04 June, 2012

Wrap It Up! with I Heart Cooking Clubs

As I have mentioned before we absolutely adore the local markets in Mexico.  They are the best place for a meal and great for people watching.  When we visited my suegras home town in Oaxaca I fell in love with their tiny market.  The source of my love? Tetelas!  Tetelas are triangles of masa filled with a spicy, earthy bean paste.  These are one of my favorite things to eat in the Oaxacan market.  I am not sure what I love more the crunchy outside, or the earthyness of the beans from the epazote and avocado leaves, or the way the spicy chilies crushed into the beans stings and burns all the way down.  Maybe it is the oozing cream and cheese smoking hot from the heat of the Tetela that I cannot wait to devour.  All of it together makes me want to sit in the market all day long watching the people bustle about while I burn my lips and tongue on one tetela after another.

Oaxacan Market Style Tetelas
Dried Chilies, Pasilla are a personal favorite but not spicy
Black Beans in their liquid
Avocado Leaves
Masa (recipe below)
Mexican Crema or Creme Fraiche
Your Favorite Salsa
Queso Fresco, crumbled

In a deep saucepan heat the oil and blister the chilies.  Puree the chiles with the beans, epazote and avocado leaves.  Return the bean mixture to the pan, be careful of splatters.  Stirring constantly reduce the beans to a thick paste.  You will know when it is done because the spoon will leave the paste divided down the middle of the pan.  Remove from the heat.

Take a golf ball size piece of masa, roll into a ball, place between two sheets of plastic and flatten into a tortilla using a tortilla press or the palm of your hand rotating the dough with each pat of your hand.  Remove the top sheet of plastic.  Smear the whole tortilla with a heaping tablespoon of bean paste.  You do not want too much beans, just enough to spread on the masa.  Using the bottom piece of plastic fold the 3 sides in to form a triangle.  It is a tradition to leave a small hole for the beans to peak out.  As you bring the three sides together you will be able to leave this small hole.  Rub a little bit of oil onto the comal.  Flip the tetelas back and forth until both sides have cooked all the way through and the masa is toasty brown.  To serve slice one end of the tetela to create a pocket.  Fill the pocket with cream, salsa and cheese.  Eat immediately, but watch out for lip and tongue burns.


By Rick Bayless

1 pound fresh-ground corn masa,
OR   1 1/4 cups powdered masa harina (such as Maseca) mixed with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot tap water
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
1/4 cup flour (use 1/3 cup if working with powdered masa harina)
A generous 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scant teaspoon baking powder

1.   The dough.   In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the masa (fresh or reconstituted) with the lard or shortening, flour, salt and baking powder. Work in a little water, if needed, to give the dough the consistency of soft cookie dough. Divide into 12 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
Masa recipe taken from Rick Bayless as seen on rickbayless.com and in his book Authentic Mexican


  1. I love way these are folded. And they sound delicious!

  2. One of these days I am going to find some avocado leaves. ;-) These look good and like such fun to eat!

    1. Avocado leaves are very important in Oaxacan cuisine it is used to flavor many different dishes. If you cannot get your hands on some you can just use Epazote. The thing about the Avocado leaves is that it gives the dish a unique earthy flavor that Epazote can only hint at. However, you will get the same affects with the Epazote that you would with the Avocado.

      Have you tried growing your own Avocado tree? I planted one with my grandma when I was little. It never produced fruit as it was too cold in the CA winters and the tree was damaged by the first hard frost but it provided excellent shade to the yard...lots of leaves for cooking with ;)


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