I love to cook whenever I am back visiting family in India. Generally speaking, the produce available there is much better than to what I have access to in the US. The vegetables just burst with flavor mostly because most produce comes from non-GMO small farmers. But this is changing as more factory farming takes hold. If the end result is going to be insipid vegetables like we are used to here in the US, then I am not looking forward to it. But I digress.
The kind of food I end up making in India for my family are things they are not used to – Vegetarian Chili, Pizza and Tex Mex, to give a few examples. Given that neither the ingredients nor the equipment is quite the same as the US, one has to improvise. That is part of the fun. We call it Jugaad (see an example here for making Pizza on a stovetop). Given the explosion of IT Services and BPO work and the kind of employees they attract, canned ingredients of most everything I make are now available in grocery stores where my family lives (Old El Paso anyone?) – at a price. However, at my heart I am a cheap Desi and I can’t bear to pay the kind of extortionist prices these ingredients go for. So more often than not, I go back to basics and make things from scratch.
On the last trip, we decided on Tex Mex and I decided to make a Taco Bar from scratch. We had Refried Beans (using Rajma Beans instead of Pinto Beans), Salsa (made from fresh ingredients, not canned tomatoes), Lemon-Cilantro Rice and Tortillas. I had made everything from scratch before except for Tortillas but I was surprised at how easy it was to make them. Since Tortillas are traditionally made with lard, I found a recipe on web that was vegetarian (click here). They turned out really well – waaay better than anything store bought. One thing to know is that the dough will get sticky. Don’t worry too much about it as you can use more flour when rolling the dough out.
INGREDIENTS (for about 8 Tortillas)
2 cups All Purpose flour (I used Maida in India)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp Baking Powder
Some warm water
1. Mix all the dry ingredients and add the oil.
2. Gradually start adding water and kneading the dough till it is nice and soft and slightly sticky.
3. Cover with cling wrap and let rest for an hour.
4. Break the dough into balls about 1-2 inches in diameter.
5. Using lots of flour to cover them so they don’t get sticky, roll them out into discs about 7-8 inches in diameter and about 1/8″-1/4″ in thickness.
6. Heat a dry griddle and skillet and cook Tortillas on both sides till they just start to develop some spots. DO NOT OVERCOOK or they will get hard.
TIP: Watch some videos on Youtube to get a sense of what it takes to roll and cook a Tortilla if you haven’t made a flatbread like Chapati before.
7. Store, covered in a tea cloth or in a sealed container.