Mexican food tales and home-made tacos

I have never tried Mexican cuisine save for the affected upmarket nachos at PVR cinemas while in India - in the US, the urge is lower especially with limited vegetarian options.He finds them ok,especially the supermarket 'fresh' tortillas a good substitute for home-made rotis and phulkas and if the roti-maker that you have carried does not have matching voltage and the cooking appliance is not a gas burner but an induction one and a thousand other issues!

On the road trip during my birthday weekend, we had stopped by downtown Guerneville for a quick bite - he had some piping hot cheese quesadilla while i stuck to my safe nachos with salsa.

Back in our neighbourhood, we stopped by one of these Mexican food-on-wheels, quite like the mobile bundis we have back home.Trust me, they have great stuff most times!

I ordered a simple veg taco, the filling was tomatoes-onions-green chillies and some sauce sauteed with coriander garnishing on a hot iron pan. It was that simple but admittedly mouth-watering for a suddenly windy Californian evening.

Last Saturday, after a long day's hike and a movie evening out and my fastidious mind saying no to cooking at home or North/South Indian fare, we decided to go tacos!He is not very fond of Chinese or anything Asian, it will be acquired, he assures.But i must say i'm not very fond of the red beans taco for all its health benefits..I have a pet peeve or two with these beans. Also realised, the veg taco filling varies from wheel to wheel. 

At Santana Row, at this nice quaint Mexican place - open air under a giant oak tree, i went footloose singing and clapping, dancing in my seat to their live Mexican music - a very happy place.I totally loved their pan-fresh Mexican fries with a light sprinkle of paprika, McDonalds should admit defeat and shame.He ordered Nachos with guacamole sauce and a sizzling something in sesame. We were killing time before that movie premiere.

Day before yesterday, he brought home a pack of tortillas and told me he is going to snip a centimeter of my hair everyday if the tortillas .Guffaws. So my lunch today was Mexican  - veg tacos :)

For the filling
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 big onion, finely chopped
1 big green chilli, finely diced 
1 clove of garlic,finely diced
1/2 a capsicum, finely diced
Salt to tast
A pinch of garam masala
Garlic pepper powder
A pinch of black salt
Chopped coriander for garnishing 
A dash lime for garnishing
Half a tsp of any tomato based sauce (optional)
Any cooking oil

Heat pan over medium heat.Pour very little oil.Add some mustard seeds and cumin seeds and see them through till they crackle. Add the chopped onions and garlic, stir and fry until they give out that nice aroma.You may want to add a pinch of garam masala for effect. Add the chopped capsicum and tomatoes till all the juices blend well. Sprinkle salt and sprinkle garlic pepper generously per taste.And sauce,optional though. Garnish with coriander, a dash of lime and a sprinkle of black salt.

Now over to the tortillas - took out a couple of them. 

(You can choose to heat them or not.You may also refrigerate them and serve later for a salad effect in styled cuts and slices, almost resembling those Indo-Chinese veg rolls, served in our restaurants  back in India.  Ideally, you should heat tortillas on a flat iron pan but putting them in the microwave for 20secs or so is as good enough.

You could use anything imagined from peanut butter to flavoured cheese. I took my favourite sour cream cheese cube and smeared it all over the tortilla wrap and added my already prepared filling. Roll it, and its ready.  I also took out some of his favourite hummus paste from the fridge and that was as good.

Sorry, no pictures - i was really hungry but its a pretty much easy D-I-Y method.

I wanted to say Gracias to myself.

Dear Brother,

2 decades ago, that cold February day when Mama and Papa got you home, I was overjoyed. Kids were not allowed to visit hospitals so your sister and I were at home for all those 3 days without Mama. Papa was doing shifts at home and at the hospital, cooking for all of us and Mama. Our grandparents could not visit us since our many cousins were on the way around the same time and there were old age problems whenever people had to travel to the hills in winter.

When we saw you for the first time, you were so tiny and fragile, almost like a doll. We thought you’d cry if we didn’t know how to cuddle you right. We often joked you’d fit in my schoolbag and could be wrapped in a big handkerchief of Papa’s. You were very fair, so fair; we would get our hands and faces close to your tiny hands and compare our fairness difference. Bunty always felt bad that she was considerably darker than you and that Mama would love you more. We all loved you so much. We still do. Do you know you are a tough guy? You never had Cerelac baby features. That summer when Granny saw you, she was so proud of you. Your second uncle, of course, placed you on the master bed and compared vital stats with your cousin and he was beaming ear to ear that his son was plumpier than you. But Granny said, you were the tiger, lean and strong – she was your nanny till you turned one. Also, all the elders who blessed you when they saw you for the first time said you are a blessing – Papa became an absolute teetotaller the moment you were born!

You always had more biscuits than all of us and of course, the TV remote. You were forgiven in all sibling fights but we never spared anyone who messed with you in the neighbourhood and in school. In winter, your cheeks went red like plums and you hated to be pinched since you had cucumber skin. Till you joined school, you had rock star long hair, unruly and wavy. You were fussy with food and clothes. I totally love the fact that you started nursery and kindergarten in a red school uniform - a red tie and red shorts with white shirts and  white socks. You came home crying that the senior girls pinched your thighs and kissed you on the cheeks in front of everyone – but you were such an adorable 3-year old. Do you remember smiling at every stranger on the road when Mama walked you to school? We used to be so worried that you are such a kidnapper-friendly child.

The growing-up years were fun! All those birthday cartoons you’d draw and the number of sketchpens and crayons your stories had. We also fought very badly at times. I remember how you broke your first G.I.Joe within hours and you made my study room stink of Dendrite in fixing it. I know you treasure all your toys till now and especially, the green Vintage Hot Wheels car I got you from my first salary.

You ran away from home two times, once for Batman comics and the second time, just like that – don’t ever do that again. I also know you saved up all your pocket money in your second year in college for a day-trip to the next nearest city and cooked up some cock and bull adventure story at home. And every time after that, Papa humored you to a family dinner at your favourite Abba/Kimfa restaurant.

I know you don’t like the Internet so much. You still watch Wrestling matches on TV, I am told.  When I began tying a rakhi on your wrist, I don’t remember. Papa always gave you two brand new crisp 5-rupee notes – one for me and one for Bunty. And I always loved getting you something on Rakhi. This Rakshabandhan, I am very happy for you, young man. You will be a graduate soon! You make me proud.