Friday, October 23, 2015

21. Potato Tacos with Indian Spices, Red Lentil Sauce, and Fresh Vegetable Slaw


Well, here I am with taco recipe number twenty-one!  I think this is the longest it has ever taken me to get a post up after making tacos.  I made these on Sunday evening.  It's now Friday, so I've had plenty of time to reflect on my blog post.  Actually . . . that's a lie.  This has been dress rehearsal and performance week for Footloose - as a result, normal life has been non-existent!  We open tonight and it's going to be a great show.  It's been an exciting week, but not very conducive to blogging.  I'm planning breakfast tacos for tomorrow, and then next week will be back to normal.  I think I've done all right, though.  I'm only a recipe or two behind, and I should be able to make those up once I have my evenings free again.  I'm not giving up on my crazy project!

Since I'm also training for the Sedona Marathon, I've been compelled to reflect on the marathons that I've run in the past.  I've noticed a few parallels between running long distances and completing a long-term writing project.  How do you finish a marathon?  You don't quit.

How do you write 100 taco recipes in a year?  Same answer.  You don't quit.

So . . . tacos!  I decided to do a potato taco - something I haven't done yet.  I also wanted to incorporate some Indian flavors.  I love Indian food!  Indian cuisine does not shy away from carbs!  It's totally fine to eat potatoes, rice, and bread in the same meal.  Ha ha - I love that!

Obviously, if you are trying to reduce carbs in your diet, this is not the recipe for you.  If not, please consider trying these comforting, carbalicious potato tacos!  :)

Potato Tacos with Indian Spices, Red Lentil Sauce, and Fresh Vegetable Slaw

Serves 4 (about 8 generous tacos) with extra sauce


For the sauce:

1 tbsp. canola oil
Half of an onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup red lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the slaw:

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 small carrot, shredded
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the potatoes:

1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small bay leaf
5 whole cloves
A 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 medium potatoes, about 1 1/4 lb. total, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped spinach

8 small flour tortillas

Plain yogurt, for garnish

Paprika, for garnish

Cholula hot sauce (optional), for garnish


1. Toast the spices for the potatoes:  Place the first 5 ingredients in a small, dry skillet.  Heat over medium heat until fragrant but not burned, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Watch carefully!

Set aside to cool.  When the spices are cooled completely, grind them in a coffee or spice grinder.

2. Make the slaw:  Grate the cucumber with a box grater.  Toss with a pinch or two of salt and place in a strainer.  Allow to rest for several minutes so that some of the moisture can drain out.  Squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible and place in a small bowl.  Add the cabbage, carrot, and cilantro.  Toss to combine.  Season with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Make the lentils:  Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion, reduce the heat a bit, and cook until soft and browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute.  Add the lentils and water.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook until the lentils have broken down, about 20 minutes.  Add the salt, cayenne pepper, and cream.  Simmer gently for another couple of minutes.  Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.  You could also use a hand blender for this, but I wanted to make sure the lentils got very smooth so that they would be more sauce-like.  Add liquid if the mixture is too thick.  Return to the pan.

4. Make the potatoes:  Heat  the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.   Add the onions, reduce the heat a bit, and cook until soft and browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the garlic and ground spices and cook for another minute or so.  Add the potatoes, water, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the spinach, replace the cover, and remove from the heat.

5.  While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the tortillas:  Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, one by one, until browned but still soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.

As they are done, stack them on a sheet of foil.  When you have as many as you want, wrap in the foil and set aside.  You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven if you wish.  Since this was basically my last step, I didn't need to do that.

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  Top with a small amount of the potato mixture.  Spoon on some of the lentil sauce.  Top with a small amount of the slaw.  Add a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of paprika, and some Cholula (if you wish).  Enjoy!

It's time for another verdict.  Well, as I said before, if you don't have a problem with carbs, these are awesome!  :)  Steve and I were split on the Cholula addition.  I loved it!  He didn't think the tacos needed it.  Try a bit and see if you like it before you add it to the whole taco.

These were VERY filling.  We each had two and I don't think I could have eaten any more.  This would be plenty for four, with two tacos each.

Though these were delicious, I might tinker with the sauce if I had more time!  It was very thick.  I had to add more liquid than I planned.  I did update the recipe to reflect this.  It was still pretty thick, though.  It was less like a sauce and more like another layer.  Nothing wrong with that - but just different than I had expected.  In the future, I might experiment with less lentils and more liquid.  Also, I'm not sure how important the heavy cream was.  It was good - the lentils were luscious!  However, there is so much flavor in the dish that I don't think it would be missed if additional water or stock was used instead.  The small dollop of yogurt provided enough creaminess, I think!

If the cream were omitted and a yogurt or sour cream substitute was used for garnish, these could easily be vegan, which is always a plus!

I would like to make another Indian-ish taco with homemade flatbread for shells!  I wanted to do it this time, but I got a late start and it just didn't happen.  We always seem to have leftover tortillas hanging around these days, so I just went with basic flour tortillas.  With 79 recipes to go, I'm sure I'll revisit Indian cuisine once again.  Next time!  :)

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try it?  What did you think?  What other cuisines should I try and tacquify?  (I think I just made that word up.  It works!)  :)

Thanks for reading!

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