Watermelon with Toasted Flour

I can’t believe I’ve been here almost 16 months and have just recently discovered this amazing hot weather treat: Sandia con Harina Tostada, or Watermelon with Toasted Flour. Last summer’s delicious discovery was Chilean Lemonada; this summer it’s toasted flour.

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This is how it’s eaten – seeds and all.

A couple of weekends ago, we went out to the country to visit Mark’s aunt. Tia Choni lives on a beautiful farm in Rancagua, about 2 hours outside of Santiago. It’s the middle of summer here and in a country where air-conditioning is sparse, most folks rest during the hottest hours of the day and stay up into the wee hours of the morning.

After a walk down a dusty country lane, we retired to the shade of the grape vines to enjoy massive chunks of watermelon with heaping spoonfuls of toasted flour liberally sprinkled on top. I was dubious at first, but after only one bite, I was sold. The toasted flour is almost sugary when eaten on top of fresh, sweet watermelon. It is filling and refreshing at the same time. In fact, I’ve substituted this as my lunch on several super hot days this month.

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So of course, as soon as we got home, I looked up how to prepare my own harina tostada, or toasted flour. It’s actually a very simple process that involves wheat or mixed grain flour and heat. But, while looking it up online, I learned that toasted flour has a long history of preparation and consumption in South America. Aside from eating it on top of fruit, locals also make a sweet drink by mixing it into water with sugar. Other versions add honey and milk and are called ulpo, a drink preferred by the indigenous peoples.

Most recipes I found online give instructions for preparing the toasted flour in the oven. But, it being summer, I did not want to start up our rickety oven (which takes about 3 hours to heat to temperature). So I decided to try toasting in a cast iron skillet. This worked perfectly. The process was clearly visible, it was quick, and it didn’t heat up the whole house.

To make toasted flour, you’ll need to add the wheat flour to the cast iron skillet with room for it to be mixed and turned. Don’t add anything else – no oil, no water, nothing. Under high heat, continue to mix and turn the flour until you see a noticeable color change in the flour. I kept a little spoonful of the original (and untoasted) flour set aside so I could make a quick comparison since I’d never done this before. I made about 4 cups of toasted flour and it took about 15 minutes to toast evenly.

Here’s another recipe visual from my favorite Chilean Illustrator, Pati Aguilera:

Sandía con harina tostada 2013_pati aguilera_cositasricas ilustradas

Please send me a note, if you give this a try. Happy eating!

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