The Mexican Comal, a unique utensil since ancient times.
The comal is a historical instrument in Mexican cuisine, and its name comes from the Nahuatl word "Comalli". It is such an important instrument in the country's cuisine that it becomes a basic utensil that every Mexican kitchen has in their home.
Its origin dates back to pre-Hispanic times when it was originally made of unglazed clay and placed on three stones called "tenemostes" which supported it and kept it high since the coals were placed below it, and this was the way to heat food and especially tortillas.
The first comals were made of clay and cured with lime, but over time, other materials such as volcanic stone began to be used because, unlike clay, which was fragile and difficult to transport, volcanic stone was more durable and resistant.
Today, there are more varieties of comals with different shapes and sizes, each with different characteristics:
- Clay comal: It is the oldest and must be cured with water and lime before use to prevent cracking. It is lightweight and fragile.
- Volcanic stone comal: One of the oldest, it is resistant and easy to clean, as well as a good conductor of heat. It can be used on direct fire or in ovens.
- Ceramic comal: It is more decorative and is used for heating and not frying.
- Tin comal: Typical of markets and food businesses, it is economical and resistant.
- Copper comal: It is also very popular because this material distributes heat very well.
- Concave comal: Perfect for frying gorditas, quesadillas, pambazos, and all kinds of snacks. As its name suggests, its central part is deeper, allowing for deeper frying.
- Metal comal: Whether it is made of iron, aluminum, or other metal, it is the easiest to find and use in the home kitchen, heats up quickly, is resistant, and easy to clean.
At CEMCUI, we recommend the use of volcanic stone comal because it has unique characteristics such as:
- Heat resistance: Volcanic stone is a heat-resistant material, so the comal can withstand very high temperatures without cracking or breaking.
- Porosity: Volcanic stone is porous, meaning it absorbs excess moisture and oil from food, resulting in healthier and less fatty cooking.
- Durability: Volcanic stone comals are durable and can last for years if properly cared for.
They also have a wide range of uses:
- Cooking tortillas: Volcanic stone comals are traditionally used to cook corn tortillas and other flatbreads such as arepas, pupusas, and gorditas.
- Grilling meats and vegetables: Comals can also be used to grill meats and vegetables and can be used directly over an open flame or on a stove.
- Unique serving: Some comals are also used as dishes since you can serve both cold and hot food in them, as if the stone is cooled or heated, it can maintain the temperature of the food for longer.
The advantages they provide include:
- Flavor: Volcanic stone comals can give a smoky and earthy flavor to the foods cooked on them.
- Uniform cooking: Volcanic stone retains and distributes heat evenly, resulting in even cooking of the food.
- Healthy: Due to the porosity of the stone, less oil is needed to cook food, resulting in healthier and less fatty meals.
In general, volcanic stone comals are an excellent option for cooking traditional foods and for those looking for a healthier cooking option.