Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mexican food! Yum!

Well, I’ve been in the kitchen again. Last night it was chili verde and Hubby and I quite made pigs of ourselves.

I love South Africa, but when it comes to Mexican food, South Africa’s version of it frankly sucks. As in really, really bad. Lately I’ve been able to get some decent tortillas in the shops (that’s because wraps have become popular here), but they’re a bit costly…about R4 (half a dollar) each in packets of 10.

Anyway, at the market the other day I spotted long green chilis (chillies to non-Americans) and I grabbed a few. Monday Thandiswe roasted them for me, and last night I made chili verde and I have to say, it was my best so far. Here’s how I made it:

Start with 3-6 mild chilis. In America I used Anaheim chilis, here in South Africa I use green pimento peppers. Each chili should be at least 8 inches long (1 inch =2.54cm). Wash the chilis, but do not remove the stem or cut in any way.

Roast the chilis: this must be done over open flame. You can lay them directly over a gas flame on the kitchen stove, on a barbeque (braai) grill, or even with a chef’s torch. The skin of the chilis must be allowed to blister and blacken…blister as much of the skin as possible. I use kitchen tongs and roast them on the double gas ring (the wok ring) on my gas stove.

Once thoroughly blistered and blackened, place the chilis in a plastic bag and seal it shut. Allow the chilis to cool for up to 15 minutes: they will steam up the bag, which is what you want.

Remove the chilis to a cutting board. Using the dull side of a knife, scrape all the skin off the chili and discard. Now, cut the stem end off the chili and split it open down its length. Again, with the dull side of a knife, scrape the seeds and ribs out and discard. Cut the chili into squares approximately ½ to 1 inch square. Put in a covered container and refrigerate.

Preparing the Chili Verde (Pork and Green Chili Stew)

1 lb (500g) lean pork (a tough cut of meat is OK as this will cook long enough to get tender)
½ cup seasoned white flour
3 or more roasted green chilis, scraped and cubed
3 tbsp cooking oil
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp red chili powder
1 tsp whole cumin (jeera) seeds
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups hot water
3 large potatoes, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 small jalapeno pepper, grated (freeze it first…makes it easier to grate)
Salt to taste

Cube the pork in 1 inch to 2 inch pieces. Place seasoned flour in a plastic bag, add pork, and shake until pork is well coated with flour.

Heat oil in a deep pot. When sizzling, put in cumin seeds, onion, and chili powder. Stir until the seasonings release their scent, then add onion, garlic, and meat. Stir rapidly to brown meat on all sides. When meat is about half browned, add 1/3 of the roasted green chili.

Continue stirring the mixture until the meat is lightly browned on all sides. Gently pour the wine down the side of the pan (so as not to wash the flour coating off the meat) and bring to the boil. Once boiling, gently add a cup of hot water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let cook gently for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove cover, stir thoroughly, scraping the bottom to make certain nothing sticks to the bottom. Now add about half of the remaining green chili, stir well, then add another cup of hot water. Bring to the boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the cover, stir the contents well, and add the third cup of hot water. Also add the potatoes, the remainder of the green chili, the grated jalapeno and the salt. Boil very gently, uncovered, until the potatoes are done (about 30 minutes).

If the gravy is too thin, cook a bit longer allowing it to reduce.

Serve in shallow bowls with a bit of sour cream on top, garnished with some cilantro/dhania/coriander, and with Salsa Fresca and tortillas on the side.

Salsa Fresca
2 tomatoes chopped small
½ cup onion, minced
1 small jalapeno pepper, grated (freeze it first…makes it easier to grate)
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro/dhania/coriander leaves

Mix together, place in covered dish, refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Tips on tortillas:
Do not reheat tortillas in a microwave oven…they will dry out and get stiff.

Instead, get a skillet really hot (no oil!) and put a tortilla on the hot surface. With kitchen tongs, flip the tortilla to warm the other side. When the tortilla begins to show scorch marks and puff up, it is ready to remove from the heat. (You can do this on an open grill if you are brave enough!).

Take a plate and put a non-fuzzy kitchen towel over it. Lay the hot tortilla on the towel and cover with the ends of the towel. Stack the tortillas under the towel and they will stay hot for serving.


  1. Love your detailed instructions in that receipe.
    Though I am not a huge fan of Pork, I have to say that this dish sounds absolutely delicious.
    You Go Chef SweetViolet.

  2. YUM!

    Us flower smellers are on the next leg of our India tour here in Dharamshala and funnily enough ordered Mexican last night....

    Do you deliver to Northern India!?!? Used to love the Carne Asada burritoes when living in San Luis Obispo, California...

    Wasn't as nice I'd you'd written it here but it was a refreshing change....


  3. I don't eat pork.

    But I am happy with tortilla, thanks for the tip on reheating tortilla.


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