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Feb 23, 2008 02:24 PM

[london] where can I buy masa harina/tomatillos cheaply?

We just returned from a few days in Mexico (and picking up my tortilla press in New Jersey en route) and I am mad for homemade tortillas. Where can we buy masa harina cheaply? Several years ago, I would buy it at the Ladbroke Grove Sainsburys which stocked the Cool Chile Co's pricey version. I'd rather buy larger/cheaper quantities. And once I'm making them, I'm sure the dreamy husband will want me to make chilaquiles. Any sources for canned tomatillos?

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  1. I've seen fresh tomatillos in Brixton, but no canned. You can get corn flour there cheaply, but you'll have to make your own proper masa. I brought a tortilla press back from home (NY) too! :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: JFores

      Where have you seen those - in Las Americas?

    2. Not sure how cheap it would be with shipping, but Skyco does sell masa harina. That's the first place I think of, but then I'm local to them.

      I would be interested if you can source the tomatillos. I do prefer the fresh but haven't found them locally.

      1. Sorry sounds like advertising but herb & spice stall borough market stock should be in 1weeks time

        1. There is a Colombian stall at Brixton that sells the masa for Colombian Arepas. You could make tortillas with that, it won't be exactly the same but still good. The store is tucked way in the back. next time I go I'll try to find it again so I can tell you more exactly.

          Corn flour won't taste very close since it's not treated with lime in the same way that corn is treated to make masa for tortillas so just beware of that if you go with corn flour. There's also a Nigerian corn dough (about which I know embarrasingly little at Brixton Market that I've wondered what would happen if you tried to make tortillas with it. It's not treated with lime either and obviously is a totally different thing from a different context but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

          The Mexican stall at Borough sells masa harina to make reconstituted masa but in comparative terms it (like everything else) is blasphemously expensive. They sell a bag about the quarter of the size of a bag of Maseca for about 4-20 times as much depending on where you were going to buy it in the US or Mexico. But what else is new? We are in London after all.

          I brought a bag of Maseca with me from the US but if I hadn't I'm sure I would have bought the Borough bag by now or I'd be experimenting with the hodgepodge of possibilities for pulling together something-like-masa listed above.

          My Mexican friends in London are getting a bit depressed and seem resigned to Tesco flour tortillas--eegads!

          If you learn of any cheaper sources for Mexican products in London--Let us know!!!

          5 Replies
          1. re: lowandslow

            Las Americas on Electric Ave sells Colombian masa harina.

              1. re: lowandslow

                The main road that the market runs down.

                1. re: JFores

                  didn't realize that's what its called, thanks

                  1. re: lowandslow

                    For the purpose of accuracy, and if you're not familiar with the area, it's actually on Pope's Road, not Electric Avenue. Basically, it's very near the Recreation Centre (a huge concrete monolith just off Brixton Road).

          2. So a person could make a little extra money importing Latin American groceries, say for sale at one of the weekend markets??? My family goes frequently between Miami and London, and we never use our entire luggage allowance.

            4 Replies
              1. re: tangelo

                Yes you can! A can of chipotle in adobo sauce cannot be bought at the local stores. Only place I saw it was at the Borough stand for 3.50 quid for a tiny jar. Sell that and some Trader Joes corn tortillas at a fair price in front of any farmers market and you will sell out. Guaranteed.

                1. re: smoothy

                  I'm going to give this some serious thought, thanks! Even if I just buy it at a grocery store here, chipotle in adobo is about $1.25 and a little can of tomatillos are about the same. Harina was really cheap, but corn prices have gone up lately.