Salvadoran Pupusas Revueltas

Country 44 – El Salvador

The smallest and most populated country in Central America, its landscape ranges from high mountains and active volcanoes to over 300km of Pacific sandy coastline to its spectacular nightlife to the dozens of coffee plantations situated in the country. Nicknamed the Tom Thumb of the Americas, welcome to El Salvador.

Coatepeque Lake, El Salvador

Coatepeque Lake, El Salvador

El Salvador is a small country bordering Guatemala and Honduras in Central America. The official language is Spanish since it was part of the New Spain colony for over 200 years (between the 16th to 18th centuries).  El Salvador is situated on the Cocos tectonic plate, which has led to country to have hundreds of earthquake and volcanic eruptions.

San Salvador is the capital and is located Boquerón Volcano Valley in the south west of the country. The city is heavily influenced by Los Angles especially in architectural terms, with styles architectural styles like Googie, Populuxe, Modernist, Streamline Moderne, Art Deco and Futurist being present in buildings around the city. The city has a historic downtown area with numerous buildings being national attractions.

Teatro Nacional de El Salvador (National Theatre in the historic downtown)

Teatro Nacional de El Salvador (National Theatre in the historic downtown)

Salvadoran Cuisine

The indigenous Pipil and Spanish peoples have heavily influenced the traditional cuisine. Popular ingredients include; maize (corn), Loroco (an edible vine), Izote flower, plantain, yucca or cassava and Salvadoran cheeses such as queso duro, queso freso, and cuajada. Some of the most loved dishes include; Pupusas, Tamales, Sopa de pata (soup made from plantain, cow’s feet, corn and tripe),  yuca frita and panes rellenos. The national liquor of El Salvador is Tic Tack, distilled from sugar cane and the other popular drink is Horchata, made from milk and a mix of spices.

Tic-Tack

WHAT I MADE

I decided to make Pupusas , one of the most common dishes in El Salvador. I’d heard of them before from a TV show called Bizarre Foods America (its really good, I would greatly suggest watching if possible) anyway in episode 1 season 3 the host visits a Salvadoran restaurant and samples some Pupusas, so when I got El Salvador I knew I had to make them. After finding a recipe here’s the link  Pupusas Revueltas from fellow WordPress blog Latinaish. Next I had a quite large obstacle of trying to locate a store that sold MASECA Corn Flour (Instant Corn Masa Flour) in my area, let me tell you this took so long, at first I thought I had found a place but ringing them found that they only sold in bulk for businesses, so the search continued long and far with me scouring the internet for any mention of MASECA in Sydney. I finally found a small Latin American store in Fairfield that stocked it, success! So if any you dear readers live in the Sydney area and are in need MASECA or some other Latin ingredients go to  Tierras Latinas.

RECIPE

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 500g pork mince (you can even use turkey or chicken if you don’t eat pork)
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1-2 tbs. canola oil
  • 1 medium tomato, washed and quartered
  • 1 medium Poblano or the equivalent green pepper, washed, stem & seeds removed, and quartered
  • 1/2 a medium onion, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 250g whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated coarsely
  • salt to taste

For the Dough

  • 3 cups MASECA
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For Salsa

  • 3 to 4 fresh large tomatoes (Roma are best), chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 of a medium Poblano pepper, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (also known as “Salsa Perrins.”)

Method

1. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic. Stir for a few seconds before adding meat and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Remove from heat, set aside. (Note: Many people use chunks of pork in place of ground pork and after cooking, run it through the food processor. This is totally up to you. I’ve used both methods and both work.)

2. In the food processor blend together tomato, chilli and onion till as smooth consistency. Pour into a bowl, add to the pork and mix to combine. Taste and correct with salt if needed. Add the refried beans. Stir to combine. Set the mixture aside.

4. In a large bowl sprinkle salt over MASECA and then pour in water. Mix by hand until combined, should be a smooth soft consistency.

5. To form pupusas, take a large handful of dough, (slightly bigger than a golf ball), and pat it into a tortilla. Cup your hand so the tortilla forms a bowl-like shape. In the hollow, place a large pinch of the pupusa filling. Close your hand gently to fold the sides up around the filling and form the ball again. Pat out into a thick tortilla shape, repeat with remaining dough and mixture.

6. Make salsa by combining all ingredients.

7. Place on a hot griddle, comal or non-stick frying pan. (No oil is needed, although I did some with oil and they were better) Flip to cook on each side. Serve with salsa.

 

My pupusas with salsa

My pupusas with salsa

The pupusas were alright, quite doughy. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong with mine, I think I didn’t put quite enough meat & cheese mixture but then I couldn’t fit much more in my dough “cups” without the mixture spilling out or being seen through the dough. Also I didn’t like the salsa that I made that much as it was very strong and acidic, I have changed the recipe from the one I followed, to something I think is a lot nicer.Maybe you’ll have more luck with both the pupusas and the salsa! And as for me I’ll just have to wait for some lovely Salvadoran to make some pupusas for me. Score 5/10

P.S Sorry for the lack of posts the last 2 months, we’ve both been super busy working and learning, hope you’ve all been eating some good food while we’ve been gone! Comment your favourite meal you’ve had in the last week below!

 

Spectacular Indian feast

WEEK 18 – India

From the towering snow-capped peaks of the northern mountains to the red-hot beaches of the southern coast and with a invigorating mix of people, religion, traditions and landscapes, its a melting pot of culture, India.

Arambol Beach, Goa

Arambol Beach, Goa

Situated in South Asia, India is the seventh-largest country by area in the world along with being the second-most populated country over 1.2 billion people. It’s capital city, New Delhi is located in northern India, even though it lies on the floodplains of the Yamuna River, it is essentially a landlocked city. At the heart of the city is the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan (formerly known as Viceroy’s House) which sits atop Raisina Hill. Its the official home of the President of India and is the largest residence of any head of state in the world.

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 7.00.39 PM

The 340 room main building that is the President’s home, the plot of land is 130 hectare (320 acre) big and is referred to as the President Estate. It includes huge gardens (Mughal Gardens), large open spaces, housing for both bodyguards and staff, stables and other offices and utilities within its walls.

Throughout India’s history, religion has played a significant role in the country’s culture. It is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Rituals, worship, and other religious activities are very prominent in daily life.

Muslims praying in a mosque in Srinagar

Muslims praying in a mosque in Srinagar

INDIAN CUISINE

Indian food is majorly influenced by religious and cultural reasons and traditions. Indian cuisine combines various regional cuisines within the Indian subcontinent. These cuisines differ greatly from each other as each use spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits available locally. Staple food items in Indian cuisine are legumes such as; lentils, mung beans and black grams and also some pulses such as; chickpeas, kidney beans and black-eyed peas, the pulses are eaten commonly in the northern regions.

Traditional Indian feast

Traditional Indian feast

Others staples include; rice, pearl millet and wholemeal flour. The most widely used spices in Indian cuisine include; whole or powdered chilli pepper (introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century), black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, ginger, coriander, and garlic. One of the most famous Indian spice blends is Garam Masala which contains 5 or 6 spices, although each region has its own blend.

Many Indian desserts, or mithai, are fried and are made with sugar, milk or condensed milk, in India’s eastern regions almost all desserts are made with milk products. Some desserts include; Kulfi  (Indian icecream), Kheer (sweet rice pudding) and Gulab jamun (fried milk balls soaked in a sweet syrup, such as rose syrup or honey).

Traditionally meals in India are eaten while seated either on the floor or on very low stools or cushions. In the right hand food is eaten as cutlery is not used much. While the left hand is used to serve yourself when their not already served for you.

WHAT I MADE

I decided to really showcase Indian cuisine this week so I made up my mind to make an Indian feast! I sourced my three recipes from: the spiced potato croquettes & the onion bhaji both from the BBC food site their links are here →spiced indian potato croquettes & onion bhaji . For the other recipe “Saffron & Almond Chicken” I used one from a cookbook we own called Favourite Indian Food by Diana Seed and illustrated by Robert Budwig. Now this cookbook is hand illustrated which to a modern day cook like my self is immediately a turn off, its so old it doesn’t even have photographs! But I must say the recipes make up for its interesting pictures.

RECIPES

Spiced Potato Croquettes

Preparation Time: Less than 30 mins

 Cooking Time: 10 to 30 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the croquettes

vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp mustard seeds

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

5cm/2in piece ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 long green chilli, finely chopped

500g/1lb 2oz cold mashed potato

3 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

75g/3oz plain flour

3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp black onion seeds

110g/4oz dried breadcrumbs

For the Mint sauce

5 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

5 tbsp mint leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200g/7oz natural yoghurt

1 lime, juice only

Method

  1. For the croquettes, heat a deep fat fryer to 180C/350F (CAUTION: Do not leave hot oil unattended).
  2. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for 20 seconds until they start to pop (take care to avoid the seeds popping into your eyes and face).
  3. Add the onion, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes until just softened.
  4. Tip the cooked onion mixture into a bowl with the mashed potato and mix well.
  5. Add the coriander leaves and season with salt and black pepper, then mix once more.
  6. Taking spoonfuls of the mix, form little cylinders about 6cm/2½in long, and 2.5cm/1in wide.
  7. Prepare a tray of the flour and a bowl of the egg. Dust the croquettes with flour and then dip in the egg, coating on each side.
  8. Mix the sesame and black onion seeds with the breadcrumbs on a plate, then coat the potato in the crumbs, ensuring all sides are covered.
  9. Place in the fat fryer and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until hot through, and crispy and golden-brown outside. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
  10. For the sauce, put the coriander, mint and garlic into a blender with the vegetable oil and blend to a fine purée. Add the yoghurt and blend once more until the herbs are very fine.
  11. Season with the lime, salt and a little black pepper.

  12. Serve croquettes along side mint sauce

 

Onion Bhaji

Preparation time: Less than 30 mins

Cooking time: Less than 10 mins

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

3 onions, sliced

120g/4oz plain flour

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin seeds

3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if required

Method

  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add the onion rings and mix well.
  3. Add the flour, ground coriander and cumin seeds and stir well to combine.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat. When hot add a large spoonful of the bhaji mixture and fry for 30-45 seconds, until golden-brown.
  5. Turn the bhaji over and fry for a further 30 seconds, until crisp and golden-brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Repeat with the remaining bhaji mixture, replenishing the oil in the pan if it runs low and allowing it to heat up again after a new addition.

Saffron & Almond Chicken

Ingredients

6 chicken breast fillets (skinless,boneless chicken breast halves)

toasted slivered almonds, to garnish

For Marinade

3 cloves garlic

2cm/ ¾ inch piece fresh root ginger

1 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp salt

½ tsp paprika

3 tsp vegetable oil

For Filling

2 fresh hot green chilli

½ brown onion

4cm/ 1 ½ inch piece fresh root ginger

2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

100g/ ½ cup ricotta or cottage cheese

For Sauce

50g/ 1/3 cup cashew nuts

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

2 cloves garlic

2cm/ ¾ inch piece fresh root ginger

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small brown onion

200ml plain yoghurt

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garam marsala

1 tsp saffron threads

Method

  1. Use ginger grater to grate ginger or very finely slice and mince garlic and mix with other marinade ingredients.
  2. Rub chicken breasts with mixture and place in a bowl covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for an hour or as long as possible.
  3. De-seed chillies and put into food processor with the other filling ingredients, work to a paste
  4. For the sauce, in the food processor mix cashews and coconut with 50ml water to make a paste.
  5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, while finely chopping onion, add onion and cook until soft, while cooking grate ginger and mince garlic.
  6. Add garlic and ginger and when, it is dry add cashew paste.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes, the add the yoghurt, salt, garam marsala and saffron dissolved in a little warm milk. Set aside and keep warm.
  8. Cut the chicken breasts in half but not all the way, making a pouch, carefully stuff the filling inside.
  9. Place the fillets onto a greased baking tray and covered in foil.
  10. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°C/ gas 4 for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.
  11. Transfer to serving dish and spoon over sauce, garnish with toasted slivered almonds and extra plain yoghurt is desired
My Saffron & Almond Chicken

My Saffron & Almond Chicken

My Onion Buji's & Spiced Potato Croqeuttes

My Onion Bhaji’s & Spiced Potato Croquettes

Everybody loved this meal! I was so so happy! I had been cooking all afternoon and it most definitely payed off, all the food was delicious and really brought me to India. The chicken dish was very interesting as there was ricotta in it, not quite sure they’d use that over there, but it was so good the chicken was unbelievably tender and the sauce was to die for! Creamy, coconutty and full of flavour & cashews nuts yum! The croquettes were so soft and pillowy it was hard to stop eating them and the sauce accompanied them perfectly. and as for the bhaji’s want more could you want crunchy, crispy, and  delicately spiced they were delicious and also were great with the sauce for the croquettes! We also served the meal with some fresh salad and mango chutney, my favourite! Another 10/10 for me.