*Please Note: My dear friend and photographer Julie Becquart moved to another district and took another job, so it was impossible for both of us to find the time for Ritual Cuisine photo shootings. From now on (starting from my last blog post Goddess green salad) all photos are made by me.
Hello everyone! I am finally back to Berlin. My Mexican journey was a whole new adventure for me. Me and my husband spent most of the time in the wonderful nature, in the magic place between the wild jungle and the wide ocean, where electricity and drinking water are a pure luxury. I love simplicity, so I completely plunged into this new environment and very soon I felt like I belonged there. In my everyday life I always try to do things I like, things that feed my being with good energy. Despite the very busy life I have here in Berlin, I consciously try to bend and extend space and time, so that I don’t break under the pressure of daily life. And when I’ve made this space and time for myself I can have vacation even at home. So I don’t need to travel to Central America to have some rest. When I do travel it’s because of my curiosity and interest, especially for nature and people. This is the greatest gift I get while I’m on the road.
We spent the last week of our holiday in Mexico City. Immeasurable contrast to the quiet place somewhere in Quintana Roo. 20 million people and air pollution. Berlin feels like Mexico City countryside . And Laktasi, the small town in Bosnia I originally come from, feels like a small part of the smallest district of Mexico City. If it wasn’t for my handsome friend from Berlin who was getting married to a great Mexican woman and whose wedding I didn’t want to miss for anything in this world, I would have immediately booked a flight back to the jungle. On the other hand, it was so good to see my friends from Mexico, to enjoy their wonderful nature (yes, people are nature too!), so I immersed myself in their smiles, hugs, in the music of the best Mexican mariachis and homemade agave schnapps – Mezcal.
Since some time now I have lost interest traveling to big cities. I do enjoy the whole cultural spectrum they offer, but I prefer to spend my free time in nature. Anyway, there is one thing I love to do in big cities and this is the visiting their big market places. In Bosnia, my grandfather and I had this ritual every Sunday: we would drive from our small town to Banja Luka, a larger city, and there we would spend half the day buying food or some things he needed for his garden. Many years later, I still do the same. I visited so many market places in Mexico City: Mercado Medellin, Mercado Somora, Mercado de la Merced and La Ciudadela. They were huge! You could by EVERYTHING there: from a living iguana to an ostrich egg. And the food! Oh my God, the food!!!
Mexico is all about the food! While we were in the jungle I we visited a few small restaurants on the beach and we often ate food prepared by local people in the small town nearby. But I also cooked, because I couldn’t resist all those exotic fruits and veggies. And we could use a wonderful kitchen in our hotel, so it was impossible to keep me away from it.
In the city I didn’t cook at all. We mostly ate fresh and raw fruit – all day long. There are so many people selling their own fruits or freshly made juices. Having watermelon, mango, papaya, coconut and Co. in April already inflamed my appetite even more. Generally, on the streets of Mexico City you can see people either walking or eating. Numerous joints with Mexican fast food offer the craziest creations not only for tourists. (I wish I could show you all my wonderful photos I made on the streets of Mexico City and its market places but under the circumstances I lost my camera (Mexico City is NOT a safe city!), so you really need to use your imagination or visit the Ritual Cuisine Instagram Chanel to see only few of them).
My Mexican friend told me that Mexicans love to mix everything: drinks, food, clothes. And sometimes it works, sometimes doesn’t. My impression was the same. Mexicans eat everything with everything. And everything was fried in rivers of oil, covered with tones of chili. Mexicans don’t eat healthy. Unfortunately, healthy food is the privilege of rich people.
After I came back to Berlin I made probably the most prominent fast food from Mexico – tacos. With some small changes and time, this wonderful meal showed me its other face: a healthy one and simple one (simplicity, I love you!).
Taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla, folded or rolled around a filling. You can put anything on taco including meat, seafood, vegetables and cheese. Taco is often accompanied by different garnishes like salsa, guacamole, tomatoes, onions or lettuce. Do you remember my post Love Food where I wrote how much I appreciate eating without utensils? Well, you always eat taco with your hands and I love biting in the warm, filled tortilla, licking the tasty sauce from my fingers. So sexy!
Tortilla is a Mexican flatbread and its traditional preparation is very complicated: first, the grain is soaked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, then cooked for many hours and hulled. Afterward you put this mash in a special mill, where it turns to batter. This very old technique for handmade tortillas is very unusual today, because of the new industrial machines that do all that work. The result is of course not the same: the dough is not baked right after the production, but dried and milled instead, and turned into dry flour. This flour (it is like instant tortilla flour) is called „masa harina“ and you can by it everywhere in Mexico.
I used neither the old technique nor the instant flour – I took what I had at home, so I combined corn flour, spelt flour and some buckwheat flour. The result? The best European homemade tortilla! The dough should be thin and not too soft, but also not hard. You should be able to roll it, but not like a pancake.
For the filling I made a traditional black beans purée. This is a very common dip for many countries in Central and South America. I brought to Berlin some fresh black beans (frijoles) I bought from an old lady at the Somora market. Their taste is stronger than pinto beans but they have a very similar consistence. Usually, people make black bean purée or soup with few spices or other adds, but I combined it with other vegetables and got a lighter and softer version of this dip.
Normally, Mexicans garnish their tacos with chili or guacamole salsa, onion or cheese. I didn’t make any salsa. But I promise I will in the summer. The reason why I skipped the red salsa is simple: it’s not the season of the fresh tomatoes and there is no chance I ‘m buying the plastic ones. So I kept it simple: to freshen up my tacos I garnished them with raw, fresh and crispy kohlrabi. I poured just a few drops of olive oil and for those who like it hot – some red chili slices. Ay caramba!
Ingredients (makes about 20 tortillas):
125 g corn flour
125 g spelt flour
50 g buckwheat flour
125 ml water
5 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 50C.
2. In bigger big bowl combine the corn, spelt and buckwheat flours. Add oil and salt and make a dough using your hand. Slowly add the water, while kneading the dough.
3. Knead the dough for about 7 min. The dough is perfect if it doesn’t stick or fall apart. If so, add more flour or more water respectively.
4. When you’ve reached the perfect consistence, divide the dough with a knife in equally sized pieces (around 3 cm).
5. Form balls out of every piece and press each of them between your hands to round flat dough-cake. With the rolling pin roll the dough until it becomes very thin.
6. Put the frying pan on the heat and fry every tortilla for 1 min. from each side (without oil!). One side is done when you can see the small bubbles on the opposite side.
7. Store your tortillas in the oven until all of them are fried. They must be served warm.
Black Beans Pureé Recipe
150 g black beans (or pinto beans)
1 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
2 medium-sized carrots, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped (optional but tasty)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small piece of celeriac, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
15 fresh black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 Tsp salt (or more if you like, but start with 1)
1. First prepare the beans. If you have fresh ones skip this step. If you have very dry beans, soak them overnight.
2. Put all ingredients in a larger pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Cook everything together until the beans are done. Once in a while add some more water, if necessary.
3. When the beans are done, remove almost all of the water from the pot (leave only 1/8 of the whole amount) and with the hand mixer make a smooth pureé. Add more salt if you like.
2 Kohlrabi stems , peeled and finely chopped
1 larger red chili pepper
2 tsp native olive oil
Mexican Tacos Ensemble
1. Put 1 tsp of black beans purée in the middle of every tortilla with the
2. Cover every taco with some kohlrabi and red chili slices.
3. Sprinkle every taco with only few drops of native olive oil.
4. Roll it with your hand and see you in heaven!