Salsa! Aaah..as I close my eyes, I can remember the mariachi music in the background, the smell of fresh fried tortilla chips and big earthern bowls of fresh, hot, spicy, zesty salsa! I am obviously talking about the Mexican salsa that you eat, and not the dance form.
I love Mexican food and I have blogged about many from scratch Mexican recipes here. Modern Mexican food prides itself on being fresh and light. Well, I love both the fresh and the cheese laden versions, and either is hard to come by in Pune. I had a dismal experience tasting Mexican food at the World Dhaba festival recently. And the usual fallback is to cook and eat what you want at home.
Salsa brings to mind Pace Picante’. I admit this is probably the first salsa brand I tasted and it continues to be my favorite. I bought big gallons of these and ate it with everything – eggs, toast, grilled stuff, sandwiches, wraps, burritos, potatoes and sometimes even on top of Farsan! Yes, for those times when you just don’t want to chop some onions or tomatoes to make dry bhel. I like the On the Border brand of salsa too. But these are all bottled varieties. And considering that they have a long shelf life, they are made differently.
Fresh salsa is the kind you would get in a local Mexican restaurant, or even at OTB. Salsa and pico de gallo use the same ingredients but the end product is slightly different. It took me a while to get this right, but I am happy with this version.
Now the recipe itself. This homemade salsa is very easy to make and uses ingredients common in an Indian kitchen. No need to shop for any fancy foreign stuff. Tomatoes, chili, onions, green pepper or capsicum, coriander, limes and that’s about it. So fine, we hardly ever get real limes in India, certainly not in Pune. We might get something green colored that tastes like a combination of lime and lemon. So go with any fresh thing you have.
Use any chili you like – jalapeno, serrano or Indian chili. Take the seeds out if you don’t want it too hot. And add just a pinch of cumin for the accent.
If you live in a place that gives you limes, then by all means, use them instead of lemons. The lime is a big ingredient in this homemade salsa. I am avoiding using vinegar here.
The secret here is that the salsa has to sit in the fridge at least overnight. That is how it will get the deep red color. That’s because time and acid will break down the tomatoes and let them mingle with the others. If you are making this for a party, definitely make this a day ahead and refrigerate it in an air tight container like Tupperware.
The appliance of choice here is a food processor or chopper. I used the chopper jar that came with my Hamilton Beach blender. Anything with a S blade should work well.
Homemade Salsa Recipe
- 8 Plum or Vine Ripe Tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 Green Pepper or Capsicum
- 2 Limes juiced
- 1 jalapeno chili
- 3 Tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- pinch of fresh cumin powder
- salt to taste
- Pulse 4 tomatoes in a food processor until they are crushed but don't form a puree. transfer to bowl.
- Pulse the remaining 4 tomatoes, onion, chili and green pepper until they are just roughly chopped.
- Transfer to bowl.
- Now add finely chopped cilantro, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt.
- Add the lime juice. Add more or less depending on taste and the limes.
- Mix well. Salsa should be tangy.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Refrigerate overnight before serving.
This salsa recipe takes just a few minutes to make. But the praises people sing will stay with you for many days. So try it out and let me know how you liked it.