Last week was so busy. I was in Bangalore pitching for my first big client at my PR company. We were running lines, and presenting all weekend & through Monday for the actual presentation on Tuesday with one of the largest new foreign companies to invest in the Indian market. All the theatrics, smiles, and hopefulness that we doled out on our potential (Swedish) clients (yes that was my way for you to decipher who we pitched to, comment below) was so tiring that I had no chance to cook. But I’m so happy Morgan chipped in and wrote an amazing piece, which is already the third most viewed post on the blog! So while Tuesday went well, Wednesday was a complete daze and the only thing I could think of was what I would be making on the weekend. And for some reason, I have no clue why, I thought: tacos.
Now I haven’t made a lot of tacos. In college, scrambled egg burritos were a great brunch meal but when it came to making marinated taco meats, I really hadn’t made any. My introduction to Mexican food was with this restaurant called Rodeo in Delhi. It was a tex-mex place, themed like the wild west: with tiny plastic rifle gun drink stirrers; cocktails with cowboy names; brown waiters in ass-less chaps; and most importantly, surprisingly authentic Mexican food. Now you wouldn’t get beef or pork, but the dishes did have authentic flavor. I loved my time at Rodeo. My dad and I would get chicken fajitas (and proudly pronounce it “fuh-jee-tahs,” until I heard Ross from Friends pronounce it correctly). They would come as a sizzler with soft tortillas, salsa, cheddar cheese, and air whipped sour cream. Its been years since I have been there (sadly its closed now) but I can still smell and taste those fajitas.
If you follow the blog, you know my mum always inquires on how dishes are made in restaurants (and we never go back to the restaurant thereafter) and would do this often at Rodeo as well. Somehow, I remember this one time where the chef came out and talked about how he marinates the chicken. While I don’t remember most of the ingredients, one that stuck with me was orange juice. Now, I had heard of marinading in yogurt, but orange juice was something very new. This was probably 8 years ago and since then I really hadn’t thought of it until I started getting into making food and marinading meats in various different things (my favorites are: lemon garlic rosemary, and chai spice). I wanted to infuse this dish with an orange flavor. In a way, making orange the hero of the dish instead of the meat. I did that by marinating the meat for a day in a litany of ingredients soaked in fresh orange juice. I also infused orange flavor into my sour cream by zesting fresh oranges and adding some cointreau (orange flavored liqueur). This gave the dish a whole rounded flavor of orange. It has this dull cooked “bass” flavor from the meat and this fresh “treble” from the sour cream— encompassing the whole symphony of possible characteristics of an orange.
I have constantly failed at making tortillas so I didn’t focus on them (though if someone has good recipe please comment or message me), but I made the chicken, the orange sour cream, I also made this fire roasted tomato salsa which became the source of a lot of heat, and some pickled pearl onions and carrots which were brined in red wine vinegar. Yup, it was a lot of work but hey! I haven’t been able to use my kitchen for a while now and this was just the prep I needed to celebrate my time back.
Recipes for everything but the salsa and tortilla a down below! Please like, share, comment, cook, and send pics! Happy November :)
For the Marinade
500g chicken thighs boneless
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon red chili powder
2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
For the pickle
15 pearl onions
1 large carrot chopped in quarters
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
5-10 whole peppercorns
1 dried red chilli
For the orange infused sour cream
150g sour cream
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons Cointreau or Grand Mariner
For the meat
Add all the ingredients. Mix well and wrap with clingfilm and stick in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Best to leave it for at least 12 hours. =
On a hot griddle pan, add a tablespoon of veggie or olive oil. Place skin side down for 3 minutes and then flip and searing the other side for 4 minutes. Constantly baste the chicken with the marinade.
Take off the pan and let the chicken rest for 2 minutes and then slice thinly
For the pickles
Boil 2 cups of water and wash down the vegetables. Place the veggies in a glass container with the brine and store for at least 6 hours before consuming
For the sour cream
Add all the ingredients and whip until you achieve stiff peaks. Keep refrigerated.
I chose to go with taco, sour cream, chicken, salsa, pickles, and baby radish slices.