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Being a mother of a Mexican boy, I hold the burden to keep his Mexican traditions alive. October 31st – November 2nd is observed as Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico. Its an ancient Aztec Festival where the deceased are fondly remembered. Its very similar to Sharaad in India. Each household decorates an Altar called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. 

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One such food being offered is Pan de Muerto which means ‘Bread of the dead’. It’s a delicious sweet bread with flavours of Orange or Anise or even cinnamon. The bun shaped bread is decorated with bone shaped phalanges. The bones represent the deceased and there is a ball on top of the bread which is  like a  teardrop  representing Aztec goddess Chimalma’s tears for the living. The bones are represented in a circle to portray the circle of life. When we were in Mexico we used to relish. A person from our office would collect money from everyone and get each one of us a loaf of this bread around the festivity. Those memories are so fresh in my mind and make me nostalgic. 

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And this year when Dia de Muerto returned I so wanted to eat it. So I decided to make it at home. After reading many recipes in Spanish I managed to make this gorgeous loaf . It tasted just the way we found in Mexico. I just cannot contain my excitement. This is dedicated to all my friends in Mexico who gave us so much love. You must try this delicious bread and become a part of the tradition.

Directions:
1. In a jar add some lukewarm milk and add instant yeast.


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2. Also add some sugar and a spoonful of flour.


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3. Combine everything using a spoon and let there be no lumps. Let the mixture proof for 5-10 minutes. There will be bubbles and froth all over the top. 


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4. On a counter place the All Purpose Flour and make a well in the centre. 


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5. Add the proofed yeast liquid in the centre of the well.


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6. Now using your hand start taking little flour from the side and keep mixing with the water. Don’t do everything in one go. Little by little is the key. Add sugar in the well and combine till the sugar has mixed.


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7. Add eggs in the well and continue to add little flour little by little. Also add vanilla essence.


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8. Keep mixing flour and then knead everything together. The dough will be very very sticky. Do not panic! That’s how it should be.


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8. You can use a bread scraper to scrap out sticky dough. Spread it like a disc and add butter at room temperature.


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9. Also add  zest of an orange and and continue to knead. The dough will still be sticky but you just have to keep kneading for good ten minutes. 


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10. At this stage add just a little flour to make it less sticky and keep kneading til you get a pliable dough. Do not add a lot of flour. Add a few spoons first then knead and see if you need more. 


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11. Place it in a greased bowl which has room for rising. Cover with a cling wrap and let it rise for an hour or so or until it has doubled in size. The time will vary on how hot or cold is your kitchen.


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12. After 1 and a half hours the dough looks doubled. You need to place it on the counter and deflate it and knead it for a few minutes.


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13. Separate 1/4th section of the dough and keep it aside for making bones and tear.

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14. Divide rest of the dough into more or less six equal parts for shaping them in a bun. Place the rolled buns on a baking tray lined with parchment paper leaving gap between each of them for second rise.


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15. Make small six balls which represent tears with very little dough from the reserved dough and we will utilize the rest of it to make bones. Cover these balls with a kitchen towel till we use them.

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16. Divide rest of the dough into more or less 12 equal parts, you need two bones per bun. Start making thin cigars shapes with your palms with each one of them.


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17. Using your three fingers as in the picture make indents in the cigar shaped dough to represent a bone. 


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18. Place this bone shaped dough over a bun and another one across making it a cross.


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19. Press the cross section just a little and place the ball on top.


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20. Repeat the same with rest of the buns. Cover the baking tray with a lint free kitchen towel for second rise. This should again take about 45 minutes to one hour depending on the environment.


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21. After they have doubled in size preheat the oven  for 10 minutes to 180 degree Celsius (Learn more about Oven temperatures and Conversions). Bake them in oven for 20 minutes or until you see them turned golden brown.


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22. Let them come to room temperature and now brush each one of them with melted butter and ghee roughly sprinkle on them castor sugar.


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23. Pan de Muerto is ready to be served. You can use them for the offering if you are following the tradition or just eat it like a pan dulce or sweet bread. Goes best with a hot cup of Coffee. Thats exactly I remember eating it in Mexico.

Other Mexican dishes you can try are: Chilies en NogadaFresh Mexican Black Bean and Mango SaladHuevos en CazuelaSopa De Frijol

If you are looking for more bread recipes you can try: Vegetarian homemade PizzaRussian BubliciWhole Wheat Sandwich BreadChinese Black Sesame Steamed BunsCinnamon Raisin BreadBeetroot Bread with Garlic and ThymeHoney Oats BreadDomino’s Garlic BreadsticksGarlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread and Focaccia Bread with Fresh Cherries, Rosemary and Sea Salt.

pandemuerto_featured6[whohit]PanDeMuerto[/whohit]

 

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Chilies en Nogada is a dish from Mexican Cuisine, made from milder variety of Chilies known as Chili Poblano. The Chilies are stuffed with filling made from meat and fruits and walnut sauce is poured on top. Therefore, the term Nogada comes from Nogal which in Spanish means Walnut Tree.  This dish has a historical significance and is made in and around the day of Mexican Independence, 16th September, which is right around the corner and that is when Pomegranates appear in the markets of Central Mexico. Significantly, it uses the three colours of Mexican Flag; Red, White and Green.

Traditionally, Chilies en Nogada is from the State of Puebla. During our three year stay in Mexico we visited Puebla many times and our friends introduced us to this delicious delicacy on our trip to Tepotzotlan. We fell in love with its flavour so much that I decided to learn how to cook this before returning to my homeland. Thanks to youtube, google and my friends in Mexico who guided me to perfect this recipe. On one occasions I invited a Mexican friend for dinner and served Chilies en Nogada. She was so surprised and happy that it tasted just the way they serve in restaurants. Today, I share this recipe with you as a tribute to my Son’s Country: Mexico on its day of Independence. Viva Mexico!

Directions:

1. Wash and pat dry Chili Poblano and peel its skin. Learn How to roast and peel Chili Poblano. Make a slit in length from the side till the bottom and gently remove all the seeds. Keep aside.

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2. Soak walnuts in milk for overnight or at least 3 to 4 hours to make a smooth paste.

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3. Peel the skin of Pear, Apple and Banana and chop them in cubes. Keep aside.

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4. In a skillet add some oil and saute some onions till they become translucent.

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5. Add ground or finely chopped meat. Traditionally they use pork and beef but I used lamb. Cook it till it gets some colour.

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6. Add chopped tomatoes, banana, apple and pear.

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7. When the meat and fruits are cooked add raisins and ground almonds. You can also add candied pineapples. I did not have any so I skipped.

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8. Add a pinch of ground cinnamon, salt, sugar and ground black pepper. Cook till the mixture is coarse and appropriate for stuffing.

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9. For the sauce add soaked walnuts in a blender along with milk, fresh cream, goat cheese and cream cheese. I added simply cream cheese. Also add sugar and pinch of white pepper. Run it together to make a very fine sauce.

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10. Stuff the Poblano Chilies with Stuffing using a spoon and place them in a serving plate.

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11. Pour on top the walnut sauce to cover the chilies and sprinkle some parsley leaves along with pomegranate seeds.

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Serve at room temperature.

You can even try other dishes from Mexican Cuisine like Guacamole, Sopa de Frijol-Red Kidney Bean Soup, Huevos en Cazuela-Casserole Eggs.

 [whohit]ChilesEnNogada[/whohit]

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Sopa de Frijol also known as Kidney Bean Soup is a creamy, delicious soup from the land of corn and beans – Mexico. In Mexico we found wide varieties of beans, from regular red kidney beans to black beans, soya beans, green beans, haba beans, alubia beans and many many more. Since we were surrounded by beans we came across plenty of dishes made from them.

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Sopa de frijol was one of them which was not just rich and creamy but whole meal in it self. They were served with fried/baked tortilla strips. This soup is rich in proteins and kids just love it. Traditionally this soup is made with black beans known as frijoles negros which is widely available in Latin american markets. But I gave it a try with red kidney beans which are available in India. So if you can easily lay your hands on black ones please feel free to use them.Rest of the recipe remains same.

Directions:

1. Wash and soak red kidney beans or rajma  in water overnight or for at least 6 to 7 hours.

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2. Add beans, oregano, salt, cumin powder, garlic cloves, onion and 5 cups of water. Boil them in a pressure pan for 30 to 40 minutes till they become soft and gooey. If you are boiling in a pot, bring them to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low, cook covered and stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. 

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3. Once cooked transfer them in a blender and make a smooth puree. Season it with salt and pepper. Set aside.  


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4. In a skillet add little oil add chopped onions and saute them till they become translucent and lose their crispness. Now add chopped garlic and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Now add chopped tomatoes and cook them till they become soft and tender. 


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5. Let it cool and then transfer it in a blender to combine  into a smooth puree. 

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6. In a large saucepan combine the pureed beans and pureed tomatoes and add 1 cup water or vegetable stock. Cook on a medium flame till it starts to thicken.

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7. Add fresh cream and season with Salt and Pepper.


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8. Garnish it with Baked tortilla chips. For tortilla strips,  brush one face of tortilla with little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. and cut them into strips.


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9.  Place them in a baking tray or bowl. They need not be flattened. Bake them in a preheated oven on 180 degree Celsius  for 5-7 minutes or until they become crisp and acquire a slight golden colour.


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10. To serve, divide soup among serving bowls, and sprinkle with crumbled cottage cheese or paneer and tortilla strips. 

Other Soup Recipes you can try are: Classic Russian BorschCream of Broccoli Soup with ChivesPeas and Mushroom Spicy Soup Classic French Potato Leek SoupTomato SoupZucchini Garlic Soup with Yak Cheese ShreddingsChicken Soup with Rice.

 [whohit]SopaDeFrijol[/whohit]

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Chicken Soup is a popular healthy soup made in all parts of the world. Each Cuisine makes it in its own unique way by adding its special Secret Ingredient. I was a Vegetarian in India before I came to Mexico, so I had no knowledge of how to cook any non vegetarian dishes including chicken soup. I happened to try one day one of their Chicken Soup which is a clear soup made with rich stock. Its known as Consomé de Pollo.


The soup was warm and delicious and a complete meal in itself because it had rice in it. I looked for the traditional recipe and made few variations and here is my version of it. The soup is perfect for winter dinner tables. You can relish it by adding a few drops of lemon juice, just the way Mexicans like it. After this trial I have tried so many other dishes from the Mexican cuisine like Sopa de Frijol, Guacamole, Pan de Muerto, and the list goes on. If you are keen on trying authentic Mexican dishes you should try some of these.

Directions:
1. Take boneless skinless chicken(I used chicken breast because it is with least fat), and cut it in thin slices so that it cooks faster and evenly.

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2. In a flat bottom pan, pour less than one tbsp of olive oil and when it begins to turn hot add the sliced chicken slices to it.

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3. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and when you notice the pink color of chicken has turned white you can flip it upside down.  Season the bird with salt and pepper.

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4. Keep flipping sides till you see the chicken has acquired a light golden brown colour. Cook until the chicken is soft but do not over cook for it will loose all its moisture hence its taste. Remove from pan and keep in a plate to cool.

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5. When the chicken has cooled, shred it gently with the help of two forks. You can even cut it in to bite size pieces, completely depends on personal preference.

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6. Now in a pot pour a tablespoon of olive oil and when it starts to warm up add garlic and saute them for a minute. Then add onions and Saute them till they become translucent.

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7. Now add tomatoes and garnish it with salt and pepper. Cook the tomatoes till they are gooey and are in semi liquid state.

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8. Add half cup of cooked rice. I prefer to use less rice because if the quantity of rice is more the soup becomes dense with chicken and rice. But if you wish you can add rice as much as you want.

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9. Add to the mixture about 5 cups of water or chicken broth. I simply add water for I feel as it is a chicken soup why add additional chicken broth. Plus the packaged broth is high on sodium. But if you feel it makes a huge difference in taste, go head and add one broth or chicken bullion or cube along with water.

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10.  Check for additional salt or pepper. Now cover the pot with a lid and let it sit on low flame for about twenty minutes.

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Transfer the soup in a soup bowl, squeeze in some lemon juice and enjoy steaming hot on a cold cold night.

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If you are looking for other soup recipes you can try: Classic Russian BorschCream of Asparagus SoupCream of Broccoli Soup with ChivesPeas and Mushroom Spicy SoupClassic French Potato Leek SoupMexican Red Kidney Beans Soup With Baked Tortilla ChipsTomato Soup , Zucchini Garlic Soup with Yak Cheese ShreddingsCream of Mushroom.

 

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