Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Making Tamales in Zipolite, Oaxaca Mexico





This was such a wonderful experience. We were invited to share in the whole process and document it all. In the end there was Rosario and we were able to taste the delicious tamales that the ladies had worked so hard on all day.

Below are explanations and some recipes.


A tamale or tamal (Spanish: tamal, from Nahuatl: tamalli)[1] is a traditional Mexican dish now widespread throughout Latin America, made of masa (a starchy dough, often corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating. Tamales can be further filled with meats, cheese, vegetables, chilies or any preparation according to taste, and both the filling and the cooking liquid may be seasoned.

Tamales were one of the staples found by the Spanish Conquistadors when they first arrived in Mexico and were soon widely spread throughout their other colonies. Tamales are said to have been as ubiquitous and varied as the sandwich is today.[citation needed]

Tamales originated in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BCE.[1] Aztec and Maya civilizations as well as the Olmeca and Tolteca before them used tamales as a portable food, often to support their armies but also for hunters and travelers. There have also been reports of tamal use in the Inca Empire long before the Spanish visited the new world.[1]

The diversity of native languages in Mesoamerica led to a number of local words for the tamal, many of which remain in use.


In Mexico, tamales begin with a dough made from nixtamalized corn (hominy), called masa, or a masa mix such as Maseca, and are generally wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves before cooking, depending on the region from which they come. They usually have a sweet or savory filling and are typically steamed until firm.

Few countries have such an extensive variety of tamales as Mexico, where they're considered one of the most beloved traditional foods. Almost every region and state in the country has its own kind of tamal. It is said that there are between 500 and 1000 different types of tamales all around the country. Some experts estimate the annual consumption in hundreds of millions every year.

Tamales are a favorite comfort food in Mexico, eaten as both breakfast and dinner, and often accompanied by hot Atole or Champurrado, maize-based beverages of indigenous origin. Street vendors can be seen serving them from huge, steaming, covered pots (tamaleras).

In Mexico City, the tamal is often placed inside a wheat bread roll to form a torta de tamal (also called guajolota), substantial enough to keep a person satiated until Mexico's traditional late lunch hour.

The most common fillings are pork and chicken, in either red or green salsa or mole. Another very traditional variation is to add pink colored sugar to the corn mix and fill it with raisins or other dried fruit and make a sweet tamal (tamal de dulce). There are commonly a few "deaf", or filling-less, tamales (tamal sordo), which might be served with refried beans and coffee.

The cooking of tamales is traditionally done in batches of tens if not hundreds, and the ratio of filling to dough (and the coarseness of the filling) is a matter of discretion.

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Masa is Spanish for dough, it is sometimes referred to cornmeal dough (masa de maĆ­z in Spanish). It is used for making corn tortillas, tamales, pupusas, arepas and many other Latin American dishes. The dried and powdered form is called masa de harina or maseca (which is actually a commercial brand); it is reconstituted with water.

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http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Ethnic-Unique-Foods-Ingredients-645/tamales.aspx

http://www.mexgrocer.com/catagories-tortillas---tamales-tamales.html

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