Shallow-fried vegetarian chimichangas

A proper chimichanga is a whacking great burrito that’s been deep fried, thereby endowing it with the power of a zillion calories. This version is somewhat lower in fat, and will give you an insight into just how much oil a tortilla can absorb. When you fry them, they’re like little sponges – however much grease you add, they’ll suck it all up. Where does it all go? Hips, arse and belly, I think.

For the beans

150g black turtle beans, soaked overnight
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp epazote
2 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil

The beans take a while to cook – rinse them and boil in fresh water for up to two hours. Or simply buy a 400g tin of cooked beans from the supermarket, which is much less hassle but about five times as expensive. Either way, drain the beans and mash to a rough paste.

Fry the onion, cumin and epazote until soft and aromatic. If you can’t get hold of epazote, don’t worry about it – it’s not essential. Add the mashed beans and mix thoroughly.

For the spicy veg

2 red peppers, sliced
1 cob’s worth of corn kernels
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 hot red chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp vegetable oil

This part is quick and easy. Put the oil in a frying pan, throw in all the ingredients bar the garlic, and cook over a high heat for five minutes, stirring regularly. Turn down the heat, add the garlic and cook for a further five minutes. Job done.


Tomato salsa / pico de gallo
Pickled jalapenos
Cooked rice
Grated cheese
Sour cream
6-8 corn or flour tortillas
oil for shallow frying

I’ve already done recipes for guacamole and pico de gallo, if you fancy making your own.

Anyway, assemble the chimichangas by piling a bit of spicy veg, a bit of beans and a bit of cheese in the middle of each tortilla. Corn tortillas taste better but I think flour ones are more authentic for this dish. You can stuff them quite full – experience (and a pan full of burnt cheese) will tell you when you’ve overdone it.

Fold the edges over and fry them, two at a time, in shallow oil over a medium heat until brown, turning once. Keep them warm in the oven between batches, and remember to top up the oil. Serve with rice, sour cream and all the accompaniments.

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