|Place of origin||Mexico|
|Main ingredients||Tortillas, chili pepper sauce, meat|
An enchilada (/ˌɛntʃɪˈlɑːdə/, Spanish: [entʃiˈlaða]) is a Mexican dish consisting of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a savory sauce. Enchiladas can be filled with various ingredients, including meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables, or combinations. Enchilada sauces include chili-based sauces, such as salsa roja, various moles, tomatillo-based sauces, such as salsa verde, or cheese-based sauces, such as chile con queso.
The Royal Spanish Academy defines the word enchilada, as used in Mexico, as a rolled maize tortilla stuffed with meat and covered with a tomato and chili sauce. Enchilada is the past participle of Spanish enchilar, "to add chili pepper to"; literally, "to season (or decorate) with chili".
Enchiladas originated in Mexico, where the practice of rolling tortillas around other food dates back at least to Aztec times. The people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate corn tortillas folded or rolled around small fish. Writing at the time of the Spanish conquistadors, Bernal Díaz del Castillo documented a feast enjoyed by Europeans hosted by Hernán Cortés in Coyoacán, which included foods served in corn tortillas. (Note that the native Nahuatl name for the flat corn bread used was tlaxcalli; the Spanish gave it the name tortilla.) The Nahuatl word for enchilada is chīllapītzalli [t͡ʃiːlːapiːˈt͡salːi], which is formed of the Nahuatl word for "chili", chīlli [ˈt͡ʃiːlːi] and the Nahuatl word for "flute", tlapītzalli [t͡ɬapiːˈt͡salːi]. In the 19th century, as Mexican cuisine was being memorialized, enchiladas were mentioned in the first Mexican cookbook, El cocinero mexicano ("The Mexican Chef"), published in 1831, and in Mariano Galvan Rivera's Diccionario de Cocina, published in 1845.
Mexican cooking authority Diana Kennedy cites an early reference from an American traveler from 1883 who remarked, "Enchiladas, a greasy tortilla sandwich containing chiles and a number of other uninviting looking compounds and other nasty messes, are sold everywhere, filling the air with a pungent, nauseous smell." Kennedy goes on to heartily disagree with that characterization, likely brought on by culture shock. Another early English-language mention is found in the California Mexican-Spanish Cookbook (1914) by Bertha Haffner Ginger.
In their original form as Mexican street food, enchiladas were simply corn tortillas dipped in chili sauce and eaten without fillings. There are now many varieties, which are distinguished primarily by their sauces, fillings and, in one instance, by their form. Various adjectives may be used to describe the recipe content or origin, e.g. enchilada tapatia would be a recipe from Jalisco.
Fillings include meat (e.g. beef, poultry, pork, seafood) or cheese, potatoes, vegetables, beans, tofu, and any combination thereof. Enchiladas are commonly topped or garnished with cheese, sour cream, lettuce, olives, chopped onions, chili peppers, sliced avocado, and salsa, or fresh cilantro.
In Costa Rica, the enchilada is a common, small, spicy pastry made with puff pastry and filled with diced potatoes spiced with a common variation of Tabasco sauce or other similar sauces. Other variations include fillings made of spicy chicken or minced meat.
In Honduras, enchiladas look and taste very different from those in Mexico; they are not corn tortillas rolled around a filling, but instead are flat, fried, corn tortillas topped with ground beef, salad toppings (usually consisting of cabbage and tomato slices), a tomato sauce (often ketchup blended with butter and other spices such as cumin), and crumbled or shredded cheese. They look and taste much like what many people call a tostada.
In Nicaragua, enchiladas are different from the other ones in Central America and resemble those in Mexico; they are corn tortillas filled with a mixture of ground beef and rice with chilli, they are then folded and covered in egg batter and deep fried. It is commonly served with a cabbage and tomato salad (either pickled salad or in cream and tomato sauce). The Nicaraguan enchilada resembles the empanada of other countries.
In Guatemala, enchiladas look much like Honduran enchiladas but the recipe is different. This version most commonly begins with a leaf of fresh lettuce, then a layer of 'picado de carne,' which includes meat (generally ground beef, shredded chicken, or pork) and diced vegetables (carrot, potato, onion, celery, green bean, peas, red bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, seasoned with salt and black pepper). The next layer in the recipe is the 'curtido' layer which includes more vegetables (cabbage, beets, onions, and carrots). After this is two or three pieces of sliced hard boiled egg, then thin sliced white onion, and finally a drizzle of mild red salsa. The dish is topped with either queso seco or queso fresco and garnished with cilantro.
The idiomatic American English phrase "the whole enchilada" means "the whole thing".