Elaichi Champurrado

Happy New Year, Masalitos!

Today's recipe is the perfect opportunity to break your new year's resolution. Champurrado is a thickened chocolate drink traditionally served in the winter to warm you up and fill your tummy. This drink will make you want to curl up with your favorite book next to the fireplace.


Corn masa (Maseca) is used to thicken the chocolate milk. The more flour you add, the thicker your drink.


For this recipe, I used Mexican cinnamon which is readily available at most supermarkets but you can substitute it with regular cinnamon. I prefer Mexican cinnamon because of its citrus undertones and sweet, warm flavor. 


I added cardamom to this recipe to add an extra layer of aroma. Cardamom (Elaichi) is a spice widely used in India, you may recognize its flavor if you've ever had chai latte. Cardamom is generally pricey at supermarkets, to find a much better deal, head to your local Indian grocery store. 



- 1 1/2 tablets Chocolate Abuelita

- 3 cups whole milk

- 1 cup condensed milk

- 1 cup evaporated milk

- 1/4 cup Maseca (corn masa flour)

- 1 cup warm water

- 2 sticks Mexican cinnamon

- 6 pods green cardamom (or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)

- 1 shot Bailey's Irish Cream (optional)



1. In a large pot, warm up the whole milk at medium high heat.

2. Dissolve the corn flour in warm water.

3. Crush the cardamom pods (crack open the shell, but keep the seeds inside). 

4. Once the milk is warm, add the cardamom, cinnamon, and Chocolate Abuelita. Stir constantly.

5. When the chocolate is fully dissolved, add the condensed milk and evaporated milk, continue stirring.

6.  Slowly add the corn flour mixture while stirring. It is important that you don't stop stirring, or you will end up with a lumpy mess.

7. Continue stirring until the champurrado thickens and there are no more lumps. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods. Enjoy!

Optional - serve on a large mug with a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream.

You can chill this champurrado overnight and serve it cold for a delicious breakfast treat!

Posted on January 3, 2015 and filed under Drinks and Desserts.

Chole Pozole


Hello and Happy Holidays, Masalitos!

Have you ever had pozole? It's a delicious spicy soup, traditionally served around the holidays. When I think of pozole, I think of fun holiday parties with family and friends. I don't really remember most of the Christmas gifts I got as a kid, but I can surely remember all the delicious food served on my grandma's table, and isn't that what really matters? 

As a side note, it is widely believed that a good pozole can cure the worst of hangovers... or at least make you happy enough to forget about it. Well, I have no scientific evidence to back this up but I can attest to the fact that there is a statistically significant improvement in the amount of tummy happiness after eating pozole.

Pozole is traditionally made with hominy, but hominy can be hard to find depending on where you live, so for this recipe, we're using chickpeas (aka garbanzo, chole, chana). This recipe is basically the mouth-watering offspring of pozole and chana masala. 

As promised, today's recipe uses our previous recipe as its star ingredient: red salsa with tomatillo. You can find the recipe here. Adding garam masala to this salsa, really brings out the flavors of all the spices which complement each other to perfection. Before tasting this soup, take a moment to close your eyes and inhale all the smells, let the layers of spices carry you to Mexico and India. Then dig in and ask for seconds!

I've included instructions for making this recipe from scratch, as well as making it with canned garbanzos and rotisserie chicken.

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Buen provecho! 

The Masala Mexicana team wishes you a safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous 2015.  We'll see you next year with a drink recipe to warm you up on a cold January day.



- 1 lb raw chicken drumsticks

- 1 cup uncooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

- 2 cups red salsa with tomatillo (recipe here)

- 1 tablespoon garam masala

- 1 teaspoon cumin powder

- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed (you can use less, if desired)

- Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions (with uncooked ingredients)

1. Soak the uncooked chickpeas in water for at least 2 hours (overnight is fine).

2. Boil chicken in water until fully cooked. Once cooked, remove skin and bones and shred the chicken. Do not discard the broth.

3.While the chicken is cooking, rinse the soaked chickpeas and cook them in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water until soft. Time depends on your pressure cooker, mine took about 15 minutes on high heat.

4. Add the cooked chickpeas and chicken to the broth. Also add the salsa, garam masala, cumin powder, turmeric powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the pozole to simmer for at least 15 minutes. 

5. Garnish with lime, cilantro, and sour cream. Enjoy!


Instructions (with pre-cooked ingredients)

1. Changes to the ingredient list:

- Substitute drumsticks with a rotisserie chicken (or leftover turkey), shredded

- Substitute uncooked chickpeas with a can of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed

- Add 4 cups of chicken broth

2. In a large pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. 

3. Lower the heat and allow the pozole to simmer for at least 15 minutes. 

5. Garnish with lime, cilantro, and sour cream. Enjoy!


Posted on December 19, 2014 and filed under Soups.

Red Salsa with Tomatillo


Hello Masalitos,

What would Mexican food be without salsas?! I don't even want to think about it. Amit likes to judge restaurants by the quality of their salsa.

There are more varieties of salsa than one can count, but they all revolve around the same basic ingredients: chiles, onion, tomato (or tomatillo), and garlic. Salsas can be used as dips (as in chips and salsa), ingredients (in soup. HINT: today's salsa is the star of our next recipe), toppings (enchiladas), side dish, basically anytime you want to add spice to your dish, there's a salsa for that. My mom insists that there should always be at least one green and one red salsa in the fridge at all times. Can't disagree with that!

Today, we're sharing the recipe for one of my favorite salsas: red salsa with tomatillo. Tomatillo is more commonly used with green salsa but its tangy flavor pairs really nicely with dried red chiles as well.

A short background on tomatillos: They are green tomato look-alikes, covered with a papery, waxy husk. Most people think they are green tomatoes, but they are actually more closely related to gooseberries than to tomatoes. They are tangy, and a bit citrusy. When choosing tomatillos, look for the ones that have filled out their husk to make sure they are fully ripe. To clean them, peel off the husk and rinse the sticky coating on them. 

If you've never cooked with dried chiles, you may be intimidated by their size thinking it correlates to heat level - it doesn't. The reason for this is that after rehydrating them, you will remove the seeds, leaving you with the delicious flavor and hardly any of the heat. For this recipe, I chose my 2 favorite dry chiles, but you can substitute your favorite ones (or whatever is available in your local market). Chile ancho has a rich flavor and some sweetness, chile pasilla is darker and richer in flavor. I also added one serrano pepper for heat, it is listed as optional in the ingredient list.


Ingredients (makes about 2 cups)

- 6 tomatillos, husked and rinsed

- 2 pasilla (dried chiles)

- 2 ancho (dried chiles)

- 1 serrano chile (optional)

- 3 garlic cloves

- 1/4 medium white onion

- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (use water for vegetarian salsa)

- Salt to taste



1. In a medium bowl, rehydrate the dried chiles by soaking them in hot tap water for 15-20 minutes until pliable.

2. While the chiles are soaking, boil enough water to cover the tomatillos in a medium sauce pan (but don't start boiling the tomatillos just yet).

3. Add onion and serrano (optional) to the boiling water and cook until the onion is soft. 

4. Add tomatillos to the boiling water and cook until they soften (you'll see their color change).

5. Remove tomatillos, onion, and serrano form the pot and put them in a blender. Let them cool down a bit before blending. Discard the water.

6. While the tomatillos are cooling, remove the stems and seeds from the soaked pasilla and ancho chiles. Discard the water.

7. Add the chiles, garlic, broth (or water), and salt to the blender and puree until all ingredients are combined. You can add more water or broth to change the consistency, if desired.

- Optional step: Strain the salsa. The flavor won't change, but the texture will. This is based on personal preference. I usually don't strain it if I'm eating it with chips or using it as an ingredient in soup, but do strain it for enchiladas. 


Posted on December 8, 2014 and filed under Salsas.

Saag Chicken Enchiladas


Hello again Masalitos!

Due to technical difficulties, we haven't been able to bring you new recipes for a while. Sorry about that! 

Now that we're back, I thought it would be a good idea to share one of my favorite fusion comfort food recipes - Saag Chicken Enchiladas! If you've ever been to  an Indian restaurant, you've probably seen Saag Paneer on the menu. Saag Paneer is delicious Indian cheese in a creamy green sauce (most likely spinach, sometimes with other greens). For this recipe, I decided to use my version of that creamy sauce as a topper for chicken enchiladas. Let me tell you, this is a perfect recipe for a cold day. Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list, this recipe is quite easy to make.


A simple way to make this recipe a bit faster is to make it the day after you make soup. The day before cooking these enchiladas, I made minestrone in my slow cooker and added the chicken drumsticks needed for this recipe. Two birds with one stone, my minestrone cooked with homemade broth and I didn't have to cook chicken from scratch the next day.


You will notice the ingredient list calls for uncooked flour tortillas (pictured above).  The reason I'm bolding uncooked is because cooked flour tortillas that you can buy at the supermarket are... how should I put this?.... hmmm, I guess the word that I'm looking for is disgusting. I'd like to make the disclaimer that my grandma made THE best homemade tortillas so I can't tolerate a bad tortilla, but even if you are used to eating the pre-cooked tortillas, I highly recommend that you look for uncooked tortillas and cook them yourself (let's be real, making them from scratch is not for everyone). The instructions for cooking them can be found on the bag. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the best ones that I've found are from H.E.B. (aka: my happy place). Funny story: my mom came to visit and brought me like a dozen bags of frozen HEB tortillas because she knows I can't live without them - can you imagine her tortilla-filled cooler going through the TSA xray machine at the airport? too funny! If you're not lucky enough to live in Texas, most supermarkets will offer a version of these. I've tried Tortilla Land, they're OK, but they're quite large so I would suggest to adjust the serving size from 3 to 2 enchiladas per person. Alternatively, you can use corn tortillas.

I served the enchiladas on a bed of roasted vegetables (eggplant, bell pepper, celery, carrot, onion). The side dish is very simple to make, if you'd like me to post a quick recipe for it, let me know.  I hope you enjoy these saag chicken enchiladas as much as we do. Buen provecho!


Ingredients (4 servings)

- 1 lb chicken drumsticks

- 12 uncooked flour tortillas

- 16 oz uncooked spinach

-  ½ white onion, diced

- 1 serrano pepper (optional)

- 3 garlic cloves, peeled

- 1 large tomato, cut into large pieces

- 12 slices pepperjack cheese

- ½ tablespoon garam masala

- ½ teaspoon cumin powder

- ½ teaspoon red chili powder

- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder

- 1 teaspoon cilantro powder (optional)

- 1 teaspoon ginger paste

- ½ to 1cup heavy whipping cream (depending on desired creaminess)

- 1 tablespoon butter

- 1 tablespoon onion

- Salt and pepper to taste



1. Boil the chicken drumsticks until fully cooked. Remove the skin and bones and shred the chicken. 

2. While the chicken is cooking, fry the onion in oil until slightly brown. Add ginger paste (mind the splatter), garlic cloves and fry for a minute. Decrease the heat to low and add the garam masala powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, and turmeric powder. Cook for 30-45 seconds. You will notice a difference in the smell, it should smell pleasant, not burned. Turn the heat off.

3. In a food processor or blender, puree the seasoned onions,12 oz of spinach, tomato, coriander powder, serrano pepper, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add half a cup of water or chicken broth if necessary.

4. In the same deep sautee pan used for frying the onions, heat the blended spinach and butter using medium high heat.  Stir constantly until bubbles start to form, then lower the heat and simmer until the color has changed to dark green, stirring occasionally.  Add heavy cream slowly while stirring, until the sauce is fully combined. You can adjust the amount of cream based on your desired creaminess. Do not used low/non-fat milk, it will curdle.

5. While simmering the sauce, pre-heat a griddle at medium-high heat. Cook the flour tortillas and keep them warm in a tortilla warmer, it is important that they stay warm to keep them pliable.

6. Cut the cheese slices into thirds and arrange them lengthwise on a tortilla. Add 4 uncooked spinach leaves on top of the cheese. Add 2-3 tablespoons of shredded chicken on top of the spinach. Roll the tortilla and repeat.

7. Pour spinach sauce over the rolled enchiladas and enjoy!

I served these on a bed of roasted vegetables (eggplant, bell pepper, celery, carrot, onion). Other options for sides include rice and beans. 

Posted on December 7, 2014 and filed under Main Dishes.

Pumpkin Chai Latte


Hi Masalitos,

The air is crisp and the leaves have changed colors: 'tis the season for pumpkins!

A few weeks ago, we went to Atlantic City and met up with a good friend. We had a great time. The highlight of that trip (other than the fantastic company, of course) was my discovery of Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Latte. Oh DD, you never fail to amaze my taste buds! I lived in Boston for almost a decade, so you can guess where I stand on the great Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts debate... I digress. Recently, Amit pointed out that I drink more coffee than humanly possible and I'm now trying to cut down a bit. Not only is coffee withdrawal painful on its own BUT it is also the peak of pumpkin flavored coffee - torture is the word that comes to mind. Then, I remembered the deliciousness that is Chai.


Chai (as sold in the US) has a combination of cinnamon, anise, cardamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These spices are a perfect match to pumpkin (your pumpkin pie spice probably has most of these). For today's recipe, I used Tazo Chai. I've tried most of the different brands of chai, and just this once, I have to give it Starbucks, their Tazo Chai is the best one out there. For pumpkin flavor, I used Torani's sugar-free Pumpkin syrup. Why sugar-free? No reason, other than I'd rather use my calories elsewhere. It reminds me of a joke by "Fluffy" Iglesias: "why do I drink diet coke? so I can eat regular fries!" oh, that Fluffy cracks me up! I digress, again... this is what happens when my brain doesn't get enough caffeine, I have the attention span of a fruit fly.

To add creaminess, I mixed 2 tablespoons of Lecherita (Mexican condensed milk) with about half a cup of warm milk. I find that Lecherita gives hot drinks a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them taste gourmet. 

I made these at the end  of a cold, rainy day and decided to turn them into a hot cocktail by adding rum. I suggest a spiced rum to complement the flavors, but you can also add your favorite whiskey or brandy. 

To top them off, I made a spiced whipped cream with Mexican vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. As the whipped cream slowly melted into the chai, it added even more creaminess and flavor to the drink. I think I found a nice replacement for my pumpkin flavored coffee. Buen Provecho!


Ingredients (makes 2)

- 2 Chai tea bags (I suggest Tazo chai)

- 12 oz. boiling water

- 4 oz. warm milk

- 3 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup

- 2 tablespoons Lecherita (Mexican condensed milk)

- 3 tablespoons Spiced Rum (*optional)

- 4 oz. heavy whipping cream

- 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract (regular vanilla extract works fine, too)

- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

- 1 tablespoon sugar or Splenda

- pinch of nutmeg powder



1. To make the spiced whipped cream: In a chilled bowl, place sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and whipping cream. Whisk until the cream makes stiff peaks. Cover and put it back in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Put 1 chai bag in each mug and add 6 oz. boiling water to each. Let steep for no longer than 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag.

3. Combine warm milk and condensed milk and add half of the mixture to each mug.

4. Add 1.5 tablespoons pumpkin syrup to each mug.

5. OPTIONAL: To make a hot cocktail, add 1.5 tablespoons spiced rum to each mug.

6. Top each mug with spiced whipped cream. Enjoy!

Posted on October 18, 2014 and filed under Drinks and Desserts.

Masala Flautas


Hi Masalitos!

Today's recipe is an Indian twist on an old Mexican favorite - flautas. I love that flautas can be appetizers or entrees.  By the way, this was the first Mexican dish I ever cooked for Amit and he's been hooked since. The combination of  spices and crunchiness makes these flautas quite addictive.

Clockwise from the top: garam masala, red chili powder, pav bhaji masala, turmeric. Center: cumin powder, garlic powder.

Clockwise from the top: garam masala, red chili powder, pav bhaji masala, turmeric. Center: cumin powder, garlic powder.

Don't you just love looking at spices? I'm always mesmerized by all the colors, smells, and textures! I try not to play favorites with my spices but as you'll see, I gravitate towards a few of them as my base and then mix it up every now and then. For this recipe, I'm introducing the delicious Pav Bhaji masala. Pav Bhaji masala is sold at most Indian grocery stores and some specialty markets. It is made with red chili, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, mango powder, and fennel seeds and it's traditionally used to flavor a famous Indian dish: Pav Bhaji (seasoned potatoes with buttered toast). I really hope you can find this masala in your local market, because it will definitely take your dish to the next level.


To start, boil the potatoes and cook the onions and spices. Then, add queso fresco and mash everything together. If you can't find queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese), you can substitute with your favorite soft, mild cheese. Notice I said mild. Sure! you can use a sharp cheese if you prefer, but then you'll have a lot of strong flavors competing for attention and you may miss the deliciousness that is Pav Bhaji masala. 


Next, roll the filling into warm tortillas and fry them up. If the tortillas start unrolling, secure them with a toothpick, but remind yourself to remove those before eating (sounds silly, but trust me, biting into a toothpick can be quite painful). You can adjust the frying time to get softer or crispier flautas, depending on your preference. Since the filling is fully cooked, you don't have to worry about having to reach a certain temperature.

A word of caution: let the flautas cool down a little bit before digging in because there will be steam build-up inside. When I cooked these, I was so hungry (surprise, surprise...) that I threw caution to the wind and ended up with a nasty burn inside my mouth - not cool.


To finish up the dish, I added cole slaw, achar (Indian pickle), and green chutney crema (home-made green chutney + cream). The crema is very simple to make, if you'd like me to post a quick recipe for it, let me know.  I hope you enjoy these vegetarian flautas as much as we do. Buen provecho!



- 3 medium (or 2 large) potatoes

- 1/3 cup white onion, chopped

- 1/4 lb queso fresco (or your favorite soft, mild cheese)

- 12 corn tortillas

- ½ tablespoon garam masala

- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder

- ½ tablespoon red chili powder

- ½ tablespoon cumin powder

- ½ tablespoon pav bhaji masala (optional, but adds lots of flavor)

- 1 teaspoon garlic powder

- salt and pepper, to taste

- oil for frying (enough to cover the flautas in a saute pan)



1. Boil the potatoes until soft.

2. In a saute pan, pre-heat 1 tablespoon of oil at medium high heat. Fry the onions until lightly brown. 

3. Once the onions are ready, lower the heat to medium and add the spices (garam masala, turmeric, red chili, cumin, pav bhaji masala, and garlic powder). Cook for 30-45 seconds. You will notice a difference in the smell, it should smell pleasant, not burned. Turn the heat off.

4. In a large bowl, use a potato masher to combine the potatoes, seasoned onions, cheese, salt, and pepper. 

5. Heat the tortillas on a griddle until soft.

6. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the potato filling to each tortilla and roll to make the flautas. If necessary, use a toothpick to secure.

7. In the same saute pan as step 2, pre-heat more oil for frying at medium-high heat.

8. Fry the rolled flautas in oil. Do not overcrowd the pan, you will need to this in batches depending on the size of your pan. It should take about 1-2 minutes per set, depending on how crispy you want them.

9. Use a paper towel to absorb extra oil once you remove the flautas from the pan. If you used toothpicks, make sure to remove them now.

I paired these flautas with cole slaw, green chutney crema, and achar (Indian pickle). Other options are rice and beans or guacamole and salad.

Posted on October 11, 2014 and filed under Main Dishes.

Paneer Tikka Tacos

tikka tacos 1

Hello again, Masalitos!

Today's recipe was inspired by paneer tikka and fajitas. Who can resist the beckoning sizzle of cast iron topped with deliciousness? I know I cannot!

Funny side story: I almost lost my eyebrows while making this! I was so hypnotized by the smells that I wasn't careful enough with the cooking spray and ended up "flambé-ing" the dish. Lesson learned - never cook while starving. Rookie mistake! It was all worth it, though.

tikka tacos 3

Let's start with the marinade. A word of advice, do NOT use low-fat or non-fat yogurt because you will end up with a curdled mess. You can, however, substitute Greek yogurt with regular yogurt. For the spices, I mentioned cilantro powder in the ingredient list. This is not the same as coriander powder. Have I confused you yet? Yes, I know cilantro and coriander are the same thing, but coriander powder as sold in Indian grocery stores is made from coriander seeds, whereas cilantro powder has the flavor of the leaves. Where to find cilantro powder? You should try the international/hispanic aisle of your grocery store, look for Knorr cubes. I know that in Texas, you can easily find it at H.E.B. (aka my happy place); also, some Wal-Marts and specialty stores do offer it. If you can't find it, don't despair, you can always make up by adding extra cilantro to your tacos.

tikka tacos 4

Once you make the marinade, add the veggies and paneer and let the flavors work their magic. Look at all those colors! You get nutrients and yumminess, what else can your tummy ask for?

tikka tacos 2

Make sure your veggies are fully cooked before taking them off the grill, you want all the flavors to fully develop. This dish tastes much better with a sprinkle of lime juice and a dash of fresh cilantro. I suggest serving it with a side of Mexican rice. You can also top them with green chutney or your favorite salsa. If you'd like to see recipes for staples such as rice, chutneys, and salsas, please leave a comment below. Buen provecho!

tikka tacos 5


1 lb paneer, cubed

1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares

1 green bell pepper, cut into large squares

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into large squares

½ onion, cut into large squares

1 tomato, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup plain greek yogurt (do not use low- or non-fat)

½ tablespoon garam masala

½ tablespoon turmeric powder

½ tablespoon chaat masala (optional, but adds lots of flavor)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cilantro powder (optional)

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon garlic paste

½ tablespoon salt

Juice of 1 large lime (or 2 key limes)

Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Chopped cilantro and lime wedges for garnish

10-12 corn tortillas



1.     In a large mixing bowl, combine all spice powders, ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, lime juice, and yogurt until homogeneous.

2.     Add paneer, bell pepper, onion, and tomato to the bowl and mix thoroughly until all the veggies and paneer are fully covered in the spicy yogurt marinade.

3.     Marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

4.     Pre-heat a large griddle to medium high heat (or oven to 400 F). Add oil or cooking spray to the griddle (or baking sheet).  Add panner/veggie mixture.

5.     Grill for 7-10 minutes, then mix. Grill for another 7-10 minutes or until paneer starts turning light brown. If baking, bake for 15 minutes, then mix and bake for another 10-15 or until paneer starts turning light brown.

6.     Pre-heat a small griddle or non-stick pan to medium heat. Heat tortillas until warm and soft.

7.     Fill the tortillas with the paneer tikka, garnish with chopped cilantro and sprinkle with lime juice.

8.     Enjoy! 

To make this a complete meal, add Mexican rice and salsa/chutney.



Posted on September 27, 2014 and filed under Main Dishes.

Masala Mexicana Re-Launch!

We're back!

After a 3 year hiatus, we're re-launching Masala Mexicana. Here's what we've been up to over the last 3 years...


Amit finished his MBA



We got married!




I finished my Ph.D.



We moved to the Midwest



and now that life is a bit more settled, we finally have time to get back in the kitchen to create new and exciting recipes for y'all.  We've transferred a few of the most-liked recipes from our old days for our new readers but from now on, it's all new recipes every 2 weeks.

We hope you're as excited as we are. As always, feel free to submit any requests. Don't forget to subscribe to our mailing list or Facebook page. Buen Provecho!


Posted on September 26, 2014 .

Samosas de Calabaza (pumpkin samosas)

Originally posted on 10/17/2010

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!!

I started craving the Empanadas de Calabaza that my Grandma used to make. Yum! If you've never had empanadas de calabaza, think of them as basically a mini pumpkin pie to go. Instead of making the dough for empanadas, I decided to shake it up a bit and make Samosas de Calabaza instead. To sweeten the pumpkin, we use piloncillo - a Mexican unrefined brown sugar, sold in solid cones at most major super markets. If you can't find piloncillo, you can substitute it with brown sugar. The secret that makes this recipe extra special is adding a bag of apple cinnamon tea while the pumpkin is cooking! Everyone will love these Samosas de Calabaza at your Halloween party. Enjoy!


1 small pumpkin (approx. 3 lbs)

1 piloncillo cone (approx. 2-3 cups brown sugar)

2-3 cinnamon sticks

8 cloves

1 apple cinnamon tea bag

1/3 tablespoon nutmeg

1 pack phyllo sheets

Cooking spray


1. Cut the pumpkin into large chunks.

2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil (enough to completely cover the pumpkin). Add pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and tea bag.

3. Cook the pumpkin until soft. Remove pumpkin from water and peel off the skin. Put the peeled pumpkin back in the water.

4. Add the piloncillo and make sure it completely dissolves.

5. Cook until pumpkin is completely cooked. Remove the tea bag, cinnamon sticks and cloves.

6. Transfer the pumpkin to a food processor. Add nutmeg. You may need some of the water to create a smooth, soft paste.

7. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

8. Cut the phyllo sheets in half (length-wise).

9. Take about 3 or 4 sheets and spray one side with cooking spray. Alternatively, you can lightly brush them with melted butter.

10. Place 2-3 tablespoons of pumpkin paste to the bottom right side of the phyllo sheet pile.

11. Grab the bottom left side of the phyllo sheets and fold it over the pumpkin.

12. Grab the bottom right side of the phyllo and fold it over the pocket formed in step 10.

13. Continue folding the phyllo from one side to the other to form a triangular pocket like a samosa.

14. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the samosas on the cooking sheet.

15. Lightly spray the samosas.

16. Bake the samosas for about 30-35 minutes or until lightly brown and crispy. You can sprinkle cinnamon sugar for an extra sweet samosa. Enjoy!

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Drinks and Desserts.

Spiced Chocolate Martini

Originally posted on 10/09/2010

This month, Masala Mexicana is celebrating 3 VIP birthdays! Let's raise our spiced glasses in honor of Victor, Luis, and Ruchi. This spiced Martini has 3 main ingredients: Mexican Chocolate, Indian Chai, and Kahlua coffee liqueur. 

Luis loves chocolate

If you love chocolate but have never tried Chocolate Abuelita, do yourself a favor and run to the international aisle of your nearest grocery store to buy some - it will change your life! This frothy chocolate is spiced with cinnamon and it was traditionally sold as tablets, but you can now find the easier-to-prepare powdered version.

Ruchi loves chai

Chai is a delicious and fragrant combination of spices - black tea spiced with ginger, cinnamon, black peper, cadamom, cloves, and star anise. 

Victor loves coffee

Kahlua is a Mexican sweet coffee liqueur. Available world-wide and the perfect addition to hot chocolate drinks.

Combined, these 3 ingredients become a delicious spicy chocolate martini fit for any celebration. Enjoy!


1 -2 Chai teabags (I prefer the Starbucks Tazo)

1-2 tablespoons Chocolate Abuelita (powdered)

3/4 cup Kahlua coffee liqueur, chilled

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup boiling water

2 cinnamon sticks for garnishing


1. Pour 6 oz of boiling water over the Chai teabag(s). Let steep for 5-10 minutes.

2. Pour 2 oz of boiling water over the Chocolate Abuelita powder, mix well. Add the heavy cream. Mix well.

3. Combine the chai and chocolate mixes. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

4. Stir Kahlua into the chilled chocolate chai.

5. Pour into 2 chilled martini glasses. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Enjoy!

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Drinks and Desserts.

Paneer Pibil

Originally posted on 10/06/2010

paneer pibil

Cochinita (pork) pibil is a very popular dish in southern Mexico. Though it is not very common in Mexican restaurants in the U.S., it is one of those dishes that you just *have* to try. It is basically pork marinated in acidic juices (in this case, sour orange) flavored with annato seed paste. Achiote is a vibrant red color and has a million layers of flavor. For this recipe, I'm trying to bring this delicious dish to the vegetarian community so I'm replacing the pork with paneer and potatoes. If you eat chicken, this recipe is worderful with shredded chicken. Accompany this dish with basmati rice, a crispy papad or warm corn tortillas. Enjoy!



1/2 lb paneer, diced 

1/2 lb baby red potatoes, boiled

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (unsweetened) + juice of 1 lime 

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

1-2 oz Achiote paste (spiced annato seed paste)

1-2 tbsp oil for frying

Seasoned salt to taste

Cilantro for garnishing



1. Dissolve the achiote paste with the orange juice until smooth. Add the stock and the bay leaf (whole).

2. Lightly fry the paneer at medium high heat with a little bit of oil.

3. Bring the achiote mix to a boil and add the potatoes and fried paneer.

4. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, covered. Remove the bay leaf.

5. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!


For a spicy kick, get a can of chipotle pepper and add that juice to the achiote mix. Enjoy!



Posted on September 23, 2014 and filed under Main Dishes.

Paratha sopes

Originally posted on 10/24/2010

Paratha is unleavened Indian flatbread. My personal favorite is aloo paratha, which is a paratha stuffed with spicy potatoes. Parathas are very similar in taste and consistency to sopes (pronounced so-pehs), which is how I thought of this recipe - put the filling on top (sope style) instead of inside! To give these parathas a bit of a kick, I filled them with serrano, scallions, and cilantro.

Traditional Mexican sopes are deep-fried, but for this recipe I prepared them pan-fried like traditional parathas. For the topping, I used mashed rajma with Indian spices as a substitute for refried beans. Finally, no sope would be complete without avocado and queso fresco (cheese). Add sour cream and the salsa of your choice and enjoy!



1 cup atta (whole wheat flour)

1/3 cup warm water (approx)

3 tablespoons oil

1 serrano pepper

1/2 cup rajma (kidney beans)

1/3 tablespoon garam masala

1/3 tablespoon cumin powder

1/3 tablespoon coriander seed powder

1 tomato

1 avocado

1 garlic clove

Queso Fresco (Mexican fresh cheese)

Cilantro, a few twigs

Scallions, a couple

Salt, to taste


Prepare ahead

Soak the rajma in water overnight.



1. Boil the pre-soaked rajma and garlic clove in salted water until thoroughly cooked. 

2. Drain the cooked rajma, reserving some of the water for easy mashing (a few tablespoons).

3. In a large bowl, combine the rajma, garlic, garam masala, coriander seed powder, cumin powder, and salt. Mash until smooth, add water if needed. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Slowly add warm water and knead form a dough. You need approximately 1/3 cup of warm water, use a bit more or less as needed to form a firm, non-sticky dough. Shape the dough into a ball.

5. Brush the outside of the dough ball with a few drops of oil. Cover and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes.

6. Divide the dough into 4 small balls.

7. Lightly sprinkle a clean surface with flour, and roll out to form a thin circle (will look like a thick tortilla).

8. Finely chop the scallions, serrano, and cilantro. Put 1/2 a tablespoon of the chopped mixture on top of each paratha. Fold the paratha back onto itself and roll it out again (the ingredients will now be mixed with the dough) .

9. Heat a flat griddle to medium-high heat. Lightly brush each side of the paratha with oil. Put paratha on the hot griddle. Flip paratha when bubbles start to form. Gently press the paratha with a spatula. Allow both sides to lightly brown.  

10. Spread the mashed rajma (beans) onto one side of the paratha.

11. Place a few slices of tomato and avocado on top of the rajma.

12. Crumble the queso fresco with your fingers and sprinkle it on the paratha sopes. Enjoy!


For an extra kick, you can top the sopes with green chutney or your favorite salsa. For a milder topping, use Mexican heavy cream. Enjoy!


Posted on September 23, 2014 and filed under Appetizers.