The ingredients listed for the blue masa was "organic blue corn, trace of lime". It turns out this did not mean the type of lime that looks somewhat like a green lemon, but rather referred to slaked lime, or an alkaline solution of calcium hydroxide. Upon further research, I discovered that the process of preparing corn in limewater is called nixtamalisation, and ancient civilisations have been doing this as long ago as 1200-1500 BC! This process not only improved the flavour and colour of the corn, but provided niacin, which unprocessed maize is deficient in. European settlers did not adopt the same process, leading to poor people in the southern US developing pellagra in the early 20th century.
To be honest, this flour from blue corn did not look so much blue as a kind of pale grey. I decided that I would make corn tortillas with it, using the recipe on the packet, and serve it with a vegetarian bean chilli. This is no stew for the poor, as I went and bought such exotic and expensive ingredients as dried ancho poblano chillies imported from Mexico, and the organic masa harina was pretty dear to begin with!
|Blue masa, chipotle peppers and ancho poblano chillis, which cost me $11.50, $3.09 and $7.49 respectively.|
To make tortillas combine 500g of masa, 1 teaspoon of salt and 300ml of warm water to form a dough.It sounded pretty simple, but I had questions straight away. How big should each dough ball be, and how hot the pan? Do you use oil? And 4mm sounded awfully thick! Recipes on packets generally turn out well though, I reasoned, as companies want you to keep buying the product, so I ploughed on ahead. I made a rather dry and hard lump, which looked very different from the description and pictures in Mexico in my Kitchen.
Roll the dough into equal sized balls and press each ball flat to about 4mm thickness. Cook tortillas on a pre heated frying pan for 30 seconds on each side then stack them on top of each other and wrap in a tea towel to stay warm.
|The dough was a bit hard even when I added more water. I ended up adding significantly more.|
|First attempt at a blue corn tortilla did not turn out well.|
|Chilli sin carne, served with blue corn chips.|
Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event aimed at inspiring us to try new things. This month it is hosted by Chandler from The Chef With Red Shoes.