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Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I did it the night before last and they came out terrific. I just love serving these with extra vegetable filling on top. So yummy! (And easy.) Happy New Year!!
I just returned from a month in Guatemala. One week I stayed with a Guatemalan grandmother, Lidia. She spoke no English yet we still had a wonderful time cooking together on her little ranchito near Coban. We made delicious tamales with rice instead of corn masa. We used two layers of large green leaves, each different and neither banana. There we were able to buy the leaves fresh in the outdoor markets. I was trying to refresh my memory of that recipe when I landed on this recipe. I haven’t tried these yet, but I have to say the rice tamales are the best I’ve tasted in my 50 years of loving the Mexican cuisine of my native California and travels in Mexico. I’m happy to find the blogs here. I’m going to turn my search to the asian glutenous rice and see if I can refresh my memories from there. If it works I’ll share my results here… the first rice tamales on line perhaps?
Thanks for the wonderful recipe. I made these tamales using the addition of the shortening to the masa. They were delicious!! Also the steps were very simple to complete, but time consuming. It took me about 5 hours from start to finish (without steaming), but Im sure I took a few breaks! I made these the night before, wrapped in saran wrap and refrigerated until the next day. I prepared them for guests who liked them so much they took a bag home with them. Thanks again for a great recipe that I will continue to make again and again.
I would like to give you my very humble advise…
The way you are doing tamales is ok, however you must notice they are a little dry (the masa)… traditional tamales recipes have lard as a key ingredient, if you don’t want to use it you can use shortening.
The ratio should be 1 kilo of maseca and 1/2 kilo of shortening. The way you prepare it is beating the shortening on high speed until it is light and fluffy, then kneading it into the masa already hydrated.
My grandmother cuts the shortening in the maseca and after that she adds stock or water to the masa. Beating is the ‘modern’ way to do it and you will not end having that uncomfortable feeling of grease on your palate.
I highly recommend you to try this recipe again adding the shortening, you’ll be surprised how moist and shiny will your tamales turn out, they even taste better. I am so glad to read that you are not a ‘light’ or ‘low fat’ cooking person… it takes all the flavor out of the food… and consistency too, as you will find if you try this way of making tamales.
Thank you for your wonderful blog, from Mexico City.
I found your site after running out of corn husks here in Quintana Roo (Mexico). Luckilly, we have bananas growing everywhere. I’ve always seen the flat square type of tamal with banana leaves but didn’t know exactly how to tie them. From my experience today, I found you can roll them very similar to corn husks and not tie them (but they won’t be square packages). Without your site I’m not sure I would have had the patience to keep trying to figure it out.
I am in grad school, and my husband and I have very little time to prepare meals ourselves. I have always loved the idea of cooking but have never been very good at it.
I want to thank you so much for your wonderful recipes! We have made home cooked meals all week using the recipes on your blog. I made these tamales today, and they are so good! I am quite pleased with myself. I used fresh banana leaves which were pretty difficult to work with at first. Your advise was great.
Thanks again, it is such a joy to visit your blog!
Hi Steph – I stand corrected on my assertion that there is no substitute for masa harina, thank you! I’ve never heard of making them with rice or potatoes. Sounds wonderful.
I was excited to see this Tamale recipe as my parents are from Guatemala. These tamales are called paches there and the dough is made with either rice or potatoes instead of masa. Either way they are out of this world. Thanks for posting this recipe. I like for others to be aware that tamales are made more than one way and that central america has great food to offer!!
Hi Wendy – Almost any Asian market will carry banana leaves, usually frozen. Tamales themselves can be wrapped with other things, even avocado leaves, but more commonly dried corn husks.
Hi Rachelle – There is no substitute for masa harina, other than buying the fully prepared masa itself. Masa harina is a special corn flour that has been treated with calcium hydroxide (lime) which releases nutrients in the corn, making it easier to digest. “Maseca” is a common brand of this corn flour which is available at any Mexican market. You can actually make your own masa from dried corn kernels, but it is a rather complicated process and you need a stone-grinding mill.
Hi Rachel – I’ve never steamed tamales in a pressure cooker. Don’t know why it wouldn’t work.
Hi Tori – It is really hard to source Mexican ingredients around Boston. If you find a good place there, would you please let us know?
Hi Fran – Hmm, those humitas sound wonderful.
To all – I love the suggestions for the Asian dishes that use banana leaves, thank you! I had no idea they were used so much in Asian cuisine.
Hello Elise, I am new to the blogging world, and I have to say your website is fab !!! absolutely Fab. I hope to be posting by the weekend. Hope you come for visit !
your recipe is wonderfu, in singapore we cook and serve alot using this method of wrapping in banana leaves. We use glutinous rice with sweet and savoury filling instead. The mini versions are called dumplings. Absolutely lovely !
Here in Chile there is something similar to tamales, called Humitas. They’re made of corn, basil, milk, butter and seasoning (and something else but I can’t remember), then everything is made puree; this paste is wraped in corn leaves and boiled. It’s a delicious meal, usually served with fresh tomatoes, and some people put some sugar on it…they remind me of long summer evenings in the beach :)!
A “variation” is pastel de choclo, which is the same pure without the basil, but this time poured in a little pottery bowl over boiled chicken, raisins and boiled eggs; sprinkled with some sugar and put in the oven. It’s almost like a creme brulee!
Wow … that sure looks delicious. In Singapore, we have kueh (sort of cakes)that are cook with banana leaves. This really reminds me of my home food.
Elise, this looks utterly fabulous! What a delicious *and* impressive party dish it would make! I notice another Malaysian reader above — I grew up in Malaysia too, and there, banana leaves are pretty ubiquitous. They are used to steam or grill all sorts of things in (fish, glutinous rice) but also, traditionally, as plates among us South Indians (nowadays we use ceramic plates at home like everyone else, alas). “Banana Leaf Rice” is something you should try if you’re ever in Malaysia — a huge mound of rice accompanied by a dozen or so South Indian curries. You eat the lot with your fingers, and when you’re done, folding the leaf in half is the only way there is of stopping the server from heaping more food onto it. I think one way of folding the leaf (up vs. down?) is considered polite and the other is impolite, but now I can’t remember which is which, so ask someone else when you go :-) .
We had tamales in lieu of a traditional Christmas dinner this last season with the family. Was an excellent change from the usual turkey and mashed potatoes!
Oooh, tamales with banana leaves rock! Many of the hispanic restaurants around us are Salvadorean and they often serve these. Now if only we can find a good corn husk tamale in our parts … (Long time reader, first time commenter, really love what you do!)
These look delicious! I’m wondering — have you (or do you know of anyone who has) ever tried steaming the tamales in a pressure cooker? I’ve made them that way in the past to cut down on the long steaming time, but since I’ve never had any other tamales I don’t know if it has any effect on the texture or anything. I loved them, but they sure are labor-intensive, so if there’s anything I can do to make them even better, I’m all for it!
Hi, just happened to come by your blog. Your tamales look really beautiful in the picture. They remind me a lot of a nyonya kuih back home in Malaysia that’s called pulut udang (glutinous rice with a prawn sambal filling wrapped in banana leaf and charcoal grilled). Just wondering if masa harina is known by any other names or if there is a substitute? Polenta or corn meal perhaps?
Love the sound of these.
Fairly certain it’ll be tricky finding banana leaves in the Highlands! Is there an alternative you could recommend?