This time we searched for dishes and headed to Tlaxcala. The first stop was in the municipality of Ixtenco where there are 132 types of endemic corn and where generations of women continue harvesting corn, a food that they are very clear about, is part of their identity, and preparing with it traditional dishes of the region. Tlaxcalan cuisine is not only delicious but also full of symbolism, colors, and aromas, as well as dishes that are prepared with creativity, patience, and dedication to others.
Atole agrio ("Sour Atole")
Transform some cobs into a splendid sour or purple atole that is served with ayocotes (the largest of all Mexican beans), previously cooked, and corn "paint" of the same color. To make this drink, first, the purple corn is soaked, then it is taken to the mill to be ground, then it is strained, put on the stove, sweetened, cinnamon is added and it waits to be cooked.
Prepared with fermented corn dough dissolved in water and boiled until it thickens. In many regions of the country, atole agrio keeps several names that come from Nahuatl, for example, xocoatole, jocoatole, xucoatole, shucoatole, atolshuco, atolxuco and other similar; all referring to the sour or bitter taste of the drink: the Nahuatl word xococ or xoxotl means "sour".
Atole agrio recipe
(yield 5 liters).
1 Kilo of corn
1/5 Kilo of sugar
2 liters of water approximately
Cinnamon sticks to taste
Wash the corn very well and let it soak in clean water for one night, the next day change the water and let it soak for another night. Grind the corn finely in the mill and add a little water, beat the mixture well, and pass it through the strainer twice. To the obtained product add the sugar and the cinnamon and cook while stirring until it thickens.
Tamales tontos ("Silly Tamales")
To pair with the rich sour atole, tamales could not be missing, and what better than tamales tontos. They are so-called because they have no meat, only chile guajillo or green sauce. To make this dish, the nixtamal is prepared, the corn is taken to the mill, the dough is beaten, lard and anise are added to enhance the flavor and it is beaten until it has the right consistency.
To wrap them you can use corncob leaves or milpa leaves, the latter gives them a different flavor. It is necessary to wait about an hour and a half for them to cook and be able to enjoy them. It is a tradition that atole agrio and tamales tontos are prepared on the 24th of each month for the mass of the Patron Saint of San Juan Ixtenco, Tlaxcala.
Tamales tontos recipe
8 corn husks (corncob leaves)
4 tablespoons of pork lard
200 g cornflour for kneading
1/2 tablespoon yeast (e.g. rust)
1 cup of broth (to taste, but the better)
1 ground cumin to taste
1 sugar (to taste)
1/2 green bell pepper (or hot chili pepper to taste)
100 g corn (canned corn is fine) (or freshly made)
75 gr grated cheese
(other ingredients for masa to taste from dried leaves to nutmeg)
Soak the corn husks for 24 hours before preparing the tamales. We beat the lard until it is fluffy. Without stopping beating, add the salt, sugar, cumin, flour, and yeast. The dough should have the consistency of very small crumbs. We add little by little the broth until we see that the consistency changes to that of whipped cream.
In another bowl mix the corn with the chopped bell pepper or chili and the cheese. Spread on a corn husk a couple of spoonfuls of the dough we have prepared and another spoonful of the corn bowl. We fold the corn husk, making the shape of rectangular packages, we have to get the flour dough to wrap the corn filling.
Finally, wrap the package in aluminum foil. We make all the tamales until the ingredients are finished. Finally, we steam the tamales for about 60 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and serve them in their corn husk wrapper in a basket.
Mole from Tlaxcala Huitlacoche
The next destination is Contla, Tlaxcala. There you can taste a huitlacoche mole, traditional for the celebration of All Saints' Day (October 28 to November 2), whose base is corn that acquires a black tone symbolizing mourning. This mole has dried huitlacoche (powdered and that gives it the symbolic color), broth, and pork meat, almost always backbone.
The process to obtain the powdered huitlacoche is as follows: while it is fresh, it is spread out on a blanket (or any kind of blanket) and moved three times a day. It must be protected from rain, birds, and air. Approximately 30 kg of fresh huitlacoche yields 1 kg 300 grams of dried huitlacoche or powdered huitlacoche.
The powder of this mushroom is put in the clay pot and spread making the sign of the cross (representing the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) where it is spread three times and begins to move. In the beginning, small balls of dough are formed, but with the same movement, they start to unravel and begin to change the color of the mole.
Mole negro de huitlacoche recipe
6 pork ribs
2 tablespoons of pork lard
3 chiles mulatos soaked in water
¼ kg of corn dough
2 sprigs of epazote
1 kg huitlacoche
1 clove of garlic
¼ white onion
Place the lard in a casserole and add the pork ribs. Blend the chile mulato, garlic, and onion. Strain and add to the meat. Add salt and pepper. Cook until well cooked. Blend corn masa, huitlacoche, epazote and water. Add to the meat. Adjust seasoning, cook for 15 minutes more over low heat. If you have huitlacoche ashes add 5 minutes before the end of cooking to enhance color and flavor.
Another dish to taste in Contla, Tlaxcala is chileatole. Salty atole made from white corn, with a strained grind of epazote, green chile, and pumpkin guides (pumpkin leaf tip) that gives it a beautiful and bright green color. The secret of chileatole lies in patience since you have to wait for it to cook, as well as not stirring it all the time so as "not to make it cold". Some like to add whole corn, halves, quarters, and grains. Salt is also added making the sign of the cross to bless what is going to be eaten and make it yield.
2 corn kernels
1/2 kg of cornflour
2 liters of water
1 bunch of epazote
2 serrano chiles
In a pot over medium heat, pour a liter of water, add cornflour and dissolve it until it has a consistency of atole, if you wish you can use corn dough. If necessary, strain the mixture to avoid lumps. In a blender mix half a bunch of epazote and two serrano chiles with water and a pinch of salt. Pour the preparation into the pot and mix. Add pieces and kernels of corn and cook until it begins to thicken. Rectify seasoning and add salt. Serve in soup plates, garnish with corn kernels and epazote leaves.
Ceremonial tortillas and pink corn water
Also, try eating an emblem of the country, ceremonial tortillas that are used to know if the girls can get married. For this, the tortillas, made of white, pink, and blue corn, have to be inflated on the comal. To close with a flourish, refresh with delicious pink corn water. As you can see, Tlaxcalan cuisine is not only delicious, but it is full of symbolism, colors, and aromas, as well as dishes that are prepared with patience and love for others.
Pink corn atole recipe
2 cups pink corn
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cups water
to taste sugar
Cook the pink corn with cinnamon and a little sugar, let it cook until it is soft and easy to grind. Once the corn is cooked, blend it with the same water it was cooked in. Once it is well ground, strain it several times until a good consistency is achieved. Return the strained corn to the fire and add a little more of the liquid where it was cooked and sweeten it to taste. The consistency is that of atole, it should not have lumps. Sweeten to taste and serve hot.