Papatzul or Papadzul (I have seen both spellings) is a traditional Mayan dish that has been eaten in the Yucatan since before the arrival of the Europeans. The word itself means "food of the lords." They are commonly referred to is Yucatecan Enchiladas. Basically they are corn tortillas that have been dipped into a salsa de pepita (a sauce made from pumpkin seeds), that are then wrapped around chopped hardboiled eggs. Then they are placed on a plate and are topped with more of the salsa de pepita plus some chiltomate (a salsa made from tomatoes and chiles).
The photo above is an order of papatzules from a restaurant we visited in Merida. The manner the restaurant presented the dish is a bit different from what I have normally seen. Rather than having chopped hard boiled eggs on top of the dish as shown, usually the eggs are only inside the tortillas. Sometimes in addition to being topped with the two sauces, they are also lightly garnished with ground pumpkin seeds. I also have seen people garnish them with chopped cilantro, but I don't find it to be authentic, as there is no cilantro in the dish traditionally. Another thing that they are sometimes garnished with is green pumpkin seed oil, squeezed from toasted pepitas.
3 or 4 ripe tomatoes
2 cups of water or broth
1 or 2 fresh sprigs of epazote or 1 tablespoon dried epazote leaves
1 habanero chile, stem and seeds removed
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons oil, separated
Bring the first four ingredients plus some salt to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Take the tomatoes and habanero out of the broth and set aside. Remove the skin from the tomatoes and discard the skin. Reserve the broth (it will be needed for making the salsa de pepita).
Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet and saute the onion until soft. Set aside.
Place the cooked tomatoes and sauteed onion in a blender. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Add the pureed tomato mixture and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more salt to taste.
Salsa de Pepita
- 1 cup of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), toasted until they puff and turn lightly golden
- approximately 2 cups of broth flavored with epazote (or broth reserved from above chiltomate recipe)
1. Strain the broth reserved from chiltomate recipe.
2. Finely grind the toasted pepitas, using either using a nut grinder or a blender or food processor. Place them in a bowl. Add bit by bit the strained broth, until you have a paste. Place in the blender or food procoessor. Blend or pulse, slowly adding more of the broth, bit by bit, until you get a saucy consistency to your liking. Salt to taste. (You don't necessarily need to use all of the broth).
Papadzules or Papatzules
- 6 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and chopped
- up to 12 corn tortillas, heated until they are soft and pliable
- salsa de pepita, warm or at least room temperature (see above)
- chiltomate, warm (see above)
Assembly instructions: place the salsa de pepita in a wide, shallow bowl. Dip a warm tortilla in the bowl to coat it with the sauce. Place it on a plate. Put some of the egg down the center of the tortilla, then fold over two opposing edges of the tortilla on top of the egg. Place this bundle on another plate, seam side down. Repeat until you have formed as many as you would like for a serving.
Ladle more of the salsa de pepita over the top of the papatzules. Then ladle on some chiltomate. Serve.
Additional note: instead of using a blender, you could use the more traditional and rustic molcajete (mortar and pestle). See above photo.