A touch of India in these crunchy and bursting-with-flavour taco shells. Stir-fried crumbled paneer or paneer bhurji, cooked with some common spices used in Mexican cuisine, such as cumin, chilli powder, oregano and tossed together with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and cilantro. And eaten along with fresh flavours of mango salsa and creamy avocado. Let’s not forget the final touch of a dollop of sour cream, to complete this delicious vegetarian taco.
We definitely did not miss any of the more popular meats associated with tacos, while relishing this ‘no utensils required’ meal by itself. I made it easier on myself in the kitchen, by relying on store-bought hard shell corn tacos. Avocados are a favorite in my home. Packed with all the necessary nutrients and vitamins, I wouldn’t be wrong to say, an avocado a day keeps the doctor away. An easy-peasy creamy guacamole, gives this taco a refreshing and clean taste.
Mangoes, especially from Mexico and Guatemala are available year round in our stores here in San Francisco. These mangoes are usually firm and tart in taste, and pair perfectly well along with onions, jalapeños and cilantro, in a fresh salsa. A generous squeeze of lemon juice to give it that extra kick. No taco is complete, without a dollop of sour cream and a final garnish of shredded lettuce. I had a bag of cole slaw mix lying in the fridge, basically shredded red and green cabbage, which I used in place of the customary shredded lettuce.
The beauty of this dish lies in its versatility. You want to overload your taco with some more? Don’t feel shy. Pile on some black beans or kidney beans, for some extra protein.
Warning : Better have your hands prepared! They have to do all the work of lifting the heavy duty taco from your plate to your waiting mouths!😊
Servings : 6
Fresh paneer, grated – 3 cups
Green bell pepper, finely diced – 1 cup
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
A couple of green onions, sliced
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
Cumin powder – 3/4 tsp.
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp.
Paprika or Kashmiri red chili powder – 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp.
A pinch of turmeric powder
Salt, to taste
12 hard corn taco shells
Fresh shredded lettuce or cole slaw mix(red and green cabbage), freshly chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and black beans as optional toppings.
For the creamy guacamole :
1 ripe avocado
2 tbsp. finely chopped onions
Finely chopped jalapeños, deseed for less heat – 1 tsp
2 tbsp.fresh lime juice
salt, to taste
In a bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. It can be a little chunky. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. It should always be made fresh, just before serving. Otherwise, left out for too long, the avocado starts changing color and turning black.
For the mango salsa :
1 firm mango, chopped
2 tsp.finely chopped red onions
1 tsp.finely chopped jalapeño. Deseed for less heat.
2 tsp.fresh lime juice
salt, to taste
Toss all the ingredients and mix well in a bowl.
For the paneer stir-fry or bhurji :
Heat a tbsp. of oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and stir fry for a few minutes till they start turning pink. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Add cumin seeds. Add the bell peppers. Add all the ground spices. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Add the paneer. Add salt. Cover and cook for 5 mins on low heat. Add fresh cilantro and green onions.
Start building your tacos, one layer at a time. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the paneer bhurji. Add a dollop of guacamole and mango salsa. Optional condiments can be added. Nothing but a burst of delicious flavours in your mouths!