Mexican recipes from one of the world’s most vibrant cities

CDMX is the follow-up cookbook to Comida Mexicana by Rosa Cienfuegos. It is a celebration of the food of Mexico City and the dishes that Rosa grew up eating and now recreates in her two Sydney restaurants: Tamaleria and Icatate. It is the food that chilangos (residents of Mexico City) enjoy at home, on the streets, in markets, and in cafes and bars. Authentic and often unique to Ciudad de México, as the locals call it, CDMX’s colorful recipes reflect the vibrancy, history, and modern urban life of Mexico’s liveliest city.

Filled with stunning food photography and on-the-scene shots of Mexico City, this is more than a cookbook. In addition to the unique dishes found only in the capital, CDMX is also where the country’s regional cuisines come together, giving you the opportunity to eat your way through Mexico without ever having to leave the city. CDMX is the Mexico City guide for those who crave authenticity and who strive to accurately recreate their favorite food memories or head straight to the source, visiting Rosa’s recommended bars, restaurants, street eats, and markets.

Rosa Cienfuegos was born in Azcapotzalco, a suburb of Mexico City. She grew up surrounded by friends and family in this vibrant suburb before eventually relocating to Sydney, Australia, to be close to her father. Once in Sydney, she missed the food of her home country and began importing Mexican ingredients as a small business. This ignited the local Mexican community in Sydney, which encouraged Cienfuegos to open her tamaleria and sell the street-food dishes she loved most in Mexico. Fast-forward several years and her second restaurant, and deli, Icatate, opened in popular Redfern, extending her food offerings and authentic ingredients from Mexico City. She regularly returns to Mexico to gain more knowledge and insight into her beloved cuisine. CDMX is her second cookbook.



Makes 8

Poblano peppers originate from Puebla, but you can now find them at any mercado, supermarket, tianguis (open-air market) or grocery shop all year round in Mexico City. I feel very excited if ever I go to the supermarket in Sydney and find fresh poblanos! The flavour takes me back to Mexico with the first bite.

We have many recipes that use poblanos, and this is the most popular one for tacos, being an excellent vegetarian option. The chillies can be hot, depending on the season, so adding cream to this dish is the perfect solution for neutralising any spiciness.

5 poblano chillies, fresh or tinned

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 white onion, finely sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 sweetcorn cobs, husks and silks removed, kernels stripped

1 teaspoon table salt

250 g (1 cup) sour cream

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

8 Tortillas de maiz (see page 228) [see below]

Arroz Mexicano (see page 237), to serve [see below]

If you are using fresh chillies, heat a barbecue grill or gas flame on the stove and place the chillies on the barbecue or directly on the gas flame. Cook, turning the chillies frequently, until slightly burnt on all sides and soft without any shiny skin remaining. Transfer to a large zip-lock bag while hot and set aside to sweat for 10 minutes.

Peel the blackened skins from the chillies and discard, along with the stems and seeds. If you are using tinned chillies, drain and remove the stems and the seeds. Slice the chillies lengthways into strips 5 mm (¼ in) thick.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over low heat, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the chilli, corn kernels, salt, most of the sour cream and the white pepper, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

Serve the chilli mixture on warmed tortillas with arroz Mexicano, with the remaining sour cream drizzled over the top.



Makes 20

What’s the difference between nixtamal and cornmeal tortillas? Nixtamal is a Nahuatl word that means ‘masa’ and ‘ash’ – the process involves cooking corn kernels with limewater, then grinding them to make dough (masa), which is then pressed into tortillas using a machine or tortilla press. It is the traditional and best way to make tortillas, but it’s also a time- and labour-intensive process.

In this recipe we are going to use cornmeal, as it is easier to find.  Cornmeal is made from cooked corn – brands like Maseca and Minsa are the most popular and I have found them at Latin American markets, even in Europe. Some Asian or Indian supermarkets also sell cornmeal, but labelled as ‘maize flour’. I keep maize flour at home always, as it saves me from emergencies that Mexicans dread, like there not being any tortillas at the supermarket!

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) masa flour (yellow, white or blue) 

pinch of salt

50 ml (1¾ fl oz) vegetable oil

oil cooking spray

Combine the masa, 600 ml (20½ fl oz) of warm water, the salt and oil in a bowl until you have a soft and non-sticky dough.

Lightly spray a comal or heavy-based frying pan with oil spray and place over medium–high heat. Place a square of plastic wrap over the bottom half of a tortilla press. Roll 50 g (1¾ oz) of the dough into a ball and place it in the middle of the press. Cover with another square of plastic wrap, then close the press and gently push down to flatten the dough into a 16 cm (6¼ in) tortilla, about 3 mm  (¹⁄8 mm) thick. 

Open the tortilla press, remove the top layer of plastic wrap and flip the tortilla onto your hand. Remove the bottom layer of plastic wrap and place the tortilla in the comal or pan. Cook for about 2 minutes each side or until the tortilla puffs up and the edge is just starting to change colour. Transfer the cooked tortilla to a tortilla warmer  

or wrap in a folded tea towel, then repeat with  

the remaining dough.

Leftover tortillas will keep in a tortilla warmer in the fridge for up to 4 days. Gently reheat in a comal or microwave (wrap eight tortillas in a tea towel and cook on High for 1 minute), or use them to make tostadas (see page 233) or Totopos (see page 232).



Makes 4

I have such memories of the marvellous smell from all the kitchens around Mexico City as they prepared rice ‘Mexican-style’ to be part of the daily comida corrida. Every day this rice would be cooked – especially at lunchtime – to fill up workers with a large, good-value meal at the fondas and cocinas economicas of every suburb.

250 g (9 oz) long-grain rice

2 large (about 250 g/9 oz) roma (plum) tomatoes, roughly chopped 

½ small white onion, roughly chopped

90 g (¹⁄3 cup) tomato paste (concentrated puree) 

1 teaspoon table salt

400 ml (14 fl oz) chicken stock or water 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 Thai green chillies

Soak the rice in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. 

Place the tomato, onion, tomato paste, salt and chicken stock or water in a blender and blend until smooth – you need 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid for this recipe. 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium–low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes, until lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic cloves and discard. Add the drained rice to the pan and stir for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Add the blended tomato mixture and stir to combine, then cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Score 5 mm (¼ in) long slits all over the chillies, then add them to the pan. Gently stir the rice, then cover and continue to cook, adding more water if the mixture starts to look dry, for a further 3 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the rice is cooked through. 

Transfer the rice to serving bowls and serve.

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