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What Are Pupusas?

Updated on September 25, 2014

The tastiest Salvadoran pupusa recipe

"What are pupusas?" was not a question that had ever entered my head until we moved to El Salvador. Indeed, I had never even heard the word pupusa used, and had no idea what one was!

When we first arrived I was not at all impressed by this Salvadoran dish that everybody told us that we needed to try because it is fantastic. I am not a lover of tortilla, probably for the same reason, that I find it to be very heavy and stodgy.

Then I had a revelation. We went to a friend's house and she served pupusas. I didn't want to appear rude, so I took one, just intending to nibble at it.

The difference in the taste was amazing, and left me speechless (much to Senor cicak's delight!). She told me that she bought them from her local papuseria and that they were made from rice flour, not maize flour. The rice flour gives the papusa a lighter texture, and I was able to enjoy the delicious combination of warm bread and hot melted cheese.

We have since moved house, and this papuseria is only a couple of minutes walk from our house, and pupusas have become a regular Sunday breakfast treat!

If you have never tried a pupusa or are a Salvadoran living abroad who is feeling nostalgic for your homeland, please enjoy reading this review, where I try to answer the question "What are pupusas?" and I share my maid Rosa's pupusa recipe with you.

Photo Credit, Amazon:

Salvadoran Street Food

What are Pupusas, papusas or pupisio?

Papusas, pupusas or pupisio are a food dish that were first made by the Pipil people who lived in the area now known as El Salvador, and remains of cooking implements used to make papusas have been found at Joya de Ceren, and date their existence to two thousand years ago.

They are basically a dough, made from maize or rice flour, somewhat similar to a tortilla. The difference is that the dough is rolled into balls and a filling placed inside, before the dough is flattened and cooked.

Traditionally pupusas are served with curtido, a pickled cabbage relish and a red salsa sauce.

Until relatively recently pupusas were very much a localised food, enjoyed in central Salvadoran towns such as Olocuilta. During the middle of the last century, as the population became more mobile, pupusas became known all over El Salvador, with regional variations occurring.

During the civil war in the 1980s many Salvadoran's left El Salvador to take up residence in other countries, mainly the United States. As is common with migrants the world over, Salvadorans began to cook their traditional foods in their new home countries and dishes such as pupusa became known to more people.

photo credit: roland via photo pin cc

A question for you......

Have you ever tried pupusas?

How do you make pupusas?
How do you make pupusas?

Pupusa Recipe

photo credit: satanoid via photo pin cc

Do you want to learn how to make pupusas?

This is the recipe that my maid Rosa uses and I was amazed at the simplicity of the ingredients.

No yeast or time to for it to rise, just flour, warm water and your choice of filling.

I hope that you enjoy trying out this recipe!

Serving Size

Serves: 8 pupusas

Ingredients

  • Masa Harina (Tortilla flour) or Aroz Harina (Rice flour) - 2 cups
  • Warm water - 1 cup
  • Filling - 1 cup

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour and water together in a large bowl.
  2. Knead the dough thoroughly
  3. Add more water, a tablespoonful at a time if needed. The dough should be moist but firm dough,
  4. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Split the dough into 8 equal parts, and roll each into a ball.
  6. Make an indentation in the ball with your thumb.
  7. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling into the indentation and fold the dough over to cover the filling.
  8. Flatten the ball with the palms of your hands to form a flat disc, taking care that that the filling doesn't spill out.
  9. Use a tortilla press to press each ball to about 5 or 6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. You can place the dough between two small plates and apply pressure if you don't have a press.
  10. Grease a skillet and heat it over medium-high flame.
  11. Cook each pupusa for roughly 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
  12. Place on a plate and keep warm until you have cooked all the pupusas.
  13. Serve with Salvadoran coleslaw and salsa sauce
Cast your vote for Rosa's Pupusa Recipe

Salvadorean Bakery Making Pupusas

Which do you prefer?

What flour do you prefer your pupusas to be made from?

What's your favourite pupusa filling?

What's your favourite pupusa filling?
What's your favourite pupusa filling?

What is your favourite pupusa filling?

See results

Different Pupusa Fillings

Have I made your mouth water at the thought of pupusas?

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    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Sounds like a very tasty treat indeed!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh my yes. I'd love to try these. I could almost taste them, just looking at the photos.

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 5 years ago

      I just came back for a quick visit. I'm going to try tomake pupusas for the first time today. I really hope they turn out!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      After reading your recipe, I am quite keen to try them. But I haven't seen them here in New Zealand, may have to try to make them myself. Thanks for sharing. Blessed.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I haven't had these in over 20 years, would love to try some again. Maybe I need to find a Salvadoranian restaurant next time we are in Florida. I know of one there. I loved Pupusas, such a great taste.

    • adragast24 profile image

      adragast24 5 years ago

      Looks so good I want to have one now...

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Congrats on your new purple star!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Definitely!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Definitely!

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      You betcha ... these look so delicious! I've bookmarked this page for future use. ~~Blessed~~

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 5 years ago

      Oh yes! Im going to try to make some

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 5 years ago

      They look so good.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Yes - for sure! Sounds wonderful. Especially the cheese ones ;-)

    • profile image

      olmpal 5 years ago

      Definitely! It sounds delicious and I would like to give it a try!

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      These look similar to an Indian paratha. I would love to try this. Great lens and thank you for introducing me to these, although my diet may not thank you. *blessed*

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      These look really tasty and I'm thinking about having a go making some.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I think I would leave it to someone with experience to do the cooking. You've certainly taught me something new today - and made me hungry too.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I think I would leave it to someone with experience to do the cooking. You've certainly taught me something new today - and made me hungry too.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Sounds good to me. What Are Papusas, is exactly the question I asked when I say the title.

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Most certainly! I had never thought about making them myself, but now that I see the videos and recipes, I think I might have to give it a try!

    • LaurisB LM profile image

      LaurisB LM 5 years ago

      Oh, yes!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      They sound very delicious! :)

    • kburns421 lm profile image

      kburns421 lm 5 years ago

      I've never had one of these, or even heard of them until now, but they sound delicious!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes, I need to go eat lunch.