Category Archives: Mexico

Do You Love Black Eyed Peas Too?

I told someone the other day that I had black-eyed peas for dinner. She gave me a funny look. It took me a few seconds to get why.

But seriously, I love black-eyed peas. The legume.

It was one of those evenings when I didn’t have very much on hand in the crisper. Just an avocado, some butter lettuce, a bit of cilantro and some green chilies. I also wanted something light that wouldn’t take too long to cook. Thankfully, I spied a can of black-eyed peas, just waiting to be opened. And of course, I knew exactly what I was going to make: Indomexican “tacos’ with a South Indian style curried black-eyed peas in corn tortillas or lettuce.

This dish is for those who want something fresh and tasty. And quick.

Oh and this dish happens to be gluten free, dairy free, soy free and is perfect for Meatless Mondays.

south indian tortillas with black eyed peas, coconut chutney, butter lettuce

A South Indian taco

Printer Friendly Recipe


  • 1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed
  • 2 small green chiles, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5-10 curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Juice of ½ lime or lemon
  • 3 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Corn tortillas or lettuce (I used butter lettuce, but others will work too)
  • 1 avocado, sliced


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When you see ripples on the surface of the oil, drop in a mustard seed. If it sizzles, the oil is hot. Sizzle the mustard seeds and curry leaves for just 10 seconds. Be careful as the oil will splash.

Saute the onion and chiles until the onion is slightly brown, 5-10 minutes.

Add the black-eyed peas and mix well. Turn off heat.

Stir in the coconut, cilantro and lime juice.

Serve with coconut chutney, avocado slices and tortillas or lettuce. Wrap and enjoy.

Note to self: Need more black-eyed peas in my life. 

stone ground corn tortillas with a south indian black eyed peas filling

stone ground corn tortillas with a south indian black-eyed peas filling

lettuce tortillas with south indian black eyed peas filling

Lettuce tortillas with south indian black-eyed peas filling


Filed under India, Mexico, Recipe

Ideas for July 4th – part 2

Sauce / Marinade

Whatever the weather, there’s always a line at my favorite taco truck (for Seattleites, it’s the one on 45th in Wallingford). The truck is much bigger now and they now have different people working there who don’t speak to me in Spanish. But the tacos still taste great. And the tortas too. They have tamales on the menu but they’re usually sold out.  They have three sauces that are supposedly mild, medium and hot. I love the green sauce.

This post is inspired by the Taco Truck tacos with the green sauce. These tacos are easy, won’t break the bank and are a great idea for a small group.

Serves 6


  • 2 lbs steak (recommend skirt, flank or hanger)
  • 1 pack of 12 corn tortillas (I like these)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup cilantro, thick stems discarded

Marinade / Sauce

  • 1 jalapeno (pickled or fresh), seeds removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • ¼  cup water

Optional toppings

  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Sprouted corn tortillas


  1. Blend all the marinade ingredients together along with ¾ cup cilantro and ¼ of the onion. The sauce should be fairly thick. Taste for salt and lime and add more if necessary.  I don’t measure ingredients too closely when I make this sauce. So feel free to experiment and get it tasting perfect for you.
  2. Remove about ½ the sauce to use as marinade. If necessary, dilute the rest with another ¼ cup of water and set aside to use as sauce.
  3. Remove excess fat from the meat. Rub the marinade all over the meat and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Hanger steak is the tougher of the three cuts and would benefit from marinating longer.
  4. Grill the meat to medium rare and thinly slice across the grain.
  5. While the meat is grilling, finely dice the remaining onion and heat the tortillas on the grill.
  6. Assemble your taco with a few slices of meat, some onion, cilantro, optional toppings and drizzle some sauce over everything.

Cilantro / jalapeno sauce

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Filed under America, Holiday, Mexico, Recipe

Spices – coriander vs cilantro


Explorers and spice traders in the middle ages can be blamed for creating a lot of confusion through the ages when it comes to the names of spices and herbs. Christopher Columbus, for example, in his quest for a shorter route to India and it’s source for black pepper, ended up in the Americas instead. Here he tried chilis and since they had heat, called them pepper. Ever since, we’ve been stuck calling them peppers or chili peppers.

But when it comes to coriander, I’m not sure who to blame. The herb is called coriander in some countries and cilantro in others including the US. The coriander plant is very useful in flavoring food. Its seeds can be dried and used whole or ground and its leaves are used as an herb in many cuisines. But its roots and stems can also be used. In many countries, India included, all parts of this plant are referred to as coriander. You know to use the herb or seeds based on context. In many Indian recipes the term coriander only refers to the herb and coriander seed is specified as such. When I started testing recipes for Veena’s Market, I know I confused many people by using coriander and cilantro interchangeably. Now I’ve learned to make an effort to say cilantro every time I refer to the herb.

Gernod Katzer who maintains one of the best resource sites on spices posits that people called coriander herb cilantro since culantro, aka cilantro extranjero in Mexico, has a very similar flavor. That makes sense.

Don’t like the taste of cilantro? Think it tastes vile?

Did you know that it is because of a genetic defect? To many people, the flavor of fresh cilantro comes across as soapy. Coriander seed on the other hand, is fine. Personally, I’ve never heard of Indians or Chinese who hate cilantro but have heard of lots of Americans and Europeans. Of course this is very unscientific and anecdotal, but it makes me wonder if Asians don’t have this defect or whether they’ve gotten accustomed to the taste.

Are you someone who hates cilantro? Do you hate it only when it is used fresh? Can you discern the taste when the cilantro is cooked into the dish?

Coriander seeds

Wondering if any of the Veena’s Market kits contain coriander? The following incorporate freshly ground coriander in the spice blend that is provided in the kit:


Filed under America, General, India, Mexico, Spices