Tart Tamarind Drink

This is a classic Mexican drink found in street stands, markets, restaurants and homes all over the country.  It’s tart, refreshing and goes perfectly with spicy dishes.

Tamarinds are pod-like fruits, grown on trees and filled with a sweet, tangy pulp.   In addition to Mexico, it’s used in Asia, especially in India and Thailand, as well as in African, and Central and South American cuisines.

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Spicy Chicken + Tortilla Casserole

Pastel azteca is a Mexican-style casserole made of layers of fried corn tortillas, salsa, melted cheese, sour cream, meat and or vegetables.  As far as I can find there is not much information regarding the origin of this dish, but I’ve always imagined it as the invention of a 1950’s Mexican housewife.  This is a dish that while completely Mexican, reminds me of the cheesy, satisfying casseroles my parents used to make during the brisk fall and winter months in Chicago.

This recipe comes from friend and restaurant owner Valentina Zarco Perelló.  After trying Valentina´s pastel azteca on several occasions I asked if she could teach me her recipe.  She invited me to her restaurant, Fando & Lis, in Mexico City´s Narvarte neighborhood and took me through the process step-by-step.

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Chile + Fruit Mole with Chicken

Manchamanteles, literally meaning tablecloth stainer is a type of mole, originating from the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Puebla.  As with most moles, manchamenteles is made with dried chiles, nuts and spices, however what makes it unique is that it’s prepared with fruit, giving this savory dish a subtle, sweet finish.

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Jamaica Market Style Chileatole

Atole is a pre-Hispanic, usually sweet, corn-based drink that continues to be sold on street corners and prepared in homes all over México.  Chileatole is a savory version of this ancient beverage that, as its name lets on, is prepared with chiles.

As with many dishes in Mexico, I’m sure that there are thousands of versions of chileatole, especially because the recipe is prepared throughout the states of Michoacan, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Veracruz and Mexico City. It’s frequently served as a soup-like beverage in ceramic mugs or, when sold on the streets, in styrofoam cups. Some versions of the recipe use epazote and fresh chilies such as serranos and/or poblanos while others opt to use dry chilies such as the slightly sweet ancho pepper. Additionally, there are other variations that are prepared with shredded chicken and grated piloncillo (cones of dark unrefined sugar) giving it a sweet and spicy finish.

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María José’s Chilled Shredded Veal with Light Vinegar Dressing

This is the first in a series of recipes that I will be publishing that have been passed along to me by friends, cooks and restaurant owners.

María José Serrano Sada has been a friend of mine for about two years and is a chef, writer, editor and artist.  In March she invited me to her beautiful home in the Roma neighborhood in México City to sip on cold beers and teach me how to prepare salpicón. 

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Purslane Salad with Pápalo + Pecans

This recipe is my interpretation of a purslane salad that I tried once at a restaurant in the city of Puebla called El Mural Poblano.  I was very surprised to see this on the menu, because while purslane is a very common leafy green in Mexico, it is almost never eaten raw or in salads for that matter.  The salad used just the leaves of the purslane and had crumbled queso cotija, pecans, tomatoes, onions and a light avocado dressing.  After trying it I decided that I would have to replicate the salad once I arrived back to Mexico City.

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Chicken Stew with Prunes + Olives + Vegetables from Chiapas

An estofado is a kind of stew that is prepared with meat, vegetables and spices and cooked in broth or sauce over low heat.  Because of the extended cooking time, the meat absorbs the flavors of the spices, dried fruits and vegetables resulting in   deliciously tender and flavorful meat.

Stews are a typical dish in Chiapas and this recipe is an adaptation of one by Patricia Quintana from her cookbook, Sabor a Mexico.  The combination of the savory meat, olives, spices and vegetables with the sweetness of the prunes is characteristic of cuisine from this southern state in Mexico.

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