Papatzules are a traditional and very popular dish in the Mexican state of Yucatan. They are similar to a basic enchilada, but the ingredients make this preparation unique; a slightly crisped corn tortilla is stuffed, dunked in sauce and rolled, but the sauce is made from ground pumpkin seed and epazote, and hard-boiled eggs serve as stuffing; also, there is no cheese in papatzules, and they are topped with a second sauce, made from tomatoes and habanero peppers (click here for a recipe in English.) An article on the Yucatan Times, mentions that the etymology of papadzul (another spelling for the word) is definitely Mayan, but it has proven impossible to referee in favour of a single root, so there are two accepted interpretations: 1) “Muddy and soaked”, from papak – to smear and zul – to soak, directly from the cooking methods; or 2) “Food of the master”, from the words papa – food and dzul – gentleman, since it is said to have been served to the Spaniards.
My sister reminded me of papatzules a few days ago, because of my reference to pumpkin seeds in pipián sauces. From there, it was a natural progression to use the garlic scape with pumpkin seed paste from my previous post to prepare my own version of papatzules.
Garlic Scape Papatzules –
Papatzules con chicotillo de ajo
Ingredients (for 6-8 pieces)
1¼ cup garlic scape paste with pumpkin seed (recipe included in printable recipe, above)
½ cup boiling water
1 sprig epazote (if not available, use a mix of summer savoury and oregano, to taste)
4 hard-boiled eggs
¼ onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Habanero pepper, or to taste
Salt, to taste
6-8 corn tortillas
4 tsp oil (+ 1 tsp more, optional)
Reserve a couple of epazote leaves for garnish (if using) and soak the rest (or other herbs, fresh or dry) in the freshly boiled water; set aside for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and chop hard-boiled eggs, reserving a few nice slices for garnish; set aside. Process tomatoes (stem spot removed), onion and pepper (if using) in the blender for a few seconds, until smooth; at this point, this sauce may be fried in 2 teaspoons of oil, or just keep raw; season with salt and set aside.
Once the herb infusion has cooled down (photo below, left), pour into a blender jar along with the garlic scape with pumpkin seed paste, and process until well incorporated. In a saucepan, warm up the other 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat; pour the seed and herb sauce and cook, reducing heat to a simmer and stirring, until thoroughly heated (photo below, right):
Prepare an assembly station with the hard-boiled eggs, sauce above, and reserved tomato sauce:
The tortillas may be crisped for a few seconds in one teaspoon of oil, or just used nice and warm. Also, the traditional recipe calls for dunking the tortillas in the green papatzul sauce, but I prefer skipping this step, to have a better control of the texture, and preventing the tortillas from getting too soggy. To assemble one portion: Place some chopped egg and a couple of tablespoons of papatzul sauce in a tortilla, then roll and arrange in a serving plate; repeat with one or two more:
Pour a generous amount of more papatzul sauce, to cover; top with some of the tomato sauce, and garnish with a slice of egg and an epazote leaf (if using):
This is a wonderful and nutritious dish, also suitable for vegetarians, and may be enjoyed for a hearty breakfast or as a main course any time of day.
My sister and I also reminisced about eating a platter of papatzules with our dad during a trip we took to Merida, Yucatan’s capital city: