I remember long ago (23 years!) a lady was asking me about my country, our culture and our food. When we started talking about food recipes, she asked me how could she make “Tortillas de Harina” (wheat flour tortillas). She couldn’t believe it when I told her that I didn’t know how to make them. She was really surprised! She said: “but you are Mexican!”, and then I said: “yes, but wheat flour tortillas are more common in Northern México, but most people in central and south Mexico consume mainly corn tortillas”. We use wheat flour tortillas occasionally to make “quesadillas” or traditional “burritos”, but these are not an everyday meal. Later on I learned how to make my own wheat flour tortillas too.
Corn tortillas have been around for a long, long time, and can be made of white, yellow or blue corn kernels. They are not just our daily tortilla, they are a meal by themselves.
To prepare corn tortillas you can use “masa harina” which is easily available in Latin grocery stores nowadays. For this recipe I will use masa harina because I know that many of you would not have access to fresh corn masa. I prefer the real thing (fresh corn masa) since the results will be greatly different, the tortillas will be less dry than those from masa harina. If you have access to fresh corn masa please do make your tortillas with it instead of the dry stuff. Tortillas made with "Maseca" will never taste like the ones made using corn masa made from Nixtamal.
Check this post if you want to know how to make your own masa at home. Enjoy it!
These are some of the types of tortillas sold in Mexico. Top left with the oval shape is used for "flautas", then the white taco tortilla top right. Yellow corn tortilla bottom left and regular everyday use white corn tortilla bottom right. Tortillas used for tacos are commonly smaller.
INGREDIENTS FOR 12 TORTILLAS
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1-¼ cups of warm water (this may vary depending on air humidity and other wheatear conditions).
- 2 pieces of round plastic cut out from a bag. (freezer bags are ideal for this purpose).
1. Use a wooden bowl to combine the masa harina and water. Mix well until the water is absorbed evenly and the dough forms a ball.
NOTES:We are looking for a soft dough consistency; it should not stick to your hands. If it does, add a little more of masa harina. If it looks dry, breakable or crumbly, add more water. Cover with a moist towel to prevent the dough from drying.
2. Preheat a griddle or heavy skillet on medium flame. This has to be ready when you start pressing the tortillas.
3. Using a tortilla press or a heavy dish, (pie dish as I do), place a ball of the dough about 1 ½ inch in diameter between the two plastic pieces and press to form a 6 inch round tortilla.
This picture is just to give you an idea of the size of the dough used for one tortilla. This is an extra large egg.
This is your typical tortilla press, there are some wooden presses too.
4. Press the small ball of dough firmly with your fingers to form a patty between the pieces of plastic.
You do not have to have a tortilla press to make your tortillas, you could use a heavy skillet or a heavy dish instead and press them.
5. Open the tortilla press or remove the heavy dish if using to press the tortillas, peel the top plastic off. If the press tortilla has an uneven edge, then the dough is too dry and you will need to add a little water and mix the well.
Somehow when using the tortilla press my tortillas come out very thin. Some people in the South of Mexico eat thicker tortillas and some grandmas still make them by hand.
6. Lift the plastic with the pressed tortilla, place the dough in your hand closer to your fingers and carefully peel the plastic off the dough. If the dough doesn’t come out so easily then the dough could be a little to wet. Add some more masa harina to the dough mix again until it becomes easy to handle.
7. Place the tortilla on the griddle and cook for 45 seconds. The edge will begin to dry out. Turn over and continue to cook for 1 minute until brown patches form.
8. Turn over again and cook for another 15 seconds. The cooking time is about 2 minute’s total. Cook until the tortilla begins to puff. Tap lightly with your fingertips to allow even puffing. Wrap with a napkin or clean towel, and serve.