TACO TIME, PUDA-STYLE
In celebration of my recent trip to L.A. and after enjoying delicious Mexican and Tex-Mex food out here I decided to create some East by West-style soft tacos, just in time for the Cinco de Mayo celebration. On 5 May, Mexicans (and many people around the world, especially the U.S.) commemorate the victory of Mexico over France in 1862 with lots of delicious food and drink. To mark the occasion, I gave some soft-shelled tacos an East by West makeover by swapping out the corn wraps with Indian pudas or Pudlas.
Pudas, or pudlas as they are known in northern India, are easy Indian-style vegetable pancakes which feature in East by West the cookbook as the most delicious pizza base alternative. Thinning out the easy-chickpea flour batter makes for yummy soft tacos! Like all pancake mixes, it’s an art rather than a science, so experiment with the first pancake you cook and by the third you’ll be getting on a roll. Enjoy your choice of taco toppings/fillings — I’ve kept this really simple, left out the tomatoes and toned down the chilli a bit. Try this recipe below for some sunny spring Baja vibes:
For the bases:
120g (1 cup) gram flour
½ tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin, or more to taste
½ tsp sea salt
175ml (¾ cup) water, plus more
115g (1 cup) finely shredded carrot
6 tsp melted ghee or coconut oil for cooking
For the taco toppings:
1/4 tsp chili powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Pinch of black pepper or chipotle pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Your choice of fillings - try sliced avocados, chopped coriander, shredded carrots, baby spinach, sliced radishes, homemade ricotta from East by West
To serve: lime, cut into wedges, finely sliced fresh coriander and a dollop of almond milk mayo
Finely grate the carrot — this will make for a thinner pancake or taco.
To make the bases, mix the gram flour, cumin and salt, asafoetida, nigella seeds and Dosha churna spice mix (if using). Slowly add the water and whisk to make a smooth batter. Add the grated carrot and chopped coriander and mix well.
Place a ceramic-lined or seasoned cast-iron frying pan on a medium–high heat. Test to see if it’s hot enough by sprinkling a few drops of water on it — the water should sizzle right away. Pour 3 tbs of the mixture onto the pan and spread quickly and evenly with the back of a spoon. Starting from the centre, spiral the batter evenly outwards to form a thin circle.
After a few minutes, the batter will start to lift up at the sides - quicky turn it over, allow to cook a little longer and then set aside. Test the pancake by folding it in half — if it’s still a bit thick then add more water to the mix.
Repeat for the remaining batter and then place the puda tacos in a warm oven while you make the filling.
Toast the spices gently in a pan until just fragrant - watch carefully as they easily burn! Combine all the spices and the salt in a small mixing bowl.
To serve, place the tortillas onto a serving plate and place your favourite fillings along one half. Sprinkle with the spice mix and fold in half to eat as soft tacos. Accompany with fresh lime wedges to squeeze on top and some melted ghee if you like.
Tips — for another Mexican influence, try the black bean soup on page 169 in East by West - cook in a little less liquid for a more 'refried beans' consistency . If you don’t digest raw very well at this time of year then sauté the grated carrots and shredded greens first.