Green tomatoes are not tomatillos. A green tomato is merely a hard unripe tomato, whereas the tomatillo, covered in a husk or papery skin is the fruit of a different plant, but still a part of the nightshade family. If you were to substitute one for the other, it wouldn’t work exactly because the flavour of tomatillos is quite different, and even if you were to add more zing or acidity to green tomatoes, it just wouldn’t compare.
A few weeks ago I came into a whole bundle of beautiful pearl-sized tomatillos, courtesy of Vrindavan Farms. These were sweet-tart, like little tomato berries and we found ourselves eating them by the fistful. I’ve never before seen my family take such joy in eating raw tomatoes— I even notice the stealth with which the tomatoes slide off the McAloo Tikki burgers when we order in. These tomatillos didn’t even last long enough to make a salad, but I did get around to making a lush condiment that I think you guys will find very interesting.
Since tomatillos belong to the same genus as cape gooseberries, I thought a tomatillo salsa would be a great idea. My go-to method for making a lot of salsas and chutneys is to char the fresh ingredients-chillies, fruit, garlic-then blend it all together till it’s a nice sauce. A cast iron pan is a great tool for salsas like these because of how evenly hot it gets across the surface of the pan. Once the salsa is ready, you put together a great rain-friendly sweetcorn taco with crispy potatoes, mushrooms and lashings of this tomatillo sauce on top.
Corn, Potato and Mushroom Taco With A Chilli Tomatillo Salsa
Yield 5-6 tacos
This taco has all the makings of a good, wholesome veggie meal. Corn, potatoes and mushrooms are what I suggest personally, but you could add Zucchini too. The tomatillo salsa with chillies and vinegar is a cracker of a condiment that pairs beautifully with plain jane vegetables breathing new life into them.
For The Taco
Leftover rotis 5 to 6 (or store-bought tortillas)
Corn 2 ears, husks pulled back and silk kept for another use
Mushrooms 200g, trimmed if necessary and chopped into small pieces
Zucchini 1 (optional), chopped into rough, but small chunks
Butter 100g, divided
Garlic 5 cloves, peeled and chopped
Thyme 2 sprigs
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable oil 1/4 cup for shallow-frying
For The Salsa
Vegetable oil 1 tbsp
Dried Kashmiri red chillies 2
Dried Bedgi red chillies 2
Tomatillos 250g, washed
Garlic 3 cloves
Pepitas or pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Vinegar 2 tbsp
Put a saucepan full of water on the hob and cover with a lid so it boils faster. Once the water comes to a boil, salt the water liberally and add the potatoes to the pan. Cook the potatoes in the water for 8-10 minutes depending on the size until a knife inserted into the potato pierces easily.
While the potatoes are boiling, start on the corn. On another hob, let the naked flames lick the corn until it cooks and chars on all sides. Use a pair of tongs or the handle of the corn ear to turn the corn so it cooks evenly on all sides. Shuck this cooked corn over a bowl using a knife to catch the kernels that are being sliced.
Drain the potatoes and let them cool for 2-3 minutes max before bravely pressing the hot potatoes down a bit with your hand and letting them continue to cool.
Take a wide frying pan or a cast iron skillet and heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the dried chillies and allow it to get toasty and red. The chillies will expand and get aromatic. Once they are, bash the garlic and add these into the frying pan/skillet along with the cumin seeds, pumpkin seeds and finally the tomatillos. Cook the tomatillos until they are squishy soft and start to fall apart when you stir them around. At this stage, tip the contents of the frying pan into a blender and whizz with 2 tbsp vinegar and salt. Taste and adjust the salt as per your liking.
To the same skillet or pan, add 2 tbsp butter and once it is hot, add the garlic and saute for a minute over medium-high heat. Tip in the mushrooms and the thyme. Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for 6-7 minutes, stirring once in a while until the mushrooms have cooked down. Season immediately when the mushrooms are off the pan. Repeat this process for the zucchini.
Wipe out the skillet and add the vegetable oil to the pan. Once it is shimmering and hot, add the slightly flattened potatoes in a layer and let them get crisp and golden brown on one side for 3-4 minutes, before flipping it over and cooking the other side as well. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and reserve the leftover oil in the skillet for another use.
Lightly press together the mushroom, zucchini (if using), crispy potatoes and corn together and divide the filling among the rotis in waiting, being careful to not fill the taco all the way to the sides. Fold them in half like an empanada, pressing the filling to the centres.
Add a tablespoon of butter to a pan/skillet set over medium-high heat and once it’s hot, add the taco carefully so the filling doesn't seep out. Press down using a flat spatula and use the same to turn the taco around after about 3 minutes of cooking on one side. Cook the other side for about a minute more, while adding a bit more butter around the corners. Slide it onto a plate with a nice dollop of tomatillo sauce on top. Serve immediately.
You can also serve this taco open-faced without all the extra heating it with butter to make the roti crispy, though I feel the extra fat makes it that much more delicious.