How to make the best, budget-friendly tacos

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How to make the best, budget-friendly tacos

It is possible to serve up wholesome, free-range ingredients, wrapped up in home-made corn tortillas for less than most drive-through meals. It’s all about avoiding shortcuts.

Baha Taco chef-owner David Smale deconstructs tacos.

The anatomy of the taco

The Tortilla

David and his team press their tortillas to order in a custom-built press, before frying them on a flat top. “We use fresh masa made from South African non-GMO corn,” he adds.


Red and white cabbage, grated carrots and sliced radishes bring a bit of peppery freshness and crunch to the taco party.

Try our red cabbage slaw recipe (pictured above) here.

The Chicken

“We buy our free-range chickens whole, directly from a farmer in the KZN Midlands, which helps us keep costs low,” says David. The breasts of the birds are dusted with a dry rub including cumin, coriander, thyme, Mexican oregano, garlic powder and dried chipotle, then marinated in a combination of achiote (a bright red Mexican spice with a nutmeg-like flavour), roast garlic, whole pineapples and lime juice. “We cook the breasts whole on a wood-fired grill, then finish them in a wood- fired oven, before slicing,” he adds.

The Beans

“Traditionally, refried beans are made with pinto beans, but they’re not really available in South Africa, so we use dried sugar beans – much more affordable than the canned ones,”says David. “We soak the beans overnight, cook them for a couple of hours, then let them finish in a Wonderbag. Once cooked, we fry them with garlic, onion and a mix of cinnamon, allspice and epazote (a Mexican herb with a flavour somewhere between oregano, aniseed, citrus and mint).”

The Cream Cheese

Instead of cooling things down with traditional sour cream, David strains kefir – which he makes using raw milk and kefir granules he got in Germany – through a muslin cloth until only thick, cultured cream is left behind. As nothing goes to waste, the whey is collected and used in making sourdough wheat tortillas.

Try our parmesan-and-almond-crusted fish tortillas recipe (pictured above) here.

Salsa Roja

The salsa roja – “red sauce” in Spanish – has smoky, spicy, sweet notes thanks to jam tomatoes, roasted until blackened, then blended with peppers, chillies, garlic and spices until smooth.

Baha Taco, Shop 3 Tarquin House, 38 Upper Grant Avenue, Norwood, Johannesburg.

Tel: 076 694 7400

Discover more TASTE features here.

Hope Malau Article by: Hope Malau

Hope Malau is a chef, author, family man and apparently, quite the fish-and-chips connoisseur.

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