One of the things I really miss about living in the States is actually good Mexican food. There are a couple of supposed Mexican restaurants in Paris, as well as the thoroughly confused Indiana cafe, which is named after a midwestern state, has decor featuring photos of Indians (Native Americans) and serves burritos (as well as burgers, nachos and things). But none of them has ever not left me feeling extremely or at least mildly disappointed. So I think the only solution is to learn to make it ourselves! The only problem, however, is you need proper fajita spices, which my wonderful aunt just sent to us!
If you don't happen to have relatives living in the southern US (or Mexico, etc) and who are willing to ship you spices over the water, it is possible to somewhat replicate the flavorings, but it isn't quite the same as a real fajita mix. If you are trying to make your own, here is the list of what was in my mix: garlic and onion powder, oregano, paprika, chili flakes, dried cilantro, ground cumin seed and ground coriander seed, ground ginger. You will also need to find flour tortillas, something which has become much easier in France at least, figuring in the 'world' aisle at most larger grocery stores.
We got a pack of six chicken breasts (two of which were a bit runty) and six tortillas and ate fajitas two nights in a row, eating two each the first night, then serving it with red beans and rice the second night (and having half the chicken mix left for lunch today with the rest of the rice). This was my first time attempting Mexican-style red beans and rice, and truthfully I have no idea how it is actually made, but what I came up with actually didn't seem too far off. Also, for real fajitas you should grill the chicken so you get those lovely black lines across it and that chargrilled flavor, but this is just how to do it simply in a pan.
I also have to hang my head in shame, as we had resolved to eat seasonally, but we cheated with the bell peppers here. I never thought I would want fajitas so badly I would compromise my morals, but there you have it... We did, however, get to use our own lettuce and coriander (cilantro), which was exciting.
Chicken Fajitas with Red Beans & Rice
1 chicken breast per person (can also use steak if you prefer)
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
Fajita spice mix
1-2 flour tortillas per person
Grated cheddar cheese
Sour cream or crème semi-épaisse (or fraîche, former is easier to distribute evenly)
Fresh coriander (cilantro)
Brown rice (the quick-cook kind, otherwise start your rice much earlier - proper brown rice is amazing, but you need to cook it 45 min - 1 hour)
1 can kidney beans
I like to chop everything beforehand, particularly when working with raw chicken (so I chop vegetables before the chicken on the board), so I chop the onion in half, then crosswise so you have long half-rings, followed by the bell pepper in thin slices and set aside. Chop the chicken breasts into long strips while you get a wok or large pan heating up to very hot with some olive oil in it. Put your brown rice on in boiling water, with the drained can of kidney beans in the same pot to heat through as the rice cooks.
Start with the onions in the pan, adding salt, freshly ground pepper (or as I used, a pepper mix that has lemon and orange peel in it - again sent by lovely said aunt), and a few shakes of your fajita mix. Once these have started to go translucent, add the chicken strips and coat liberally with pepper and fajita mix several times over the course of cooking them. Also add a squeeze of lemon juice. As your chicken is starting to look cooked on the outside, add the bell peppers, with some more salt and a final shake of fajita spices.
Your brown rice should be done but with a bit of bite still in it around the time you have put the bell peppers in. While the mix is sizzling away (so remember to stir intermittently), drain the rice and beans through a colander but catch a tiny bit of the water in the pan (or add a small amount of boiling water afterward if your ninja reflexes need honing). Return the pan to very low heat (use a different ring, as the one it was boiling on will be too hot) and add tomato paste, a fair amount of the fajita spice mix, and salt well. Stir these things through and taste to see if it needs more of any of them. If you are satisfied with the seasoning, put the lid on the pot for it to steam.
While the chicken, etc is finishing up cooking, grate your cheddar cheese, wash your lettuce and grab some coriander/cilantro, and get your tortillas and sour cream out so your assembly line is all set. Once the skin of the bell peppers has gone kind of wrinkly and loose, you are ready to go. Remove the pan from the heat and start building your fajitas. You can do it as you like, but my personal preference for order of ingredients is: tortilla, chicken/onion/bell peppers set down the middle of the tortilla in a line using tongs, cheddar cheese (so it goes melty on the hot chicken, etc), sour cream, lettuce, and cilantro. If you have access to good salsa and guacamole, put these on too (once we have our own tomatoes I am going to make homemade salsa).
As kids we used to love piling up the ingredients until we could hardly fold the edges over it all, but now I sensibly just have two. If your tortilla is big enough, fold one end over, then the two sides over so you don't get anything falling out the end. Otherwise you can roll in foil to hold it together, or just make sure to keep the fajita held horizontally (probably not best on a first date, in case you were thinking of making this for one, as you look a bit silly eating it this way). Stir the red beans and rice and dish up, then serve imperatively with a cold beer if you are of age.