Enchiladas for the desi soul!

I think the first time I tasted Enchiladas was at a restaurant called Thulsi located on College road in Chennai and this was a decade ago! The restaurant closed long ago – sad, as I think it would do well today. It was kind of ahead of its times serving up stuff that people couldn’t pronounce such as enchiladas and quesadillas!! It had its quota of biryani, sambhar rice, idlis and dosas too but somehow couldn’t sustain itself!

Enchiladas made from Chapathis
Enchiladas made from Chapathis

I remember that the enchiladas looked like fried mini rotis that were stuffed with kind of veggie filling (it was only later that I learnt it was rajma) and was topped with some tomato sauce and cheese. It was long before I ate enchiladas again and if I recall correctly it was around 2010 at a restaurant called Coyote Crossing in Philadelphia and the enchiladas were not fried, had a veggie and bean filling and were topped with a tomatillo (green tomatoes) sauce  and fresh queso. It was served with some sour cream and Pico de gallo and rice on the side!! It was one of their signature vegetarian dishes and those were the good days when I actually had some decent friends at work and we enjoyed an occasional lunch at this place. And then I shuttled between 2 continents and came to Texas! And the only vegetarian an always questionable term out here, but more on that later) Enchiladas they have were filled with cheese and dunked in sauce and topped with more cheese!! It was not the sauce that was the issue, but the cheese – it was too much to deal with even for a cheese lover like myself!

A weekend ago, a light bulb went off and let me wondering why I couldn’t make the enchiladas in a way that could be enjoyed without a compromise on health. And with that in mind I came up with a version, that even the picky other half would eat…the traditional corn tortilla used in the Mexican and American versions was replaced with home made chapathis and the filling were a mixture of veggies and paneer and the cheese topping was reduced to a minimum. The only area where I took a short cut was enchilada sauce. I used the store bought version, but tampered with it to add more oomph! What’s not to like?

The pictures do not do justice to the actual dish – but I am not in a capacity to take great pictures these days with the kind of life I live and this is only accentuated when we are hungry and need to start eating the moment food is put on the table!

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This recipe serves 2 very hungry adults and there might be some leftovers to eat later. What would my life be without leftovers? 🙂

What I used

– 6 Chapathis –  I made them fresh, but you could use leftovers
– 1 cup of Rajma – Soaked overnight and cooked till soft  (about 6-7 whistles in the pressure cooker)
– 2 finely chopped small-medium sized onion
– 1 finely chopped small-medium sized green bell pepper
– 1/4 cup of paneer – crumbled or chopped into small pieces
– 2 cloves garlic
– 10 – 12 jalapenos. This is optional, but including this gives a nice zing to the dish
– 2 tsp of Jeera Powder
– Red pepper flakes per taste
– 2 tsp of Oregano
– If you like mushrooms you can add some to this mix.
– Enchilada sauce – about 2 cups
– 1/4-1/2 cup of Cheddar cheese or Amul Cheese . I used Sharp Cheddar but feel that Amul would be better. – That’s desi for ya!! 🙂 If you like more cheese go for it, but personally I feel too much cheese masks the taste of the sauce and the veggies.
– 3 tbsp Olive Oil – I use the EVOO version. But you can use any oil
– Chopped cilantro / daniya / coriander to garnish. I was so hungry that I forgot to do this! 
– Salt  and Pepper to taste
How I did it

Enchilada Sauce

– Heat about 1tbsp of EVOO in a saucepan on a stove and when its hot enough, throw in about half of the onions and chopped garlic and sauté well.

– When the onions start turning translucent, add some red pepper flakes and saute for about a minute.

– Add the enchilada sauce and stir the mixture and allow the sauce to come to a boil. When the sauce is at a steady boil, remove the saucepan and put aside for the sauce to cool

Veggie Filling

– Add another pan to the stove with 2 tbsp EVOO and when its hot enough add the onions and garlic. Sauté for a about 3 minutes and when the onions start turning translucent add the chopped bell pepper and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes.

– Add the jeera powder, pepper powder and the jalapenos and after stirring them around for a minute or two, add the rajma. Stir the mixture well and mash some of the rajma. Crush the oregano between your palms and add to the veggies along with salt and mix well.

– Cook until the mixture becomes dry (i.e. there should be no water oozing out in the pan). At this point do a taste check, add paneer and mix well.

– The filling is ready – Now we are close to getting our enchiladas ready.

Assembling the Enchiladas

– Pre-heat the oven to about 300 F

– Take a baking dish. We can use a rectangular cake tin too.. Now fill it with some enchilada sauce. The sauce should be just enough to cover the baking dish

– Take a chapathi and add some filling to one side. You need to eyeball this one so that the filling does not ooze out as you roll the  chapathis. Spread the filling with a spoon and slowly roll the chapathi to make a cylinder and keep it on the backing dish with the rolled side down

– Follow the same process for all the chapathis and place them next to each other in the baking dish.

– Top the chapathis with the more enchilada sauce. Now don’t dump the entire mixture. Add enough sauce to cover all the chapathis and allow some sauce to drizzle between the chapathis and the sides. Too much sauce could make the dish soggy….

– Top the entire dish with cheese. The cheese should just cover the whole dish. When the dish bakes, the cheese will melt and you will definitely get a good portion of it. I would personally avoid a cheese overload!

– Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts. You could use an aluminum foil to loosely cover the baking dish, if you are worried about burning your cheese

– When the dish is done, allow it cool for a few minutes before tucking in! You can serve this with a side of jeera rice! I did that!!! Doesn’t get more desi than this 🙂

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