Oh yeah! Finally got here with the mexican food’s rockstar: tortillas. There are two principal kinds: wheat tortillas and corn tortillas, from which the second one is the genuine mexican tortilla. Its history goes back to precolombine days, when they obtained a flour by dying corn grains and then mashing them among two rocks (there still exists this rudimentary yet helpful tool, the metate) and mixing it with animal fat (commonly pork or cow) and water.
Nowadays process is pretty much the same, there are stores dedicated to making and selling tortillas, they are called “tortillerías”, in certain neighbourhoods, indigenous women sell them right at your doorstep, their tortillas are just the best! Handmade and still warm. Those women carry a huge basket packed of tortillas and other corn goods (tlacoyos, pellizcadas, molotes, etc.) on their backs.
There is even a machine to make perfect tortillas! Once your dough is ready, you form golf size balls with your hands, place one on the machine, close the lid, put the lever on it and press it down. When you open the lid, you will find a perfectly rounded fresh tortilla, you put it on a heated steel plate and flip it until cooked (about 10 seconds per side) and then again flip it and once more.
As it will be nearly impossible to fin one of this artifacts when living abroad, a rolling pin or even an empty bottle of wine can help. The thickness of a tortilla must be about 2 milimeters and it doesn’t vary when cooked, they might inflate a bit when upon heat but that’s all.
There are other varieties like the blue corn tortilla or nopal tortilla.
As for the wheat tortilla, it was created as an attempt to imitate the jewish flat bread. They are delicious, they work with both salad and sweet ingredients and the best news is they can be found more easily worldwide, “old el paso” has great ones, “bimbo” in Spain too. In case you can’t find, you can always reach out for the arabian bread or pita, which tastes very similar but is way thicker.
CORN TORTILLA RECIPE / MAIS TORTILLAS OPPSKRIFT
I really hope you can find the corn flour! They are seldom sold in latin products groceries, I found it at Carrefour too in Spain.
– 1 package of corn flour (1 kilo)
– 200 grams of pork or cow fat plus a bit more if required, you can substitute with vegetal fat, crisco or oil, if using oil then add slowly.
– a little water, warm
– salt, 1 teaspoon
– optional: dried mashed beans, if you have leftovers, fried mashed beans, whatever you choose, they must have dough texture.
Mix salt and flour with fat until you create a solid yet malleable dough, it might crackle and crumble, add water in spoonfulls until it doesn’t stick to your hands. Sprinkle flour on the countertop for the dough not to stick. Make golf sized balls and press them down against your working surface, roll them until they are 2 milimeters thick. Use a spatula to transfer it to a hot steel plate to be cooked, flip it several times until its color changes – gets lighter – and it doesn’t break when handled.
They can be frozen for a long long time, just pile them up when cold, wrap with paper and then with foil, film or plastic bag. If stored in fridge, use before two weeks.
If you want to use beans too, then add them when the dough is ready and knead. These type of tortillas must be thicker and therefore cooked for a little longer. They are great alone or with a homemade sauce, cheese and minced onion, that’s what we call a ‘memela’.
WHEAT TORTILLA RECIPE / HVETETORTILLAS OPPSKRIFT
– white wheat flour, the one commonly found at the supermarket, you can use whole wheat flour as well
– vegetal fat, crisco or any shortening, eitherway you can use margarine.
Let’s risk and try to do some now.