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Spicy pasilla eggplant tacos

Pasilla chillies are a classic chile from Mexico. They are dried Chilaca chile peppers and a long thin chile with a mild to medium heat and loads of flavours. The word means "little raisin" after how it looks. The chile is fortunately available in India from Sol Foods on Amazon. Note: A lot of vendors mislabel ancho chilies as pasilla chile. Anchos are similar in flavour but sweeter and large flat chiles while pasillas are long and wrinkled.

This is a rich sauce and a variation on the Spicy pasilla-chile mushroom tacos. This is a rich dish with creamy roasted eggplants braised in the pasilla-chie sauce which it picks up all the flavour. As a taco it is decadent and paired with the queso Oaxaca from Nage & Kari it is perfect. You can serve these as appetizers or a main course.

I met Rick Bayless over 20 years ago before I was cooking seriously at his famed Frontera Grill restaurant in Chicago, still the best margaritas I have ever had, and was discovering the joys of Mexican cuisine. I was fortunate to have dined at both this and the upscale Topolobampo restaurant many a time. I love the complex flavours and his books bring out the flavours in simple no fuss dishes. rick also steps away from the thrashy Tex-Mex cuisine bringing us traditional recipes alongside stories and history of beautiful culture and cuisine. I have a couple of his books and must admit that I do not cook from them often enough.

For more recipes from this lovely cookbook, click here.


For the pasilla sauce:

8 garlic cloves

6 pasilla chillies

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

For the eggplant tacos:

2 large globe eggplants

Olive oil spray

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Corn hard tacos

Soft tortillas

Mexican Queso añejo or white cheddar

Roast the garlic cloves in a frying pan till they are charred and soft. Set aside to cool.

Roast the pasilla chillies on the same pan for 1 minute, press them down on the pan for 10 seconds and release them till you see a small wisp of smoke. Be careful not to burn them. Soak the chillies in hot water for 30 minutes till soft. Toss them after 15 minutes so they get evenly soaked. Drain keeping the soaking liquids. Remove the stems, piths and seeds.

Grind the garlic, pasillas, chilli soaking liquid, oregano, pepper and cumin in a small blender till very smooth.

Cook the sauce in a small frying pan with the oil till the sauce thickens and glistens with oil. Careful, the sauce will splutter and the stains will be practically impossible to remove. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Cut the eggplants into wedges. Lay on a lined baking sheet, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. bake for 25-35 minutes till the eggplants are soft and charred in spots. Remove.

Add the pasilla sauce to a large flat pan. Nestle the roasted eggplants onto the sauce. Cook on low heat for 8-10 minutes turning the eggplants gently so that all sides get coated with the pasilla sauce. Cook till the sauce is very thick and clings to the eggplant heavily. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To serve, heat the eggplants if cold. Serve with taco shells, soft tortillas and cheese.

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