Elio Xicum Cobá, from Yucatán, Mexico, shares his dish of Yucatecan empanada, or 'Chan Cham', which tells the story of the Mayan people and the Yucatecan Maya kitchen. “I am a chef who belongs to an indigenous community, full of traditions, customs, but above all pride in showing a little piece of my land, Yucatán,” he explains.
The dish serves as a reminder of home every time the chef from restaurant La Villa in Tekit, leaves his land. “They are the flavours that I always have in mind and they make me yearn to return to try. They are ingredients from each region of my state."
Cobá was inspired to create the dish after having returned home from the market with some pumpkins one day, to find his mother cooking empanadas in the kitchen. “Every time I cook it, it reminds me that you never have to give up. It reminds me of those moms who will always look for some way to bring something to eat at home,” he says.
The dish is traditionally cooked on a comal, an iron or clay disk that is placed over fire, and the corn dough is mixed with one of the most representative ingredients of Yucatecan cuisine - the chaya. However, all the local ingredients Cobá uses in this recipe can be substituted for more readily available ingredients, depending on where you live.
According to the chef, the dish “ tastes like a small town in Mexico”. Discover how to make it below.