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What is Chilate ... Please?

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  • Krys Stanley Aug 30, 2004 01:59 PM
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I've been on a crawl of local pupusarias and, as a result, have been trying out other dishes from El Salvador.

I had a dish called Chilate con Nuegadse.

The Chilate came on a huge oval dish with a cup of steaming Atol and a bowl with plantains and yams in syrup with two fritter / beneigt type thingies sticking out.

OK, I'm just assuming it was atol as I never had it before. Anyway it was a white mug with a steaming corn based drink that had ginger and nutmeg in it.

The chunks of skin-on yams and skin off plaintains were in a bowl of a thin brown sugar type syrup. Nice fritters. I could see sitting at an outdoor cafe in El Salvador and killing the afternoon.

Looking around on the web for further explanations of Chilate, it seems different. The friends that I ate with were from Guatamala and didn't have a clue. They said in Guatamala chilate is made by pouring coffee over day old bread and doing something or another.

Was the chilate the corn based drink? If so, how does that differ from Atol? There seem to be savory versions of chilate as well which involve chicken and/or veggies.

Anyone have any answers?

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  1. From a web site called Honduras Today, Oct 1997

    "Atol or corn drink is the base for chilate, which is used as a sacred drink in western Honduras in a ceremony known as the guacaleo. A guacal is a bowl made of the calabash gourd. In ceremonies like the guancasco (ceremony of peace) at Gracias, Lempira; Ilama, Santa Barbara; and Texiguat, El Paraiso, all participants drink chilate in their guacales as a sign of peace.

    To make chilate, ground cocoa seeds and perhaps some achiote (anetto seeds) are added to the basic atol. In pre-Columbian Mexico, this was also served with a dash of chili, from which it gets its name. For ceremonies that used to use chilate, most people today use just simple atol."

    1 Reply
    1. re: Foodlum

      Thanks for the search. I'm hoping that someone with who is Salvadorian or has a knowledge of that cuisine will chime in.

      I mean do Salvadorian people's eyes light up when they see this on a menu. Is it the equivalent of having chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde

      Also, what's with the savory version? The equivalent of grits?

    2. I was just doing a search and came across this thread. I actually had chilate today and I had never heard of it or seen it before but I live with a Salvadoran family who made it. They made toerjas which are kind of like french toast which are in some kind of syrup, similar in taste to nueganos. And the chilate is like atol except it's not sweet at all and they pour it over the torejas to cut the sweetness.

      1. I can only speak of the Salvadorian chilate (I have also seen the different versions on the web) and it is different than what you would get if you ordered the atol (salvadorean atol it is). Chilate, like atol, is a warm yummy (to me anyways) corn drink. Chilate is savory, made with toasted corn that is ground up and cooked with ginger and whole peppercorn that you can often see floating in the steaming drink. It is served along the candied plantain and yams and the little fritters that we call nuegados which should also have a generpous amount of syrup over them. The savory from the chilate and the sweet from the yams and nuegados go really well together but you would not pour your chilate over them, just drink it along like you would have coffe with your scone ;)
        Atol de elote, on the other hand, is a sweet corn beverage made with ground fresh corn, sugar, a pinch of salt, cinnamon and milk or water, depending on who makes it - my mother uses milk and in MHO it sooooo much better. Atol de elote is usually a little thicker than chilate and often people will add a few whole corn kernels to it after it is cooked... oh so delicious!