Tamales have been traced back to the Ancient Mayans, who prepared them for feasts as early as 1200-250 BC. It is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of a starchy corn-based dough called masa, which is steamed in a leaf wrapper. The dough is kind of like a dumpling mix and it can be filled with meat substitutes or vegetable chilli or anything you fancy! Traditionally, these were made so you could carry your food around with you but served with a salsa, guacamole and salad – they make great party food!
My friend Stuart has made tamales for me twice now. They are a bit of a fiddle, but well worth the effort and making them is quite good fun if you all sit round together and do it with a glass or two of something… First off, you soak a load of corn husks in water to soften them. While they are soaking you make your dough and chilli & bean filling. Then you take a husk, spread a flat layer of dough across it, spoon some chilli into the middle and roll it up folding over the ends to seal it – rather like a tortilla wrap. You steam them in a big pan for 20-30 minutes. Then place your heap of steaming hot tamales in the centre of the table for your guests to help themselves to. It’s like unwrapping a present! The ultimate party food I reckon. I probably should have taken photographs of each stage but maybe I’ll do that next time.
The recipe used here was from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. I could write it out for you or you could do yourself a favour and buy the book.