Corn tortillas are practically the main element in every Maya meal. Not only are they 100% organic and healthy, but they are also comfort food when eaten hot.
It’s interesting to watch how the Mayas make their corn tortillas, as it gives you a glimpse of their past since the process hasn’t changed in centuries.
Making Organic Corn Tortillas Like The Mayas
Here is the process on how to make a corn tortilla like the Mayas do:
1. Harvest the corn and collect the dried corn kernels.
2. Par-boil the kernels with lime powder to soften the kernel’s skin.
3. While still al dente, grind the boiled kernels either with a flat stone mortar and cylindrical pestle (like ancient Mayas did) or with a hand-cranked processor (like modern-day Mayas do).
4. Take the course masa dough and turn it into a ball. Add a bit of water to re-grind into a finer dough. Repeat until the dough has a fine smooth consistency.
5. Heat the comal griddle with logs and fire. (The comal griddle has a flat metal pan held by a concrete base. Wood logs are placed under the pan)
6. Place the dough in the center of a low table located next to the griddle to start making the tortillas.
7. Place a circle-cut plastic sheet on top of the working surface. On it, you will mold the tortillas into their circular shape. The plastic sheets are flexible, smooth, and the dough peels easily off them.
8. Collect a golf ball-sized piece of dough and pat it down with your fingertips to form a flat thin disk from the center out. Use the other hand’s edge to keep an overall circular shape as you rotate the dough. (see video below).
9. Grill the dough until golden on each side. Turn over the tortilla with your hand. If the tortilla inflates, deflate it by patting it with your hand or with another tortilla on top to prevent burning. The best texture the tortilla can have is a slightly crispy outside with a chewy inside. Comfort food is a hot tortilla.
10. Eat and enjoy with your favorite meal or a traditional Maya meal like chicken stew and white rice.
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Yum! Or use the masa to make tamales…So much work, though.
Oh yes… tamales too… though I’m completely lost on that process… haha! 😉
Cool ancient recipe! 🙂
Yes, it’s really cool that they still keep a centuries old recipe alive.
This sure is a great recipe. Now you’ve got to come to Toledo, Belize , Central America and experience this first hand. We can take you to inland Toledo, where the majority of Mayas still live in authentic Mayan Villages and learn how to do more than just bake these tasty tortillas…learn how to make chocolate and much more ! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info
I did this tour with you, guys… 😉
Niece piece about corn and tortillas and the village pictures from San Miguel. Do you know that the country is under attack of GMO corn? And that soon there might not be any local corn left?
I’m not aware of that, but thanks for bringing it up!
Nice article here, detailed and informational! The recipe looks simple enough that I will try sometimes. I’m just wondering what corn variety will work best for this corn tortilla? 🙂
Thanks Marvs. Wow, you got me there… I’m not too savvy on type of corns… I just know they use whatever corn they harvest from their farms. haha
Haha! no worries Norbert… I’m just wondering if I can use the Japanese sweet corn which or the yellow corn which is widely available in our area. Thanks again! =)
No worries Marvs. Hope you can try it with the Japanese sweet corn or yellow corn! I’m sure they will have a different and unique taste! 😀
what if corn is not in season? i need this quick!!!!!
Hi Lylas –
They usually collect more corn during the season than what they consume so they can use it throughout the whole year.
I’m trying this out for a homework ?
it’s so fun ??+?=??
Everything sounds great except when you mention plastic. You should leave that out since Maya people did not have it. Yes Stone, Mano, Comal. They would not have had metal either. They used stones. Some Mayan groups in Guatemala still use the old fashion original method. Of course now there are easier ways, using the plastic, metal presses etc. which turns out the same result.
Thank you for sharing the video.
Which village did you take this movie?
The way making a tortilla is a bit different that I learned in Toledo, Belize.
I’m interested in the differences between areas.
Hi Tamami, I think it might have been the San Jose village, but unfortunately, I can’t remember precisely. Sorry about that.
I saw this tortilla making on PBS. What kind of corn are they using. She stone ground kernals and added no liquid and no other additives. Just ground the kernals and formed balls to flatten and place on oil free griddle. Where would a person get that kind of corn?? I do not want flour. I want to grind my own corn…