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Monday, September 1, 2014

A for Argentina ~ Tortas Fritas

  
Event: BM #44
Choice of country: Argentine Republic
Capital City: Buenos Aires
Official Language: Spanish
 
I am going on a culinary, global tour this month as part of the blogging marathon #44 group. There are no special rules or themes of this marathon except that the names of the countries we are going to chose to cook from will go in an alphabetical order. I would be posting each day of this month except on Sundays and dishing out about 26 culinary delights for my readers, virtually.
And I chose to go to Argentine Republic / Argentina on the first day. Thanks to my elementary school social-studies teacher who taught us about South America, I had always associated the term "ABC" to countries Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My attention naturally shifted to Argentina when I was looking for countries starting with the letter A. Argentina is located in the south eastern region of the South American continent and almost covers the southern tip of that continent. It is the eight largest continent in the world and up until the early parts of twentieth century, it was one the wealthiest, developed nations. The name "Argentina" comes from the Latin "argentum" meaning silver. It is in association with a legendary myth that a silver treasure is located in south America, which was widespread among the first European explorers of the region. The country's cuisine is a cultural blend of the native American and Mediterranean influences. The country has a large immigrant population and naturally the cuisine is diversified. Beef is the most loved meat here.
 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/Atardecer_en_el_Congreso_de_la_Naci%C3%B3n_Argentina.jpgArgentine National Congress Palace, Buenos Aires (Image:Wikimedia commons)

I was looking for some desserts from the region and the first dish that caught my attention was tortas fritas. Tortas fritas - The fried pies / cakes are popular both in Argentina and the neighboring country of Uruguay and these are served traditionally on a rainy day as an accompaniment to yerba mate (pronounced mah - tey), a caffeine rich beverage popular in the region. This is one traditional dish influenced by the simple, nomadic life style of Gauchos and has nothing to do with the hotchpotch of dishes that involved due to both the native and European culinary influences. The "gauchos" (Argentinean version of cowboys) led a nomadic life on the vast pampas with limited food sources and sometimes they would fry up these tortas fritas with the basic ingredients they had on their hands - the flour, salt, lard and water (rain water.). Gauchos would live on beef cooked on an open fire and yerba mate herding their livestock. And when it rained, they would make these tortas fritas as a quick alternative to their usual cooking since they could not keep the fire up going for longer periods and they would use the rainwater to prepare the dough. The present day versions may contain butter (instead of lard), eggs or leavening agents. 

I was in luck and landed up with an authentic version provided by an Argentinean grandmother here. The dish is simple to prepare and tasted very good, somewhere along the lines of Indian badushah / balushahi in taste. Mine did puff up slightly and were flaky too. Everyone at home loved this and I recommend this for a quick and yummy treat.

Ingredients: (yield about 5)
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp. melted butter
Scant 1/4 cup water
Oil to fry
Granulated sugar to sprinkle on top

Method:
* Combine flour, baking powder, salt and melted butter in a mixing bowl. Add water gradually as needed to form a soft, pliable dough. 
 
* Flour the work surface if necessary and knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is smooth. Cover and let it rest it for about 20 minutes. Divide the dough into 5 or 6 pieces and roll them into balls.
* Dust with flour or grease the work surface if needed. Flatten the dough ball with your palm. Pat each ball into a thin circle of about 1/8 inch thickness using the heel of your hand. (Remember these are rustic and gauchos used hands). 
If you are finding it hard to do with your hands, use a rolling pin. Poke a hole in the center using your fore finger or cut a small X at the center using a sharp knife.
 
* Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan, on medium flame. To check whether the oil is hot enough to fry, drop a pea sized dough piece into it. If it sizzles and comes to the surface immediately, it is ready for frying. If it doesn't, heat oil for a few seconds more. However don't bring the oil to a smoking point. 
* Gently drop the rolled out circle into the oil. Fit as many as your pan can hold without overcrowding. I was preparing a small quantity and so used a small pan and fried one at a time.
 
* Fry on low medium flame until it turns golden brown through out. They turn slightly puffy during the frying and remain so even when they are cold. Remove it using tongs and drain on absorbent towels.

* Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. If frying a large batch of tortas fritas, increase the heat if needed in between.
* Sprinkle sugar on the warm tortas fritas and serve them immediately.

Comments

19 comments:

Usha said...

Nice dessert or sweet to have with some caffeine rich beverage.

Varadas Kitchen said...

Nice choice of recipe. Looks very similar to our Native American fry bread.

Chef Mireille said...

Love the way u wrote about the history and culture of the gauchos. Nice to c another Argentine treat

Usha said...

Is that a hint for us Suma, what to expect for the next two days? Had to comeback and ask you this.

Pavani N said...

That is one delicious looking dessert Suma. Great start to the marathon. And same pinch for the country :-)

Kalyani said...

Ooh ... Lovely... My kid wud hv loved this sweet treat.. Good start Suma ! Look forward to the serie...

Srivalli said...

You have got it so well Suma..love the shape..and yes reading all that history!

Foodiliciousnan said...

This does seem like a perfect little snack for rainy afternoons, like our pakodas or bhajjis. The torta frittas look very nice. Looking forward to the rest of the series with you!

Harini-Jaya R said...

They look so lovely all puffed up!! I had prepared these earlier for an international theme and I remember that these were popular at home. Good choice for this country!

Manjula Bharath said...

Thats an fabulous dessert for tea time dear :) you have made it super perfect !! Great start with A .. lovely write up deary !!

Padmajha PJ said...

Nice choice of country and a great dish to start the marathon! It has turned out so well Suma...

Priya Suresh said...

This crispy torta fritas are asking me to munch some rite now.

Padma Rekha said...

Looks like a perfect combination with a cup of coffee nice choice.

Sapana Behl said...

Those fritas looks addictive and so delicious .Would love to try them..

The Pumpkin Farm said...

beautiful dish and i loved the smaller rounds with a hole in the centre...good start for the series..excited to read more here

Archana Potdar said...

Delicious dessert and will love these anyday not just a rainy day.:D Love the start of the series. Wondering and waiting to see the rest.

Priya Srinivasan said...

Delicious they look, and a quickie too!!!

Sreevalli E said...

Lovely fritas.. They look yum.

Gayathri Kumar said...

Great sweet to start the mega BM. These look quite addicitve...