The masa, dried maize seeds cooked with calcium carbonate powder, finely milled and mixed with water, is the glue that keeps most of the Honduran meals together. There are few Honduran foods that do not include it in the recipe; therefore, the preparation of masa is one of the most fundamental culinary skills and Honduran girls are taught at a young age in order to assist other women in the family in the daily meal preparation.
Calcium carbonate powder, which is a chemical compound found in local Honduran rocks, is added commonly to the corn as it is cooking – this separates the hull from the kernel, making the cooked corn easier to pulverize and ideal for masa. It may be purchased in the vitamin section of the local grocery store, pharmacy or online although, most dried corn and all maize flours available for purchase have already been through nixtamalization.
Corn flour, otherwise known as masa harina is used for making tortillas. Not to be confused with cornmeal, which is much coarser than masa harina. It is necessary to refer to the guidance on the container since all brands differ in their preparations. A favored brand of masa harina is Maseca, which can be found in most grocery stores.
Honduran Corn Tortillas
Tortillas are to Hondurans what bread is to Europeans. Corn or maiz is a fundamental ingredient in Honduran cuisine. Consumption of corn is for Hondurans a part of their Maya-Lenca ancestors heritage – the Maya civilisation believed corn to be divine, and that the gods created human kind from it.
Some of the tortilla based recipes are:
Tacos Fritos: Tortillas are filled in with chicken or ground beef/pork, rolled and then are then deep fried and layered with cheese, hot tomato sauce, raw cabbage and sour cream as garnish.
Anafre: A clay pot with melting cheese or sour cream, mashed beans and occasionaly chopped chorizo (type of Honduran sausage), and tortilla fried chips to dip in. Somewhat comparable to Swiss fondue.
Enchiladas: The whole Tortilla is deep fried and layered with a range of toppings. Firstly the tortilla is topped with ground pork meat, next with raw chopped cabbage, slice of boiled egg and lastly with hot tomato sauce.
Catrachitas: Everyday simple snack, composed of deep fried tortilla chips layered with cheese, mashed refried beans, and hot sauce. A different version of this bite are de Chilindrinas, strips of tortilla deep fried and covered with cheese and hot tomato sauce.
Chilaquiles: Tortillas are covered in egg mixture, deep fried and placed in a wide container to form a layer of tortilla as a base. Cooked chicken, cheese and hot tomato sauce with spices are added. Once more another layer of tortillas is placed and repeated to resemble something like a Tortilla Lasagna. Then oven cooked until totillas are soft and cheese melted. Served with sour cream.
Tortilla con Quesillo: Melted cheese is placed between two tortillas and then pan fried; served with a tomato sauce. Mashed beans are sometimes part of the cheese filling.
Honduran Wheat Tortillas
Honduras is well known for using wheat flour tortillas to make baleada, which is composed of a wheat flour tortilla and various ingredients like beans, cream and scrambled eggs spread inside and then folded in half.