I’ll never forget the first time I had fajitas. I was living in Texas and was brought to a restaurant by one of my work colleagues to sample the local Tex-Mex cuisine. I had, of course, heard of fajitas but hadn’t tried them and decided to give them a go. The sizzling platter of meat and vegetables, along with a selection of cold toppings such as sour cream, guacamole and grated cheese, that was delivered to each individual diner fascinated me. I absolutely loved the idea of building my own fajita my way, with my chosen ingredients.
Later, when I returned to Ireland, I found it difficult to source the ingredients to make homemade fajitas. A few of the major supermarkets started selling a fajita dinner kit and although it was quite expensive I bought it from time to time as a treat. Things have come a long way since then and most supermarkets now have their own brand of fajita dinner kit. We used to buy them occasionally but, as I started to make more and more of my food from scratch, I found I no longer liked the salsa and used only a fraction of the seasoning mix, resulting in a stash of half-used, rolled up packs of seasoning mix in my pantry. I began to make my own seasoning mix and skipped the salsa completely, so the only element I needed to buy was the tortillas.
Since moving to Lithuania, sourcing fajita ingredients has again become difficult. Because fajitas are not very popular here only major brand names are available, and only in the larger supermarkets. And, relatively speaking, they are very, very expensive. A pack of 8 tortillas costs about €2.30 (US$2.70). I can make 8 fresh tortillas for about €0.30 (US$0.35) – one eighth of the price. And since I also make my own garlic and onion powder, the cost of my homemade seasoning mix is also very low.
Homemade tortillas are incredibly simple to make and the taste and texture are incomparable to store-bought tortillas. They are soft, smoky, floury and full of flavour, reminding me of the authentic tortillas I first had in Texas all those years ago. Homemade tortillas also contain only 5 ingredients. Compare this with the unending list of ingredients in store-bought tortillas. One major brand has 12 ingredients – see below – which I guess is understandable when you consider their insanely long shelf-life. Tortillas are just flat breads and, like any other bread, they should go stale within a few days. Most store-bought tortillas have a shelf-life of up to a year. How can that possibly be? I will never eat a store-bought tortilla again.
Store-bought seasoning mixes also tend to contain a large number of ingredients. I have included the ingredients from one major brand below for reference. Note that the list might not be complete as food companies are not required to list ingredients if they are used in very small quantities. I like to know exactly what’s in my food and don’t need any artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. I avoid all pre-mixed seasonings and instead keep a range of dry spices in my pantry so that I can just create spice mixes as needed. I appreciate that it’s incredibly handy to have your fajita seasoning pre-mixed and ready to go, so I suggest making your mix in large batches which can then be stored in a jar for several months to be used as needed.
We all want our Friday food treats to be simple and tasty. I promise you that this recipe ticks both of those boxes. Remember that it’s just the dinner kit elements – tortillas, seasoning and salsa – that we’re replacing with homemade versions. All of the other elements – chopping meat and vegetables, grating cheese etc. – remain the same regardless of whether you’re using dinner kit or homemade versions. Hopefully, with my “Make Ahead” tips you can actually reduce the time spent cooking on Fridays, even with the homemade versions.
(Makes 8 generous fajitas)
For the tortillas:
400 g | 14 oz plain flour (all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp rapeseed oil
250 mls | 8.5 fl oz water
For the fajita seasoning:
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp amchoor powder*
1 tsp salt
For the full method please see www.myfoododyssey.com.
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