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Tlacoyos: A pre-Hispanic Corn Dough Delicacy

  • Joel CZ 
  • 4 min read
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Believe it or not, it took me many years to discover and taste Tlacoyos.

So delicious and nutritious due to its main ingredients, which involve blue corn, black beans, cheese, and nopales (cactus paddles).

Mexican snacks have gone from being eaten in informal settings to being worthy of any table and occasion.

An example of these is Tlacoyos, from the Náhuatl word “tlaoyo,” which means shelled corn empanada.

A delicacy made from corn dough (blue or yellow), similar to a thick tortilla, but with a rhomboid shape filled with beans, fava beans, or cottage cheese.

It is usually complemented with a bit of cooked nopales salad with chopped cilantro, onion, and some grated cheese and hot sauce. However, eating them plain is also delicious.

History of Tlacoyos

tlacoyos
Blue & yellow corn dough – Source: Carlos Kaigen / shutterstock.com

Its preparation dates back to pre-Hispanic times and is typical of the country’s center.

Where it was rooted in the peasant communities and made a great leap to the big cities, where it can currently be found in street stalls and markets.

Although the best ones are made with blue corn dough, they use the yellowish standard corn version in some places where it is difficult to get it.

You may want to read: Barbacoa vs Birria: What’s the Difference?

Anyway, here I share some basic guidelines to ensure that you get an authentic Tlacoyo since there are many “fake” ones.

What to look for:

  1. Make sure it doesn’t look dry or shelled; that is to say, if you notice that it is fragmented in several pieces, it may be because the dough is not of good quality or because the “garnachera” (the cook) did not know how to make them.
  2. Although adding a little fat is an option, it does not imply that it must be submerged in oil to be “well” cooked. Look for places where they have the pot of oil on the comal; it indicates that they don’t overuse it because they just moist the comal with a few drops.
  3. It is worth those stalls where you can choose whether you want a fried or roasted tlacoyo. Always opt for the ones that are toasted on the comal, you won’t regret it!
  4. Don’t let the filling overflow. It could be an indicator that your tlacoyo is not well served.
  5. Several options of fillings. Tlacoyos without topping are delicious, but when the stand has several fillings such as potato, chickpea, black seasoned beans, and aged cheese, it’s heaven!

How to make Tlacoyos – Recipe

tlacoyos
Source: Bruno_Doinel / shutterstock.com

Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 230 g dried beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon tequesquite
  • 3 chipotle chiles browned in butter
  • 1 avocado leaf lightly roasted
  • 175 g lard
  • 460 g corn dough (preferably blue)
  • 75 g grated aged cheese
  • 150 g chorizo in small pieces and fried
  • 4 onions (sliced)
  • 230 g of cooked tomato skins
  • Salt to taste

Process:

  • Cook the beans with tequesquite and season with salt
  • When the beans are cooked, wash, drain and mash them with the chipotles and the avocado leaf
  • Fry in two tablespoons of lard. Set aside
  • With the dough, make the rhomboid shape of the tlacoyos, put the bean paste in the center, and close well with the same dough
  • Cook on the comal over low heat and then fry in lard
  • Prepare a sauce with tomatoes and onion. Grind and fry with a spoonful of lard until it thickens a little
  • When the tlacoyos are cooked, add sauce, cheese, and onion to taste
  • You can add nopales, chorizo, meat, or any other ingredient you like.

Again, although I’m Mexican and have always lived in Mexico, it took me a long time to find out about Tlacoyos, and now, they’re one of my favorite Mexican foods!

Have you tried them? Please share your experiences with us.

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