Ideally, wash dhal and allow to soak for an hour or two. It will speed up cooking a bit.
Put dhal and water in a soup pot, add turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or so while prepping the veggies. Add veggies and spices except for tomatoes and curry powder. The acid in the toamtoes and the salt often added to curry blends can slow down cooking. When dhal is fairly cooked, add tomatoes and curry. Keep cooking until it is totally done, then add spinach and peas.
Cooking times for dhal vary widely. These times are approximate, but for digestibility and “comfort,” be sure dhal is thoroughly cooked. The spices are a suggestion, and many different variations exist. Use what you like. It can be as simple as a TB of commercial curry powder, or as complex as a family recipe for homemade masala. Other veggies such as cauliflower or zucchini can be added as well, adjust cooking time as needed.
Spread some rice in a tortilla, top with dhal. Add your choice of garnishes and toppings, wrap and eat. Enjoy, while meditating on how truly universal is the Love of the Taco.
Nag champa incense and Ravi Shankar music optional, but recommended.