Monday, March 23, 2009
The art of tortilla making in Guatemala
I loved the 'hand-clapping' sound of tortilla-making that is very prevalent in Guatemala. I was even lucky enough to get to try to make a tortilla and, I can tell you, it is not as easy as the Guatemalan women make it out to look- the dough kept on getting stuck to my hands!
To make a tortilla, "nixtamalized corn" is used to make the dough (masa). Nixtamlized corn involved dissolving the hardened corn kernels in boiling water in which an alkali has been dissolved (in Guatemala, the alkali used is calcium hydroxide).
The masa is cooked on a comal (a traditional stove made with a heavy steel or iron sheet used as the cooking surface) that is heated with firewood, giving the tortillas a slightly smoky flavour.