What I Tried: Sandoval Family Recipes

Marisa Sandoval, Staff Reporter

The smells of New Mexico whirled through the air as red chilli was stirred on the stove and garlic was being chopped. Cooking has always been a fun part of my whole family getting together. There is never a Sandoval meal without a little spice, especially when green chilli is in season. 

As I snooped around my kitchen, I came across my family cookbook written by my great-grandmother. It is filled top to bottom with classics like chile rellenos and tamale casserole, but also secrets like the Sandoval sauce.  I decided to put my cooking skills to the highest test and make a meal from the book. These are recipes that my relatives grew up loving and my great-grandmother never stopped cooking. The pressure was on to recreate a family favorite.

After looking through what we had available, I finally settled on three dishes. The first would be the calabacitas, which is sauteed zucchini with garlic that leaves the kitchen with a mouthwatering scent. Next on my list was the famous red chilli that has given me an ever growing love for spice. Lastly, I made a fan favorite of handmade tamales. 

At first, I was very nervous that I would mess up the food but as I began to whisk and fry everything fell into place. The cooking skills came naturally, and unlike baking, a small mistake would not ruin the entire meal. I honed in on my chopping skills, diced the onions and the garlic for the zucchini, then began to mix it all together. My New Mexican meal was starting to look more alike my grandma’s cooking and the kitchen smelt amazing.

The most difficult part of the cooking was perfecting the red chilli sauce. This can be easily burnt and can turn unbearably hot in a matter of seconds. The deep red colored sauce came to life as my eyes burned from the spice. The entire meal was made in under an hour and was enjoyed even faster. The whole experience went very smooth and the food tasted delicious. 

After dinner, I looked through the cookbook and found details of my family ancestry. This allowed me to put faces to stories that I have been told all my life. I am looking forward to continuing to try out these recipes and perfect my cooking skills. In the future, I can be taught other recipes by my grandmother, aunts and parents. This was just a small taste of classic Sandoval foods that I have grown up loving. My relatives may be scattered across the globe, but we will always be rooted together by our love for spicy food and family traditions.