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12 July, 2011


The name 'Burritos' means 'little donkeys' in Mexican Spanish, but I fail to see how the name lends itself to this simple, delicious dish - save that the donkey is a beast of burden and the burrito resembles a package. 

The humble burrito has undergone a glamourous overhaul since its migration to the USA, but I will stick to the original Mexican recipe as far as I can. Some of the US additions will be added below the original recipe. 

Burritos are simple and cheap to make and have a big flavour; much bigger than the sum of their simple ingredients. I have suggested substitutes for the hard-to-find items.


1 tablespoon of olive oil
Pinch of cumin seeds
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cans of drained kidney beans (or the same volume of cooked, dried 

kidney beans)
6 large wheat flour tortilla wraps


Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok until hot and add the spices, stirring until the seeds pop. Add the onion, garlic and stir fry until the onion is soft and starting to caramelize. Add the beans and stir. Mash a few beans with your stirring spoon against the pan. Continue cooking until the mixture is cooked through and resembles mashed potato in consistency. The resulting mash is known as 'frijoles refritos' - refried beans. 

Refried beans are delicious and an excellent source of protein and fibre. They continue to improve in flavour if cooled then refried again with more onion. I make large batches at a time and freeze it in portions before re-frying it.

Optional Dressings:

Salsa or salcita (see below)
Grated Quesadilla (or cheddar or monterey jack) cheese
Sour cream
Hot pepper sauce to taste


Wrap the tortillas in a clean tea towel and microwave them for 50 seconds. Taking one tortilla at a time, add a generous portion of frijoles to the center of the wrap and add a selection of the optional dressings. Fold or roll the tortilla wrap and arrange on a serving plate. Garnish with a selection of the optional dressings.


Salsa is not unlike the fresh chutneys and sambals served with Indian food. Mix together the following ingredients:

4 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red or green pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey or sugar
A pinch of salt
A generous pinch of chopped coriander (cilantro)
Hot pepper sauce to taste

Popular US Additions:

Add any or all of the following:

Shredded, cooked chicken, pork or beef
Chilli ground beef
Crispy fried bacon
Crispy fried onions
Cooked rice 

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