Sunday, February 28, 2016

What's Cooking? Moringa tortillas and refried beans

Food here in Benin is tasty, spicy, and very carb heavy. Although atassi, the traditional rice and beans dish, pate, the dense corn flour staple and ignam pile, Benin's attempt at mashed potatoes, all have their redeeming qualities, sometimes we just need to switch it up.

In a region ruled by the annual rains, its hard to have a steady supply of fresh fruit or vegetables. To make up for the lack of greenness in my life, I've started adding moringa powder to almost everything I eat. Tasting a little like matcha, this super food is packed with vitamins and minerals, plus iron, calcium and potassium. Luckily its easy to grow and readily available here in Benin!!

Palette-wise, Benin leans towards the spicy side. Its hard to find a meal that doesn't contain pimant, the habanero-like-pepper that is often crushed into sauces or dried into a powder. But, pimant doesn't fulfill some of my other taste cravings. As a huge fan of Mexican food, I find myself dreaming of tacos, fresh salsa with cilantro (tomato season is coming and my cilantro is sprouting in my herb garden) and guacamole (this girl can't wait for avocado season!!)

For those of you also suffering from food withdrawal, or looking to start your day with a new super protein packed, vitamin rich, non pate meal, I give you:

Moringa Tortillas and Refried Beans

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt (a pinch!)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tablespoon oil
1/2 tablespoon Moringa powder

2 cups cooked beans (Boil beans in a 1:2 water ratio until soft. I like to add a couple cloves if smashed garlic and a pinch of salt to the pot)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 cup water (use boiled water if in Benin!!)

For the tortillas: Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water and oil and stir with a spoon until mixture resembles a dough. With clean hands, knead the dough and rip into small balls. Roll dough into flat circles, working from the inside out. In a frying pan, heat a small amount of oil. Place tortilla in pan and let cook for one minute. Flip and repeat. If your tortilla is too thick, it will be doughy in the center. Try to get it as thin as possible!

For the beans: Add onion, garlic and oil to a frying pan. Sauté with cumin and chili powder. Add beans and water. Using the back of a fork, smash the beans. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, browning throughout. Use salt and pepper to taste.

So, there you have it! Super easy, peace corps approved moringa tortillas and refried beans! Perfect for your Mexican food cravings and a great source of protein! 

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