Showing posts with label easy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label easy. Show all posts

Aug 7, 2017

Murgh Xacuti (Goan Spiced Chicken)

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Pronounced 'sha-koo-tee,' this spicy chicken recipe comes from the tropical shores of Goa. A truly classic dish that can be found in almost all restaurants dotting the beaches, towns, and villages. Featuring a savory blend of rich coconut milk, hot red chilis, and aromatic spices- it's best served with steamed rice and mango chutney. 

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This recipe is adapted from the book Recipes from an Indian Kitchen by Parragon Books Ltd. I bought this book in Delhi's IGIA duty-free shopping area on a bargain table for about $6. I've since seen it in Target stores in Florida as well as on Amazon. It's a great cookbook for the price with 100 recipes from all across India. Most of the recipes seem to be restaurant versions of regional dishes rather than from an Indian's home kitchen. It is very well written, easy enough for beginners, and all recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs.  

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I have made a few changes my adaption of this recipe. The original instructions called for 600g of boneless and skinless chicken pieces. I've upped the quantity of chicken to 1 kg/2.2lbs and use bone-in chicken as it's more authentic. Since I increased the quantity of chicken I increased the amount of spices accordingly. The amounts of coconut milk and water were generous to begin with so I left them the same. The recipe called for whole dried red chilis to be ground but of course I changed them to Kashmiri mirch as per my Kashmiri clan's preferences. The recipe also called for the whole spices to be dry roasted before grinding. I didn't do that. I don't think the dry roasting is a necessary step when then spices are going to be fried and then simmered with the chicken anyway. It is my understanding that dry roasting the spices is only necessary in humid climates to facilitate grinding. (You can read my diatribe on why I don't dry roasting spices here.) I think I added a bit of ginger paste to the base too. That's because ginger is good for you, I love it's lemony flavor,  and most other Xacuti recipes I've perused online include it too. Anyway, this is a really easy and really delicious South Indian style chicken curry. If you're new to making curries or a seasoned pro - I'm sure you'll enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!

Ingredients:
1kg/2lbs skinless chicken pieces
3 TBS cooking oil of choice or ghee
1/2 C onion, finely diced
1 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrakh paste
400ml (1 can) or 14 oz coconut milk or coconut cream
1 C water
2 tsp tamarind paste
Grind to powder for masala:
1 TBS coriander seeds/dhania
1 TBS white poppy seeds/khus khus or ground cashews
1 TBS Kashmiri mirch (or 1&1/2 tsp cayenne plus 1&1/2 tsp paprika powder)
2 tsp fennel seeds/saunf
2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp turmeric/hali
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch
5 cloves/laung
1 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini, broken into small pieces (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)

Here's what to do:
1) Grind coriander seeds, poppy seeds, Kashmiri mirch, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, green cardamoms, cloves, and cassia bark to fine powder. Set aside. (I use a coffee grinder dedicated solely to grinding spices.)

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2) Heat cooking oil or ghee with 2 teaspoonfuls salt in kadhai or deep heavy bottomed skillet for 5 minutes. Add diced onions and fry until beginning to brown. Add garlic paste and ginger paste and fry for about 2 minutes or until raw smell is gone from garlic.

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3) Add ground spices for masala to the fried onions, stir well, and fry for 2 minute. Add chicken pieces to fried onion mixture in pan. Cook chicken pieces for 2 minutes on each side. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water to the pan, stir well, and reduce heat.

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4) Add coconut milk and water to pan. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low/medium and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

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5) Stir in the tamarind paste and cook for 5 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Salt to taste and serve immediately. 

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Helpful hints:
You can make the spice mixture ahead of time and store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Gorgeous Goan coastline.

Jul 24, 2017

Hot & Spicy Hyderabadi Tomato Chutney

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From Hyderabad comes this hot, garlicky, smoky, and spicy tomato chutney! Hyderabadi cuisine is known for it's lavish use of spices and love of red chilis. In this easy recipe tomatoes are simmered with roasted garlic, red chili, cumin, mustard, ginger, and fenugreek to caramelized perfection. A tasty vegan and vegetarian addition to any rice or roti based meal or a zesty new dip for tortilla chips. 

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It's that time of the year again when tomatoes are cheap and a'plenty! A cooked tomato chutney is a great way to enjoy Summer's vegetable largesse. This recipe takes about eight tomatoes and cooks down to a little less than a cup of chutney. My Kashmiri contingency here won't touch a raw tomato but when fried into a sauce or chutney they love'em! In fact, a batch of this relish lasts only a day at our house. And that's a lot of tomatoes!!! This recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking (1981). I bought this book from a secondhand bookstore yonks ago in San Francisco and it was fairly decrepit then. Anywho, it has 400 recipes from all over Asia that are all darned good and are suited to what you could probably find in supermarkets in the early 80's. (Nothing terribly exotic.)


Over time I have changed a few things in the recipe in accordance with my family's tastes. The original recipe called for peeling and seeding the tomatoes. We all know Bibi isn't going to do that! Didn't Ms Jaffrey's mom tell her that's were all the vitamins are? If you are the sort who seeds and peels tomatoes Ms Jaffrey also suggests canned tomatoes can be used in this recipe instead of fresh. (I would not dare to try that in our house- but it seems like it would work.) My Kashmiri clan loves their Kashmiri mirch so I've used that instead of the cayenne powder/degi mirch in the original recipe too. Feel free to adjust the amounts of red chilis in both dried and powdered form to suit your tolerance for heat. Other than that the ingredients are pretty much as in the original recipe. Are you wondering why Ms Jaffrey uses both garlic cloves and garlic paste? You'll notice the garlic cloves are fried until golden brown while the garlic paste is added later with the tomatoes. This gives both forms of garlic a different taste. This is the typical layering of flavors that makes Indian cuisine so deliciously complex. Frying the dried chilis until blackened lends the chutney a smoky flavor that's quite nice and very Hyderabadi too. I do prefer to run the chutney through the mixie after cooking and cooling. Ms Jaffrey does not advise this but the dried chilis and garlic cloves don't always break down into small pieces during cooking. I fear someone eating the chutney might get a big unpleasant bite of garlic or dried chili. Yikes! So I blitz the fried mixture in the mixie when cool to a lovely smooth texture. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 TBS cooking oil
4 garlic/lahsun cloves, peeled
1 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard/rai seeds
1/4 tsp  fenugreek/methi seeds
2-3 whole dried hot chili peppers (use less for less heat
1 tsp salt, or to taste
Mix together in a bowl:
2 C roughly chopped tomatoes, (canned tomatoes will work for this recipe too)
1 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/4 to 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder/mirch (or 1/2 tsp cayenne/degi plus 1/2 tsp paprika powder)

Here's what to do:
1) Mix the tomatoes, ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, and Kashmiri mirch in a bowl and mix. Set aside.

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2) Heat the oil and one teaspoonful salt in a heavy skillet over medium for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, stir and fry until lightly brown. Add the cumin, mustard, and fenugreek. Let sizzle for a couple seconds and add the dried chili peppers. They should puff up and darken.

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3) Add the tomato mixture to the spices in the hot oil. (Be careful as it could splatter when it hits the hot oil). Stir and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced and oil separates from the mixture. (If mixture begins to stick or scorch reduce heat and add 1/4 cup water- but keep stirring!) Use a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes and garlic cloves into a paste.

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hot and spicy hyderabadi tomato chutney, recipe, tomatoes, chutney, relish, spicy, chili, easy, Indian, vegetarian, vegan, veg, simple, hot, garlic, Madhur Jaffrey,

4) The chutney is cooked when the oil separates from the mixture and rises to the top. Salt to taste. You should have about 3/4 cup of chutney. If your chutney isn't as smooth as you prefer allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes and run it through a mixie or blender. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Helpful Hints:
When salting chutneys to eat with rice and or rotis you'll want to add just a little more salt than you think you should. Like maybe 5% more. Remember that rice and rotis are generally served unsalted and chutneys or relishes served with them provide the salt that makes them tasty.

Ladies Sharing Wine, India, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad
Early 18th century Drawings; watercolors, ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. 

Jun 26, 2017

Chinese Chews

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Chinese Chews are a delicious combination of walnuts and dates. These chewy date cookies are baked in a pan, cut like bars, and then rolled in granulated sugar to give them a unique knobby shape. A nostalgic recipe that's easy to make and perfect for holiday platters, snacks, or packed lunches.

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This classic recipe first appeared in the American homemakers' magazine Good Housekeeping in 1917. I had an aunt that made these every year for Christmas and have seen the recipe in many vintage cookbooks. No one is certain why this recipe is deemed Chinese. None of the ingredients nor the techniques involved are Chinese in any way. My guess is that this recipe was part of the 1920's fad for all things Chinese. From mahjong to Anna May Wong, anything Chinese was the bee's knees in the 20's. Dates were revered as Oriental and therefore exotic in the 20's. Commercial date farms in the American Southwest were just beginning to market their produce in the US in the early 20's too. I've seen several pamphlets filled with date recipes published in the 1920's. I'll bet some date farmer's association sponsored a contest for a recipe containing dates. Rather than call these date squares or date slice why not roll them into balls and call them Chinese Chews? Swell! Wouldn't that be the cat's pajamas to serve at your next mahjong party?
1920's "Plum Blossom"chalkware bust by American artist Esther Hunt made into lamp with fanciful Napoleon shade
Probably not PC by today's standards but 'on trend' in the 20's
Anyhow, this is a great recipe for Ramadan or Eid! I think dates fell out of fashion in the US due to their exorbitant cost. And the quality of dates you get in the US really isn't great either. I didn't really care much for dates until I tried the ones from Iran, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Dates from the Middle East are more caramel in flavor than ones from other regions. This recipe showcases their rich flavor beautifully in an eggy batter which bakes up crisp and chewy. The walnuts also mellow and improve when baked in this tasty treat. I prefer to use brown sugar in this recipe as I like the dark color and deeper flavor it lends. Anyway you choose to make them this old fashioned treat is sure to please!

Ingredients:
1C dates, chopped
1C walnuts, chopped
1C sugar (I prefer brown sugar)
3/4C flour
1tsp baking-powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/4 tsp salt

Here's what do:
Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

1) Preheat oven to 325F/165C. Grease and flour a 9 inch by 13 inch pan.  In a medium sized mixing bowl beat together sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt until smooth.


2) Add flour to mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in dates and walnuts.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

3) Pour mixture into greased and floured pan and spread with back of spoon or spatula.  (Batter will just barely cover the bottom of the pan.)

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4) Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

5) Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Slice into small squares or scoop and roll into balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar.  Keeps well for up to 3 weeks at room temperature in airtight container.

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

Chinese Chews, bake, balls, chinese, chinese chews, cookies, dates, easy, Recipe, vegetarian, vintage, walnuts,

Helpful Hints:
I've also seen these served simply sliced into small squares and dusted with powdered sugar. If you choose to serve your Chinese Chews this way be sure to place them in paper candy cups as they're very sticky.


On Eid al-Fitr may Allah's blessings and love be showered upon you!

Bibi

Jun 12, 2017

Cucumber and Mint Raita

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Try this cool and refreshing Cucumber and Mint Raita recipe paired with any spicy meal. Traditionally, this dish is served in warm weather months in India alongside fiery curries and kebabs for it's cooling properties. Yogurt, mint, and cucumber really beat the heat in this famed Indian condiment! 

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This is about as close as you'll get to a western-style salad in our Kashmiri home. Grated cucumbers and an onion dressed in spiced yogurt. It is amazingly simple and amazingly tasty! It's also great way to use up all those amazingly prolific cucumbers and fresh mint from a summer garden. We enjoy this yummy treat every year when the weather warms and cucumbers abound. The local variety of cucumber you see in the above photo is not quite as firm fleshed as the fancy English cucumbers you'll see in the western countries. They're a bit more pulpy and can grow to an astonishing two feet in length. Plant one vine and you're supplied with fresh cucumbers for the season around here. Choose a thick and tangy yogurt like the Greek-style ones in western markets for the most authenticity in this recipe. I prefer this dish with dried mint and whole cumin seeds but it can be made with fresh mint and ground cumin for a slightly different flavor. Some folks insist on dry roasting the cumin seeds to mellow their peppery warmth but I don't. If you can't handle the heat of green chilis - leave them out. As with most Desi dishes there's enough flavor going on here that you really won't miss them. Be sure to make this dish at least 2 hours in advance of serving to allow the flavors to meld. Always serve a raita chilled too. A fabulous paired with spicy curries, fiery kebabs, or as a cooling dip for peppery pappadums. Enjoy:

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C grated cucumber, (be sure to peel and deseed cucumber before grating)
1/3 C grated onion
1 C yogurt, beaten until smooth
2 TBS fresh mint/pudina chopped finely or 1 TBS dried mint
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch, minced finely (omit for less heat)
1 tsp ground cumin/jeera or 1&1/2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
salt to taste
Optional for garnish: 1/4 tsp Kashmiri mirch or paprika

Here's what to do:
1) Whisk together yogurt, mint, cumin, green chilis, and 1 teaspoon salt.

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2) Add grated cucumber and onion and toss until well mixed. Salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve chilled and garnish with a pinch of Kashmiri mirch or paprika before serving if desired. Can be prepared up to one day in advance.

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May the Spirit of Ramadan stay in our hearts and illuminate our souls. 
Happy Ramadan!

Bibi

Jun 1, 2017

Mexican Chocolate Snowballs

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These Mexican chocolate snowballs are a spicy twist on an old favorite with almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, and a pinch of chili powder. Buttery, delicately spiced, and rich with chocolate flavor this egg free recipe can easily be made vegan too. A simple to make treat to serve on Cinco de Mayo or any holiday! 

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I love the way the Mexicans spice their chocolate with a little cinnamon and a hint of chili. So when I saw this recipe on Allrecipes a few weeks ago I had to make it. It was absolutely delicious! I did make a few changes though. The original recipe called for ancho chili powder, a little less sugar, and dark chocolate chips. I didn't have ancho chili powder so I used degi mirch or cayenne powder. Ancho chili powder has a bit less heat than cayenne and a slight fruity flavor, but the chili flavor in these cookies is so subtle I didn't find it made a difference. If you can't handle any sort of chili heat I'd substitute paprika for the chili powder or simply leave it out. I bumped the sugar up to the amount I use in all my snowball cookies. Dark chocolate chips were recommended for use in this recipe. Unfortunately, I did not have dark chocolate chips so I used milk chocolate chips. Although these cookies were delicious with the milk chocolate and regular cocoa powder I used, I think using dark chocolate chips and dark cocoa powder would make them even more delicious! I think the next time I make these I'll grind up a dark chocolate bar and use it in place of the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. To make this recipe vegan-friendly just substitute a good quality vegetable margarine or shortening for he butter. Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
1 C butter, softened (use margarine or vegetable shortening to make these vegan)
3⁄4 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp cayenne powder/degi mirch or Kashmiri mirch (for less heat use paprika)
1⁄4 tsp salt
2 C all-purpose flour
2⁄3 C toasted almonds, finely chopped (optional)
1⁄3 cup dark chocolate chips
To roll cookies in after baking: 
1/2C powdered sugar
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Here's what to do:
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1) In a large mixing bowl beat together butter,  powdered sugar, vanilla,  cocoa powder,  cinnamon, chili powder, and salt until creamy and well combined.

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2) Add flour, almonds and chocolate chips to butter mixture. Continue to mix. Dough will be crumbly at first but after about 2 minutes it should pull together and stick to itself. When dough forms a large ball and sticks to itself it's ready. Chill dough covered with cling film in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

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3) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/165C. Form tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place balls of dough on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Bake cookies for about 18-25 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom being careful not to over bake. Cookies will harden as they cool.
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4) In a large shallow bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon until combined.

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5) Cool cookies about 5-7 minutes then roll in sugar mixture while still warm. Cool completely on wire rack then roll cookies in sugar mixture again if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Helpful Hints: 
Chilling the dough is important as it allows the flavors of the chocolate and spices to develop as well as making the cookies easier to shape.

Keeping the dough wrapped in in a plastic bag or cling film while chilling prevents it from drying out and absorbing other flavors from the fridge.

Substitute a good quality margarine or vegetable shortening for the butter to make these cookies vegan.

May 15, 2017

Mexican Style Beans (Frijoles)

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Beans are a staple of Mexican cuisine and a favorite element in so many Mexican dishes. This classic recipe for frijoles is easy to make, versatile, vegan, and healthy. Enjoy these beans with warm tortillas, as a filling for burritos, or with rice and rotis as my Indian family does!


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Pinto beans are the most popular bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico. Pinto means speckled or spotted referring to the bean's mottled skin which becomes uniform when cooked. When properly prepared pinto beans have a deliciously creamy texture, mild flavor, and an ability to absorb flavors well. I'm using simi beans which are a local favorite here in Nepal. As you can see in the above photo simi beans are a bit rosier in hue than pinto beans, but their flavor and texture is quite similar.

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A Latina friend in my native California taught me to make these Mexican-style beans or frijoles. Each family has their own unique way of preparing beans with differences in bean variety, the type of pot used, specific seasonings, and method of cooking. Traditionally, an earthenware pot called an olla was used to cook beans. As you can see in the above photo an olla is shaped a lot like the handi used in Indian cooking and serves much the same purpose. I have never seen an olla in use to cook beans in any kitchen Mexican or otherwise. The most common vessel I've seen used to cook beans in both Spanish-speaking and Okie communities is a large heavy-duty aluminum stockpot begotten at the Kmart or the local ACE hardware store. I use my Indian-style pressure cooker to save time.

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I have often read that lard or manteca is the most authentic fat to use in Mexican cooking. In the town where I was raised the cooking fat of choice for Mexican-American families and most other ethnic groups was Crisco. The famed digestible vegetable shortening or manteca vegetal was used for tortillas and tamales as well as pie crusts and fried chicken. I'm not from Butcher Holler but as Loretta Lynn said in the commercial,
"Crisco will do you proud every time." 

Lard was probably the preferred fat before World War II. Possibly the only place to find lard in the 70's and 80's was at a carnicería or Mexican butcher. I've heard lard is making a comeback though. Choose your favorite cooking oil for this recipe. The preferred chilis for Mexican cooking in California are Serranos and their milder cousins, Jalapeños. Spanish-style yellow onions are used exclusively in Mexican cuisine. To soak the beans or not is another choice. Soaking the beans overnight will save you cooking time. I never saw beans soaked in my little community though so I don't soak either. I do use a pressure cooker which does cut down cooking time to about half. My Indian family loves these with rice but you could certainly enjoy them in a more traditional manner atop a tostada, alongside warm tortillas, or as a filling for burritos. Or try them topped with a little queso fresco, chopped tomatoes, and a sprinkle of cilantro as a hearty soup! Off to the recipe:

Ingredients:
2 C dry pinto beans (or dry simi beans)
1-2 TBS cooking oil (scant amount to cover bottom of pot)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 TBS garlic paste or 3 minced garlic cloves
1-3 Jalapeño or Serrano chilis or any green chili you prefer (omit for less heat)
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
salt to taste

Here's what to do:
1) Sort through dried beans and remove pebbles. Rinse the beans in water in a colander and set aside. Heat oil in a large stock pot or pressure cooker and fry the onion until it softens.

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 2) When onion begins to turn translucent add garlic, chilis, and black pepper to frying onion. Fry for about 2 minutes or until chilis begin to blister and garlic loses it's raw smell. Do not brown the onions!

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3) Add the rinsed beans, 2 teaspoons salt, and enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches to the pot or pressure cooker. If using stock pot: bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Check on the pot every 15 minutes to make sure there's enough water, add more water from time to time as necessary. Make sure to keep adding water so the pot does not dry out. If using pressure cooker: seal lid on pressure cooker and allow to steam until beans are tender. This takes about 40 to 50 minutes in my Indian-style pressure cooker.

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4) The beans are ready when cooked so soft you can press them through your fingers and skins slip off easily. (Cooking time depends on the age and quality of beans, drier ones will require a longer simmering time.) Traditionally the beans are left a bit soupy so you can dip your tortilla in them or mash them to make frijoles refritos. Salt to taste and retrieve chilis before serving. Serve with warm tortillas or rice and rotis like we eat them. Once cooled the beans will keep for up to one week refrigerator in an airtight container.

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Helpful Hints:
You could certainly use other sorts of beans in this recipe such as black beans, kidney beans, Peruano, Mayocoba, Santa Maria, or Flor de Mayo.

And to all moms out there:


Including moms of furry babies,



Or not so furry babies, 
HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY!!!

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