There I was thinking that my cuisine was getting too boutique and customised.
The major issue was my penchant to serve corn tortillas instead of rice with, for instance, tonight's delicious Sri Lankan curry.
But in India, in the state of Punjab, a corn flat bread , Makki Di Roti, is prepared and eaten .
The DIY is a world-away version of a classic Mexican corn tortilla.
It may be referred to as a 'roti' -- and used accordingly at table -- but I'm telling you corn tortillas go so well with curry.
Aside from the culinary marriage, a tortilla made from nixtamalized corn 'masa' is going to be a lot better for you than a bowl of white rice.
And tortillas are really filling. None of that hungry soon-after feeling. For instance, here's the comparable GI:
White rice, boiled 73 ± 4
Unleavened wheat bread 70 ± 5
Brown rice, boiled 68 ± 4
Wheat roti 62 ± 3
Chapatti 52 ± 4
Corn tortilla 46 ± 4
Of course, all you have to do is make your own tortillas.
After 8 months of practice, that's easy. What you need to do is exploit any opportunity you can to make them -- like for a curry and at least weekly taco events.
Like Taco Tuesday!
Why not Curry Thursday?
So tonight -- which I think was a Sunday -- we had a Japanese dish,Oyakodon which should be a rice bowl dish that combines chicken and egg as toppings.
But we ate it on tacos.
Why bother, you ask?
I'm not a silly billy you know because I'm trying to reduce my carbohydrate intake...and a homemade corn taco contains 7-12 grams of carbohydrate. A slice of bread has around 12-15 grams.
With a nutritional profile a lot better than white flour (and white bread ) corn works for me. It may have the edge on wholemeal breads too as a taco is whole corn -- without the gluten that comes with wheat.
Two homemade tacos fill me adequately.The mix I don't use, I put away in the fridge 'til next time.
Mind you, I add pork lard -- as is the tradition -- although other oils will do (I guess -- it's your tablespoon choice). And my quirk is to sprinkle in Black Cumin (Nigella sativa) which adds to the nutritional profile and taste.
With tacos you also save on the washing up. Even the mixing bowl comes away clean as the ball of corn and water separates from the sides. No cutlery is an option.
Of course, we also eat tacos with Mexican food. Strange as it may now seem. Therein rests a major culinary adventure.
Taco plus whatever and salsa... Tis an art form. But anything goes on a taco. Think of all the layers you can throw on.
It is a truly remarkable culinary canvas.
Meat, salad greens, nopales, cheese, avocado, fruits, onions, sour cream, herbs, cabbage, mayo, chili, beans....even tomatoes!
But you'll need to master the DIY and I wouldn't try that without a tortilla press as the presses make the prep so easy and quick...and fun!
A taco afterall, is built from the ground up. You eat the plate, so to speak.
[As one does with Swedish rye crisp bread --Knäckebröd*-- another flat bread, that traditionally is the size of a dinner plate.]
But get real: a taco is much smaller than your any or everyday supermarket wraps based on the Middle Eastern Pita breads. Check the video. Dribble is very likely.
*Knäckebröd: homemade Knäckebröd is my pantry standby. They keep for ever seemingly. Whole rye baked with other seeds like pumpkin, sunflower ...and Nigella.
As an aside corn flour -- Masa -- keeps extremely well in the larder. Compared to wholemeal wheat flour or the very vulnerable whole rye flour or rye grain which I need to refrigerate.So you buy up a supply and work your way thought it.
Currently I have 10 kgm of masa on hand.
Yes, I'm seriously taco-ed.
And there is one further tip. While you can make your tacos ahead of your other meal prep, you need to keep production warm. Bugger the teatowell --what you need is something taco specific -- in size and well insulated.
Thereafter it's all production line cooking.
While a Styrofoam box is a common fixture in Mexico -- like a wee ESky (it is a 'thing') -- I found one of these in an Op shop which is perfect.
Just saying: I use the standard 2 cup of Masa recipe which will make 10-12 tacos. Enough for 4 people or, with reserved dough refrigerated, to feed as little as two (or one!). Flour+Salt+Fat/Oil+Hot Water.
If you don't have a press, use a rolling pin and lay the ball of dough between a folded sheet of ziplock bag (that thickness, split open) plastic. Press down flat as you can and give it a roll.
The op shop item looks like a aldi yogurt maker.
Tonight we had Pork Tinga-- with tacos. Not that you have to have Pork Tinga with tacos, but the recipe was so simple and easy to do in my pressure cooker I amused myself -- kitchen time wise -- making up a great batch of tortillas.
I'm getting so good at the craft that they 'puff' now. As in pocket.
Another trick in the making of tacos is to use two fry pans. Normally your everyday cooktop doesn't have a broad frying surface you cook food directly on.
To speed up the tortilla making process, start each taco on one fry pan ( a very hot _++++ one) then when you flip it, transfer it to another fry pan, which is less hot. With tacos there's no mess, no greasy residue -- so it's no big deal running an extra pan.
It's quicker and you're more in control of the process.
Which means that ultimately there is nothing like a home and freshly made tortilla. Forget the supermarket isle -- this is the real thing -- taste and texture wise.
No doubt the (wheat) flour tortilla was embraced because the diameter can be engineered wider. Wheat being so elastic with its springy gluten. After so long being exposed to wraps it can be a surprise to encounter a corn tortilla that barely covers your opened hand which can only fold rather than roll on roll.
Even in Mexico, a heavy immigration of folk from Lebanon impacted on tortilla cuisine as Arab flat 'Pita' bread styles merged with local tastes.
But, different from pita etiquette, a corn tortilla dribbles...dribbles comestibles you may like to recover from the fall.
It's all part of the feasting.
[This is why you'll see so many folk learning forward over a plate -- or beyond their personal dribble zone -- to eat...]
Unlike with sandwiches or crispbreads -- or even pitas -- a taco filling can be wetter. Size seems to encourage it being used as a shovel just right for your cake hole. And after the first or second bite, you can shove the rest into your mouth -- just like stuffing a goose.
Ya can't do that! What? Well yeah, I really loved Salmon tortillas tonight.
I need to master a flat bread of some description. Something I can whip out fairly quickly, with minimal fuss and no additional equipment.
That was my starting point...
If you have the masa, tortillas are very quick to make.
No mess results. Unlike wheat. Nothing sticks to anything.
The most time taken is the cooking of the 'dough': one side >then the other>then flip again.
And you can prepare the tortillas BEFORE you cook the topping or make the salsa.
We eat them with Mexican foods, Stir Fries and Curries.
Every second night!
Any leftover dough will keep for another excuse as will cooked tortillas.
There is a learning curve. The knack is getting the ingredient proportions right: masa+salt+hot water+ fat/oil.
Since I have given up all grains but -- to good effect I say -- this is my indulgence.
Two tacos are very filling. And the toppings are limitless.
One cup of masa will make 6 tortillas.
I guess it's the press that puts me off Dave.
Online there are many ways to make the tortilla without a press. Worth a try a few times.
But remember you need to get some masa too. You can get locally grown corn but it isn't nixtamalized.
You can get a press in Newmarket from HERE from Pepes
Pepes also sell masa.
If you have juniors about, using a press is a lot of family fun. If you make 'em often it is a standard tool. No sweat.
Using tortillas is another, very different, way of eating. It's like the way flat breads are used in the Indian sub continent and Sri Lanka -- in that they serve as edible cutlery.
if you go to Pepes to gear up make sure you get anchiote paste. I'm planning to make my own once I get a berry supply. I luvs the stuff.
That and Chipotle Chili. (smoked chili). You gotta get into the Yucatan groove.
Don't forget that Woolworths offer a home brand corn tortilla really cheaply. Not a great taste but enough to embrace the taco habit. They also sell Mission brand corn ones.
I've got my daughter taco-ing by stocking up and freezing the Woolies tortillas. Before I went with the press, I spent a year using bought tortillas. But the homemade is where the taste thrill is at.
I found this recipe by Chef John. Here. I love the guy. I get a lot of my recipes from him. He has two easy options for the press. If I become a convert, I'll think about getting myself a press but I want to make sure I'll use it before I spend the money (and take up more valuable cupboard space).
I also found this place at Woolloongabba https://www.pennisicuisine.com.au/default that sells Masa at half the price of Pepe's (well, to be fair, one is a retailer and the other a restaurant).
As for Chef John, I do recommend using pork lard in the masa mix. That is the Mexican way for flavour delighting and makes prep easier.
No waste with masa. I am batching at the moment, so just prepped two tortillas for tea with carnitas(pork) and fried nopales,
Life doesn't get much better than that...
If you are stuck for salsa ideas, my long term favorite site is Clays. You can make salsa out of anything!
I'm getting into the Yucatan mode and using oranges in cooking more often. Great tweak.
I always loved steamed chicken in the South East Asian style but I think Yucatan steamed chicken (in banana leaves) tops it. Both steaming methods go so well with tortillas.
But then, I'm an ideologue on a journey...