Today, May 5, is Cinco de Mayo, a major Mexican holiday that celebrates its army’s victory at the battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican war in 1862.
And sure enough, we’ve got four Mexican recipes for you to cook up today, from Dubai restaurants Chalco's Mexican Grill and El Mostacho.
Cinco de Mayo literally translates to May the fifth and has evolved into a large celebration in the US, in honour of Mexican culture, especially in areas that Mexican-Americans populate.
Edgar Jimenez, founder and owner of Dubai restaurant Chalco's Mexican Grill, says food is definitely one of the biggest parts of the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Growing up in Los Angeles, Cinco de Mayo was a big day for him, a celebration of Mexican heritage, history, and importantly for him – cuisine. “The biggest ingredient for Cinco de Mayo is avocado – there’s plenty guacamole everywhere. It’s one of the days we consume the most avocado in the US, and from house parties to bars or restaurants, there’s guac involved.
“Then there’s the enchiladas, tacos to burritos and fajitas and tostadas, your traditional dishes. Usually we’ll hold a fiesta in our home or in friends’ houses – a potluck where everyone brings their own dishes, whether it’s rice, beans enchiladas, queso, ground beef or tacos.”
Lucia Martinez, chef at El Mostacho, says quesadillas and churros represent the Cinco de Mayo celebration for her. “Cinco de Mayo essentially means party time for us Mexicans in the UAE, and it’s a great excuse for Mexicans to get together and eat. Because quesadillas and churros are dishes meant for sharing, we cook up a lot of them.”
So gather the whole family, get the kids involved, and embrace the mess of cooking. For starters, we’ve got the obvious choice, so of course, tacos – what celebration is complete without this traditional tortilla and juicy filling? Chalcos uses carne asada - tender, marinated-overnight flank steak. All well complimented with zesty flavours of the tomatillo salsa and fresh onions - you can’t go wrong with these street-style tacos.
Then we’ve got the humble enchilada – beans, meat and cheese, what’s not to like? This dish is a bit more elaborate than tacos, but the extra effort is worth it when corn tortillas mingle with a spicy enchilada sauce. Give this dish with a meaty centre, saucy toppings and oozy garnish a try. Want to make this a vegetarian recipe? Just substitute the chicken for cheese.
It’s not a Mexican fiesta if there’s no quesadillas present – El Mistacho’s recipe uses slow-cooked chicken cooked in a chipotle tomato sauce – and of course plenty of mozzarella cheese.
The sweetest finish can be with nothing but churros – find out how to make the churro dough and fry it to perfection. Bon appetit!
Mexican carne asada tacos
300gm flank steak
4 corn tortillas
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp meat seasoning
A pinch of salt and pepper to marinate
Chop up some fresh coriander
Dice up some fresh onions
Slice up some fresh limes
For salsa tomatillo
4 whole tomatillos
3 fresh jalapenos
2 Serrano chilli peppers
A pinch of salt
2 garlic cloves
1/2 white onion
A handful of fresh coriander
1. Marinate flank steak overnight with lime juice, salt, pepper and meat seasoning.
2. Heat a frying pan on high. Add the steak to the pan and fry to your liking, but medium-rare gets the best taste out of these tacos – fry for about 4 minutes, flipping midway. Slice thinly.
3. To make the salsa, add a cup of water to the ingredients and blend for about one to two minutes.
4. Heat each tortilla for 30 seconds on a flat pan.
5. To assemble, plate the tacos, and load with steak slices, sliced onions and chopped coriander. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime and some salsa.
2 soft corn tortillas
80gm mozzarella cheese
For the Mexican Rice
1 cup jasmine rice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup chicken/vegetable broth and 1 cup water mixed together
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 can peeled tomato
½ tbsp fajita seasoning (off the shelf)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
A pinch of salt and black ground pepper, to taste
½ cup tomato paste
1 cup of water
For the chicken
2 chicken breasts, about 300gm
For the beans
1 cup dry pinto beans
A handful of jalapenos
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the enchilada sauce
1 can (200gm) tomato paste
1/2 tbsp of cumin powder
1/2 tbsp of oregano
1/2 tbsp of salt
½ tbsp black pepper
½ tbsp fajita seasoning
2 garlic cloves
1 cup of water
1. For the rice, blend all ingredients except the rice, oil and broth to make a puree.
2. Fry rice in the oil until golden and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes, then add the puree and broth and water, cover until rice boils and expands, over a low flame, about 15 minutes.
3. Boil the chicken breasts with the ¼ onion and a pinch of salt. Once the chicken is cooked, about 6 to 7 minutes, let it cool down, then shred.
4. Put pinto beans in a pot with water, one tablespoon of salt, jalapenos, a half onion and vegetable oil. Boil pinto beans for 2 hours. Keep adding water if water level goes low. Boil until beans are soft and easy to eat. Then blend the mixture for 3 minutes.
5. To make the enchilada sauce, blend all ingredients together.
6. To serve: plate two soft corn tortillas and stuff with shredded chicken, then roll until they resemble an egg roll. Top them up with enchilada sauce until you can’t see the tortillas. Add mozzarella cheese on top of the enchilada sauce, add rice on one side and beans on the other side of the plate, and add more cheese. Place in the oven (100C for 6 minutes) or microwave (2 ½ minutes, 175C) until the cheese melts.
Quesadilla chicken tinga
1 piece flour tortilla
150gm mozzarella cheese
Pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onions, coriander seasoned with lime and salt)
Crispy tortilla chips and salsa, to serve
120gm chicken tinga (slow cooked chicken in chipotle tomato sauce) (recipe below)
150gm chicken breast
100ml chicken stock
5gm guajillo chili
10gm chipotle chili
40gm chopped white onions
5gm chopped garlic
80gm chopped tomato
Salt and pepper to taste
1. To make the chicken tinga, boil the chicken in the stock and after remove it from the stock. Peel and clean the guajillo and soak it in the chicken stock for 5 minutes, then blend it nicely together with the chipotle.
2. Shred the chicken.
3. In a hot pan add some sunflower oil and sauté the onions and garlic.
4. Then add tomatoes and keep cooking for two minutes in medium heat.
5. Add the chillies previously blended and season it with salt and pepper. Boil for two minutes and add the chicken. Mix and boil for one minute.
6. Put the flour tortilla in a hot grill or pan fry.
7. Spread the cheese all over the tortilla, then add the pico de gallo.
8. Spread the chicken as well and then fold it into half and cook until you get a nice brown crust, about 5 to 6 minutes.
9. Cut the quesadilla equally into 4 slices, serve it with crispy tortilla chips and salsa.
75gm all-purpose flour
1. To a saucepan, add the milk, water and butter and boil.
2. Turn off the heat and add in all-purpose flour. Mix together until it becomes dough.
3. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool it down. The entire process from heating to cooling takes about 30-40 minutes.
4. When it cools, add the egg one by one and mix well.
5. Wrap with a cling film and put in the fridge.
6. Remove from fridge and transfer to a piping bag.
7. Pipe into hot oil, cutting dough with scissors, and fry until golden brown and crispy in texture. Serve with Dulce de leche, chocolate or condensed milk.
Want to know where to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Dubai today? Here are nine places