Recipies from Mexico - The World Vegetarian • by Jane Mason (Bloomsbury Absolute, £20) is out now
Crema de Frijol (Blended bean soup)
This wonderful soup is perfect comfort food, good on a chilly day. It’s usually made with black beans, but you can use any bean you like. It is a super-healthy soup and needs no accompaniment at all to make a fulfilling light meal. Begin the preparation the night before you intend to cook to give the beans sufficient time to soak.
Ingredients - Serves 8
200g dried beans, soaked
overnight in water
1 onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 epazote sprig
(or substitute with coriander)
2 tomatoes, cored and halved
a pinch of ground cumin
a pinch of salt
1 avocado, destoned and
cut into small cubes
crumbled queso fresco
(you could also use Feta)
3 corn tortillas, cut into small strips and fried gently in oil until crispy
1 large ancho chilli, cut into
thin strips and fried gently
in oil until crispy
Drain the beans, rinse them and place them in a pan or pressure cooker. Add the onion, garlic, epazote, tomatoes, cumin, cloves and salt. Add enough water to come about 4cm above the line of the ingredients.
Place the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Cook for 25 minutes in a pressure cooker or 45 minutes in a pan, checking often to make sure there is enough water, until the beans are very soft.
Discard the garlic and the epazote. Using a blender, food processor or hand-held stick blender, blitz the bean mixture to a very fine texture. At this point, you can push the soup through a sieve if you want to get rid of all the skins. The soup will be much thinner, but it will still be extremely delicious – more of a broth than a soup. If your soup is too thick, add some vegetable stock to thin it out.
Ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls and top with a little of each of the garnishes. Serve piping hot.
Tacos de Camote Estilo Baja (Sweet potato tacos, Baja style)
Baja California gave us a particular style of fish taco in which strips of fish are breaded, deep fried and presented in a flour tortilla with condiments. This is the veggie/vegan version, which calls for roasted sweet potato chips, rather than deep-fried fish.
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into
½ small onion, finely chopped
2 coriander sprigs, roughly chopped
1-2 serrano or jalapeno chillies, cleaned, deseeded and
a pinch of salt, plus extra if needed
juice of 1-2 limes
For the white salsa
4 habanero chillies, dry-roasted
½ small onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled but left whole
250ml avocado or other
1–2 tablespoons lime juice
Mix everything except the lime juice together in a big bowl. Then, slowly add the lime juice, stirring and tasting all the time, until it is as sour as you like. If you add too much lime (easy to do!), just balance it out with another pinch or so of salt (or vice versa).
Crema de Habanero
A creamy white salsa from the Yucatán, this sauce is very spicy, with an amazing fruity flavour from the habanero. Use sparingly with any sour or rich dish, a little goes a long way!
Place the chillies in a blender. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and add just enough water to make the blender go round. Blend extremely well, then push the mixture through a sieve into a bowl.
Discard the contents of the sieve and scrape the contents of the bowl into the blender. With the blender running, drizzle in the oil to thicken up the sauce. Taste carefully (it’s spicy!) and add more salt, if necessary. Stir in the lime juice, a little at a time, to taste. The salsa will keep for about three days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Alitas de coliflor (Cauliflower wings)
Shameless, I know. The thing is that Mexicans do eat a lot of chicken wings, prepared with their very own Mexican chillies and sauces. I’ve adapted this recipe so that it can go in the oven and, trust me, it is amazing. The key is Valentina salsa (a condiment which is good with everything). You can usually buy it online, if you can’t find it at your local supermarket.
Ingredients - Serves 6 to 8
125ml whole milk
100g plain flour
2 garlic cloves, completely crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 dried arbol chillies, ground into a powder; or 1 teaspoon
red chilli powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 knobs of unsalted butter or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
250ml Valentina salsa
soured cream, to serve (optional)
In a large bowls, whisk together the milk, flour, garlic, spices and salt with 75ml of water until there are no lumps. Place the cauliflower into the bowl and stir until it is well coated. Leave it there while you heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking paper or foil.
Remove the cauliflower from the bowl with a slotted spoon and place it on the lined baking tray. Bake for ten minutes, then remove the tray from the oven, turn over the cauliflower and return it to the oven for a further ten minutes, until browned.
While the cauliflower is baking, melt the butter or heat the oil in a pan over a gentle heat. When hot, add the Valentina, stir, and heat it through gently. Set aside.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and scrape it into a big mixing bowl. Pour over the sauce and stir to coat evenly.
Tip the coated cauliflower back into the baking tray and return it to the oven for 10–15 minutes, until crispy.
Serve it just as it is, or with some soured cream drizzled over if you like.