My (Anglo) family is having a reunion tomorrow. They all love tamales, so here is my contribution.

Know that if I ever make you tamales, I must love you very much. ¡Cuánto trabajo!… Now I need a nap.


  1. Voy a regalarte uno…

    [ X ]

    Vaya. Cometelo ;)

    As you can see, I use the corn husks because I like the flavor and texture it gives the masa. I learned to make them “Mexican style”, but my Suegra prefers plantain leaves like most Salvadorans.

  2. I have ALWAYS wanted to try a REAL tamale!!! You just can’t find them in in my part of Canada! And where do you get corn husks this time of year anyways?

    • @ Pol – You don’t have any Mexican restaurants or Latino markets up there at all? … That would be so odd…

      The corn husks are available for sale in a big bag that costs just a couple dollars. They have them year round at the Latino market and even in places like Wal-Mart in the “ethnic” aisle.

      If you want to attempt to make them, (they’re not beginner level, maybe intermediate but more than anything it’s just labor intensive) – I can send you a bag of corn husks and some instructions and a few recipes. There are hundreds of varieties depending on the region they’re made in. The ones pictured are actually vegetarian because some of my family doesn’t eat meat. They contain potato, chick peas, green beans, salsa and various spices. The dough surrounding them is made from MASECA and vegetable broth, as well as a bit of achiote.

  3. Yum! Can you share that filling recipe? It sounds amazing. I’ve made Rick Bayless’ recipe for chicken tamales and sweet tamales, and they both turned out great, but I don’t have a vegetarian recipe.

    • @ Katie – Sure. This is a recipe I adapted from the chicken version I usually make. I usually just taste it as I go along to see what it needs so this isn’t an exact science. Also, I used canned products (which is a sin in many Latina kitchens), but it cuts down on the labor and I didn’t feel it affected the final product at all. Feel feel to replace with fresh ingredients though. Here is the recipe to the best of my ability.

      Latina-ish Vegetarian Tamales

      What you need:

      Dry corn husks
      Aluminum foil
      MASECA (instant corn masa flour for tortillas)
      Vegetable broth – 32 ounce box
      Your favorite salsa (jar or homemade – about 16 oz.)
      1 can chick peas/garbanzo beans
      1/2 a minced onion
      3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
      2 cans of uncut green beans
      1 32 oz. can diced potatoes
      1 can of chiles in adobo sauce
      achiote molido (annatto powder)
      achiote entero (whole annatto)
      cooking oil
      salt and pepper

      1. Fill a big bowl with hot water in your sink. Submerge the corn husks in the water to soften.

      2. In another big bowl, pour about 1/4 of the bag of MASECA. (Optional: Add a couple tablespoons of achiote molido to the flour before mixing in liquid.) Little by little, work in all the vegetable broth with your hands. At this point you will probably need several cups of water. Add a little at a time and work it in until your masa (dough), is about the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough. It should be spreadable with a spoon, but not watery. Set aside.

      3. Rip off 30 squares of aluminum foil, (about 1 foot by 1 foot each.) … This will be used to secure the tamales while cooking if you have trouble folding them securely closed like me. If you’re more skilled, you won’t need the foil. This is not an authentic method.

      4. If you don’t have a large steamer pot, you will need to loosely crumple foil balls enough to cover the bottom of your largest pot with a tight fitting lid. Once the bottom of the pot is covered in foil balls, fill it with water – BUT the water should not be higher than the foil balls. The foil balls keep the water off the tamales since the tamales are not boiled – they are steamed. If you have a steamer pot and know how to use it, all the better!

      5. Now the filling: In a large pan, heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of achiote entero. Cook briefly until oil turns orange-red. Remove from heat. Remove the achiote with a spoon and discard so that all that is left in the pan is the oil. If you don’t have achiote entero, just heat some regular oil.

      6. Put the pan back on the medium heat, saute onion and garlic until tender. Add the drained cans of potatoes, chick peas and green beans. Combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

      7. In a bowl, pour your salsa. Add to it about a tablespoon of the sauce from the “chiles in adobo sauce” can. Be careful how much you add and don’t use the actual chiles. This stuff is really powerful. If your family doesn’t like spicy, you might not want to use it at all. If they do, feel free to put the chiles in a blender, grind them up and add them to the salsa but it will be VERY spicy.

      When you have the salsa as spicy as you like it, add it to the pan containing the potato mixture. Combine well, remove from heat.

      8. Now for assembly. Take a corn husk from the water, making sure it isn’t too small or ripped, and shake it dry a bit. Put it on a square of foil. Spread a big spoonful of masa (dough), onto the husk in the middle, spreading it out in a sort of rectangle shape, but don’t go too close to the edges. (You’ve made tamales before so you probably know all this. If not, look up a tamal tutorial online. There are some great videos, etc.)

      On top of the masa, place a spoonful of the potato mixture.

      Now fold the corn husk closed, (again, hard to explain, so look online for a tutorial if you don’t know how.) … Then I take the extra step of enclosing each one in foil so they don’t open up. Some people tie them with string, but this is easier for me.

      Repeat this until you run out of either corn husks, dough, mixture, or energy ;) — But this made about 30 when I ran out of dough, but I had enough mixture for maybe 60 and could have made more dough if I wasn’t exhausted. Anyway, the leftover filling is fine to eat on rice :)

      Stack them all in your steamer pot on medium to low heat with the lid closed. I’m not sure how long. I must have left them for over an hour just to be certain. Check once in awhile, (though not too often as you’ll lose your steam), to make sure there’s enough water in there – if not, add a little.

      Okay – that’s the best I can do! I hope you understood :)

  4. The closest thing we have to a Latino store is Taco Time two hours away. LOL! I guess there aren’t as many Latinos in my part of Canada either.

    • @Heartinhand – Taco time… that’s fun to say. LOL. Is that a chain restaurant like Taco Bell?

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