Yucatan style chaya empanadas: Empanadas de chaya

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

Here the chaya, a leafy green used throughout the Yucatan, is incorporated right into the corn dough, a common technique in this region. The chopped hard boiled egg filling is complemented by the chile-laced tomato salsa, integral to this dish. Chard or spinach can be substituted for the chaya. The salsa that tops these chaya empanadas is a typical Yucatan style condiment, with habanero chiles.


  • 2 pounds corn masa (can be made with masa harina)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound chaya, spinach or chard, finely chopped
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 habanero chile, chopped
  • 10 tomatillos (tomates verdes) chopped

Mix the masa with the salt and chaya until the chaya is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Divide the dough into equal size balls, about 16 medium size. As you work on one empanada, keep the others covered with plastic wrap.

Place each ball of dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten with a tortilla press, heavy skillet or flat plate.

Remove the top piece of plastic and spoon some of the hard boiled egg into the center of the disc. Using the bottom piece of plastic, fold the dough over to form a half circle. Pinch the edges to seal. Remove the plastic.

Proceed in the same manner with the remaining empanadas, keeping them covered to prevent drying out.

Heat oil in a skillet to a depth of about 2 inches. Fry empanadas for about 2 minutes on each side, drain on paper towels.

Sauté the onion, chile and tomatillos in a little oil until the tomatillo is soft. Taste and add salt. Spoon salsa over empanadas. Makes about 16 medium empanadas.

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Published or Updated on: August 6, 2014 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2014
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