Charred tomatillo tostadas
In the photo on top
There is nothing quite as good as a fresh tomatillo, and the tomatillo sauce is definitely the hero of this Mexican dish. Also known as “Mexican husk tomato” due to the thin, almost translucent and papery rind that encloses it, the pulp of the tomatillo is firm and has a fruity and acid flavor at the same time. Tomatillos are in season from November to April, but if you can’t get them, you can use green tomatoes instead. Don’t use canned tomatillos here though, the flavor just won’t be the same.
Vegetable oil for frying
10 small soft tortillas
½ cup (40 g) red cabbage, shredded
½ cup (40 g) shredded white cabbage
Kernels from 1 ear of fresh corn
5 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
Hot sauce, to serve
For the sauce
400g of husked tomatillos
1 small white onion, In rooms
10 garlic cloves, skin on
1 fresh jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Handful of coriander leaves
¼ cup (60 ml) lime juice
Preheat the grill to high heat.
To make the tomatillo sauce, mix the tomatillos in a large bowl with the onion, garlic cloves, jalapeño pepper, oil, and a generous pinch of salt. Spread the mixture on a grill pan and grill for eight minutes, or until charred and tender. Set it aside until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skin and place in a food processor. Add the charred tomatillos, onion and chilli, then cilantro and lime juice. Pulse a few times, until the mixture is lumpy and combined. Season and reserve while you cook the tortillas.
Fill a medium saucepan with 3cm of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, fry the tortillas one at a time, for 30 to 40 seconds, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before transferring to serving plates.
Top tostadas with cabbage, corn kernels, radish, and tomatillo sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with your favorite hot sauce.
Corn tikkis with raita sauce and tamarind
These tasty corn tikkis are rich in spice and flavor, and a quick way to consume leftover cooked corn, peas, and potatoes. If you’re in the mood for a little less spice, skip the chili. Tamarind sauce can be made a few days in advance and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator until needed; but bring it to room temperature to serve.
110 g (¾ cup) frozen corn kernels, bleached
50 g (⅓ cup) of cooked peas
2 large potatoes boiled, about 600g in total
1 cup (100 g) dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon of minced chili
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon finely minced ginger
Small handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the tamarind sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 ¼ cups (275 g) sugar
60ml (¼ cup) tamarind puree
For the raita
1 cup (250 g) Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small cucumber, grated and strained
To make the tamarind sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cayenne pepper, and garam masala and stir for a minute or two, or until the spices are aromatic.
Pour in 2 cups (500 ml) of water, then add the sugar and tamarind puree, stirring to combine. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until mixture covers the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Combine the raita ingredients in a small bowl. Mix with a spoon, cover and reserve in the refrigerator until required.
To make the tikkis, place the corn, peas and potatoes in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. Add the breadcrumbs, garam masala, chilli, garlic, ginger, and coriander, mixing well.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Scoop out two tablespoons of the mixture in your hand and form a round patty. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining mixture.
Heat 1 cm of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the tikkis for four minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with the raita sauce and tamarind.
Sauteed watercress and baby tatsoi with baby king mushrooms
Simple flavors really brighten up two beautiful leafy greens in this stir fry hero, garnished with baby king mushrooms.
It serves 4
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 chives, chopped
200g baby king mushrooms
1 clove garlic, crushed
200 g bunch of baby tatsoi, each head cut in half lengthwise and well rinsed
80ml (⅓ cup) tamari
80 ml (⅓ cup) oyster sauce
300g bunch of watercress, washed, stems attached
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
Pour the sesame oil into a large wok and place over high heat. Heat the oil for 30 seconds, then add the chives, mushrooms, and garlic. Mix for one minute.
Add the tatsoi, tamari, and oyster sauce. Cook for three more minutes, or until vegetables are wilted, stirring regularly. Add the watercress and cook for one more minute.
Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve.
This is an edited excerpt from Eat plants, be happy! by Caroline Griffiths and Vicki Valsamis, available now from Smith Street Books, RRP $ 39.99.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism