What’s cooking: Tacos

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland, I have a limited food budget. But I also love food–both eating and making it. During PST, I cooked without an oven, refrigeration, and a non-stick skillet. Now at my permanent site, I have all three, though at a cost. This occasional series will highlight my cooking and baking and the recipes I use. 

Everyone says they miss Mexican food while in Swaziland. I wondered why when all the ingredients are available here, including homegrown avocados. The most non-Swazi part of tacos are the tortillas and the non-stick skillet required to make them. 



My first purchase for my new home was a non-stick skillet. I bought the 28 cm aluminum skillet from Shoprite for E139. It will be worth every penny. Everything else can be bought at most grocery stores and bomake markets. 

Preparing the filling is easily adaptable to your dietary needs and tastes. I used mince (ground beef), onion, green pepper, and tomato. I spiced the filling with garlic, cumin, and cayenne. I bound everything together with a tiny can of tomato paste. You could easily use chicken or beans instead of the beef and any other veggies of your choosing. 

And the tortillas. I use four ingredients (no lard or other fat!) and they are so easy. The key to a soft tortilla is not greasing the skillet and giving the dough a few minutes to rest between steps. 

Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Makes: 6 tortilla shells with enough filling left over for another day

What do you need:

  • 1 burner
  • Non-stick skillet
  • Plastic spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Chopping knife
  • Can opener
  • Measuring cups
  • Rolling pin (I used a pasta sauce bottle)
  • Clean, flat surface to roll out tortillas
  • Plate for the tortillas once cooked
  • Towel to cover dough and wrap cooked tortillas

Tortilla ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 c flour 
  • 1/2 c water
  • Two pinches of baking powder
  • One pinch of salt

Filling ingredients:

  • 1/4 kilo mince
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 70 g tomato paste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Cumin powder to taste
  • Cayenne powder to taste
  • 1 avocado
  • Cheese

Tortilla recipe:

  1. Measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl. 
  2. Mix together with a fork. 
  3. Knead dough with your knuckles or bottom of hand by folding dough in half and pushing down. Rotate dough in quarter turns, kneading until dough is elastic. Add more flour if dough is sticky or water if not pliable. 
  4. Cover and let dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  5. Pull dough apart into 6 pieces and form into balls. 
  6. Cover and let rest again for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Lightly flour your clean, flat surface and your rolling pin. 
  8. Roll out each ball, rotating roll direction to keep circular, until it is about 5 inches in diameter. I flip the dough after every couple of rolls to keep both sides floured. 
  9. Turn on your burner. When your skillet is warm, add your first tortilla. Cook about 1 minute per side until dough starts to change color. 
  10. Finish cooking tortillas. 

Filling recipe:

  1. While the dough is resting from the tortilla recipe, organize ingredients and start chopping veggies for the filling. 
  2. Brown mince in skillet. 
  3. Once cooked, add chopped vegetables, tomato paste, and spices. Cook until vegetables and tomato paste are heated. 
  4. Add filling to tortillas and garnish with avocado and cheese as desired. 

Enjoy your tasty tacos and have happy travels! 

This entry was posted in Africa, Peace Corps, Swaziland, What's cooking and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What’s cooking: Tacos

  1. Susan Kemp says:

    The tacos look great! Home cooking even in Swaziland!

  2. Jenny says:

    Awesome that you can make your own tortillas while you are there! I never thought about how easy they would be to make. You might have taught me something here, Alison!

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