You've probably heard a lot about tortillas, the staple of the Guatemalan (and other countries') diet.
If you've come to learn how to make corn tortillas from scratch, you have come to the right place.
This corn tortilla recipe is the typical way that corn tortillas might be made in Guatemala - by hand.
Well, let's get on with the show!
To make corn tortillas, you first have to start with masa (Want to know how to make masa?). You may have taken the actual cornkernels, boiled them with cal, and had them ground at a molino, or you may start with the dry powdered meal found on the flour aisle at the store. A popular brand is Maseca or, in Guatemala, Minsa. Both are "masa de nixtamal," or a type of corn meal.
You should put the masa in a bowl big enough to hold the amount you would like to make with a littleextra room. If you are starting with masa from a molino, it will already be a little moist and you won't have to add as much water. To keep it from drying out until you are ready to use it, cover with a damp towel.
When you are ready to begin (from the packaged meal or fresh), you should knead the masa with water until it reaches a plasticine (play dough) consistency.
(The masa can dry out your hands if you work with it for a long time, so you may want to apply lotion when you are finished). Once the masa reaches the correct consistency: not sticky, not dry, pliable; you are ready to start making the tortillas.
You will want to have the comal heated on the burner and ready for the tortillas.
Then, you need to take ball of masa a little smaller than a tennis ball if you want them to be large. You can make them any size you prefer. We also recommend keeping a container of water next to the work area to help shape the masa when it begins to dry out. This will also keep the masa from sticking to your hands.
We then placed the ball of masa between two pieces of plastic (you could cut the ends off of a bag) and used a recycled plastic lid to press uniformly.
This is our version, but if you walk the streets of Guatemala you will find women in tortillerias using only their hands and "clapping" the masa into the right proportions. Try it both ways and see which you like best!
After the ball of masa is uniformly flat, but not too thin, it is ready to be cooked on the comal.
Once you place the tortilla on the comal, you should let it cook until by placing your fingers on the top of the tortilla, it can be pulled and flipped with ease. If it sticks, you may need to clean the comal, or let it cook longer.
Once the tortilla is completely cooked, you should have a plate ready to collect it. Repeat this cycle until all of the masa is used up.
A finished tortilla de maíz - bet you can't eat just one! Now that you know how to make corn tortillas, top with your choice of meat, cheese, cabbage, salsa or any variety of things and enjoy.
Wondering how to make masa or what else you can make with masa? Return to the Guatemala Recipes Page from How to Make Corn Tortillas for more delicious food ideas or see a Peace Corps volunteer's experience learning how to make corn tortillas over a fire.