Memories of Miami Beach with a Mexican Fiesta 7-Layer Dip

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Happy 5th of May - it’s Cinco De Mayo! My ‘soft spot’ for Cinco De Mayo celebrations started many years ago on a trip to Miami Beach. We were there for a bachelorette party and while one group of the girls went to catch the sun at the beach for the afternoon, a couple of us decided to explore Miami Beach culture.

It just so happened to be Cinco De Mayo that day and there was a huge street party underway that we stumbled upon! Afternoon sun, mexican fiesta, delicious street foods and live latin music - it’s how I always remember Miami Beach and this very experience inspired us to create Arvinda’s Fiesta Mexicana spice blend. It’s interesting how each and every one of our spice blends that we’ve created for Arvinda’s has a story behind it. It is our memories and experiences through travel and culture that brought us to create each of our 24 international blends and Indian blends alike.

Since that year many years ago, I never miss the 5th of May as a chance to celebrate and create a feast of fresh Mexican foods. Cinco De Mayo is actually a celebration of the Mexican army’s victory over the French empire, however in North America, we tend to use it as an ‘excuse’ to throw a Mexican fiesta! :)

Here’s a great party food that’s easy to create and tasty for a crowd, a Mexican Fiesta 7-Layer Dip. You don’t have to be too picky about actually having seven layers, it’s just a guideline to make sure that you have enough layers of flavour to make it incredible and over-the-top delicious!

I used Arvinda’s Fiesta Mexicana spice blend in the refried pinto beans layer and in the sour cream and cream cheese layer to add a level of Mexican flavours. If you love the smoky flavour of chipotle, opt out for Arvinda’s Chipotle Taco seasoning as a substitute which will be equally as good.

Now onto the cheese layer, here’s where you can get really authentic. I discovered a beautiful cheese at The Food District called Queso Picante. It’s a soft-textured cheese (yet firm) and has a beautiful chili heat to it from Sabana Cheese. Paired with Craft Chippery’s tortillas, it’s all good to go!


MEXICAN FIESTA 7-LAYER DIP

METHOD OF PREPARATION:

1) Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add pinto beans. Sprinkle in 1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S FIESTA MEXICANA and cook well for a few minutes. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Add salt to taste.

2) In a small bowl, mash up avocados and mix in lime juice. Add salt to taste.

3) In a food processor, mix together sour cream and cream cheese until smooth. Blend in 1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S FIESTA MEXICANA, or add to taste.

4) In a casserole dish, add the bean layer, topped with avocado layer. Top with salsa and add a layer of sour cream and cream cheese mixture.

5) Sprinkle on tomatoes, red onions and cheese. Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortillas.

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP. oil
2 CUPS pinto beans, cooked
2-3 TBSP. ARVINDA’S FIESTA
MEXICANA
, to taste
½ TSP. salt, or to taste
2 avocados, mashed
½ TSP. lime juice
½ CUP salsa
250ML sour cream
¼ CUP cream cheese
2-3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 CUPS queso fresco OR cheddar
cheese, grated
¼ CUP cilantro, finely chopped, to
garnish (optional)

On the Pulse: Channa Dal with Zucchini

Channa Dal with Zucchini  using  Arvinda’s Curry Masala . If you can find  Lauki,  Indian bottle gourd you can use this instead of zucchini as it’s a very typical pairing.

Channa Dal with Zucchini using Arvinda’s Curry Masala. If you can find Lauki, Indian bottle gourd you can use this instead of zucchini as it’s a very typical pairing.

I can’t believe it’s 2019. Happy New Year to you all and hope you’ve eased into January and found a new rhythm to life as we inch ahead another year on our biological clocks! My mantra for 2019 is to be in the moment. It’s all we’ve got and we need to be reminded that our health is our wealth! That’s my favourite cliché because it’s so true.

Like them or not, our January resolutions always start with good intentions in the hopes that every year we become healthier, happier and better people with time. Every day is a fresh start and so is a new year, so why not take the opportunity to set some new targets?

For me, I like to ‘ease’ into January which means no resolutions on the calendar flip to January 1st. It’s actually taken me a couple of weeks to collect my thoughts, reflect on the last year and decide on my changes and goals for this year. Here’s a shortlist:

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1) Have more turmeric: My morning routine consists of detoxifying with a turmeric, ginger, chai-chili elixir that I mix with hot water and drink as a warm (not hot) tea to wake up the digestive system. I pre-make this concentrate and simply store it in the fridge and every morning mix 1/2 cup with 1/2 cup of boiling water. So far so good and fingers crossed, the winter sniffles should keep at bay!

2) Meditate more: I realize how important a meditation practice is and in 2019 I feel it is needed more than ever. This year adding more minutes of meditation to my regimen is a priority to reduce stress, increase awareness and bring forth more calm and happiness. So far these extra few minutes in the morning and night have worked wonders in an amazingly short time. Amazing and powerful!

3) Try more foods and recipes: In 2018 I pushed my culinary boundaries by trying new foods, cuisines and recipes from all over the world. We often get stuck making the same dishes over again, especially if these are the foods ourselves and our loved ones enjoy and it’s so easy to fall back on the tested, tried and true! But change is amazing and invigorating! By tasting new spice combinations and trying new recipes, I came to realize how many great flavours I was missing out on. So this year, I take that a step further and continue enjoying new foods and flavours—and not to forget sitting at the table to savour every new creation made by scratch!

That is the shortlist and there’s more to come!

There’s definitely something to be said about goal setting. When we set our sights onto something, it becomes our path and a ‘way’ to follow that takes us closer to what we feel will bring us happiness. One of the most famous pieces of research on goal setting is the Harvard MBA study from 1979 that found the 3% of graduates who wrote down their goals achieved them versus the 97% who did not! Exciting!

This year more than ever, we’re thinking about and concerned by the environment, excess waste, global climatic change and our ecological footprint. This is a great time to experiment with different plant-based proteins like pulses and beans. With Canada being the world’s largest producers of lentils, this is also an excellent local choice as well that supports our local farmers.

Low in fat, low on the glycemic index, low in sugar, high in protein, iron, fibre and vital minerals it’s a win all across the board. Not to mention, when paired with delicious and healthy Indian spices like turmeric, then this starts ticking off many New Year’s resolutions on the list!

One of our favourite dal recipes is Channa Dal with Zucchini and many people who have attended Arvinda’s cooking classes over the years will know this one very well! So we started the new year off right by having this dish…ticking off the many goals on our list! :) Enjoy!


CHANNA DAL with ZUCCHINI

Method of Preparation:

1) Wash soaked channa dal in 4-5 changes of lukewarm water or until water runs clear. In a medium pot, simmer channa dal and zucchini in water with salt on medium-high heat. Add enough water to cover dal and zucchini. Partially cover and cook until dal is thoroughly cooked, approximately 10-15 minutes.

2) In a separate pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and fry until they pop. Take care spices do not burn. Add tomato and mix in ARVINDA’S CURRY MASALA. Stir in sugar and fry for 2-3 minutes to make a masala paste.

3) Add cooked channa dal and zucchini including liquid to masala paste. Mix and simmer for a few minutes until dal has thickened. Add salt to taste, if necessary and thin out with extra water if required.

4) Garnish with cilantro and a sprinkle of ARVINDA’S GARAM MASALA. Serves well with rice and Indian chapatis.

Ingredients:

1 CUP channa dal, soaked for 2-3 hours
1 small zucchini, cubed
6 CUPS water (add more if necessary)
1 TSP. salt
2 TSP. oil
¼ TSP. mustard seeds from ARVINDA’S ESSENTIAL WHOLE SPICES
2 TBSP. canned tomatoes, crushed OR 1 fresh ripe tomato, finely chopped
1 TBSP. ARVINDA’S CURRY MASALA
1 TSP. salt (or to taste)
1 TSP. raw sugar
½ TSP. ARVINDA’S GARAM MASALA
1 TBSP. cilanto, finely chopped, to garnish

Wishing you a wonderful 2019 and hope everyone receives many good things all year long!