Papadzules: one of the oldest traditional Maya-Yucatecan dishes

Papadzules is a traditional dish from the Yucatán Peninsula resembling enchiladas. In its simplest form it consists of corn tortillas dipped in a sauce of pepita (pumpkin seeds) filled with hard-boiled eggs, and garnished with a cooked tomato-pepper sauce.

For what’s thought to be one of the oldest traditional Yucatecan dishes, tortillas are dipped in a creamy green sauce made of ground pumpkin seeds (pepitas), epazote, and broth; then they’re stuffed with boiled eggs, rolled up, and draped in more sauce. A chiltomate salsa—tomatoes and habanero chilies—goes on top.

Many tourists have mentioned that papadzules are like a “Mayan take on enchiladas”, although more delicate in flavor. They’re delicious and unique to this area, and an absolute must-eat when visiting the Yucatán Peninsula.

Regardless of whether or not the dish was created in pre-Hispanic times as it is today, the ancient Maya would have had access to all of the basic ingredients used in the modern version of this dish. Corn, tomatoes, and chiles were all staples in the Mesoamerican diet. Pumpkin seeds, likewise, were an important part of the Maya diet. Chicken eggs were unknown to pre-Hispanic Maya, but several other fowl capable of providing eggs were known and eaten.

Maya food in Mérida and other locations across the Yucatan is still legit (and delicious), there are some restaurants a little on the pricey side, but if you don’t want to spend to much money, you can still find authentic Mayan food near the big Mercado, and in different places in the whole peninsula (just ask a local).

The papadzules are usually served by the order, sometimes three, four or five to a plate, with some lovely garnishes including whole pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed powder, ringed around the plate. The dish is milder in flavor than you might expect, but you will certainly love the creamy texture of the boiled eggs and green sauce—and the chiltomate salsa gives it a nice kick too.

The Yucatan Times Newsroom

 



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