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Flour tortillas w/ 3 “Ancient American grains”

November 26, 2012

I’ve been experimenting with multi-grain tortillas lately and have found  it takes a lot of taste testing of different combinations of grains to get a satisfactory recipe.  There are many grains out there to choose from, each contributing their distinctive flavor to the dough.  Some contain gluten others don’t.  It’s also a matter of personnel taste or purpose.  One may want to stick closer to a traditional flavor while another day something with a little more assertive flavor  is desired.  One approach is to provide a basic recipe that allows for variations to suit an individual’s taste. For instance,  3/4 of the dough could be  all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, with the other 1/4 consisting of  a combination of other flours. The following recipe is an example of a different ratio of flours.  It occurred to me to make a tortilla made of grains that originated in the Americas (excepting all-purpose flour). Half the dough is all-purpose flour while the other half is a combination of other flours.  Amaranth, corn, quinoa, and chia are pre-Columbian grains readily available  whole and/or in flour form. I chose to leave out chia in this particular recipe mostly because I am not familiar with it.  All-purpose flour helps balance out the flavor by preventing the other grains from over asserting. I tried using some whole wheat flour in these recipes but decided to leave it out because it interfered too much with the other flavors.  I am very satisfied with this recipe.   These versatile tortillas have a very pleasant rustic nature about them that reminds me of Mexican flavors but have a distinct taste and aroma. They compliment Mexican food very well. They are easy to eat, that is, I don’t tire of the flavor. Other multi-grain tortillas I made, while nice tasting, began to pile up in the refrigerator. Those made from this recipe went more quickly.


This recipe makes 12  7-inch diameter tortillas.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quinoa flour

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/4 cup masa harina

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1.5 oz. vegetable shortening

2 T. plus 2 tsp. cooked quinoa (optional but recommended)

About 3/4 cup lukewarm water


If you are using the cooked quinoa, make sure to prepare it before mixing the dough.  One half cup of raw quinoa cooked will be plenty  to use in the recipe with enough left for  another use.

You might also try lightly toasting the quinoa flour or amaranth flour before using.

Mix well together in a bowl the flours, masa harina, salt, and baking powder. Now rub in the vegetable shortening with your fingers until well mixed in. Add most of the water and mix to form a coarse ball of dough. Remove it from the bowl to a counter or cutting board and begin to knead while adding water as required to form a smooth dough. After about 4-5 minutes it should be ready. The dough may be a bit tacky but not sticky.  Knead the cooked quinoa lightly into the dough if using.

Divide the dough into 12 portions or less. I suggest small because they will roll out thin and may not fit on your griddle when it’s time to cook them.  Cover them with plastic and let them rest for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Pre-heat your comal or griddle to medium heat. Roll out the portions with your rolling pin, cooking one or two as you continue to roll. You will probably have to ever so lightly keep the rolling pin and counter floured to prevent the dough from sticking. You should hear a sizzle as the raw tortilla makes contact with the comal. Yes, cooking also involves your sense of hearing. Cook each side about 30 -45 seconds. Air bubbles should also appear as it cooks.

These tortillas will last several days wrapped in a dish towel and put in a ziplock bag. Reheat them on your griddle to bring them back to a pliable state.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2012 12:37 pm

    I figured it out, you are a “ethnobreadologist”. Great story and photos! Especially the one where the face is about to eat it, creative! Please speak more to your experience of the flavors and what and how you ate them? Like I was just imagining butter melting… also, please speak more in relating your childhood experiences or other important learning moments related to this process? Thanks again for a really enjoyable post, more…more…

    • November 27, 2012 9:54 pm

      Thanks for the continued interest and support Roberto! It’s also interesting to me how feelings and ideas about food originate. Our deepest influences come from our childhood experiences.

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