This year for Christmas dinner I was in the mood for something kind of challenging, since my cooking has been repetitive at best and "just pancakes" at worst. After seeing Tofu Mom's post about tamales on her awesome blog, I figured they were just the ticket.

Now, everyone has their own method of making tamales, and I won't expound too much on the recipe here since you can find it in many places, including the above post and in your trusty Veganomicon. But what I will say is that even though I've often enjoyed these goodies at local Salvadorean and Mexican restaurants, they always seemed a bit too complicated to make: like you need to be in a kitchen in Mexico with your grandmother explaining to you exactly how to do it. And while it was tricky to find the corn husks, even in DC, I think the grocery shopping was actually the most complicated part. The rest of it, while time consuming, is not really difficult.

Essentially, you make the filling first, which could really be anything, then flour mixture, then assemble it in a corn husk, wrap and steam. We chose to make a simple mushroom filling, as well as a black bean and sweet potato filling (just a can of black beans, a steamed sweet potato, and some cumin and cinnamon.) The result was gorgeous little bundles of joy that looked not unlike presents, and were perfect with some salsa and soy sour cream. (Guac would also be a good addition.)
Unfortunately, we didn't have any leftovers, but I'm told they are very simple to freeze and enjoy later on. They were so perfect with some caesar salad on the side as a light and festive Christmas dinner.

My family actually liked it so much that when I took off for more days of miserable travel, this time to reach Hamburg for a new years celebration, they decided to make more! This time my Dad and little brother made the filling out of black beans, sweet potatoes, and garlic spinach, which sounds incredibly delicious. They also wrapped them in banana leaves which they were able to find at a market close by. My Dad's tip? "The trick is to have the masa kinda soupy, like thick peanut butter, and spread on on with a spatula, then a little filling."

My tip would be to make them as soon as possible because they are fabulous and hard to mess up!

Song of the Day: Flaming Lips- I can be a frog


HayMarket8 said...

totally awesome! I am so jealous! Nice work!

The Ordinary Vegetarian said...

I will conquer tamales in 2010, oh yes I will!!

Bianca said...

I've never made tamales, but I second Ordinary Vegetarian's quest — I will make them in 2010!

Michelle said...

Ohhh, I've never made tamales either and have been meaning too! Glad you had a great Christmas Dinner with your family!

Bliss Doubt said...

Your tamales came out gorgeous! They are a holiday tradition here in san antonio. I've found a Tex mex vegetarian cafe that makes them with a black eyed pea filling only during the holiday season, a delicious way to get your lucky black eyed peas. Bravo for making them yourself.

I concur that they freeze nicely and reheat beautifully in the oven or microwave.

Happy new year to you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I did not drop in for a while. I am catching up on blogging. Actually something like tamales are made in the Caribbean during the holidays so your dish was just right. The picture looks great and I did not notice the new banner. Looking good T

Mihl said...

Next time you can make them in my kitchen :D

jessy said...

hiya, T! thanks for the super sweet comment today - you are too awesome, my friend!

you are one brave lady to tackle the tamales! i've been too intimidated to try them, but your post has been feeling a little more confident. i'm good for a meal that while time consuming to make, is an easy one to prepare. yay! i think i'd destined to make some now, and might i add that yours look absolutely gorgeous! they do look like little presents (tasty, tasty presents filled with awesomeness!). i love your choice of filling with the black bean mushroom sweet potato combination, and the combination your dad and bro created sounds stellar too! nice!

thanks again, T - and happy new year to you!

Jess of Veg Out! said...

I have never made tamales. Those looks fantastic! I should definitely put those on my "to-do" list.