“When I first saw it, I was mesmerized. The women of Oaxaca prepared tlayudas with such grace and coordination it was like a choreographed dance.”

A popular antojito originating from the state of Oaxaca, this dish is still called by its pre-Hispanic name: tlayuda. The Cantina at El Rayo’s executive chef, Cheryl Lewis, discovered the tlayuda on a trip to Oaxaca last fall. “It was a slow and relaxed time of year,” says Cheryl. “People were just strolling through Zocalo, chatting in the streets and cooking with fire—everyone there cooks with fire. Sometimes they cook right outside the kitchen door, virtually on the street. I was fortunate enough to work in an extraordinary outdoor kitchen in a small, outlying village of weavers—that’s where I learned to make tlayuda.”

Below, you’ll find a recipe for Cheryl’s tlayudas, which come on a large handmade corn tortilla with black-bean purée, shredded cabbage and myriad toppings, including Achiote chicken, Machaca beef, chorizo, and shiitake mushrooms.

OAXACAN TLYUADAS

  4 tlayudas (corn tortillas 12″ in diameter—see directions below)

1-2 cups black bean spread (see recipe below)

  2 cups shredded Oaxacan string cheese, pulled apart into strips

2 cups additional topping (sautéed mushrooms, shredded chicken, or steak)

  2 cups thinly shredded cabbage

1 cup fresh salsa (the Cantina uses pico de gallo)

1 cup avocado sauce (see recipe below)

½ cup chopped cilantro

To make the large corn tortillas follow the directions on the bag of Masa Harina and press a 5 ounce ball of dough between two sheets of plastic into a 12” round; over medium-high heat, cook on a comal or griddle until both sides are blistered and slightly charred.  They can be made ahead and stored wrapped in plastic.

 Heat the comal and place the tlyuada shell on it to heat.  Flip it over  and spread with some of the black bean spread.  Top with ½ cup of the cheese, and then some of the cabbage and heat until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is a little stiff and crispy.  Remove from the heat and sprinkle on the cilantro, avocado sauce and the salsa.  Serve warm.

 Bean Spread:

  9 avocado leaves or 1 tablespoon of ground anise seed

  9 chiles de arbol, stemmed and seeded

  2 1/2 cups cooked black beans with their liquid

salt

Toast the avocado leaves and the arbol chilies on a 10″ dry comal griddle, or cast iron frying pan, 3 to 5 minutes, over low heat until they start to brown and give off their aroma.  Hold the avocado leaves by the stem and crumble both sides of the leaves into a blender.  Discard the stems. (ignore this step if using ground anise seed) Add the chilies and grind for a few seconds and then add the beans and the bean liquid.  Puree well.  Add salt to taste.  Add more water if necessary to make it spreadable. Set aside.

Avocado Sauce:

1 ripe avocado

1 jalapeno, seeded and stemmed

¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic

salt

 Put all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, adding up to ¾ cup of water so that it is thin enough to drizzle. Add salt to taste.

Edited by Chelsea Rosenthal