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Ethnic at Your Casa 

Recipes from Charlotte's most diverse denizens

You don't have to pull out your Visa and plunk down tip money the next time you crave the flavor of ethnic grub. Believe it or not, you can actually make the stuff in your own kitchen. To prove this point, Creative Loafing consulted some of Charlotte's most diverse denizens to find out how they make their favorite homemade ethnic dishes.

Teresa Hernandez's Red Mole Recipe

Theresa Hernandez opened Pure Vida Worldly Art (www.puravidaart.com) on Central Avenue barely three years ago in hopes that Charlotteans would share in her passion for folk art from around the world, including art from her own native Mexico. She shares her quick-fire version of the classic Mexican dish, red mole. "In my family we serve the mole over chicken or cheese enchiladas. Because of the number of ingredients it can be time-consuming to make but once made, it can be frozen and used later. My mother gave me her recipe and I've changed it a little over time to make it faster to prepare and more healthful," Hernandez says. "What used to take me two hours to make now takes me about 45 minutes."

Ingredients:

6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces

Olive oil

3 dried chiles de arbol

5 dried chiles pasilla

5 dried chiles anchos

10-12 saltine crackers

2 cinnamon sticks, shredded or cut into shards

3 tablespoons peanuts

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1⁄4 of a large yellow onion, diced

1 medium tomato, diced

3 garlic gloves, diced

1⁄2 jalapeno pepper, diced

3 to 4 teaspoons of allspice

1 tablespoon of raisins

2 triangles of Mexican Abuelita chocolate

1 teaspoon of salt

1 dash of ground black pepper

Cooking instructions:

Fill a stockpot 3⁄4 full of water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Put the chicken to boil. In small pan, add olive oil and sauté the diced onion, tomato, garlic and jalapeno pepper. Set aside. In a small pan, add olive oil and lightly toast the shredded cinnamon. Set aside. In a small pan, add olive oil and toast the crackers to a light golden brown. Set aside. In small pan, add olive oil and toast the peanuts and sesame seeds to a light golden brown. Set aside. Rinse all the chiles, taking the seeds out. In a saucepan, add olive oil and sauté the chiles just enough to soften them.

Once the chicken is cooked, leave about 1 cup (8 ounces) of broth and pour the rest into a blender. Blender should be about 60 percent filled with broth. Add all the items you sautéed and toasted (onion, tomato, garlic, jalapeno pepper, cinnamon, crackers, peanuts, sesame seeds, chiles de arbol, chiles pasilla, chiles anchos). Also add the allspice, raisins, and the chocolate. Liquefy until sauce is smooth and creamy. Pour sauce over chicken. Add a dash of pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Papa S. Ndiaye's Thiebou Dienn Sous Verre (Senegalese Rice and Fish Stew)

Since 1997, Papa S. Ndiaye has been doing interior design, weddings and event catering out of his African art shop House of Africa in Plaza Midwood. Originally from West Africa, Ndiaye grew up eating thiebou dienn sous verre, the national dish of Senegal, with his family. "It is my favorite dish because I was born and raised in Ndar North of Senegal where this famous recipe takes its roots," he says. "I remember my grandmother getting up early in the morning to go to the fish market to get live fish." (This version of the recipe is gleaned from The Africa Cookbook, Simon & Schuster.)

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons of peanut oil

2 large onions, minced

3-inch piece of smoked fish (guedge or yete if possible)

1 6-ounce can of tomato paste

9 cups slightly salted cold water

1 bunch parsley, trimmed

2 large cloves of garlic

1 fresh bird chile

2 scallions

3 pounds sea bass tail, cleaned and cut into steaks 1 1/2 inches thick

1/2 pound calabaza, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1/2 pound sweet cassava, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

5 small purple turnips, quartered

1 small green cabbage, cut into eighths

4 sweet potatoes, quartered

2 small eggplants cut into 1-inch slices

5 carrots, scraped and cut into chunks

12 small okra pods, washed and topped and tailed (any hard pods discarded)

1 habanero chile, pricked with a fork

2 pounds broken rice

Makes eight to 10 servings

Cooking instructions:

Heat the oil in a large stockpot and brown the onion. Add the smoked fish, the tomato paste and 1/4 cup of the salted water. While the onion mixture is browning, prepare the stuffing for the sea bass steaks by placing the parsley, garlic, chile and scallions in a food processor and pulsing until they form a thick paste. When the paste is ready, score the sea bass steaks and poke the stuffing into the slits.

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