While strolling down the streets of Tlaxcala, I noticed a long line of people hovering around a certain street vendor. A piece of paper, handwritten in magic marker, identified the goods: “Molotes.” At first glance, I assumed I was approaching a taco vendor, but upon closer inspection, I realized that molotes were not tacos at all! They look a lot like empanadas, golden hand pies plump with filling and aromas rich from savory goodness. The vendor had an assortment of fillings, from tins of seasoned beef, chicken and pork, to bins of various grated cheeses and tubs of different salsas. I ordered a molote stuffed with mashed potatoes and chipotle salsa. After it left the deep fryer, it was topped with salsa verde and a squirt of crema. It was heavenly!
Molotes are fresh tortilla dough stuffed with any kind of filling available. They are then sealed into a half moon shaped and deep fried, creating a crispy, delicate and flaky crust. These little hot pockets are then drizzled with salsa and crema, and they are so addictive, it’s common to see folks order one then get back in line to order another.
When I told Chef Estela about my new found favorite streetfood, she smiled and nodded and didn’t give it another thought. But I kept going on and on about how much I loved these things. . . that today, she taught me how to make them. As I should have known, her version was even better than what I had on the street. I devoured the hot molote as soon as it came out of the pan. My tastebuds were dancing with delight. Crisp, flavorful and filled with cheese, Chef Estela told me to enjoy, then informed me that since I now know how to make them — I have no excuse to spend my money on the sidewalk. Si, senora!
2 cups masa harina
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup warm chile water (or you can use achiote seasoning)
Fillings as desired
Oil for frying
- Combine the masa harina, flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
- Slowly add the water and mix until a dough forms. The dough should be sticky, not dry.
- Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Gather a small handful and roll into balls.
- With your hands, a tortilla press, or even a rolling pin, flatten the balls into long ovals.
- Place the filling in the center of the tortilla, then fold tortilla over, creating a half-moon/semi-circle shape. Press the ends together to create a seal.
- Pan fry in a small amount of oil. The molote should be crisp and golden on all sides. Serve with shredded lettuce, salsa verde or a drizzle of crema.