How to eat tamales

Do you eat the corn husk around a tamale?

The corn husks do not get eaten, they are just used to envelope the dough and filling of the tamale which gets cooked inside. The filling. You can fill the tamales with meat or beans and cheese.

Are corn husks edible?

Corn husks feature prominently in the cuisine of Mexico in the form of tamales. If you are new to the tamale scene though, you might wonder “are corn husks edible?” Nope, corn husks can’t be eaten but they make a terrific wrapper for cooking other foods in.

How do you serve and eat tamales?

Humitas or tamales are sold as street food, snacks. They’re best that way, eaten out of hand. If you want to serve them for dinner, maybe they could make a starter, followed by a light main dish – feta stuffed sweet peppers or caesar or greek salad. Atole; that’s what’s served with tamales.

Are tamales good diet?

Tamales are generally considered healthy,” says Bansari Acharya, R.D.N., a registered dietitian and blogger at FoodLove. “Especially because they’re steamed instead of fried.” However, because of the fat and carbohydrate content, it’s important to watch your portions.

What does a tamale taste like?

They all have the nice, crumbly feel with the corn taste. It’s almost like corn cake, only a little steamier. Then there are special ones like the sweet ones (that can taste like a strawberry corn cake), and the salty/spicy ones like Rajas, Oaxaqueñas, and Verdes.

What is inside a tamale?

What Is A Tamale? But today, we are specifically talking about Mexican tamales, which feature a corn-based masa (dough) wrapped around a filling and steamed in a corn husk. They are traditionally filled with either chicken, pork, beef, cheese and/or beans.

Do you eat the tamale wrapper?

Eat your tamale with a fork and knife.

Be sure to remove the wrapper entirely from tamales steamed in corn husks. While plantain leaves are edible (though they’re not usually consumed with the tamales), corn husks aren’t, and could cause choking or an upset stomach if swallowed.

Are corn stalks used for anything?

Cornstalks can be used to fill a forage gap or for bedding needs on a cow/calf operation. For cattle producers, crop residues can be a viable and inexpensive grazing option, according to University of Illinois Extension beef cattle specialist Travis Meteer.

What animals eat corn cobs?

What ate my corn?

  • Deer. Deer will begin feeding on or tramping down corn starting at emergence.
  • Raccoons. Raccoons damage corn by climbing the stalks and breaking them to reach the ears, pulling back the husks and partially eating the cob.
  • Wild turkeys.
  • Groundhogs (woodchucks)

What are good side dishes for tamales?

  • Eggs and Salsa. Tamales are already delicious on their own, but it also couldn’t hurt to dress them up with a few toppings.
  • Cilantro Rice.
  • Black Bean Soup.
  • Fresh Fruit.
  • Jicama Slaw.
  • Mexican Cornbread.
  • Corn Chowder.
  • Mexican Crema.

What is the best way to heat tamales?

A reliable alternative to steaming, reheating tamales in the oven is a simple, quick method. Preheat your oven to 425°, and wrap each tamale tightly in a few layers of aluminum foil, making sure there is no air. Place them in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them over at the halfway mark.

What’s good to put on tamales?

Tamales can be served with any number of condiments — ranchero sauce, guacamole, and sour cream — just to name a few. But, the most popular of them all is the traditional red chili sauce, not to be confused with the aforementioned ranchero sauce.

How can I lose a lb a day?

You need to burn 3500 calories a day to lose one pound a day, and you need anywhere between 2000 and 2500 calories in a day if you are doing your routine activities. That means you need to starve yourself the whole day and exercise as much as to lose the remaining calories.

How bad are hot tamales for you?

Commercial candy products, including Hot Tamales, contain artificial dyes that are linked to cancer and other health conditions, such as allergies, asthma, ADHD, hyperactivity, and hypersensitivity.

Can diabetics eat chicken tamales?

“If you know you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you probably shouldn’t eat traditional tamales,” Pascoe says. “Instead, I would recommend preparing a dozen or so healthy tamales, which use all of our healthy substitutions.”

Last Updated: June 2, 2021 by Catlin Turner

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Tamale is a popular breakfast item wrapped in a corn husk. And Tamales paired with hot atole on your table means you have a fortunate and delightful day ahead. Yes, fortunate! Because in Latin American tradition, corn is the color of gold that represents wealth and prosperity. Its presentation is different from other food items. So you need to know how to eat Tamales before taking a tempting bite.

This traditional Mesoamerican dish is made of masa or dough stuffed with veg or non-veg filling. It is then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed. You can discard the wrapper before eating or use it as a plate. Tamales make for a complete meal in a simple form. If you are in a rush, this is a great grab-and-go meal. You can open one end of the wrapping like an egg roll and snack away!

Preparing and Eating Tamale has become an iconic holiday tradition in Latino households. During the holiday season, every street vendors see a long queue of customers to eat Tamale. And this is a common sight from the US to Mexico or the Caribean Islands. This Tamale celebration marks Christmas is around the corner.

Tamales may be a dish of Mexican origin, but now they’re popular all over the world! Its hundreds of types of variations, fillings, and toppings offer fun eating with endless taste. This post is all about the taste of Tamales, their preparation, and most importantly how to eat Tamales. So be with us and know the right way for you to eat Tamales.

Table of Contents

How are Tamales Prepared?

Before you look for how to eat Tamales, it will be good to know their preparation. There are three components in a basic tamale: Masa, Filling, and Wrapper.

  • Masa: This is the key ingredient in the Mexican style of Tamale. It is a dough made from ground corn, water, and lime. Some chefs use lard or vegetable shortening to add extra moistures to the masa.
  • Filling: A tamale can be made without filling. This means you can skip this part. But this Tamale will be of the simplest form. A filling is what gives Tamales their different types and flavors. Typically, pork or chicken marinated in mole or salsa is used as filling in a Tamale. You can also use veggies, beans, or cheese for filling. As Per the chef’s recommendation, there should be about 60% masa and 40% filling in a Tamale.
  • Wrapper: Normally, corn husks or banana leaves are used to wrap the masa and filling. A tight wrapping around the contents makes the Tamale firm and well cooked.

Mexican tamales are traditionally prepared at home during an extended family gathering or other celebration.

Once you collect all the ingredients to make Tamales at home, you can follow the below steps:

  • Clean the corn husks and soak in water to increase their flexibility.
  • Coat the inside of the husk with a layer of masa.
  • Coat the layer of masa with the filling.
  • Roll the husk tightly into the shape of a cylinder and fold like an egg roll.
  • After wrapping, it is time to steam the Tamales.
  • The wrapper is inedible but useful for packaging that keeps the Tamales in portable form.

How to Eat Tamales?

For the inexperienced first-timers, the event of unwrapping the tamale and watching the steam rising is a magical feeling. Here’s how to do it:

#1. Open one end and eat straight from the wrapper

Unwrap one end of the Tamale and start munching. You can add a little salsa with a spoon to the unwrapped portion. Once you finish this portion, remove the wrapper further towards the other end and continue enjoying your Tamale. Tamales were initially meant to eat holding in your hands like a sandwich or bagel wrapped in deli paper.

#2. Eat Tamales with a fork and knife

Unwrap the whole tamale and put it on a plate discarding the wrapper. Then, cut it into pieces as you would like to have. This way, you won’t have to hold it in your hand. Also, you don’t have to be worried about getting your hands dirty.

#3. Top it with Salsa

This is to enhance the taste of your already savory Tamale. You can use different types of tangy tomato salsa or salsa verde. Another good option is to use Mole. This is a Mexican sauce made from chocolate, chile peppers, and spices. Pour the condiment of your choice onto the unwrapped tamale and take it with a fork. You can also dip each piece into the sauce or salsa and enjoy it. If salsa is not available right there, you can use ordinary hot sauce as a pretty good substitute.

#4. Reheat the leftover Tamales

If there are a few extra Tamales in the refrigerator, steam them in a pot of boiling water. This will keep their softness and taste intact. You can also reheat them in a hot pan greased with a bit of cooking oil for a slightly crispy taste.

#5. Pair Tamales with different side dishes

Enjoy your Tamale with a steaming mug of atole – Atole is a hot beverage made by boiling ground corn with water and adding some sweet flavorings like chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and fruit.

  • Relish Tamales with a cup of Arroz con Leche – Arroz con Leche or Mexican rice pudding is another popular combination for Tamales. It is prepared by boiling long-grain white rice with milk and cinnamon sticks. When it gets a custard-like thickness, sprinkle a small handful of raisins, chopped nuts, or ground cinnamon. You can refrigerate it for a chilled taste.
  • Take a sweet Tamale to enjoy dessert – Tamales are also made with sweet ingredients like chocolate, raisins, or bananas. It is easily available at restaurants that specialize in Tamales. So, You can take a sweet Tamale that will act as dessert alongside your spicy Tamale.

Q1. What is a Tamale?

A. Tamale is a Mexican origin dish made with corn-based dough and stuffed with various meats or beans and cheese. They are wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.

Q2. Does eating Tamales increase weight?

A. One average Tamale contains 285 calories and 11.38 grams of fat, of which 4.45 grams is saturated fat. Some Tamales are mixed with lard, which is a saturated fat content. If you consume too much saturated fat, it can lead to weight gain.

Q3. How long does it take to prepare Tamales?

A. It usually takes 1-2 hours to cook the tamales thoroughly. It is wise to open one Tamale after 1 hour to check if it is done. If the masa is stuck to the husk, they need more time to cook.

Q4. Is Tamale healthy?

A. Tamales are considered healthy because they’re steamed and not fried. However, because of the fat and carbohydrate content, they may cause weight gain.

Conclusion:

Tamales have been a popular dish in the Americas for a long time. They are wrapped in corn husks that make Tamales a part of ritual offerings. Tamale is prepared on special occasions like weddings, baptisms, Dia Del Los Muertos, and Christmas. As Tamales are served in corn husks, their unwrapping is a concern. This article discussed how to eat Tamales with your hand or fork alongside different side dishes. So hopefully, after reading this article, you will enjoy your next Tamale more conveniently.

Are you supposed to eat the corn husk on a tamale?

The corn husks do not get eaten, they are just used to envelope the dough and filling of the tamale which gets cooked inside. The filling. You can fill the tamales with meat or beans and cheese.

Is the outside of a tamale edible?

Do you eat the corn husk? You have to unwrap the tamal and usually people eat the tamal with a fork by cutting it with the fork then eating it. And no please don’t eat the corn husk, it’s not meant to be eaten, it’s just meant to support the tamal itself. Also, tamal de mole is the absolute best tamal ever.

Do you eat tamales with sauce?

Tamales can be served with any number of condiments — ranchero sauce, guacamole, and sour cream — just to name a few. But, the most popular of them all is the traditional red chili sauce, not to be confused with the aforementioned ranchero sauce. Then, the chilies and water are blended into together with spices.

What’s inside of a tamale?

But today, we are specifically talking about Mexican tamales, which feature a corn-based masa (dough) wrapped around a filling and steamed in a corn husk. They are traditionally filled with either chicken, pork, beef, cheese and/or beans.

Do you eat the wrapper on a tamale?

Eat your tamale with a fork and knife.

Be sure to remove the wrapper entirely from tamales steamed in corn husks. While plantain leaves are edible (though they’re not usually consumed with the tamales), corn husks aren’t, and could cause choking or an upset stomach if swallowed.

What does a tamale taste like?

They all have the nice, crumbly feel with the corn taste. It’s almost like corn cake, only a little steamier. Then there are special ones like the sweet ones (that can taste like a strawberry corn cake), and the salty/spicy ones like Rajas, Oaxaqueñas, and Verdes.

What is a good side dish for tamales?

  • Eggs and Salsa. Tamales are already delicious on their own, but it also couldn’t hurt to dress them up with a few toppings.
  • Cilantro Rice.
  • Black Bean Soup.
  • Fresh Fruit.
  • Jicama Slaw.
  • Mexican Cornbread.
  • Corn Chowder.
  • Mexican Crema.

What is the best way to warm up tamales?

A reliable alternative to steaming, reheating tamales in the oven is a simple, quick method. Preheat your oven to 425°, and wrap each tamale tightly in a few layers of aluminum foil, making sure there is no air. Place them in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them over at the halfway mark.

What is traditionally served with tamales?

If you want to serve them for dinner, maybe they could make a starter, followed by a light main dish – feta stuffed sweet peppers or caesar or greek salad. Atole; that’s what’s served with tamales. Your choice of flavors.

What toppings do you put on tamales?

You can also have a spread of extra toppings, like cilantro, sour cream, and the aforementioned guacamole and salsas. Lastly, while tamales are traditionally eaten by themselves, some simple side dish ideas include Mexican rice, refried or black beans and a simple tomato/onion salad.

Is enchilada sauce good on tamales?

You can use canned enchilada sauce or my homemade recipe. If you love tamales…you’ll love this recipe!

Why did my tamales come out dry?

If your masa isn’t adequately hydrated, the tamales will come out sandy and dry; if you haven’t beaten the dough enough, they’ll be too dense. The most important thing to remember is that tamal masa must be very moist and light.

Are tamales bad for you?

Tamales are generally considered healthy,” says Bansari Acharya, R.D.N., a registered dietitian and blogger at FoodLove. “Especially because they’re steamed instead of fried.” However, because of the fat and carbohydrate content, it’s important to watch your portions.

Why are tamales a Mexican tradition?

The tradition of tamales dates back to Meso-American times when, long before the Spaniards arrived, Mesoamericans believed that God crafted humans from corn. Because corn was so important, preciously wrapped tamales became a part of ritual offerings, a human stand-in, of sorts.

What does Tamale mean?

A tamale or tamal is a traditional Mesoamerican dish, made of masa or dough (starchy, and usually corn-based), which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. Tamale is an anglicized version of the Spanish word tamal (plural: tamales). Tamal comes from the Nahuatl tamalli.

Create a Mexican tamale platter for the ultimate way to serve tamales.

Looking for the best way of how to serve tamales? This fun Mexican tamale platter would be a great way to serve tamales at a party, or just for a fun weekend dinner! Basically, this is a giant Mexican appetizer platter filled with tamales and your favorite sides and toppings. This is the ultimate guide for what to serve with tamales – both side dishes and toppings.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.

To say I’ve been obsessed with Mexican food lately is an understatement. We’ve been eating everything from homemade salsa, to huevos con chorizo, and so much more! My latest culinary adventure has been creating my own tamale recipe.

I wanted to have some fun with all the tamales I made and decided to create my very own Mexican tamale platter (you know how much I love making boards and platters).

A Little Bit About Tamales

Tamales have been around for thousands of years. In fact, because of this, people have created hundreds of varieties and flavors. Each state, region, and even every family has its own recipe and traditions for making tamales.

Although tamales are made for many special occasions like Christmas and Day of the Dead, they are a well known street food. Meaning, they are a great grab and go treat!

And just so you know the correct terminology, if you’re talking about one tamale it’s actually called a ‘tamal’ vs two tamales is ‘tamales’. And, if you’re having a party for assembling tamales, it’s called a ‘tamalada’.

How to eat tamales How to eat tamales

Popular Tamale Toppings

It’s debatable whether or not tamales should authentically be served with toppings and sides. But, I decided to put my spin on things and make a giant Mexican tamale platter filled with lots of fun toppings!

For people who have never made tamales before, it’s fun to make a big batch of one flavor, and then add various toppings to change things up! Here are some of my favorite popular tamale toppings:

  • Marinated onions
  • Pico de gallo
  • Guacamole
  • Queso
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Cotija cheese
  • Sour cream/Greek yogurt
  • Salsa (various flavors)
  • Cholula hot sauce
  • Limes
  • Cilantro

How to eat tamales

What To Serve With Tamales

Traditionally, tamales are typically served with beans and rice, or sometimes nothing at all because they are eaten on-the-go street food style. However, for this tamale platter, I thought it would be fun to add in some non-traditional sides to serve with the tamales.

  • Mexican rice
  • Cucumber avocado salad
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Refried beans
  • Tortilla chips
  • Need more ideas? Check out these 15 easy & healthy tamale side dish recipes

How to eat tamales

How To Serve Tamales At A Party

My favorite way to serve tamales, especially at a party, is on a giant board or platter. It’s almost like a Mexican charcuterie board or Mexican appetizer platter!

Here’s how I make my tamale platter:

    Make (or buy) a large batch of tamales. I used about 25 tamales to fill my four foot board. My Instant Pot chicken tamales are a great recipe to try at home!

Pick out your favorite tamale toppings and side dishes using the lists above as inspiration.

Choose a board or platter to lay everything on. Make sure you have a decent-sized board, especially if you’re serving this for a party. Here are some of my favorites:

What is a tamale? At its most basic, a tamale is a steamed bundle of masa and a tasty filling, all wrapped in a corn husk. Tamales used to be easier to find, at least in many Chicago neighborhoods, according to chef Jorge Miranda. “When I came to the US in 1991, there were tamales all over the place. You’d just go outside your apartment and there was someone selling them,” he told us in 2014. Now, these tamale street vendors are much fewer and farther between.

So it’s not surprising if you’re not as familiar with tamales as, say, burritos. To give you a crash course, we asked Jorge to break down the components of this favorite staple of Mexican restaurants.

A basic tamale can be broken down into three components:

  1. Masa: Masa, a key ingredient in Mexican cooking, is a dough made from ground corn that has been treated with water and lime. Like many chefs, Jorge moistens his masa with a fat, such as lard or vegetable shortening, before pouring it onto the tamale wrapper. Per Jorge, each tamale should be about 60% masa, 40% filling.
  2. Filling: A tamale is still a tamale, even if the chef stops at the masa. Typically, though, the masa is filled with pork or chicken marinated in mole or salsa. It may also be filled with veggies, beans, and/or cheese.
  3. Wrapper: Corn husks are wrapped tightly around the masa and filling, making for a wrapper that keeps its contents intact.

How Tamales are Made

As they are time-intensive labors of love, Mexican tamales are traditionally crafted at home, often with extended family gathering in the kitchen to form a hot tamale assembly line, with each station taking over one of these steps:

  1. Washing, then soaking the corn husks for flexibility
  2. Coating the inside of the husk with masa
  3. Coating that layer of masa with the filling
  4. Rolling the husk tightly into a cylinder, and folding, much like a big egg roll

Once the tamale is wrapped, it’s ready to be steamed. The wrapper, while inedible, acts as a biodegradable packaging that makes it super-portable. Street vendors often keep tamales warm in coolers; in Chicago, you can still spy these vendors on street corners in some neighborhoods.

How to Eat Tamales

To the inexperienced eye, a tamale can look unwieldy, perhaps intimidating. Part of the magic, though, is the ritual of unwrapping the tamale and watching the steam rise. Here’s how to dig in:

  1. Unwrap it by hand, carefully, so you don’t burn yourself.
  2. Discard the wrapper.
  3. Top it with salsa.
  4. Eat it with a fork or your fingers (if you dare).

Are there other types of tamales?

Yes, many regional variations abound. They’re made for big gatherings, celebrations, festivals.

Wrapper Variations

  • In the southern Mexican state of Michoacán, where one of Jorge’s grandmothers was from, tamales are wrapped in agave leaves (yes, the same plant used to make tequila), imparting the masa with a minty, anise-like taste.
  • In Oaxaca, they use banana or plantain leaves, which give tamales an earthy, herbal flavor.

Filling Variations

  • Tamales nejos have no filling, just pure corn masa, and are often served with a side of beans and a cup of coffee.
  • Dessert tamales are also a thing! For these, the masa is sweetened, often with sugar, and filled with fruit.

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How to eat tamales

How to eat tamales

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Originated in Central and South America, tamales are easily customizable and can be filled with meat, cheese, vegetables and anything else you’d like. Mexican tamales are wrapped in dough called mesa and then wrapped in a corn husk. The husk can be thrown away after they’re cooked or can be a plate.

“The masa component in a tamale is a complex dough, similar to a freshly made pasta,” says Chef Cindy Loren of Shuck House in Los Angeles and R10 Social House in Redondo Beach, California. “You don’t want to over or undercook, there is nothing worse than a mushy or dense dry tamale.

We all know enjoying tamales are at their prime when they are hot, but what do you do when they get cold or you want to eat them the next day without making them soggy? The good news is it is possible.

“The best part is you will be eating them in minutes by heating up,” says Chef Alan Vargas, Executive Chef of New York City’s Consulate. “All flavors will blend together.”

How to reheat tamales

It is best to eat them right away after cooking, according to Chef Loren. However, they do keep for 2-3 days after they are originally cooked, but also are easy to freeze and reheat. Luckily, there are three good ways that all involve the one thing that cooks them: steam.

Microwave

You’ll need a few supplies for this method. “Pour a few drops of water on them and cover the plate with some plastic film before heating up in the microwave for 1.5 minutes,” says Chef Vargas. The water will quickly turn to steam that will reach into the corn husk to warm the filling.

Steamer

If you have a steamer you can use it. It only takes 1-2 minutes, according to Chef Vargas. This could be a tamalera that fits inside of a stockpot or a rice maker, a pierced or mesh steamer that can be placed into a pot or even a steamer machine.

Double Boiler

You can also put tamales in a double boiler on the stove. “In a pot with some boiling water drop them in, in a smaller container until they heat up” for 3-4 minutes, Chef Vargas says.

The best way to reheat tamales

The oven! “Once my oven is heated at 350 degrees, I place the tamales on a sheet tray and it only takes about 8-10 minutes,” Chef Loren says. “Also, for my personal preference, I enjoy a slight crisp on the outside while the inside is still moist.” This can be done by keeping the corn husk on. For no crisp, she says to “cover the tamales with foil to protect them from harsh heat and you end up with a perfect soft, moist tamale.”

Now that you know the best way to reheat tamales, here’s The Only Way You Should Reheat Rice, According to a Chef.

home cooking tips and recipes

How to eat tamales

If you are wondering what to serve with tamales, look no further.

We have compiled some of the best dishes to inspire you out of a pinch.

Mexican dishes are some of the most exciting meals in the world.

For many, tamales have become a staple dish.

After all, it is hard not to love this portable meal that’s chock-full of flavor.

In many ways, you can even think of them as gifts that hold many surprises inside, especially when it comes to fillings.

While tamales can certainly hold their own ground as a main dish, they do call for sides to perfectly compliment them.

Not only will they help elevate tamales to a whole new level, but these sides will also add depth and dimension.

What to Serve with Tamales

1. Cilantro-Lime Rice

How to eat tamales

While tamales can be quite filling on their own, serving rice alongside them is already a tradition.

Because of this, taking the time to pair them with cilantro-lime rice can make for a truly spectacular meal.

The cilantro and lime both fall under Mexican flavors, thereby complementing the tamales.

Plus, the cilantro lends a refreshing mouthfeel, while the lime adds a bit of tanginess, acidity, and brightness to the dish.

2. Jicama Slaw

How to eat tamales

Another equally bright and refreshing side dish you can serve with tamales is a jicama slaw.

This has an interesting and crunchy texture that tastes light and wonderful, especially with the dressing.

It will serve as a great contrast to the otherwise thick and spongy texture of tamales.

3. Elote

How to eat tamales

Corn on corn? You might think it wouldn’t work, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

A type of Mexican street food, elote is simply grilled corn covered with garlic and lime crema, queso fresco, and Tajin seasoning, making for a sweet and savory snack all in one.

The lightness of elote also makes it an ideal side dish to serve with tamales.

4. Mexican Crema

How to eat tamales

Tamales are already flavorful on their own, but adding another element to elevate this dish won’t hurt.

If you are up for it, why not top your tamales with Mexican crema?

Slightly sweet and tangy at the same time, this thick, creamy, and luscious creation will add some zing to your palate.

5. Guacamole

How to eat tamales

Another dressing or sauce to include on the side is guacamole.

Made from freshly mashed avocado and combined with tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime juice, and some seasoning, this will add some creaminess and kick to your tamales.

What Are Tamales?

How to eat tamales

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made of corn dough, otherwise known as masa.

They come with a variety of fillings ranging from sweet to savory.

The most common fillings include different kinds of meats as well as beans and cheese.

They can also be filled with fruit such as pineapple and raisins depending on the variety.

After being formed and shaped, they are wrapped in either corn husks or banana leaves and steamed until cooked to perfection.

Afterward, these portable meals are unwrapped and can even be eaten while on the go.

Brief Yet Rich History of Tamales

Tamales are commonly known as a traditional Mexican dish.

However, they truly originated during the Aztec and Mayan period.

This means this is considered a pre-Columbian dish that may have come from somewhere between North and South America.

The earliest tamales in history were said to be made with fillings such as beans and squash then roasted over a fire pit.

The arrival of colonizers, however, changed the way tamales were made.

From the simple and humble use of vegetables came the use of meats such as pork and chicken, as well as olives, raisins, and many other ingredients, furthering the complexity and depth of flavor this dish is known for.

The Bottom Line

Tamales are one of those staple meals everyone loves, especially when you know what to serve with your tamales.

Not only are these sides easy to make and deliver tons of flavor, but they are also healthy options that make eating tamales all the more delightful.

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I had been looking for a Tamale recipe for years. One day I went to the international market and stood in the Mexican aisle till a woman with a full cart came by. I just asked her if she knew how to make Tamales. This is her recipe with a few additions from me. The pork can be substituted with either chicken or beef. This is great served with refried beans and a salad.

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Recipe Summary

Ingredients

Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.

Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.

Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.

Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.

Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.