Having recently bought 'A Vegan Taste of Mexico' it reminded me that I hadn't made tamales for a fair while. It was therefore about time that I did and also wrote about this not very well known corny treat.
Tamales are parcels of corn dough stuffed with whatever filling you like. They are traditionally packaged up and steamed in corn husks but you can also use things like banana leaves (if you have them hanging around - like you do!) or foil, as the wrapping is thrown away afterwards. Being traditionalists we managed to find some corn husks to use but you do need to soak the husks for an hour or so beforehand.
Okay so there is a bit of fiddling around with parceling them up but with practice tamales can be tamed. Also it is worth sourcing the traditional masa harina (which is basically corn meal) as the taste is so much nicer. However beyond that, they are really not that hard to make.
Take 300g of masa harina and mix with 1 teaspoon of baking powder, a touch of salt, 100g margarine and 175ml vegetable stock until you get a soft dough. Now choose your wrapper but if you choose foil, give it a bit of a greasing first. What you are aiming to do is put a big old 'blob' of dough on each wrapper and get some of the filling of your choice in the centre by moulding the dough around it. Then wrap that all up and steam until the dough is nicely set. This usually takes about an hour for our corn husk wrapped ones but foil can take a bit longer. We tend to steam ours on a wire rack covered in foil over a water filled baking tray in the oven but a normal stove top steamer is fine too.
The last time we made them we used sun dried tomatoes with a hint of chilli sauce for the filling but there are countless tasty combos you could encase inside your corny parcels. I might try cheesy beany ones next time and remember, it doesn't have to be a savoury filling either.
Unwrap and enjoy!