Tuesday, January 26, 2010


You can make tamales with any type of filling. Traditionally, you find pork or chicken, cheese, or beans inside. The tamal goes back as far as 8000 BC and is rumored to have been used by the Inca armies for sustenance on long trips.

I think the traditional tamale has a ton of calories mainly because it's prepared with generous quantities of lard. Most tamales range between 140 and 280 calories depending on how big and fatty they are. The ones featured in this recipe are around 170 calories each, not bad at all for how filling they are.

Tamales have three main parts: the corn husk, which is used during the steaming, the starchy dough (usually corn masa) and the filling. Some fillingless tamales exist (tamal sordo), but the filling for me is the most exiting part. I recently ordered sweet corn tamale at a restaurant and was very disappointed to find nothing inside.

Here is what you need to make 6-8 decent sized tamales, like the olive and goat cheese ones I made today:

Corn husks
2 cups homini or 2 cups ready masa
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (cream cheese works too)
1/2 onion
1/3 cup slow roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup olives
1 tbsp canned green chiles (or other hot peppers, seeds removed)
sea salt
dash pepper
dash paprika

To make this a shorter process, you will cook everything in the following order:

1. Soak the corn husks in warm water
2. Chop up the onion and start cooking it with 1 tbsp butter over medium heat.
3. Puree the homini to get masa or prepare the masa with hot water as directed on the package. For those of us in Bulgaria, just make thick kachamak. Salt the masa and add 2 tbsp butter. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, chop up the olives and mix with the cooked onions, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper.
5. Take the husks out of the water, squeeze it out. Take one of them and tear thin strips of it to use as ties for the tamales.
6. Take a handful of the masa, spread it over the inside of a husk, place the filling on top and roll up and together. Fold the edges of the small husk parcel and tie with a corn husk tie. For a step by step instruction on how to do it, click here!
7. Place all in a steaming basket and cook for 45 minutes.

8. Let them slightly cool off before serving.

Enjoy with salsa or sour cream sauce.

As alternative fillings try these:

beef + chilies + cheddar

chicken + cream + blue cheese

beans + chillies + Manchego cheese

slow roasted tomatoes + basil + Parmesan

asparagus + garlic + cream cheese

raisins + cooked apples + walnuts + cinnamon

Let me know how you tamale! I am planning to get some friends together for a whole day of tamale making once I am back in Bulgaria. What do you say?

1 comment:

  1. Galya cooks Mexican better than most Mexicans. I hope she doesn't try her hand at mole, because I need to feel that I'm better at SOMETHING! ;)


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