Tamales. Whether they’re part of the celebratory King’s Day dinner, street cart food, or just a meal on any regular day, Tamales are something special in Mexico.
From the Nahuatl word tamalli, a tamal is corn masa with filling inside, wrapped in it’s own pocket of banana leaf, or corn husk, then steamed until the soft masa becomes firm. Not sure what corn masa is? It’s a finely ground, nixtamalized corn dough used for making tortillas, tamales, sopes, etc. In it’s dried form, it’s referred to as Masa Harina.
Tamales can be sweet or savoury, filled with fruit, meats, cheese or vegetable filling and are often served with a salsa. Neatly folded into their leaf or husk parcels, Tamales may be the perfect portable, on-the-go Mexican food, with practically any filling you desire.
“Do you want to make a tamale with peanut butter and jelly? Go Ahead! Somebody will eat it.”Bobby Flay (Celebrity chef, Restaurateur)
A pre-columbian dish, dating possibly as far back as 8000BC, México, South and Central America all have their own versions of the Tamal. There’s also versions of it made in parts of the Eastern Caribbean.
In December, the making of tamales for Christmas feast may be a family affair, or alternatively, a gathering of friends to prepare the tasty meal. Hosting a Tamalada is a great way to kick off the holiday season! Sitting around a table with some of your favourite people, surrounded by bowls of masa, husks (or leaves) and fillings, while making tamales, easily turns into a social event. And chatting and enjoying the company of friends/family adds to the sentimentality of the tamales, they truly become food ‘made with love.’
Want to try making tamales? We’ve added a couple videos for you here and don’t forget to investigate the specific recipe links we’ve added below!
Tamales Dulces full recipe here: Mama Maggies Kitchen
Tips for making tamales, from Lesley Téllez, of The Mija Chronicles, and author of
Eat Mexico: Recipes from Mexico City’s Streets, Markets & Fondas.
Pork & Red Sauce Tamales from Mexico in my Kitchen.
Beef Tamales (made with a fresh masa), from Everyday Southwest
Beef Tamales made with Masa Harina (dried corn flour), from Mexico in my Kitchen.
Green Chile Chicken Tamales (recipe includes both fresh masa & masa harina), Epicurious.
Green Chilies & Cheese Vegetarian Tamales by Isabel Eats.
3 Varieties of Sweet Tamales (using fresh masa or masa harina), by My Latina Table.