Friday, February 19, 2010

Going Local: Whole Wheat Tortillas From Scratch

Aren't we all looking to increase the fiber in our diets? I've been experimenting with some ingredients that I've found in the local supermarkets lately. Some have worked well, some have not.

If you are looking to clear your system out, then you want to buy this and make bran muffins out them. Look closely at the red part in the upper left hand corner. Extrude sticks. Truth in advertising.

Honestly, I was surprised that my daughters loved these muffins. And let's just say they moved things along just nicely.

But this is about tortillas. Whole wheat tortillas. Which in general is not that exciting, but for me it's a revolution. Or perhaps a revelation. Because in these parts, whole wheat flour wasn't procurable. That is, until now.

At least for now. As with most things that appear in the stores in Dushanbe, you never know if you are going to find it again so you buy what you can without wiping out all the supplies. There's etiquette involved in this; you can buy in bulk but you are required to spread the word to fellow expats. I'm talking along the lines of issuing an APB. Shouting from the mountain tops. Posting of your find on your little blog.

This is the best recipe I've found for homemade tortillas. Homesick Texan's recipe is here which calls for regular white flour. After searching a bit more, I found this whole wheat version at Chez Annie's that modifies Homesick Texan's version. I even took their suggestion to use flax seed oil in place of regular oil, because I had it on hand. AND even bought it here at Tim Magazine (one of the better grocery stores in town)!

Mix 5 ounces of white flour with 5 ounces of whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Heat 3/4 cups of milk. Not boiling, but quite warm. Add two teaspoons of oil then add this to the dry ingredients. Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients then plop it out onto your kneading surface.

Knead it well then put into a bowl, cover with saran wrap and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

When you are ready, form the dough into a log with your hands.

Cut it into eight equal portions.

Roll each section into a dough ball. And let them rest, covered with a kitchen towel, for another small chunk of time, at least 10 minutes. Relaxing the dough will make rolling them out easier.

Once nice and relaxed, grab a dough ball and smoosh it out with your fingers to a flat disk. Alternatively you could use a tortilla press to get you started. I did this in the beginning and then once I got the feel for it, I ditched the extra step.

...and begin rolling out your dough. With each swipe of your rolling pin, turn the disk a quarter turn and roll again. This allows you to get a nice even circle and not an oblong oval or a square or mickey mouse ears. All of which I'm expert at creating!

I like mine pretty thin.

Once you get the thickness you like in a tortilla, toss it into a preheated pan. When the little bubbles form, flip it and toast the other side.

While your first tortilla is cooking on the stove top, roll out the second one. And so on and so on. Once they are all cooked, grate some cheese and make yourself a quesadilla for lunch.


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