Nik Jameson’s Vegan Yucatecan Kitchen

From Nik Jameson’s vegan Yucatecan kitchen: tortitas de chaya

Written by Stephanie Carmon

It’s harvest time all over the world and the Yucatan is no exception. The MILPA is coming to an end and fresh corn is always harvested just in time for the Pib and Tamales of Hanal Pixan. 

In my humble opinion, now is the best time of year to eat corn

Corn is clearly a staple in the Mexican diet but there is far more you can do with it than simply tortillas. 

There is a sweet corn drink, piedras, the aforementioned tamales, pozol, even popcorn. When you open the door or tortillas you also have gorditas, tostadas, and tortitas. 

I love maiz in all forms but a chaya tortitas with refried beans on top sold me.I usually eat savory breakfast and finding fast and easy dishes can be a challenge. Tortitas can be made up in 10-15 minutes and topped with anything you have in the fridge. It’s like a taco meet pancakes and decided to fluff up a bit. The texture of tortitas is fluffy and smooth because they are pan fried in quite a bit of oil. 

Notes on corn (maiz)

Your best bet is to go to a tortilleria and buy the masa. I often make my masa from dried corn and highly recommend it for flavor and texture, but it is a two day process and required a table mounted grinder.

Learn how to nixtamal here. (

I suggest you buy your whole dried corn and masa from Colectivo Múul Meyaj. (

Masteca the bagged corn flour will also work fine in this recipe, just know it has tested positive for pesticides. Most of Mexico now relies on the dried corn flour to make most of their homemade tortillas. There is nothing bad about the flour but it could be less nutritious. 

Notes on Chaya

The nutrition benefits of chaya have been long-winded. In shorthand it is a green plant with lots of good vitamins and minerals, you should eat it when you have the chance. Luckily for us, the Yucatan is full of Chaya and one might even be growing over the neighbor’s wall as we speak. If you don’t have you it’s worth considering. The low maintenance plant vines and grows a tall as a shrub tree. Their only drawback are the fine spines along the stem that should be avoided when harvesting. This is best done with gloves and small garden scissors. Snipping the needed leaves and leaving behind all the stems is the least painful way to harvest.

You can always swap the chaya for any green you have on hand. I sometimes use spinach or kale that I have growing on the patio. If you are using chaya it is very important to blanch it before use. A small amount will not hurt you but chaya holds micro-toxins that can build up if you eat a lot of it. The hot water blanch destroys this toxin without harming the beautiful green color of chaya. 

Blanching Chaya (or any leafy green)

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. 

2. In a fine-mesh strainer add the amount of chaya you need and wash as needed.

3. When the water is boiling dip the strainer and leaves into the water for 10 seconds.

4. Immediately after submerge the chaya and strainer in an ice water bath.

5. Use as desired. 

Chaya Tortitas Recipe

Serves 4 Tortitas


500 g corn masa1 T oil

2 cups chopped chaya (or greens of choice)

Salt to taste

Oil for frying 



Blanch the chaya (notes above) 

With your hands massage into the masa the oil, salt, and chopped chaya. Form a ball of masa in your hand and gently pat into a circle approximately 2 cm thick. Fry the tortillas in a pan with a good splash of oil.

They should be crunchy and brown and fluffy in the middle.

Serve hot with tomato sauce and beans.

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

3-5 roma tomatoes

½ onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 habanero 

Salt and pepper to taste 

In a blender, pulse the ingredients to desired texture (more chunky or smoother)Heat in a skillet until it comes to a boil or longer until the salsa evaporates a bit and is the texture you prefer. 

You can eat the corn cakes with any plain tomato sauce or add a spoonful of refried beans (

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