Monday, April 1, 2013

7 layer bean dip - perfect to scoop with your chips

Growing up in India, our idea of snacks was defined by what was cooked at home. Though there was a range of sinfully delicious deep fried goodies, most days the snacks were simple items ranging from a churmuri or avalakki vaggarane to a roasted papad. When I left India, small packets of Lays potato chips were just entering the market and bakeries used to dangle these from a thick thread infront of the store. And there was not much of celebrity endorsement either to those chips yet. When I first came to the US, I was really shocked by super size chips bags in the grocery stores. To add to that there were umpteen varieties of chips to choose from sour cream & onion to barbeque flavors, kettle roasted to reduced fat, increasing the health quotient (!) with vegetables added and on and on. There was a period (like it happens to most people) when we fell into the allure of eating chips by the bags but then I am glad we found our footing very soon to stay away from that almost mindless snacking on the chips. Now it just bothers me to see people especially kids munching on chips like they were the most nutrient and healthiest of all food.

During one of those initial days, we had an office party and everyone was signing up bring stuff and I saw an entry that said chips & dip. Intriguing, to someone that had not eaten a lot of chips, the idea of eating chips dipped in something was totally new. I sat there waiting for the chips and dip to appear on the day of the pot luck but honestly was disappointed with that store bought dip as it was not appealing at all to me. Several exposures to chips and dip and I was still craving for a perfect dip that fit my imagination when I finally ate this layered bean dip at a friend's house. It was delicious.

So does this post have anything to do with chips? Not really. Infact the dip in this post is so delicious that you end up eating more of that than the chips which is what I look forward. Made with protein packed beans and nature's own butter avocado, this is a healthy dip for all ages. Give a plateful of the dip decorated with a few chips and I promise you won't hear anyone complaining.

There is no serious recipe here, it is essentially an assembly of layers. Although it is called 7 layer dip, I have eliminated one layer as we are not great fans of olives. Go ahead and add it by all means. I made a huge tray full of this dip last weekend for our Holi celebrations and needless to say that the tray was wiped clean. The heartening part was that the kids came back asking for more dip :-). Below is my take (spiced with Indian spices) on the traditional 7 layer dip but this versatile dip will allow you to play with the ingredients and personalize.

Traditional 7 layer dip uses the refried beans from cans but since most store bought refried beans contain meat, I prepare my own bean layer as this also gives me the freedom to jazz up the bean layer to suit my family & friends palate. I have used canned black beans (which are cooked and preserved in liquid). Go ahead and try this sure party pleaser for your next get together. This is one of those attested by mom, loved by kids recipe, so totally risk free.

How do you make the (7) 6 layer bean dip?
You will need a large enough plate or a dish to build the dip.
Layer 1:
2 cups cooked black beans (if using the store bought cans, drain and rinse a couple of times)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste, canned beans already has some salt)
1/2 Tsp roasted cumin powder
1/4 Tsp red chili powder
1 Tsp oil

Heat oil in a pan, add onions and fry until they sweat and turn light pink. Add the cooked beans and mash it in with a masher. The beans should become pulpy. Add salt, red chili powder, cumin powder and mix well. If the beans look very dry add a couple of spoons of water and mix it in.

Note: If cooked in a Southern kitchen, you will find this bean layer spiced with Taco mix but I prefer the flavor of roasted cumin and the heat from the chili powder.

Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes and spread it in your plate or dish as the first layer.
Layer 2:
1 cup sour cream (use fat free if you like) or 1 cup of thick home made yogurt

Pour the sour cream or yogurt on top of the bean layer and spread it out.
Layer 3:
1 cup guacamole, see recipe here

Spread the guacamole on top of the sour cream.
Layer 4:
1 cup finely chopped green onions

Layer 5:
1 cup chopped tomatoes.
If you want the dip to be spicy, here is your chance. Instead of layering plain chopped tomatoes on top, mix them with a few chopped green chilies, cilantro, salt and lemon juice and make a quick chunky salsa and then spread it in a layer.
Layer 6:
1/4 cup shredded cheese (increase or decrease the quantity to suit your taste)
Layer 7:
Traditionally this is where a few fresh chopped or whole olives are found but as I mentioned before, I skipped it.

Once you assemble the dip, press the top gently so the tomatoes and green onions get implanted in the layers below, cover the dish with a cling wrap so no air goes in and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour for the flavors to get together. The 7 layer dip is a Southern (US) Mexican dish and typically served with tortilla chips or corn chips. But you can eat this delicious, summery fresh dip with any kind of chips.
  • You can make the layers as thick or as thin as you like.
  • I sometimes layer shredded lettuce or cabbage in this dip and it tastes wonderful too.
  • Replacing sour cream with yogurt is a personal choice and makes it healthier.
  • Add spices to the bean layer, make the guacamole spicier or salsa brighter and personalize this dip. I kept the embellishments to the basic as there were lot of kids at the party.
  • While you can make this dip ahead of time, be sure to wrap it tight and refrigerate it until ready to use. Once you open it, you will want to finish it at one go as the avacados turn a dirty green spoiling the look of the dip.


NamsVeni Pothas said...

nice colorful layers to dip. we can enjoy more than the chips. nice pictures and very good recipe

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Priya Suresh said...

Honestly,i never tasted this 7layers dip, but seriously i want to give to try them, now i know where to refer if am planning to make this dip.

Premalatha Aravindhan said...

Delicious dip,yum...

Saranya Balaji said...

very interesting and new recipe to me...

Julie said...

loved the layers,yummy rich dip!!

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Kannada Cuisine said...

O boy! what a gorgeous looking dip platter. It is like a meal in itself. I remember those days. Me on the same boat. Costco chips bag was as big as me and I am like do they serve chips in weddings?
And of course the Hot-Chips popped up all over the town. I used to love the Pudina chipps, khara chipps and the hagal kayi chipps. My is watering at the though of all those chips.