Blue Corn Tacos are my new ‘thing’!
I have always LOVED Mexican cuisine. The bold flavours, spicy -tangy hit, and vibrant colours of the dishes that make up Mexican food always appealed to me more than any other international food. In fact my first cookbook, bought from the legendary Calcutta Book Fair, was a humble little thing, simply called ‘Mexican Cooking’ – and it does not have A SINGLE FOOD PICTURE IN IT!!!
I don’t know why I picked up the book… Was it the exotic sounding names of dishes like Empanades, Tortillas, Mole and what not? Or was it the promise of local Indian ingredients, or easily available substitutes, by the author Aroona Reejhsinghani on the back cover? That had to be a big factor. Because, keep in mind, this was at a time when I had to travel more than an hour each way to pick up some Spaghetti, where Gnocchi and Fettuccine (my favourites) were as alien as… well, Enchiladas for example! And Sweet Corn was not something you made into flour, it was something you ordered in a soup at the beginning of every family night out at Kwality Restaurant on Park Street. But more than any of this, I think it was the book I was reading at the time… Nancy Drew-The Clue in the Crossword Cipher! 😁😁😁
C’mon give me break, this was an adventure set in exotic Peru, amidst Machu Pichu and the Inca Trail and what we now glibly refer to as the Nazca Lines. Poor old teenaged me was just discovering the fascinating Inca, Mayan, and Aztec cultures, getting hopelessly obsessed with their customs, food and even clothes (yes, quill headbands and ponchos too!) Sorry Mom, for being such a nut-case and a pain in the you-know-where!
Whatever the reason, here I am many years and many stunning Mexican dishes later, still thumbing through the brown ‘rusty’ pages of this loved cookbook, and dabbling with the idea of making Pork Adobo!
Enough of nostalgia, now about the Blue Corn Tacos, and why it’s my new ‘thing’… you didn’t forget that, did you? 😉It’s something that Chef Vikas Seth introduced me to at Sancho’s, for which I will be eternally grateful to him. I love these beauties because of their snappier crunch, their fuller flavour, and their rich dark brown colour that is quite different from the golden corn tacos you normally get. Little wonder that this is the rage right now around the world, and one of the pillars, so to speak, of the much-loved New Mexican Cuisine. But Blue Corn Tacos are not easy to come by on this side of the planet. Mostly because they are made from the pretty rare and scarily expensive Blue Corn, that grows almost exclusively in Mexico and a couple of Southwestern states of the USA. Although the variants can range from a light grey to almost black in colour, the blue ones are really startlingly BLUE! The startling shades of Blue Corn!But they are rare also because the blue corn kernels are quite hard, making the process of extraction of flour from them that much more labour-intensive and time-consuming. For now, you can leave all the work to the guys at Sancho’s, where it’s available till the end of this month with veg, chicken, beef and pork fillings, topped with some really delicious freshly-made guacamole, ground up in a curiously-shaped volcanic rock bowl called Molcajete, a traditional Mexican mortar-pestle. Ask for a little dip of Spicy Green Tomatoes on the side to pep things up, or add more crunch and freshness with a topping of Apple Slaw. Get messy with your hands. Get your jaws around a large crunchy mouthful. And don’t, DO NOT stop at one!
The Hopi tribe of Native Indians in Arizona worship the blue corn. Who knows, after this experience, you might too! 😉