Friday, July 12, 2013

Nicaraguan Taste + Tortillas

Hello I'm back again with another exciting recipe, and this time it's one that I should of done a long time ago, but sadly always that I wanted to do it some other recipe crossed my mind and then I skipped it, however this time is going up finally.

So it's tortilla time! This is how we make tortillas back in Nicaragua. Tortillas are pretty much an all time basic starch just like rice. In Nicaragua however not everyone makes them at home but there are "tortilla shops" technically folks that sell tortillas for a living, most of them being women they start rather early in the morning as tortillas are most popular to go along with breakfast, some also sell in the evening when people have dinner.

It's a starch that has a very big presence on Nicaraguan food and it's widely use for many dishes and side dishes, so it's a must to know how to make them, however there's another detail, the traditional way of making tortillas is by boiling dry corn seeds in salty water, with some ashes then when the corn is soft they strain the water and mill it adding a bit of fresh water so it forms a paste and from that paste they make the tortillas.

Now there's a simpler way of making them and this is what people that make them at home mostly use which is the same paste but it comes in a powder form, and it's called Maseca, you could call it corn flour but it's not completely corn flour it's different, so it's the closest you can get to an authentic tortilla. Now depending on where you live this may be or not available, if you're in the USA then you're likely to find it on Mexican food shops or any Central American food shop, but if you're outside the USA then you have less chances to find it so then again you can find something similar which is a corn flour called Harina Pan, but try to get the Maseca because it's the real deal.

That being said let's get to the recipe!

serves 4

For this you will need

Maseca Flour (alterntive Harina Pan)
2 Plastic bags

To cook

First we need to get the flour into a dough, you can follow the instructions on the back of the bag, I don't really use measurements unless I'm baking, but I calculate most of the time how much I'm going to need.
So I use around 500 grams of Maseca and I just add water until I have a nice dough not very soft but still moldable and moist.

Now the reason you'll need plastic bags is because the dough is very sticky and it works as a base as well for the tortilla so supermarket bags should work fine or any medium sizes bag just cut a circle out of them you'll need about 4

Once you're done with that you can start to make the tortillas!

Start by simply grabbing some dough and make a ball, it can be the size of a tennis ball try to use about the same amount of dough all the time so the tortillas look even

What I do is that I make the balls first, so I have them as even as possible and I also can see which ones are bigger or smaller

So if you're not too sure about your calculation I'd recommend you to do that first

Once you're done grab one of the plastic circles you made and put the ball on the center of the circle and then press it down

Now a little note, the tortillas are hand made so it's better to do it that way trying to use a rolling pin will not work so it's a bit of hard work but just remember that the folk at the "tortilla shops" can produce 2 per minute hehe.
Now with one hand give the round shape and with the other press down the dough like in the picture.

Keep doing that until you have around a quarter of a centimeter of thickness.

I'd recommend to first use all your plastic circles so you don't struggle too much, so meanwhile your tortilla is cooking you use that time to shape the remaining dough balls and as you cook the tortillas you free your circles so it's like a synced process.

Now to cook them, in Nicaragua the "tortilla shops" have grills and on top the have a flat metal plate, they add a bit of oil to it and then with a cloth they spread it and quickly throw the tortilla in the plate putting it in their hand so the plastic circle is up then they take of the circle and throw the tortilla in the metal plate
Just like in the pic to the right, if you have something similar then it's fine to use however if you don't a non-stick pan should do the job, but there's another detail, that you need it pretty hot so yeah I'd recommend as well to turn off for a while your smoke detectors and or have a window open and have air flowing in because your kitchen can get pretty smoky, I'd also recommend to use an old pan you don't want to ruin a nice pan so a pan that you don't use too much is better, just in case

So your tortilla should be looking like this before you cook it not perfectly round but with a nice circular shape

So first get your pan really hot then add a little bit of oil, and with some kitchen paper spread out the oil, here is when it gets smoky but it's fine nothing to worry then put the tortilla in your hand and remove the plastic it should come off pretty easily then just quickly turn your hand and throw the tortilla on the pan.

Reduce the heat now from high to medium-high and let it cook each side for 2 minutes

Then wet in cold water the tip of a cooking cloth and push the tortilla down.
This generates vapor inside of it so it cooks evenly, do this before you take the tortilla off the pan, but let it cook for a few seconds after you pushed the tortilla with the wet cloth

It should look like this pic below when it's ready.

Then take the tortilla off the pan and repeat the process until you get them all! I'd recommend starting with some time because sometimes some recipes are very tricky and this one is no exception and there are a lot of terms in here that will confuse one or two people.

But you know it's my job to keep you entertained!

So that being said once you're done then off it's just time to relax and enjoy your very own hand made tortillas

As always I hope you enjoy this recipe, and if you like it then why not share it?! That's the best way to help my blog! If you have any suggestions, comments or just simply are wondering about something write a comment below or email me, you can find more info in the contact section! Happy cooking!

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