Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Morelia is a quiet city nestled high in the hills of the Michoacan state of Mexico, and lined wall-to-wall with historic cathedrals and colleges. A grand aqueduct that looks like a procession of arches sweeps around the city's outskirts. The streets buzz with students, stores crammed with charming artefacts, and tourists looking to just relax or worship.
When we usually travel, our days are a huge blur of running breathlessly from place to place, thanks to Desi who's a regular Clark Griswold. I, on the other hand, like to take things easy. Needless to say, there's always a lot of arguing about what to do and how much to do which, I think, makes our vacations more fun!
But in places like Morelia, I win because there is little to do other than go with the tranquil flow.
One of our favorite things to do when we visited Morelia was to go in the evenings to a restaurant, Cafe Europa, just opposite the huge and beautiful cathedral in the city's center, order a big cup of coffee, and just sit back and watch the world go by. For once, even Desi did not complain about the lack of activity because he was too busy relaxing.
I ate a lot of bean and rice dishes in Mexico, but there were plenty of times when I was pleasantly surprised by the exquisite ways in which your usual old staples were transformed into something special.
In Morelia, I found a vegetarian restaurant where I ate a delicious burger with a vegetarian patty stuffed inside of it. It tasted a lot like these potato and lima bean cakes that I'm serving up today. The crunch of the patty or cake was perfect with the soft bread.
I served these cakes with just some stir-fried beet greens (try them, Obama, and I promise you'll become a fan of the delicious beet!). You could also just try eating them like burgers, stuffed inside a crusty bread, or like felafel, in pita.
Traditionally, these would contain some cheese, but of course I left it out because this is a vegan food blog and hey, why spoil a good thing?
The potato and lima bean cakes also remind me a little of a popular Indian street snack, Ragda Patties, which are potato cakes served in a pea sauce. But unlike that dish, these cakes combine both the legume and spud right inside the patty which means less work for me. And that's just the way I like it.
Potato and Lima Bean Cakes (Tortitas de Alubias y Papa)
4 large floury potatoes, diced and then boiled until fork-tender
1 cup lima beans, soaked for a few hours, then cooked until tender
1 bunch scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers (use any moderately hot green chilies if you can't find these)
1 medium red onion, finely diced
2 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
Salt to taste
About 1/2 cup of flour, for dredging the patties.
1-3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil.
Place the potatoes and lima beans in a bowl and mash together until you have a lumpy but fairly smooth mixture.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix together. The potato-bean mixture should hold together when you form a patty.
Make 2-inch wide patties and dredge them in the flour. Shake off any excess flour.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet.
When the oil is hot, place just enough patties in it so the skillet is not overcrowded.
Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side, over medium-high heat, or until golden-brown.
Serve hot with any hot sauce or these yummy stir-fried beet greens (recipe follows)
Stir-fried Beet Greens
1 bunch beet greens, thinly shredded
3-4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a skillet.
Add the garlic, and when it turns golden, add the beet greens.
Toss together and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until greens are absolutely tender.
Add salt to taste.
These delicious cakes go, of course, to It's A Vegan World: Mexican. There's a week left to go, more or less, so hurry up folks and send in your entries!