Caribbean Curry Tacos

Coconut Chickpea Curry. Crispy Tofu. Shiitake Bacon. 

 Recipe courtesy of Chef Naliaka Wakhisi

“I feel like people don’t believe me when I say I eat tacos every day...but I do.” This is one of the first things I learned about vegan chef and founder of NYC Vegans of Color Naliaka Wakhisi, as we stood together before a pile of corn tortillas, curry spices, and kale in a sunlit Brooklyn kitchen. The Miami-born taco aficionado knows no limits when it comes to reinventing or glorifying this traditional Mexican dish. After working as a server in several small, family-owned Jamaican restaurants for many years, Naliaka has blended her passion for the bright, savory flavors of Caribbean cuisine with her everlasting love of the taco in this dish. Delicious, simple, and expertly crafted, this recipe is one to put in your files.

Serves a crowd. Eat with your favorite people. 

Ingredients

Coconut Curry Taco Filling

  • 1 pkg firm organic tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 can organic chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped with stems removed 
  • 2-3 Tbs coconut oil + 1/2 cup for frying
  • 10 small corn tortillas 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
  • crushed black pepper (optional)

Shiitake Bacon

  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1-2 Tbs coconut oil
  • salt, as you like it

Garnishes

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 limes
  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. Drain and press tofu. Leave tofu under pressure for at least 15 minutes.

  3. Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and let simmer for about 1 minute (do not brown). Sprinkle roughly 1 tsp salt and then add coconut milk and curry powder. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to medium low. Add chickpeas and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.  Add more salt to taste. After 20 - 30 minutes, toss in kale and simmer for an additional 3 - 5 minutes. (Do not overcook kale!)

  4. Toss sliced shiitakes in 1 - 2 Tbs of coconut oil, add salt to taste, and roast in oven until shiitakes are altogether crispy and delicious (approximately 15-20 minutes).

  5. Cut pressed tofu into into 1/2 inch cubes and pan-fry in 1/2 cup coconut oil until crispy. Place crispy tofu on paper towel and immediately drizzle sea salt while still hot. Save excess oil for crisping tortillas! Set aside.

  6. For garnish, wash and chop cilantro, slice avocado, and half the limes.

  7. Crisp tacos by adding a drizzle of leftover coconut oil to a pan over medium to high heat. Place 2 - 3 tortillas (depending on size of pan) in a single layer, and cook until crispy then flip. (Alternatively, drizzle coconut oil over the tortillas and heat in the oven at  425 until desired crispiness is achieved)

  8. Assemble the tacos: tortilla + coconut curry filling + crispy tofu + cilantro & avocado + shiitake bacon + squeeze of lime.

  9. Assemble the masses (and feast)!

Naliaka-Wakhisi

Reasons to Love

The impressive fiber content of chickpeas and kale makes these tacos a home run in my book. Insoluble fiber is metabolized by bacteria in the gut to produce short chain fatty acids, which in turn feed the cells lining the intestinal wall. The more fiber you eat, the more you nourish that barrier between you and the toxins in your gut! A healthier gut lining makes for a stronger and healthier you! High dietary fiber intake from whole foods is associated with: 

  • better blood sugar regulation
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • improved weight management
  • lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • healthy digestion 

More than enough reason to step up your fiber game--especially since only 3% of Americans meet the recommended minimum adequate intake of fiber. (Dr. Michael Greger has the fiber facts.) In conclusion, have a second taco. 

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