Recipe of the Month – Enchiladas a la Chapin

by Simone Riddle

Guatemalans have been topping tostadas (a fried or toasted tortilla) with ‘eschabeche’ (a Central American  spin on pickled vegetables) to transform them into the famed ‘enchilada’ since the 18th century. One thing to note about Guatemalan cuisine is the difference between the Guatemalan enchilada and the Mexican enchilada. Just as you wouldn’t dare suggest an Italian pizza comes in a deep pan, neither would you suggest that an enchilada comes in a floured, rolled and filled tortilla in Guatemala. Perhaps Guatemala reinvented the enchilada just as America reinvented pizza. Who knows? Whether it was the Mexican or the Guatemalan enchilada that came first, if you plan to win friends in this town, just make sure you know the difference between the two. And of course you should answer, without hesitation, which version is best.

There are more complicated recipes out there; some enchiladas come topped with ground beef for example. This is a simplified, vegetarian version.

Ingredients for about 8-10 enchiladas:

  • 1 bag of medium-sized tostadas
  • 2 raw beets, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups of finely chopped cabbage, washed and disinfected
  • 1/2 a cup of peeled and grated carrots
  • ½ a cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 &1/2 tablespoons of sugar
  • A few lettuce leaves, washed and disinfected
  • 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs
  • Some queso duro, raw onion slices and chopped perejil for garnish.


1.   Bring a medium sized pot of water to the boil

2.   Combine the grated cabbage and carrots in a bowl (I recommend disinfecting the cabbage and lettuce as they are the two things that consistently make me sick in Guatemala)

3.   Pour the boiling water over the cabbage mixture, cover for 5 minutes to soften the veg then drain

4.   Combine the cabbage mixture, beets and rice vinegar

5.   Mix it all together and chill overnight in the fridge

6.   The next morning, sprinkle the sugar over to sweeten the mixture. Stir well. Add more sugar according to taste.

7.    To serve, take a tostada and top with one disinfected lettuce leaf, a good serving of the now deep red eschabeche and garnish with a couple of slices of hard boiled egg and raw onion, sprinkle on some crumbled queso duro and finish with a little chopped perejil.

The eschabeche almost always gets better with time so don’t be afraid to prepare it a two or three days in advance.

Book your cookery class with Asociacion de Mujeres del Altiplano (AMA) where Women Circle members offer traditional Mayan techniques. Check out their website ( for more information.

My food blog online can be found at http://recetasguate maltecasymas.

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