Monthly Archives: September 2014

Tiramisu…need I say anything more?

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I grew up in India and came to the United States after my marriage. I knew no cooking so I eagerly looked forward to eating at restaurants. The first restaurant I went to after coming to the US was ‘Florentines’, an Italian restaurant. Until then, I had never eaten Italian food but I loved all the new dishes I tried. However my most favorite dish, which often is true for me…was the dessert. I tried Tiramisu…and I fell in love with it.

Tiramisu which translates to ‘pick me up’ in Italian is my favorite. I love the coffee flavor and the lightness of this dessert. It looks elegant, tastes great and can be made ahead, what more can you ask for? In fact, if you make it a day or two ahead, I feel it tastes better.

I experimented with many recipes and then settled on this one which combines the best parts of various recipes.

Two important ingredients to make good tiramisu are a good quality mascarpone cheese and a good cup of espresso. The traditional recipe also calls for raw eggs, but I have included a workaround if you want to avoid eating uncooked eggs.

My kids love Tiramisu, this is by far their most favorite dessert. They think that I make the best tiramisu and that is quite a compliment since we have been to many nice italian restaurants. 🙂

 

Tiramisu

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Ingredients

2 packets of lady fingers

2 packs of mascarpone cheese( about  400 g) at room temp

5 egg yolks ( at room temp)

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup whipping cream

6 shots of espresso ( about 1 1/2 cup) cooled

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Method:

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Keep aside in a bowl.

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Mix the egg yolks and sugar till pale yellow in color.

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Add the mascarpone cheese and mix till everything is blended well. When blended well, add 1/4 cup of espresso and mix well. This time I used ‪#‎CafeUbuntu‬‪#‎sharedfate‬ from Whole Foods, I must say it is a good cup of coffee for a great cause.

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Take the whipped cream and fold into the mascarpone cheese mixture.

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Arrange the lady fingers in a tray.

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Soak them with generous amount of coffee.

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Spread with the cream mixture. Alternate till you have the top layer of cream.

Sprinkle some dark cocoa and chill in the refrigerator.  Ideally you should make it at least a day ahead, I feel that it lets the flavor mingle and marry.

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Notes:

1. If you dont have access to espresso, make strong instant coffee and use that instead

2. You can use lightly sweetened pound cake in place of lady fingers if you can not find lady fingers.

3. If you are trying to make a no egg version, just leave the eggs out. Add 1/2 cup of whipping cream. I have also heard people using custard powder. I have not tried that myself.

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Cauliflower soup with Pistachio Pesto & chili oil

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I have been making a conscious effort to eat local, what is in season. It can be challenging in the cold months since you have very few stalls in the farmer’s market and very few options for vegetables. One vegetable that is abundantly available in fall and winter, is cauliflower. I like cauliflower cooked in many ways. I make many Indian dishes with Cauliflower like Cauliflower parantha ( made two ways), curry, roasted cauliflower, fritters etc.  Today’s recipe is a little different, it is a soup which is perfect for the cold weather and the pesto topping really perks up the otherwise bland tasting vegetable.

Cauliflower soup with Pistachio pesto & chili oil

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Ingredients

For the soup
1 head of Cauliflower
2 Gold potatoes
2 Garlic cloves
1 Leek
4 Cups Veg stock
Oil
Salt n Pepper


Method:


Cut cauliflower & potatoes into big pieces, sprinkle olive oil, salt n pepper.

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Roast in 400F oven for about 35 mins with garlic cloves.

In the meantime, slice the white portion of the leek aute in olive oil for about 2 mins.

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Saute in olive oil for about 2 mins

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Add veg stock and cook until the vegetables are roasted.

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Puree the roasted veg and the stock in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pistachio pesto

Ingredients:

½ cup Roasted Pistachios
¼ tsp each Cumin, Caraway coriander seeds
1 bunch Cilantro
1 Chopped tomato
1/4 -1/2 cup Olive oil

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Dry roast the spices and grind with all the other ingredients.

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If you wish to keep this a little longer, add more oilve oil to make a thinner pesto.

Chilli oil

1 tsp Crushed red chilli
1 tsp Caraway seeds
2 tbsp saffola oil


Dry roast the spices and keep aside.

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Heat oil to almost smoking point and add spices. Cook a min longer.

 

To serve:

Ladle the cauliflower soup in a bowl,add a spoonful of the pesto. Drizzle a little bit of chili oil.

Chicken Savji- a unique chicken curry

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I posted Jowar Bhakri last week. One of the accompaniments was Chicken Savji and many people asked for the recipe.So as promised here are the recipes of Chicken Savji.

Chicken savji can be made in two ways, Solapuri and Nagpuri style. This is made with the recipe that my mom makes, it is a little different than the Savji on the Nagpur side. I make both, but like the Solapuri version a little more.

Savji– सोलापुर स्टाइल

Savaji Chicken…my mom makes Savaji mutton, the same masala with chicken.I love Savji Chicken…it is very very yummy. Typically indian meat curries have tomato, onion as a base. This recipe is unique since it does not have onion or tomatoes.

Savaji Chicken

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Ingredients:


1 lb Chicken( I make it with boneless for the kids, but tastes better with boned)
1tsp haldi
2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste

Dry Masala


1/2 cup dry roasted coconut ( I take the dry coconut wati and almost burn it on the gas flame, you can also use shredded coconut)
2 tbsp of khukhus
2 tbsp of Sesame seeds

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2 tbsp tamarind pulp ( mixed with some water)

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1.5 tsp garam masala
2-3 tbsp Bedagi chilli powder

 

Method:

Dry roast khuskhus, til and coconut and grind together to make a fine paste. I use my coffee grinder.

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Marinate chicken with 1tbsp ginger garlic paste,salt and haldi.
Heat oil, add ½ garam masala, chili powder.

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Add chicken pieces. Saute for a few minutes, add hot water, cook for some time.

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Add tamarind pulp and  the remaining ginger garlic paste.

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Add boiling water to get the consistency of the curry you like. Bring it to a good boil. Add the til-khukhus paste.

Taste and add more garam masala/chili powder as needed. My mom likes to season the dish as she goes along, I feel it works really well.Do not boil too much after the paste is added  otherwise it gives out oil and does not taste very good.

Serve with bhakri. It taste good even the next day.

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Note:

It tastes really good with mutton, in fact I feel the mutton savji tastes better than the chicken version.

 

 

Jowar Bhakri- Sorghum flat bread

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Jowar Bhakri (ज्वारीची भाकरी)

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Whenever I talk to any non-indians about Indian breads, most of them only know naan. Although I like Naan, there are so many different breads that are part of the Indian cuisine  that the rest of the world  is unaware of. I hope to do a series of posts on various Indian Breads.

My most favorite Indian bread is actually a flat bread.

What is Jowar(Sorghum)?

Jowar is a grain cultivated through out India. It is considered a cheap alternative to wheat. It is a very healthy grain with a lot of fibre and rich nutrients that are supposedly beneficial to fight against diseases like cancer, diabetes. The list of health benefits is pretty long.

 

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Jowar fields

Jowar bhakri is very common in many parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, especially  it is an integral part of the Farmers’ diet.In the villages Bhakri is made typically on a wooden stove. The smoky flavor you get with that is unmatchable.

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I love to eat bhakri right off the stove, with a pinch of salt, onion and green chili, I feel that it is the best food on the planet. In fact, if I am asked on my death bed what I would like to eat, it would be bhakri.

I typically make Bhakri with spicy chicken and some greens.

Today’s post is dedicated to ‘Jowar Bhakri’

Ingredients are very simple, Jowar flour & water. How much simpler can it get. The trick is in making these beauties.  Although I did not cook at all before I got married, this is one thing I made sure I learnt how to make.  I thought it will be easier to explain it through videos rather than just the pictures or words.

So here is my attempt to capture Jowar Bhakri Recipe.

 

Ingredients

2 cups of Jowar flour

about 1 cup of water

Method:

Step 2:

Make a dough with the flour. Make sure you knead it a bit to ensure that it is smooth. It will be almost the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Step 3:

Make a flat bread patting with you hands. Use flour to ensure that the bread does not stick to the board or your hands

Step 4:

Heat the pan on med-high heat and ensure it is hot before you start to roast the bread on it.

Step 5:

Put the flattened bread on the pan. Make sure you put the flour side up. Spread some water on it. This helps remove the excess flour.

Step 6:

As soon as the water sort of dries up and the first side sort of turns opaque, flip over to roast the second side.

Step 7:

Roast the second side till you see nice brown spots on it.

Step Final:

Once the second side is roasted well, take the pan of the stove and roast the first side directly on the flame.

Step 8:

Enjoy with your favorite curry ‘Chicken Savji’. I made this typical Maharashtrian dinner tonight.

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Burmese khow suey

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Burmese Chicken Khow-Suey

  

In the Indian subcontinent to the left of India are countries like Thailand, Burma, China & Laos.

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I am fascinated to see how the food changes as you get closer to the border. You can start seeing the influence of different cuisines as you get close to the border, the ingredients peep in various forms. Momos in Sikkim start telling you that you are close to the China border.

Today’s dish is a classic example- Curry from India, Noodles from China and Coconut milk from Thailand combine to make this wonderful dish Burmese Khow suey.

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Lovely combination of Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines, you can tell where Burma is located with this combination.

 

 

It is a great one pot dish. All the components can be made ahead and can be put together very quickly, all you need to do is cook the noodles.

 

Ingredients:

Part A: Chicken

2-3 chicken breast ( cut in small pieces)

2 tbsp yogurt

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients and marinate the chicken for 20 mins

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Part B: Tomato sauce

1 tomato in big pieces

1 onion chopped in big pieces

2 garlic cloves

1/2 inch ginger

1 green chili

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Grind these together to make into a fine.

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Part C: Coconut sauce

1/4 cup Chana dal ( pressure cooked)

1 can of coconut milk

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp salt

 

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Grind both of these together, add to a sauce pan and cook for 20 mins on a slow flame.

 

Part D: Chicken curry

Marinated chicken

1 tsp oil

1 tbsp Garam masala ( you can also use any other meat masala)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

Heat oil in a pan. Add marinated chicken and cook for a few mins.

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Add  the tomato sauce ( Part B) to the chicken

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Add spices and cook till the tomato sauce is dried up.

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Part E: Noodles

Boil egg noodles.

Part F: Toppings:

Chopped cilantro

Chopped Mint

Fried onion

Chopped roasted peanut powder

Smoked chili oil ( I make it at home, it is so yummy)

Cut lime wedges.

How to eat:

  • Put noodles in the bowl
  • Add chicken
  • Pour coconut sauce
  • Add toppings of your choice & Enjoy
Burmese khow suey- edamame noodles

Burmese khow suey- edamame noodles

 

 

 

 

A super wonder food powerhouse…what is it?

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It is a super food, wonder food, powerhouse, it is natural and  it can be made available to those in need at very reasonable price. Just look at the stats, does not not make you think it is unreal. It is very much real.

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In this day and age of crazy busy life, we are always looking for foods that are rich in nutrients. Foods that are rich in nutrients give you the boost of energy you need. Carrot for eyes, milk for dones, oranges for immunity boost, meats for protein and so on. What if you could get all of these in one super magical food. Would you not want that?

Here I present the superfood, which has been known to asian cultures for years.

 

If you are wondering what is this food…

 

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MORINGA

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What is moringa?

It is a plant that grows even in arid, drought conditions. Most of the plant is usable. Rich in nutrients it makes a perfect cheap source for those who can not afford to spend a lot of money on vitamins & food. Moringa is supposed to have the potential to cure 300 diseases.

The leaves are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, and minerals.[5] A 100-g portion of fresh moringa leaves has 9.3 g protein, 434 mg calcium, 404 mg potassium, 738 μg vitamin A, and 164 mg vitamin C.[6] 

 

It helps reduce cholesterol, extremely useful for lactating mother..the list just goes on.

My experience with Moringa

Growing up, my mom always made a lentil curry with the Moringa seeds ( also known as Drumsticks). All the wonderful flavors of curry are soaked up by the drumsticks and it is sheer fun to suck on it to get the yummy pulp  out. Along with the curry, my mom also makes a quick dry preparation with the tender moringa leaves which is typically eaten with Jowar Bhakri.

So today’s recipe is ‘moringa leaves stir fry with garlic and peanuts. It is a simple recipe to showcase the wonderful Moringa leaves.

Moringa (Drumstick) leaves stir fry

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Moringa Leaves stir fry

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Ingredients:

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1 bunch of Moringa

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 cup peanuts, roasted & coarse powdered

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 pinch of asafoetida

salt to taste

Method:

Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add turmeric and asafoetida. Add chopped garlic and saute for a min. Dont let the garlic burn.

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Add moringa leaves, salt. Stir to mix well. Cover with a lid.

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If the leaves are dry, add a splash of water.

Once the leaves are cooked add peanut powder & red chili powder. It is ready to eat.

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Indian style french toast

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I am a firm believer that a good breakfast is absolutely necessary to keep you going the whole day. One of my favorite breakfast food is eggs. I like eggs in any form. My mom tells me that when I was a teenager, I used to say that I had to eat eggs and bread everyday for the rest of my life, I will be very happy.

One of the recipes that my mom makes is the ‘desi styled, spiced French toast’. She takes all the ingredients of the typical Indian Style Masala omelet  like chopped onion, tomatoes, green chili,cilantro and use it as a batter for the french toast. It tastes just divine. I love eating it with Maggi Hot and Sweet sauce. She toasts the bread slice a little before she dips in the batter which I think makes a big difference.

So when my friend Ruchi Airen posted a recipe of Spicy Buttermilk French Toast, I knew I had to try it. So here is my take on Ruchi’s recipe. BTW, she is an amazing cook, I am planning to try her detox plan soon.

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Ingredients:

2 eggs

2 tbsp chopped onion

2 tbsp grated Lauki ( Opo Squash)

1/4 tsp chopped green chili

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tsp Pavbhaji Masala

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup Shredded cheese, I used the mexican blend I had on hand

2 multigrain bread sliced

oil  

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Method:

Whisk the eggs with all the ingredients except cheese and buttermilk.

 

 

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Add buttermilk and cheese and mix well.

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Dip the bread slices and make sure the batter coats the slices from both sides.

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On a heated pan cook in a little bit of oil it till brown on both sides.

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Your healthy breakfast is ready.  

My kids just loved it. I was happy because I got them to eat ‘Lauki without them realizing it 🙂 . 

Stuffed spicy green chilies

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I come from a place where we eat spicy food. I can not have a meal without a green chili and I am always looking for recipes that use fresh green chilies. This is one of my favorite recipes. Those days when your subji just does not come out tasty or you need something to perk up your leftovers or you need an accompaniment to your curd rice, this stuffed mirchi comes to the rescue.

I make it with these thin thai chilies. In summer we get beautiful produce in the farmer’s market and this is one of the recipes that allows you to enjoy the fresh bounty.  These are somewhere between thai chilies and serrano, and they do pack a good amount of heat. This dish is somewhere between subji and pickle. If you are a chili/ spice lover and if you want to bring some heat to the table, this is a perfect dish for you. you will love them!

Stuffed Green chilies…spicy yet you can not stop eating it.

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Ingredients:

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Dry coconut- ½ cup
Coriander seeds- 2 tbsp
Methi seeds- 0.5 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
Ginger-garlic paste( I grate it)-1 tsp combined
Lime juice to taste
Sugar – 1 tsp( to taste)
Salt

Method:

Dry roast  the first three ingredients coriander seeds, mustard seeds, methi seeds on a low flame. Make sure you add the methi seeds at the end so they dont burn. If the methi seeds are over roasted they will be very bitter.

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Dry roast coconut until golden brown, take it out on a plate and let it cool.

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Grind the roasted spices along with the coconut into a fine mix.

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Mix in the rest of the ingredients to the ground spices. Add Salt , sugar and lime juice  as per your taste.

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Wash and dry the green chilies. Make a slit and fill it up with the spice mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

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 If the chilies are spicy you will need these to balance the spiciness of the chilies. I always make extra masala since everyone loves the masala. I like to eat it with ‘curd rice’.

Add about a tsp oil( for 15-20 chillies) in a pan and heat till warm. Layer the chilies gently and cover with lid, cook on low flame. You do not want the chilies to burn , and they should cook. After 5-7 min turn them over gently with a pair of tongs. After another 3-4 min, add the extra masala and add a tsp of water. Cook for another 3-5 mins.

 

 

Chicken enchilada

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I am sure that my daughter was born in a hispanic or latin family in her previous birth. Anytime I ask her what she would like for dinner, the answer is either fajita, quesadilla, chili but her favorite is enchilada. So today’s recipe is enchilada.

I feel key to a good enchilada is the sauce, if you get the sauce right you got 70% dish right. I learnt to make this sauce from Iris ( pronounced as ‘ee-ra-is’), she comes from the Jalisco province of Mexico and this is how her mom makes the sauce.

Chicken Fajita Enchilada

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Ingredients:

Filling:

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1 lb chicken, I make it with minced chicken or the rotisserie chicken and both taste good

1/2 Green bell pepper cut in short strips

1/2 Red bell pepper cut in short strips

1/2 onion sliced

2 tbsp homemade mexcian seasoning

oil

2 cups of shredded mexican style cheese

Sauce:

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2 Roma tomatoes

8-10 Tomatillos

1 jalapeno

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 onion cut in big chunks

1-2 dried red chili , you can use chipotle, guajillo or ancho chili

2-3 tbsp cilantro

 

6-8 tortillas

 

Method:

Step 1:

Make the sauce

Preheat the oven 400F.

 

Clean the tomatillos. Arrange tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, onion, jalapeno in a baking dish. Sprinkle with oil and salt.  Bake it in the oven till you see the tops of the vegetables browning. I like mine a little smoky so I leave them in till they get black spots. If you like your salsa smoky, add the dried guajillo chili to the roasting vegetables for the last 5 mins.

If you are not planning to roast the dried chili with the vegetables. soak it in warm water for 15-20 mins( longer is ok).

Grind the roasted vegetables with a cup of water( you can also use chicken stock) With chopped cilantro, soaked dried guajillo chili and salt.

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Step 2:

Prepare the filling

If you are using the rotisserie chicken, de-skin & de-bone the chicken, you should be left with cooked shredded chicken.

 

In a pan heat some oil. Add sliced onions and saute until nicely browned ( I like mine almost caramelized).

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Once the onion are done, add the shredded chicken and sliced bell peppers.

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Cook for a few mins, add ‘Fajita seasoning ( see note)’.  Cook until all the flavors come together. Add chopped cilantro and take it off the heat.

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Once the meat mixture is cooled to room temperature, mix in 1 of the the shredded cheese and keep the mixture aside.

Step 3:

Assembly

Take a baking dish. Cover the dish with a thin layer of the sauce to prevent the tortilla from sticking to the dish. Take a plate and pour the rest of the sauce in that plate.

Dip the tortilla in the sauce, flip over to coat both sides.

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Spoon heapful of the chicken & cheese mixture on the center.

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Roll it up and arrange the roll on the baking dish.

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Finish arranging the rest of the tortillas in the baking dish.

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Cover this with the remaining cup of shredded cheese.

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Bake it in a 350F oven till everything heats through and the cheese melts ( about 25-35 mins). If you think that the cheese is melting but the enchilada is n heating through, you can cover the dish with an aluminum foil while baking, take it off during the last 7-10 mins for the cheese to get golden brown.

Serve it with a dollop of ‘fresh crema’!

 

Notes:

Vegetarian option: You can make a vegetarian version very easily. I make mine with sliced portobello mushroom, zucchini, carrots. My mom is a pure vegetarian and she loves it.

Spice mix: I  make my own Mexican seasoning which I use in all mexican dishes like fajita, taco, enchilada and even chili.

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