by Louise Ayer
This Indian take on nachos is absolutely delicious and a lot of fun to eat. It is a real crowd pleaser. This dish’s flavor is more complex than typical nachos, just a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup and a clean fresh taste from the coriander chutney and lime juice, a nice salty crunch from blue corn chips and a satisfying feeling in your tummy from the black beans and cheese. It’s one of those dishes that makes people feel happy and excited.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from New York Times Cooking, by Priya Krishna and Ritu Krishna.
And a brief reminder that the quality of the ingredients determines the quality of the dish. This recipe, as with all my recipes, is made with all organic ingredients or as close to organic as I can make them, or they come directly from my own garden, treated with lots of love and no chemicals of any kind. Happy eating!
4 cups of fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 green chile or serrano chile, seeds removed and chopped (optional)
Put all the ingredients in a blender or Vitamix and blend until smooth. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too thick to blend. I find the chutney blends more easily if you pulse it. Set aside.
1 cup dried black beans
5 cups water
1 branch curry leaves (approximately 10-12 leaves)
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon whole cumin
2 teaspoons Dhania Jeera (see the Cook’s Note*)
1 teaspoon salt
Wash the black beans in a sieve under cold water for 10 seconds. Place the beans in a medium sized bowl and cover by 1 ½ inches with water over the top of the beans. Soak for 8 hours or overnight. After the soak, drain the water.
Put all ingredients in an Instant Pot and cook under pressure for 1 hour. Beans should be soft when done. Drain and reserve the liquid.
*Cook’s Note: Dhania Jeera is made by roasting equal parts of coriander and cumin seed in a dry frying pan on medium low for about 5 minutes until fragrant, and then grinding them into a powder. Store in an airtight container if you make it in a quantity of more than you need for this recipe.
Cooked black beans from above, drained
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz blue organic corn chips
1 ½ medium red onions, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, or 15 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1 pound)
Preheat the oven to 425F. Place one of the racks in the highest position in the oven. In a medium bowl, mash the beans slightly with a fork. Check them for salt. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Layer half the corn chips, then half the beans, half the onions, half the tomatoes and finally, half the cheese. Repeat. Bake for 10 minutes on the highest rack until the cheese is bubbling.
Sweet and Sour Sauce:
2 tablespoons date syrup or maple syrup
2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice
Mix in a small bowl and set aside
Vaghar: (see Cook’s Note**)
¼ cup melted ghee, or olive oil
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
Pinch of red chile powder (optional)
5 minutes before the nachos come out of the oven, heat a small frying pan to medium low. When hot, add the ghee or oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook until brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl.
**Cook’s Note: Vaghar is an aromatic mix of spices that are cooked in oil or ghee. It is very common in India. Every region seems to have its own version.
The final step: Evenly drizzle the cilantro chutney and the sweet and sour sauce on top of the nachos as soon as you bring them out of the oven. Last drizzle on the vaghar of cumin seeds.
These are so amazingly tasty and inviting with all their different colors of dark blue, red, bright green, and yellow from the cheese. Expect lots of anticipatory oohs and ahhs when you pull them bubbling and fragrant from the oven. No matter how much you make, your family and friends will be a little disappointed when they are gone. What happened? Where did they go so fast? A dish that brings true joy to your kitchen. Enjoy!