Ameya Kulkarni, a student at HEC Paris, understood that mastering the trials of ‘studying abroad’ requires not only academic credentials but also a very good knowledge of the culinary arts. So, even if you've done your part in avoiding a kitchen before, here is how you can have fun cooking with Ameya’s as he lays down quick recipes, which we will publish for the next three days. Here’s the third part:
Mexican food suits Indian tongues due to their similarity in ingredients used and the level of spiciness we prefer. Both cuisines often incorporate chilli powder, cumin, beans, rice, and bread-like staples like tortillas and rotis. The spiciness level is also similar, as both cultures appreciate a certain level of heat in their dishes, and this can create a sense of comfort for Indians enjoying Mexican food. Interestingly, chillies were introduced to India by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, and were brought here from Mexico. One could stuff a paratha with some of these ingredients and some cheese and pass it off as a Quesadilla and most people would not think twice before agreeing.
Fajita wraps are technically a Tex-Mex recipe, which combines elements of Mexican and American cuisine. They typically have grilled strips of meat, along with sautéed onions and bell peppers wrapped in a tortilla, but vegetarian/vegan options exist as well, using beans instead or just avoiding meat. Fajita spice mixes are quite readily available in supermarkets, but I believe it is easy to substitute on your own and equally tasty, if not more. Tortillas are available in supermarkets as well, but you can easily substitute with a similar kind of flatbread or any bread you can stuff. After trying this recipe, I recommend looking at tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more.
Fajita Wrap Recipe:
· Chicken (breast or thighs) OR Black Beans - follow the instructions according to what you are using
· Bell peppers/Capsicum, cut into strips
· Onions, cut into thin wedges
· Garlic clove, finely chopped
· Grated Cheese
· Sour Cream or Yoghurt
· Chili powder
· Smoked Paprika
· Garlic Powder
· Salt & Pepper
Cooking the Chicken:
1. Cut the chicken into thin, bite-sized strips and place them in a bowl.
2. Add a little bit of oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and a bit of lime juice. Mix well to coat the chicken.
3. Heat some oil in a pan and add the chicken strips. Spread them out as much as possible and cook on medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes on one side before flipping.
4. Cook until the chicken is browned and well-cooked. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cooking the Vegetables:
1. Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic.
2. Add the bell peppers and onions, spreading them around. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir-fry until the vegetables turn soft and start to brown at the edges.
3. Sprinkle a bit of all the chopped spices and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture becomes aromatic.
Cooking the Beans:
A note of warning: The first time I cooked beans I had no idea that they were supposed to be soaked in water overnight and had to use some shortcuts which I do not recommend. This varies depending on what kind of beans you are using so check for instructions on whatever you are buying.
1. Add the beans to the mixture of onions and bell peppers once they are done.
2. Cook for 5 minutes until the beans are warmed through, mixing all the spices, and adding a bit of lime juice for flavour.
Finishing the Chicken:
1. Add the cooked chicken to the mixture of onions and bell peppers.
2. Mix everything together for two minutes. Adjust the seasoning if desired and add a bit of lime juice.
3. Optionally, sprinkle grated cheese over the mixture and continue to mix on low heat until the cheese melts slightly.
Making the Wraps:
1. Warm up the tortillas in the oven for a minute or on a pan, heating them until soft on both sides.
2. In a small bowl, mix sour cream with smoked paprika. If using yogurt, add a bit of lime juice as well. Spread a bit of this mixture on one side of the tortilla.
3. Add a generous amount of the fajita vegetable and beans/chicken mixture to the tortilla.
4. Roll the tortilla, and sear it on a pan on all sides until browned.
5. Serve with a dip of your choice and enjoy your delicious fajita wrap!
The author is now pursuing a Master's in Management at HEC Paris while also completing an MScT in Data Science from École Polytechnique.