If you’ve only ever ventured to Dalston’s Ridley Road Market by night for whiskey sours, you’re missing out. During the day, the stretch of stalls from the Kingsland Road strip into the E8 horizon offers some of the most diverse produce you can get your hands on in Hackney, and it’s the perfect stomping ground for budget shopping.
From daikon radishes to 99p purple hair toner, Ridley Road is the place to head when you’ve reached the unforgiving end of your overdraft. Moro founders Sam and Sam Clark are well-known advocates of the mind-boggling array of pretty much anything you could consider cooking at Ridley Road, and as long as you go with a cast-iron will to stick to your shopping list, it’s a haven for cheap eats.
Now, while stews and dahls are an easy route to dinner for a dime, there are other tactics to embracing your inner spend-thrift whilst avoiding anything too worthy. Mexican food is ideal for this, with moreish flavours and heat that stays on your palette. These chipotle mushroom and tomato tacos are just what I’m talking about: full of flavour but mighty cheap per head; by investing in the mushroom filling, these tacos make a little go a helluva long way. With a solitary five pound note, I headed down to Ridley Road and picked up five different items of produce, a few store cupboard necessities, and cooked enough dinner for four hungry pals.
Save on the standard accoutrements like salsa or guacamole or ask your friends to bring along any extras you need. The main thing is the mushrooms, herbs, onions, garlic and lime only cost a fiver, and here’s how:
– Portobello or crimini mushrooms, allow for one per person.
– Tomato paste from a tin instead of chopped tomatoes. This will give you the intense flavour straight up instead of waiting around for any liquid to reduce or dealing with any insufferable tomato seeds.
-Herbs are generally a sure-fire way to make a budget meal go further. Like a cheap outfit with a great pair of shoes, I would normally choose one well-matched herb instead of an extra vegetable, as you can always bulk meals out with rice or another carb, but if it’s tasteless, it’s tasteless. A hefty bunch of coriander is a good match for the mushrooms and rich tomato sauce here.
– If there’s any change leftover: A ripe avocado adds some creamy texture to these in the place of feta. I added vegannaise as I had it in, but a good avocado is worth the effort, and there’s plenty to feel up at Ridley Road.
-Onions, garlic, limes, tortillas: Ridley Road is ideal for this kind of thing instead of paying 30p per lime in a supermarket, puh-lease.
– Have a look in the stores around the market for a teeny jar of chipotle paste. It will go a lot further than trying to track down whole chipotle chillies.
– Standard white mushrooms- use these to bulk out the filling and save money on the big guys.
Chipotle mushroom and tomato tacos
Makes four portions
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large white onions, chopped down into shreds
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp chipotle sauce
1 tin tomato paste- you’ll only need about 100ml
300g white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tsp chili flakes or hot chili sauce
1 handful of coriander, chopped, (save some back for a garnish also)
4 portobello or crimini mushrooms, cut into thin slices
8 small tortilla wraps (allow for two per person)
For serving: Juice of 1 lime, slices of avocados, vegannaise
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Sweat for at least five minutes, until they begin to go translucent, and then add in the salt, pepper and garlic and heat for another two minutes. Once you begin to smell the garlic, stir in the chipotle sauce and the tomato paste and the white mushrooms and ensure everything is well combined. You may need to add a little more oil to stop anything burning. Add the chili flakes or sauce and the coriander, and cook for around five minutes, stirring regularly. The sauce should be thick, dense and with little-to-no juice. Test for seasoning and then carefully add in the portobello mushrooms. Try not to break them up too much as they add texture to the sauce, and then allow them to cook through for another five minutes.
While the chipotle sauce is finishing off, heat the tortillas in a griddle or frying pan with a small amount of oil. Plate up the tortillas with two large spoonfuls of the chipotle filling, some slices of avocado, a little more coriander, a squeeze of lime and a little vegannaise.
Words: Ava Szajna-Hopgood