Chuchitos y Cambrayes

There are two things I have been wanting to try here in Guatemala, and I tried them both today!

First, a quick explanation about tamales: Tamales or tamalitos are extremely common here. If you go to a restaruant that serves guatemalan food, they usually come as a side. My family serves them with every meal, and they usually have endless amounts.  If you don’t know what tamales are, they are made from masa harina, which is basically like a corn flour that is made into a paste or dough, and then cooked inside corn husks. It can be boiled which gives it a softer texture. I know my family cooks them over a fire, which makes them more yellow with a harder texture.

It is possible to make the tamales from scratch with corn, but from what I’ve heard, most people now just make it with the masa harina.

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Typical tamales

After discussing typical Guatemalan food with one of my teachers she explained to me different types of tamales. There are chuchitos, which are basically more involved tamales with meat in the middle. And there are cambrayes which are  sweet tamales, usually with raisins or other fruit. I had been telling her for weeks that I wanted to try these, and today I just so happened to find them.

My friend Nikki and I decided to grab a coffee at Cafe la Luna (Which is a wonderful cafe–famous for it’s hot chocolate. If anyone is ever in Xela, it’s a must go). And I just so happened to see chuchitos and cambrayes on the menu, and it was today’s speical nonetheless. It was obviously fate. So I ordered chuchitos, Nikki ordered cambrayes and we shared.

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Cafe la Luna–great atmosphere, great food and drinks, and a great place to study!

They were delicious to say the least. They were very soft and light. The chuchitos had chicken in the middle and didn’t have a lot of spice but was served with a sweet sauce that resembled tomato sauce. The cambrayes were not overwhelmingly sweet, but were sweeter than normal tamales. They contained raisins and were drizzled with carmel. The best way to describe the taste of the cambrayes would be the flavor of rice pudding. They were the perfect snack!

The ones farther away are the cambrayes, the other ones are the chuchitos. So good!

I then decided to try to find recipes for both.  It was easier to find recipes for chuchitos, but I have come to realize that cambrayas seem to be a regional name, because most recipes called them tamales de dulce ( sweet tamales).

However, I was happy to find these recipes because they definitely come to close to how my teacher described how to make them. I’m hoping to try and actually make either chuchitos or cambrayas, but I have realized my time here is starting to disappear. If I do, I will of course share.

Here is a recipe for chuchitos:

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless chicken or pork

1 tablespoon oil

2 cups sliced ripe tomatoes

1 chile guajillo, seeds and stem removed

2 tablespoons water

4 cups Masa Harina

8 tablespoons margarine (at room temperature)

1 1/2 cups cold water

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh green or dried cornhusks, wet

Cooking instructions:

Cut the chicken or pork into 1-inch cubes and fry in oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Process the tomatoes, chile pepper and 2 tablespoons water into a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Mix the masa, margarine, 1 1/2 cups cold water and the salt together into a thick mush. Put 1/2 cup mush in each wet cornhusk, push an indentation into the mush, and add 1 tablespoon sauce and a chunk of meat. Cover the stuffing with the mush and wrap the dumpling into a sausage shape with the corn leaves. Steam the chuchitos over hot water over moderate heat for 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap and eat warm or at room temperature.

(Recipe from http://www.hispanickitchen.com)

Cumbrayes:

Ingredients:  1 pack (8 oz.) of dry corn husks
1 cup pork lard or butter
2 1/2 cups of tamal masa (corn flour)
1 1/2 cups corn flour
1/4 of cup of sugar granulated
1 tablesppon cinnamon in powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 can (14 oz.) of condensed milk carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of chopped walnutsCooking Instructions:

Prepare the corn husks, separating and discarding those that aren’t perfect enough.
Dip the good husks in lukewarm water at least for 1 hour or until they are smooth and it is easy to double them up.
Mix 2/3 cup of the lard in a bowl until it becomes creamy.

Mix in a medium-sized bowl the flour, the cornflour, the sugar, the cinnamon and the salt. After this, add progressively the mixture of flour, water and condensed milk to the lard, little by little. Incorportating well the ingredients after every addition by mixing thoroughly. Melts the remaining lard. Gradually, beat your masa mixture until you get the texture of dough for a cake.

Add the vanilla extract, the raisins and the nuts. Shape 1/4 of cup of masa, using the back of a spoon, to form a square in the center of a corn husk. Wrap the masa on the right side with a leaf, and then the left hand side. Wrap well the low part. Do the same with the rest of the masa.

Place all your stuffed corn husks in a small basket for steaming in a steamer (or use a real tamalera). Fill with water until it reaches just the bottom of the small basket. Arrange the tamales vertically in the small basket. Cover them with the remaining leaves and a damp cloth.

Cover them. Heat up with high heat setting until the water starts to boil. Reduce the heat and leave it this way. While steaming, make sure you never run out of water in your steamer, so add more water if it is necessary. Set your tamales to steam for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the leaves start coming off the masa.

(mexicanrecipes.me)

I hope you try one of these, because it’s well worth it!

Buen provecho!

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Comida tipica!

Today my school had a cooking class, and they made a traditional dish called Jocón. I didn’t sick around for the whole demonstration, but I actually ate this exact same dish last week with my school.  It’s a simple recipe of rice and chicken and a green sauce. It isn’t bursting with flavors, but it’s very typical here for guatemalans to add some kind of salsa picante to spice up their food.

Here is a recipe for Jocón:

Ingredients

  • Chicken, cut into serving pieces — 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Water — 4 cups
  • Salt — 2 teaspoons
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) — 1/4 cup
  • Sesame seeds — 1/4 cup
  • Corn tortillas, chopped, soaked in water, drained — 2
  • Tomatillos, hulled and chopped — 1 cup
  • Cilantro, chopped — 1 bunch
  • Scallions, chopped — 1 bunch
  • Jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, chopped — from 1 to 5

Tomatillos–small green tomatoes commonly used for salsa verde

Method

  1. Place the chicken, water and salt into a large pot over medium-high flame. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Remove the chicken to a bowl and strain and set aside the broth. Let chicken cool, then remove the meat from the bones and shred it with your fingers. Set aside.
  3. Heat a dry skillet over medium flame. Add the pumpkin and sesame seeds and toast, stirring, until lightly browned. Remove to a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Add the sesame and pumpkin seeds, tortillas, tomatillos, cilantro, scallions and chile peppers to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup of the reserved broth and process until smooth. If using a blender you may have to do this step in batches.
  5. Return the chicken to the pot. Pour over pureed sauce and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the remaining broth to give it a sauce-like consistency.
  6. Heat over medium-low flame and simmer for an additional 15-25 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.

(Recipe from http://www.whats4eats.com)

This dish is usually served with tortillas (like most food here)

Buen provecho!

Sharing is caring

When I started this blog I figured it would just be recipes that I wanted to make. After discussing my blog with my dear friend Ashley, she excitingly suggested I include a recipe she recently made. This made me decide that not only will I share my own cooking, but that I’ll share recipes of others that want to share with me! So, friends who are reading this, (which currently is probably about 0 ) give me recipes that you’ve made and loved, or maybe didn’t love but still want to share. I will happily put them here with any comments you have about them. If there is one thing we can all talk and bond over, it’s food, right?

Ashley recently made a sweet potato salad for the good ol’ fourth of july.  Potato salad is pretty much a staple when it comes to the 4th, but with the current heat wave sweeping through the United States, she wasn’t in the mood for a creamy gloppy dish, so she opted to make a different version.

Here is the recipe: (courtesy of foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups medium diced sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Directions

Cook potatoes until they are fork tender in boiling water. Drain the potatoes and cool them completely. Soak the raisins in hot water for 15 minutes and then drain. Combine all the ingredients and mix them thoroughly, but gently. Chill for 24 hours before serving.

Ashley told me she added extra ginger, and that it was very light, refreshing.

Perfect for this type of weather.

Thanks ash!

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A part of Mexico here in Guatemala

This is more or less how our sopes turned out, just not as fancy.

I am currently studying in Guatemala,  and like my “about me” explains, I don’t get to cook much here, living with a host family who cooks my meals for me. This can be nice, however I do miss my time experimenting in the kitchen. I have to say, I wont have the most interesting posts until I get back, but I decided to start now and work with what I’ve got. Fortunately, I got to cook a bit with my class today. An easy, yet muy rico recipe.

We made Mexican sopes, this is comparable (and ..basically is) a taco, but made slightly differently. It consists of a crispy tortilla piled with multiple ingredients. This is, like I said, a mexican dish which is comparable to  Guatemalan enchiladas. Enchiladas in Guatemala are very different than what they are portrayed as in the United States, which really isn’t a representation of anything authentic whatsoever. ( I am hopefully going to make a post about Guatemalan enchiladas later)

Sope ingredients:

Large carrot–Washed, with the outside skin peeled off, and then peeled with a potato peeler for thin strips, and then cut up

Onions–diced and then put in a bowl with lemon juice

Lettuce–shredded

Refried beans–cooked or heated

Chicken breast–boiled and cut up into small strips

Sour cream

Tortillas-(flour, or corn, which ever you prefer, corn tortillas are a staple here in Guatemala)

Assemble all your ingredients, and then take your tortillas, and fry them with oil in a pan to make them crispy. Possibly easier to buy them crispy, but soft tortillas are customary here. After your tortillas are nice and crispy, simply pile on your refried beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, chicken and sour cream. Guatemalans don’t use a lot of seasoning, mostly just salt, but any seasoning that you prefer would work here.

This is obviously quite a simple recipe, but it is better than many tacos I’ve had in the United States.

I didn’t bring my camera ( beginner blogger mistake) but there are lots of pictures of sopes that I will include here.

Buen Provecho! Thanks for trucking a long through my first blog post.