Easy Mexican snacks for your next party

Mix things up with these crowd-pleasing, lip-smacking starters.

Cheese & Chiles Flautas
½ cup canned green chillies (or roasted, peeled and seeded green chillies coarsely chopped)
1 cup jack cheese
½ cup green chilli sauce
1 cup sweet corn
1 tsp sugar
16 small flour tortillas 

Mix chillies, cheese, chilli sauce, corn and sugar in a bowl. Place about 2 tablespoons of the filling in the centre of a tortilla and roll it up tightly. Secure with a toothpick and place seam side down on a plate. Roll up all of the flautas and fry 3 or 4 at a time in 350°F hot oil, until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Arrange the flautas on a plate and top with mayo and salsa.

Recipe courtesy: Vibhav Verma, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure Bangalore 

Grilled Chicken Mole

6 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 tbsp chipotle sauce
1 lemon, juice 

For the mole sauce
1 tbsp oil
2-3 garlic cloves, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ cup almonds, toasted
½ cup tomato puree
1 tbsp chipotle sauce
salt and pepper
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
fresh coriander leaves
lime wedges

Marinate the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, chipotle sauce, and lemon juice. Set aside. Heat some oil in a pan. Add garlic, onion, fennel seeds and cumin seeds and cook for 5 min on low flame. Add cinnamon, sesame, almonds, tomato puree, and chipotle sauce and cook on high flame for few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped chocolate and cook on low flame, stirring continuously until it has melted and incorporated well. Remove from the pan and let it cool. Transfer to the food processor and blend until it’s super smooth and silky. Heat some oil in a grill pan. Once the pan is really hot, add the chicken pieces. Baste some of the mole sauce over it. Cook on a high flame on both the sides with some more basting of the sauce. Garnish with coriander leaves and lime wedges.

Recipe courtesy:  Foodhall

Harissa Paneer Tacos 

3 sheets of soft shell tortillas (store bought or homemade)
20 g sour cream
40 g cheddar cheese
60 g black bean salsa
100 g paneer
120 g harissa sauce (store bought or homemade)
salt and pepper as per taste 

For the black bean salsa
40 g cooked black beans
12 g chopped onions
15 g chopped tomatoes
4 g coriander
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
5 g green chillies

Pan sear the tortilla sheets with a little bit of butter. Spread the sour cream on each tortilla. Add cheddar cheese (grated) on each. Mix the ingredients for the black bean salsa and add on top. Separately mix the paneer with the harissa sauce, and warm it up. Season it with salt and pepper. Lay an equal amount of the paneer mix on each taco and garnish it with chopped coriander. Serve it with lime wedges.

Recipe: Chef Boo Kim, One Street

Grilled Corn Salad With Chilli Oil Dressing

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chilli flakes
3 garlic cloves
1 lemon
salt and pepper
2 whole corns
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cucumber, diced
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves 

In a saucepan, add oil along with chilli flakes and garlic. Simmer at low heat for 5 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and bring it to room temperature. Strain and collect the infused oil in a mixing bowl. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice and add salt and pepper to the oil. Give it a whisk and keep it aside to be used in the salad. Grill the corns until they’re nicely done. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to take the kernels off. Gather them in a serving bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes and diced cucumber. Add the mint and cilantro leaves. Finally, pour the chilli oil dressing, give it a mix and serve.

Recipe courtesy:  Foodhall

Sopes

For the dough
1½ cup of masa harina
1¼ cup of warm water 

For the topping
4 tbsp vegetable oil or lard
1 cup refried beans
2 cups lettuce, finely shredded
1½ cup cooked beef or chicken shredded
½ cup Mexican cheese queso fresco crumbled
¼ cup white onion, finely chopped
½ cup Mexican cream
spicy salsa of your choice 

Optional toppings
⅓ cup radishes, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced or diced
½ cup tomatoes, diced or sliced
pickled jalapeños and carrots 

To form the dough, mix masa harina and warm water in a medium-size bowl and knead until you have a uniform texture. If the dough feels dry, add more water, little by little, spoon by spoon, until the dough is soft and manageable, like play dough. It doesn’t have to be sticky. Make sure the dough has enough moisture to avoid any cracking on the sopes surfaces. Now, cover the dough with a wet kitchen towel. Divide the dough into 10 pieces of the same size, and cover with the kitchen towel. Heat the griddle to medium-high. To form the sopes, cut greaseproof paper into 2 squares of 6 inches each. Place one piece of the greaseproof paper on the tortilla press, then put a ball of dough and cover with the other piece of paper. Close the tortilla and press down gently with the tortilla press handle until you form a medium size thick tortilla (about 4½ inches). Lift the handle and remove the top paper. Pick up the tortilla, holding with the plastic at the bottom, gently flip the tortilla to unto the palm of your hand. A large part of the tortilla will cover your hand.

To serve
Heat the oil or lard in a skillet or griddle at medium heat. Place the sopes on the skillet and lightly fry on both sides (about 30 seconds each side will give them a little golden colour). Remove from the heat and place on a plate that is covered with paper towels to absorb excess fat. Now is time to spread the refried beans, top with shredded lettuce, beef, chicken, or any other topping of your choice. Serve with salsa.
Note: If you don’t have a tortilla press, use a glass pie dish to press down the dough. 

Recipe courtesy: Executive Chef Gopal Jha, Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach

Charcoal Nachos

For charcoal nachos
400 g maize flour
100 g refined flour
1 tsp carom seeds
2 tbsp edible activated charcoal
100 ml water
vegetable oil for frying 

For Mexican beans
3 tbsp butter
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
2 tbsp smoked chipotle chilli paste
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Mexican spices
50 g jalapenos
400 g turtle beans
salt and pepper as per taste 

For smoked pico de gallo
100 g tomato
100 g cucumber
100 g bell peppers
50 g jalapenos
3 green chillies
salt and pepper as per taste
1 tbsp Tabasco
2 tbsp fresh coriander
apple wood for smoking 

Queso cheese sauce
200 ml milk
100 g yellow sharp cheddar
100 g processed cheese
150 g nacho cheese

 Start by combining the dry ingredients for the charcoal nachos and mix well. Slowly add the water and knead the dough. Add water till a sturdy dough forms. Set the dough aside for up to 15 minutes in a bowl, covering with a wet muslin cloth. After the dough has rested, roll it flat and cut it into triangles. Heat the oil on a medium flame and fry the nachos until they are crispy. Remove on a paper napkin and allow them to cool.

To make the Mexican beans, heat the butter in a large pan on medium heat. Add the star anise, bay leaf and cinnamon. After you start getting the aroma of the spices, add the smoked chipotle and tomato paste along with the Mexican spices. Keep stirring; if the paste sticks to the pan, add water. Now add the jalapenos and beans along with a cup of water. Let the beans cook for 30 min on medium flame. Season with salt and pepper.

For the smoked pico de gallo, finely chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and chillies and mix together in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper and Tabasco as per taste and top it off with some freshly chopped coriander. Char a couple of sticks of the apple wood and place them in a small metal bowl. Place the small metal bowl into the larger bowl of pico de gallo. Now, add a teaspoon of butter/oil over the charred wood. When you see smoke rising from the wood, cover the larger bowl and get aside for up to 10 minutes so that the pico de gallo gets its smoky flavour.

For the queso cheese sauce, take a large saucepan, add the milk and let it simmer on a medium flame. Now lower the flame and add the cheddar and processed cheese. Once that has melted and combined with the milk, add the nacho cheese and mix well. Keep stirring the sauce to make sure that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Take the saucepan off of the heat.

Now it's time to assemble. Lay the charcoal nachos on a plate, layer it with the Mexican beans and smoked pico de gallo, and finally top it all off with the queso cheese sauce.

Recipe courtesy: Khao Piyo Jiyo - Veg Bar & Kitchen, Kandivali, Mumbai