Hibiscus flowers in blue corn enchiladas with pickled purple cabbage

Hibiscus flowers in blue corn enchiladas with pickled purple cabbage

V is for Vegan

I had something similar to this cooked by a woman chef Pilar Cabrera from Oaxaca at Azul Condesa restaurant in Mexico City, or DF (‘Dey Effe’) as the locals call it. While it’s a typical Oaxacan dish, it is very unusual, with a tangy flavour. The red hibiscus with the blue corn enchiladas and the pickled purple cabbage lend this dish deep sunset colours. And blue corn is the only truly blue food! It’s easy to buy hibiscus flowers online and at health-food shops.

The more unusual ingredients are readily available on Mexican food websites. I urge you to discover chipotle in adobo – just one of which can transform a sauce, a stew or a vegan mayonnaise dish.


Quantity Ingredient

For the filling:

Quantity Ingredient
100g dried hibiscus flowers, (or fresh if you have access to a plant)
50ml olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, grated
100g daikon radish, grated
50g sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the pickled purple cabbage:

Quantity Ingredient
100g sugar
20g sea salt
200ml red wine vinegar
1/4 red cabbage, very thinly sliced

For the chipotle tomato sauce:

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 white onion, sliced
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh or dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh or dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1kg ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
5 tablespoons purple cabbage pickle juice, to taste (from above)
2 dried chipotles, deseeded
1 tablespoon pickled jalapenos
or 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
350ml water

For the tofu sour cream:

Quantity Ingredient
400g silken tofu, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, Juiced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the tortillas and to assemble:

Quantity Ingredient
vegetable oil, for oiling and frying
blue or white corn tortillas, (14 x 15 cm diameter)
vegan cheese, sliced, such as No-Moo Melty cheese from Vegusto


  1. To make the filling, place the hibiscus flowers in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to steep overnight. (At the same time, prepare your purple pickled cabbage to leave overnight.)
  2. In the morning, strain the flowers. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the hibiscus flowers, carrots, daikon, sugar, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring, for about 15 minutes until the carrots are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to keep warm.
  3. For the pickled purple cabbage, put the sugar, salt and vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer until dissolved. Let it cool, then toss with the cabbage in a bowl and leave to stand overnight. The next day, drain the cabbage, reserving the liquid.
  4. For the chipotle tomato sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft, then add the bay leaves, oregano, thyme, garlic, tomatoes, some salt, the pickle juice, chipotles and water. Place over a medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes begin to fall apart. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth.
  5. To make the tofu sour cream, whisk the ingredients together and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Oil a large roasting tin and preheat the oven to 180°C. Pour enough of the tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the roasting tin.
  7. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 cm. Heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, submerge the tortillas and cook, turning once, for 30–45 seconds until they soften. Drain on kitchen paper. (A lower-fat option is to steam the tortillas in a vegetable steamer, or microwave them in a tortilla warmer.)
  8. To assemble, put a small amount of hibiscus filling in the centre of each tortilla, plus a slice of the cheese, then roll to enclose, placing them all in the roasting tin on top of the sauce. Smother the enchiladas with more tomato sauce and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Garnish with the tofu sour cream and pickled purple cabbage, and serve.
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