Mexican Cuisine in the Comfort of your Home
When people think about Mexican cuisine, the first things that come to their minds are tacos and burritos. But Mexico has plenty more to offer.
This ancient and complex cuisine has techniques that were developed and refined over the years. For example, in the times of the Aztecs and Mayans, ovens, of course, did not exist; the natives used open fires with ceramic wares and also steaming methods to cook their meals.
The origins of their cuisine can be traced back to 7000 BC, many centuries before the Spanish invaders colonized Mexico, where the natives hunted and harvested crops. Corn and beans were among the most popular ingredients that grew in their territory, together with the scarce meats that they could find.
After the Spanish colonization, ingredients such as rice, garlic, cinnamon, and domesticated animals such as goats, cows, and sheep were introduced to the natives.
Nowadays, Mexican cuisine is a beautiful blend of different cultures; still based on beans, corn, and chilis but with the incorporation of meats and cheeses.
Today, we wish to introduce you to some of Mexican cuisine’s most popular dishes for you to try and make at home: tamales. We also recommend you visit https://minuterice.com/recipes/mexican-rice/ for an easy and delicious Mexican rice recipe that you will also love.
What are tamales?
Tamal is a traditional corn-based dough mixture that is then filled with shredded beef, chicken, lots of spices, some veggies or beans, and sometimes cheese. The most interesting thing about this dish is that tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and then steamed. They are incredibly delicious when paired with pico de gallo or guacamole and rice as a side.
To make tamales you will need the following ingredients:
For the dough
- 4 cups corn flour.
- 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth.
- 1 and ½ cups of lard.
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
- Salt to taste.
- Cumin to taste.
- Banana leaves.
How to make them
In order to make tamales, you first need to master the dough. That is why this is the first thing that we will teach you.
- First, you have to soak the banana leaves in a large bowl with boiling water. Leave them soaking for at least half an hour to an hour and start making your masa or dough.
- In a large bowl, add lard and a little bit of your broth of choice (it could be vegetable, chicken, or beef broth) to soften it. Beat all together with an electric mixer for at least five minutes, until the lard is fluffy.
- In a separate bowl combine your four cups of corn flour, baking powder, salt, and cumin.
- Combine the dry ingredients with the lard mixture and beat it again with the electric mixer.
- Start adding your broth, little by little, until you form a soft dough. Continue using your electric mixer, it will make things way much easier.
- Remember that the dough should have a sticky consistency, so do not add extra corn flour.
- Once the down has reached the desired consistency, cover it with a damp paper towel; your dough should not dry out.
For the fillings
In this case, we recommend you use the filling of your choice. Shredded chicken or beef is one of the most popular fillings for tamales, with some shredded cheese and sautéd onions and green peppers, but set your imagination free and try whatever combination you like. If you follow a plant-based diet, beans and veggies make for a perfect filling as well!
Assembling your tamales
- To make your tamales, you should lay a banana leaf with the glossy side up and spread about ¼ of a cup of dough onto it.
- Add one tablespoon of your desired filling and then another ¼ cup of dough on top.
- Fold your banana leaf and tie it with a string.
- Steam your tamales for forty-five minutes to an hour, the dough should no longer be sticky. Remove them from your steamer, serve, and enjoy your tamales with pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and a side of white rice!
Remember that you can store cooked tamales in your fridge for up to a week, so you can make a big batch of them to keep at hand for those busy weeknight meals!