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HOW TO MAKE TAMALES

The tamal is perhaps one of the most fascinating and ancient traditional recipe from the mexican food cookbook. What is a tamal? I guess one could relate it to kind of an aztec sandwich... it is a fascinating meal by how convenient and delicious it has always been... since ages ago. The word tamal comes from the aztec language word "tamalli", which means “wrapped bread” or simply "wrapped".  Depending which region of Mexico you buy your tamales, you will notice how this mexican recipe is versatile.  In the center of the country we find the most traditional; in the states of the north we find the uchepos wrapped also in corn husks using, however, the sweet corn variety, to those from Oaxaca, which use banana leaves, etc.  The variations on this basic recipe principle can be endless.  because many pre-comlombian civilizations had their own word for this recipe, all from many unrelated precolumbian languages, the tamal can be refered to with many different names (such as zacahuil in veracruz state).

The tamal is a mexican dish that has evolved too many regional recipes in different countries from south America (Mexico, central America, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina), although it’s origin brings us inevitably back to the ancient civilizations of Mexico. It consists basically of corn dough (the masa), made basically of cooked corn flour dough wrapped in corn husks (traditionally in Mexico), and cooked in a steamer. Also known by such names like humita, hallaca, corundas or pastel de choclo, the tamales have their own proper flavour that will make your mind wander back to those sunny countries!  the authentic tamales' preparation has evolved much since the beginning and today the dough can be prepared with a large variety of ingredient combinations that give this meal varied flavours.

PREPARATION

Mix the masa gradually with the broth, incorporating it well by mixing with your hands, aside from this, beat the lard until it gets spongy and then add it to the masa. Beat this masa and lard mixture vigorously until it is ready (drop a small bit in a glass of water, if it floats then your dough is ready), then add the baking powder and the salt and again mix well.

 

For the red filling 

using a food processor liquefy the red tomato, the chopped ancho chiles with the garlic cloves and the water into which they were soaked in. this sauce is cooked with a bit of oil, mix it with the meat, season with salt and allow it to boil a few minutes until it becomes with the desired thickness. 

 

For the green filling 

Start to cook your green tomatoes in 1/2 cup of water until they soften, then let them cool a little and liquefy the tomatoes with the coriander. Aside from this in a saucepan, cook the onion in the lard, the chili is then added to this and then mix in the liquefied tomatoes; mix in the meat (already cooked at this point) and season to your taste.

 

Put two tablespoons of tamal dough in every tamal corn husk, add then put some filling (red or green) in them, fold and wrap the corn leaves. They are now ready for cooking in a tamalera, (any steamer device will do) on a bed of tamal leaves. Steam-cook everything for 60 minutes, they are ready when the corn leaves come off easily from the dough. 

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