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Purepecha Salsa

The atapakua is a similar salsa to the mole because it is elaborated and is full of potent flavors and of many aromas . Although it also has differences because not so many ingredients are used in its preparation and it doesn’t have sweet notes. This salsa is used in a very singular way because first a dish with beef or pork is prepared, which is accompanied with vegetables and at the moment of serving everything is bathed with the atapakua. It is a formidable combination!

salsa was prepared since Prehispanic times by the Purepechas that reside in the central zone of the state of Michoacan. In Purepechan language atapakua means “nutritious and spicy stew that sustains life".

About the Recipe

  • This salsa requires patience because it has many steps.
  • In the preparation maize dough is used to thicken the salsa, which can be bought at the tortilla shop or you can make it by mixing maize flour with water.
  • To make the salsa we recommend using chicken stock instead of water because it will have better flavor.
  • The total preparation time is of 40 minutes.
  • Yields 8 portions.


  • 4 Ancho Peppers (1.4 oz)
  • 3 Guajillo Peppers (1 oz)
  • 3 Tomatoes (21.1 oz)
  • 1 Serrano Pepper (.4 oz)
  • 1/2 Onion (2.6 oz)
  • 2 Garlic cloves with skin (.2 oz)
  • 2 Coriander sprigs (.7 oz)
  • 2 Spearmint sprigs (.7 oz)
  • 1.7 oz of Maize Dough
  • 3 cups of Chicken Stock (25.3 fl oz)
  • 1 tablespoon of Lard
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Salt

  • Cookware

  • 1 Saucepan
  • 1 Griddle
  • 1 Blender
  • 1 Bowl
  • 1 Measuring Cup
  • 1 Cutting Board
  • 1 Tongs
  • 1 Turner
  • 1 Strainer
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Spoon

  • Directions

    Work with the Chilies

    1. Put on a griddle over medium heat:
    • 4 Ancho Peppers.
    • 3 Guajillo Peppers.

    1. Roast the chilies that were put on the griddle for about 2 minutes, until all their sides are lightly roasted; move them regularly with some tongs.
    2. Transfer from the griddle to a bowl, with the tongs, the chilies that were roasted.
    3. Cover the chilies that were roasted with boiling water and leave them soaking for about 7 minutes, until they are soft.

    While the Chilies are Ready

    1. Put on the griddle over medium heat:
    • 3 Tomatoes.
    • 1 Serrano Pepper.
    • 1/2 Onion.
    • 2 Garlic cloves with skin.

    1. Roast the serrano pepper, the onion and the garlics for about 2 minutes and the tomatoes for about 5 minutes, until all their sides are moderately roasted; move them regularly with the tongs.
    2. Transfer from the griddle to a blender, with the tongs, the chili, the onion and the tomatoes that were roasted. Then set aside.
    3. Remove from the griddle the garlic cloves and wait for them to cool a little.
    4. Peel the garlic cloves that were roasted, then put them in the blender and reserve.

    7 minutes later...

    1. Verify that the chilies that were left soaking are soft, if not leave them soaking for a longer time.
    2. Remove from the bowl, with the tongs, the chilies that were soaked and remove their veins and seeds.
    3. Put in the blender:
    • The 4 Ancho Peppers with the ones you worked.
    • The 3 Guajillo Peppers with the ones you worked.
    • 2 Coriander sprigs.
    • 2 Spearmint sprigs.
    • 1 cup of Chicken Stock (8.4 fl oz)

    1. Blend very well the ingredients and reserve.
    2. Put in the bowl.
    • 1.7 oz of Maize Dough.
    • 1 cup of hot Water (8.4 fl oz).

    1. Stir the bowl ingredients with a spoon, until the dough has dissolved; then set aside.

    Cook the Salsa

    1. Melt in a saucepan over medium heat 1 tablespoon of lard.
    2. Add in the saucepan the mixture that was blended and bring it to a boil over high heat.
    3. When the mixture boils reduce to low heat and cook it for about 5 minutes, until it acquires a little more intense color; stir occasionally.
    4. Incorporate in the saucepan:
    • Strain the Dough that was diluted.
    • 2 cups of Chicken Stock (1/2 qt).
    • 1/2 tablespoon of Salt.

    1. Mix the saucepan ingredients and cook the atapakua for about 20 minutes, until it thickens a little and acquires an intense red color; stir occasionally.

    In this last cooking is common to add vegetables like zucchinis, chayotes, gourds, etc.

    Prehispanic Tradition

    Recommendation: Now know the mole from Morelia.

    Did you like the Atapakua?

    Mexican Recipes

    Grilled Steak
    Pork Picadillo
    Steak with Onions

    Prepare the maize dough with this flour.

    Know more about the Purepechas with this book.

    The secrets of the Mexican salsas.