Guatemalan Cuisine: La Enchilada

Guatemalan Cuisine: La Enchilada

If tostadas had a kingdom, La Enchilada would be the queen of the tostadas. Good, you say, I’m glad to know, but can you tell me what the hell is a tostada or enchilada. Well, I’m glad you asked.

Tostadas is the common name for toasted tortillas. There are many ways to arrive from a tortilla to a tostada. The most common approach is you fry your tortilla until it is toasted. Other approach is the tortilla loses all of its moisture while being near the heat of the comal. The last method and the least often used is you let your tortillas lose their moisture by just being in very dry environment. So now that you have your tostada or the base you turn it into a Guatemalan tostadas by adding other ingredients like Guacamol (avocado sauce), salsa de tomate (tomato sauce), frijoles colados (liquified black beans), and then you sprinkle dried Guatemala cheese (sort of parmesan cheese) and fresh parsley flakes.

Now to make an Enchilada, you start with a tostada as a base, you add a romaine lettuce leaf, a mixture of pickled beets and vegetables, the mixture that goes inside chiles rellenos (in other words, minced green beans, carrots, and meat), tomato sauce, chili sauce, sprinkle dried Guatemalan cheese (it’s like panela cheese), and you top the whole thing with slice onions and hard-boiled-egg slice (not included in the picture above). I believe Jerry has a picture of Enchiladas with the slice of egg on top.

The word Enchilada means something that has been soaked with hot sauce or has been made spicy hot. Well, that’s where Mexican enchiladas take their name from. But not Guatemalan Enchiladas which are, regardless of the name, not spicy hot, unless you add chili sauce.

Bon appetite!

P.S. I think, right about now, we should start hiding the scale (again!).

© 2008 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Enchiladas!!! Yes, it is funny they’re called that considering they’re not spicy. I am not into spicy food per se, I have been called a “weenie” by fellow Latinamericans who can scarf down whole jalape~nos, but you know, whatever. So, Mr. Protector of Crocodiles, 😉 mmmm, how about some atol? Heehee. Side note over. Let me think though, I was reprimanded as a kid when I said atol instead of atole and guacamol instead of guacamole…actually, I have been “corrected” at Guatemalan Restaurants, which is, I think, more than ironic. Okay, back to the topic at hand. Here, the word “enchilada” is a way of saying “the whole deal.” As in, “does that package include an airplane ticket, rental car, hotel…you know, the whole enchilada?” Okay, the end. 😀

  • Alex Sanz

    Queso fresco (fresh cheese like fetta cheese) goes better as topping for the “enchilada”.
    You know that the original name was “enchilada quezalteca” because they are suppose to have originated from Quezaltenango (common name Xela) in the guatemalan highlands.

  • ewa

    This is how it looks at Rinconcito, a Guatemalan resturant in Los Angeles! que rico!

  • That is different that the enchiladas here in Mexico. Here the tortilla is filled and then rolled up and cheese and cream put on top. They use either a verde sauce or a rojo sauce depending on where you get them. I LOVE chicken enchiladas here.

  • Jerry T

    Very interesting! No self-respecting Texan would call call these Enchiladas! Enchiladas, Tex-Mex style, are a staple in my world, but they are nothing like this. Usually corn tortillas, dipped in a red chili sauce with either cheese and onions or ground beef rolled in the tortillas and topped with red sauce and grated cheese. There are a million variations of this, but this is the basic idea. The Guatemalan enchiladas are really pretty, but I can’t imagine beets on my enchiladas!

  • Raquel

    Mmmm….can’t say I’m a fan of beets and the whole egg thing, but I have to say that tostadas are FANTASTIC! Just keep it simple and give me aguacate on a tostada with some chile sauce and frijoles! Oh man, my mouth is watering again!

  • Mmmmmmm, when I was a teenager, at my parent´s house, I ate 12 enchiladas made by my mother, he he.

  • Luis, Twelve enchiladas at one sitting is insane… were you sick afterwards?

  • Naaaaaaah. I was young. If I do that now…well, I just cannot even thik of it. Snif.

  • LOL!!!! Last year while in Antigua, my cousin took me to La Posada de Don Rodrigo, and she told me they make the best enchiladas…Well I said i will have two and they all stared at me…(you see, I am guatemalan, but was raised in Los Angeles, so I was used to Mexican Enchiladas, and completely forgot what Enchiladas where in Guate.) Imagine my surprise and embarrassment. But those enchiladas brought me really good childhood memories.

  • Alex Sanz

    A good guatemalan would eat at least 3 enchiladas in one sitting. My wife makes them all the time and they taste better when all the ingredients are one day old. My mom is telling me that because the enchiladas were originally created in the guatemalan highlands powdered chili used to be added as topping. In some towns in the highlands even coffee is sprinkled with powdered chili besides sugar.
    Note to Jerry T: No self-respecting Guatemalan would call anything else Enchiladas!

  • ale

    My sister in law and I we’re working in a Mexican-Guatemalan:Guatemalan-Mexican Dictionary cuisine sort of, to clarify the different terms and dishes that we share with our Mexican cousins, cos’ Guate enchiladas are waaaay to different from the Mexi ones. Anyways, you have to be extremely skillful to eat one enchilada without making a mess and breaking the tostadas. ya me dio hambre.

  • coltrane_lives

    …delightful and mouth-watering I’m sure!

  • Ale: That dictionary is a must have. Here’s why. When I was little I was offered a quesadilla and I was excited. “Yay!” my kid mind thought, “quesadilla con cafe.” The lady, my mom’s friend, gave me a tortilla with melted cheese inside. I looked at her with puppy eyes and then I looked at the tortilla. “Don’t worry mija,” she said, “if you want more, let me know.” Huh? 🙁 That was one of the first times I realized I was very far away from Guatemala. Disclaimer: This does not mean that I do not like Mexican food, I do (a lot), I am just sharing a sad (but true) story in relation to food. End of disclaimer.

  • mmmmmm… quesadilla (the Guate kind) mmmmmmmm.

  • WOW! Yum!

  • MO

    Let me know when you publish that Mexican-Guatemalan:Guatemalan-Mexican cuisine dictionary. I’ll be your first customer.
    That sounds like a great idea. You can then move on to a Guatemalan-Salvadorean:Salvadorean-Guatemalan cuisine dictionary and on and on and on…until you pair Guatamalan cuisine with all of latin american countries. YA VAS!

    Does anybody remember MIXTAS? This is my version of a mixta:
    A regular Guatemalan tortilla with guacamol and a hot dog cut in half. Does this sound correct?

  • This is my version of the Mixta: One bottle of Moza (any bock beer would do I guess), One bottle of a Lager (Gallo if you must). Pour on glasses on equal quantities. Enjoy. It’s a sharing kind of meal… I mean drink 😉
    Mario, your version goes well with mine as boquitas ah… and I might add some mustard for that extra German taste and probably Mayo, just because.

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  • Ale

    Puchica! Una enchilada! This is one of the BEST Guatemalan dishes around. I had to ask my mom how to make it but once I learned, there was no going back. My husband just loves these! He’s a gringo, but with the heart of a Guatemalan. One year I made a “Guatemalan Feast” for his birthday and had enchiladas, rellenitos, taquitos, tostadas and other Guatemalan food (minus tamales, too labor intensive!) along with tropical drinks. The enchiladas were the hit of the party.

    Boy… I could sure go for one right now.. 🙂

  • Claudia

    so delicious – definitely not something you want to eat on a first date though since there is a method to eat them w/out the tostada crumbling and giving way to a messy messy meal. :O)

  • RDC

    I got my Puerto Rican fiancee to eat one FINALLY after 10 years of him refusing to taste it based on the insistance that “[he] doesn’t like that red stuff”! lol.. He loves them now!

  • jane


    Guatemalan food is great i have a friend from guatemala whom is just a great cooKK!!

  • jayyy

    eeeeep! i absolutey love guatemalan food! both of my parents are guatemalan so everytme we goo the food is thee best part of it all 😀 i love quesadillas. i actually just had one right now. they’re rellenitos are really good too. all in all guatemalan food would have to be the greatest. (:

  • Inez

    Esta parece una buena publicacion con fotos muy buenas de comida tipica. PERO creo que seria fundamental poner la receta de el platillo tipico del que se habla. Uno se queda con ganas 🙁 Raramente veo una receta aqui y cuando la busco no la encuentro. Creo que es una oportunidad de informacion que no se esta aprovechando. Si fuesen publicadas las recetas, no habria necesidad de ir a ningun lugar mas.

    • @Inez, Ya te escuché… pero éste no es el lugar para las recetas. Estoy trabajando en otro sitio que tendrá las recetas.

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