World's End Mayan Menu
Although the end of the ancient Mayan calendar most assuredly won't mean the end of the world as we know it, this unique event does give us an excuse to have a party.
As a refreshing change from traditional holiday fare, why not celebrate with a menu of dishes inspired by Mayan culture?
Each of these unique recipes can be found in the new cookbook Flavors of Belize: The Cookbook from McNab Publishing Ltd.
Panades (pictured at left) are a fried corn pastry filled with a seasoned mixture of either fish or refried beans.
- 1-1/2 pounds corn masa or 2 cups Quaker Masa Harina de Maiz mix
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red recado paste (see below)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1-1/2 cups fish filet, cooked, flaked
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Tortilla press
- For the fish filling
- 2 pounds fish filet
- 6 epazote leaves, minced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, minced
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Place fish, epazote and cilantro in a pot with enough water to cover, boil until fish is cooked. Approximately 15 minutes Remove fish from pot and cool. Flake fish, combine with salt, black pepper, onion and garlic.
Mix masa, baking powder and salt. Dissolve recado in water and add to masa until soft and masa holds. If using Masa harina, follow instructions on package. Form into 1-1/2 inch balls.
Place ball of masa in-between 2 sheets of parchment paper in the center of a tortilla press and flatten. Place approximately 1 teaspoon of fish in the middle and fold over to form a patty, press edges to seal. Do not overfill. Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry panades until it floats, turn and cook until slightly crisp. Serve with hot pepper onion sauce (see below).
Serves 4 to 6
May also fill with refried beans. When using refried beans, eliminate red recado paste from the recipe. Locally, cooks use red recado to differentiate between panades fillings. The red color from the recado paste, represents the fish, and the plain masa is for the beans.
Red Recado Paste
- 5 tablespoons annatto seeds
- 6 to 7 allspice seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/4 cup sour orange
- 1/4 cup vinegar
Grind annatto seeds, allspice seeds and whole cloves to a powder. Combine annatto powder with sour orange and ¼ cup of vinegar and process to a paste. May add more sour orange and vinegar if necessary to achieve a thick paste. Store in refrigerator.
Hot Pepper Onion Sauce
- 2 cups onions, minced
- 2 habanero peppers, deseeded, sliced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 6 allspice seeds
- 1-1/2 cups vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients and marinate for 2 hours or overnight. Will keep for several weeks in refrigerator.
Main Course: Cochinita Pibil
Cochinita pibil (pictured top right) is a traditional, slow-cooked Mayan dish made with pork that has been marinated in a mixture of citrus juice and seasonings.
Recipe by Chef Sean Kuylen
- 5 pound pork shoulder or pork leg, bone in
- 1 head garlic
- 1-1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
- 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons red recado, diluted to form paste
- 1/2 cup sour orange juice
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 2 medium green bell peppers, quartered
- 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
- Smoked banana leaves
Pierce pork with knife and insert garlic cloves all around. Mix all dry ingredients; combine with recado, diluted in orange juice and coat pork. Marinate overnight.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place pork in large roasting pan lined with banana leaves. Add onion, sweet pepper and place cilantro on top. Pour on remaining marinade liquid and add more water to pan to approximately 1 inch high. Cover with banana leaves and seal tightly with foil.
Bake for 5 hours or until meat is very tender and starts to release from the bone. Shred pork and serve on warm corn tortillas topped with pickled red onions (recipe in the book) or habanero salsa.
Note: Can also be cooked in a slow cooker, on low, for 12 hours, or on high for 6 hours.
Cochinita (small pig) pibil (to bury) literally translates to: 'buried whole suckling pig'. Traditionally, you should marinate the pork in the same manner but cook the whole pig wrapped in banana leaves underground with fire wood and hot stones for hours until tender.
Side Dish: Dukunu
Dukunu (pictured bottom right) is a mixture of corn, coconut milk and butter steamed inside the reserved corn husks.
- 10 to 12 green corn on the cob, shucked
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Peel corn, reserving clean husks. Purée corn with water in a blender. Pour into a large mixing bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Place approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup mixture onto the center of each reserved husk. Bring sides together, making sure to overlap and fold pointed end upward. Secure each with string. Place 2 to 3 inches of water in a large saucepot, bring to a boil and arrange dukunu folded side down. Boil for about 1/2 hour. Remove from husk and serve.
Cooked pork or chicken meat can be added to this dish after placing mixture on corn husk.
In ancient Maya culture, corn represented much more than a grain used for food. Corn was also considered a gift from the gods and cultivating it was a sacred duty. In fact, according to the sacred book of the Maya, (Popol Vuh), the gods created humans from corn. Today, corn is still a favorite crop and is the base for a variety of indigenous and authentic Maya meals.
Dessert: Mayan Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Chan Chich Lodge, Gallon Jug, Orange Walk
- 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1-1/2 cups canola oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2-1/2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups boiling water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour and line with parchment paper.
Combine buttermilk, oil, vanilla and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, mixing with water as needed. Mix until well blended.
Pour batter evenly into the two baking pans. Bake 40 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, loosen sides, then cool to room temperature and remove from pan.
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup boiling water, as needed
Beat butter and vanilla. Sift powdered sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Add to butter, alternating with boiling water as needed. Beat at highest speed until creamy. If frosting is too thick add water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If the frosting is too soft, add powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time.
About "Flavors of Belize"
Belize is a melting pot of culinary culture, drawing inspiration from Mayan, British, Mestizo, Creole, Chinese, Lebanese and Garifuna cuisines. The book contains 120 recipes contributed by some of Belize's most renowned chefs and cooks.
Recipes include a variety of soups, appetizers, salads, main dishes and desserts accompanied by an assortment of mouthwatering photos by Matt Armendariz (styled by Adam Pearson and Gaby Dalkin).
Find additional recipes, purchase a copy of the book and learn more about the country and it's culinary culture at the Flavors of Belize website.
--- Recipes and photos from: Flavors of Belize: The Cookbook