October 21, 2020
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Mama Oty’s (my grandma) special Guatemalan Enchiladas made from home. Photo by Melany Ruiz.

By Melany Ruiz, Assistant Opinion Editor

In honor of the independence of Guatemala and of Central American Countries, I am going to introduce how to make enchiladas, the Guatemalan version. Yes, it is not your usual meat stuffed tortilla with cheese… it’s actually a… Tostada? Yes! Guatemala has its own traditional way of making their enchiladas. 

The enchilada is divided into 4 parts: the tostada, the meat, the “Curtido” and the toppings. It seems like a lot but it’s really simple to make. 

Let’s start with our ingredients: 

  • 1 purple cabbage
  • A pack of store-bought Tostadas
  • 2-3 Carrots 
  • 1 Cauliflower
  • 1 Canned Beets or ½ pound of Beets
  • 2-3 Hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 package of Cotija Cheese 
  • 1 Can of Peas
  • 1 Can of Green Beans 
  • ½ pound of Green Onion 
  • 1/2 -1 pound of Pork/Beef ground meat 
  • 1 yellow onion for raw Onion slices  
  • 1 stem of Parsley 

The Tostada: 

There are two ways to go about this. You can get store-bought tortillas and fry them in oil to then make them into tostadas. OR you can buy already made tostadas from the grocery store. 

I like the second choice a lot more. 

The Meat: 

In a pot boil your meat. Add onions, garlic salt, and salt to the pot. Wait until your meat is fully ready. Once it is ready, take out your meat and on a chopping board cut the meat into small pieces, kind of like carnitas. Then grab a pan, add oil and fry the meat with some onion. This gives it extra flavor. 

The ‘Curtido’:

So you may be wondering, “What the heck is a Curtido?” No worries, let me explain. It is a purple vegetable salad. “WHAT?! A PURPLE VEGETABLE SALAD?” Yes, purple and no we will not use food coloring.  I will further explain how we can dye vegetables purple. 

In a pot, grab all your vegetables and canned vegetables, and boil them. The peas and green beans take a bit longer to boil so I would put those in first. BUT, leave the beats alone. Those beats will be handled separately. 

Make sure your vegetables are nice and soft, once they are done boiling, grab a pan and heat up some oil on it. In the pan, add your green onion heads, add a Bay leaf, Thyme, add about 4 oz of vinegar. This is what adds that ‘pickled’ taste to the Curtido. It adds that ‘curt’ for the Curtido. 

Mix in your veggies and that purple cabbage to the pan, and add salt to taste. 

Now, What do we do with the beats? Easy! 

The beets will be boiled in a separate pot and then added to the vegetable mixture. However, there is a shortcut. To save you time, you can get canned beets. If you have canned beets add to the vegetable pan, if not then, once beets are boiled, unpeel them, cut them up and then add it to the pan. 

The beets are the secret to making the vegetables turn purple. AHHH, see no food coloring needed. Once your vegetables are purple you are on the right track. Let’s move onto the toppings. 

Toppings: 

Grab your hard-boiled eggs and slice them in fourths. Cut up your parsley into tiny pieces. Slice up some pieces of onion. Grab your cotija cheese. 

Optional: You can add some tomato salsa. All you need is canned tomato sauce and onion. In a pot add oil and put in your onion, cook until translucent. Then add a can of the tomato sauce and heat up until it boils. 

Okay, so now that that’s all done with. How in the world do I assemble it? I got you it’s pretty simple. 

Enchilada Tostada Assembly Order: 

  1.  Tostada 
  2. Place the meat on top of the tostada
  3. Add your Curtido 
  4. Add your piece of the hard-boiled egg 
  5.  Add the raw onion slice on top 
  6.  Add the cut-up parsley 
  7.  sprinkle some cotija cheese on top 
  8.  (optional): Add the tomato sauce. 

That was a lot of work, but it is totally worth it. You can now enjoy delicious Guatemalan Cuisine. Ahora disfruta!

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