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Pupusas (singular:pupusa) comprise a Salvadorian dish consisting of a corn tortilla wrapped around a filling of cheese, ground and cooked pork, and refried beans.

History of Pupusa

Pupusa was first prepared about two thousand years ago by the people of the Pipil tribes who resided in the region of America that now forms El Salvador. The instruments used for preparation of pupusas have been found in sites excavated by archeologists in this region, which were buried under the debris of volcanic eruptions since hundreds of years.

Pupusa became popular in recent times since the 1960s, and later spread to the United States as well.

Pupusa Recipe Overview

Ingredients: The following are the principal ingredients required to make pupusas-

  • Tortilla: This is a thick and hand made tortilla made of corn flour. The flour used for making it is called masa de maiz, which is popularly used maize dough in Latin American dishes.
  • Cheese: Cheese of a soft variety called Quesillo, which is commonly produced in Central America, is used to make the filling for the pupusa.
  • Pork: Pork is cooked and ground to form a paste called chicharron. It is, however, different from pork rind which is also sometimes called by the same name. Pupusa de queso, the pupusa containing cheese filling, and Pupusa revuelta or pupusa made with a mix of various ingredients, are the most commonly eaten pupusas.
  • Refried beans: These are beans that have been cooked and mashed, and which are a staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines.
  • Queso con loroco: It is the bud of a vine flower found in Central America.

Method of Preparation: As per pupusa recipe, corn flour dough is given the shape of balls, and an indentation is formed in them where the desired filling is placed. The filling is wrapped up on all sides with the dough, and the ball so formed is flattened by pressing with the hand. It is rolled out further with a rolling pin or tortilla press, and then cooked on medium-high flame in a skillet till it has lightly browned on both sides.

Serving Pupusas

Pupusa is served with a thin tomato salsa and curtido, which is a slaw or salad made of fermented cabbage, vinegar and red chilies.

Related Dishes

Arepa: This is a similar dish from South America, which is different from pupusa in terms of the dough used for making the tortilla. While Arepas are made of ordinary corn dough, pupusas are made of nixtamal, which is corn dough that has been treated with an alkaline solution before being cooked. This special treatment helps in retaining the maize nutrients while peeling the grain. The process of making nixtamal is an ancient one, with the first known instances of its occurrence being in 1500-1200 BC.

Gordita: This is a Mexican dish that consists of more filling than pupusa. The word 'gordita' stands for 'fatty', which describes the nature of the filling. It also has an opening in the central part of the tortilla wrap.