Traditionally Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas) is held on February 2nd in Mexico and is a festival day with a candle-lit procession, time in church, and making and eating tamales with family and friends. While this year’s festivities looked different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing stayed the same: the tradition of making tamales. Tamales are steamed corn flour packets filled with sauce and/or meat or vegetables. They are wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves before being steamed. Another variation is sweet tamales with fruit-filled centers.
One of the CSU Todos Santos Center staff, Andrea, learned how to make tamales from her grandmother this year and shared the process through photos. You can learn how to make traditional tamales and more about the holiday through this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7Kecs1R-E0
- 4 cups maseca (corn flour)
- 2 ¼ cups lard (1LT/1kg) or butter
- 1 lb guajillo chiles
- olive oil
- corn husks
- salt to taste
- 1 lb pork rib
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 pinch oregano
- 1 pinch pepper
- 1 clove
- Cook the pork ribs with two garlic cloves and half an onion. Add in the salt and leave it until it cooks well. Separate the meat and the broth and reserve the meat broth.
- While the pork is cooking, add the chiles, two garlic cloves, and a pinch each of oregano and pepper in the blender. Blend it very well.
- Fry the pork meat and when it is nicely fried, use a strainer to add in the red chile sauce that you blended. Add some salt to taste.
- Once the meat is ready, you can begin the dough. Pour the maseca or corn flour in a large bowl and add the broth that you set aside.
- Add salt to your liking and mix in the lard or butter to the dough. Knead until the dough is soft.
- Boil hot water and soak the corn husks to soak in hot water in a bowl or plater until they are soft and pliable.
- To start making the tamales, add a small scoop of dough, spread it well on the husks, leaving a gap around the edges to allow for folding. Add meat or veggies on the dough.
- To fold the tamales, fold the long sides together and then fold the ends together. Tie the packet with some twine or a strand of corn husk so it doesn’t open during cooking.
- Add 2 cups of water to the bottom of a tall pot and set a strainer or colander on top. Make sure the tamales don’t touch the water. Steam for 1-2 hours. You may have to add more water to the pot during the steaming process, but always be aware of not letting the tamales touch the water.
Buen provecho! Enjoy your tamales!