Tamales - Tamale
Tamale comes from the Nahuatl word “Tamalii” that means “wrapped food”, and is a gastronomic heritage from the ancient Indians of Mesoamerica, for whom tamales were a main dish. It’s not known for certain who or when the tamale was invented, but it is known that tamales have existed since pre-Columbian days. From the Aztecs who served the Spaniards this food during their first visits to Mexico, to the soldiers who ate tamales on their long journeys, it was the food of choice because of how portable and easy it was to heat and soon became known and widespread throughout other Spanish colonies. Tamales wrapped in corn husks were the featured dish eaten at celebratory banquets, and were made by Aztec women when preparing for festivities. The ancients made tamales of all shapes and sizes, which were stuffed with snails, game, boiled fruit, vegetables, nuts, broad beans and fish with chile sauce. As you can see Tamales history is very rich, starting from the ancient Aztecs and Mayans to the Spaniards who through the ancient Mesoamerican people discovered this creative and delicious meal.
Today Tamales are essentially alike, most common are chicken and beef tamales, as well as pork tamales that are made with either red or green chile sauce. Another famous variation are the sweet tamales made from fruit (primarily pineapple), cinnamon and raisins. The preparation of tamales first begins with the dough (masa) that is made from nixtamalized corn or a masa mix can be used instead, like Maseca’s Tamale Corn Mix that you can find here at MexGrocer.com. The masa is wrapped in plantain or husk leaves before being cooked, and savory or sweet filling is then added to the dough. A common method for all types of tamales is steaming until the masa is firm.
Though all tamales are similar, the preparation and style for Mexican tamales (tamales Mexicanos) varies by region. There are numerous amounts of tamales recipes and methods to prepare this delicious and traditional food, some examples include: Culiacan Sinaloa (tamales are small, stuffed with sweet brown beans, corn and pineapple), Veracruz (are wrapped with hoja santa or banana leaves and stuffed with pork, fresh corn or chicken), Oaxaca (tamales are large, wrapped in banana leaves, are spiced with their signature “black mole” or other moles and are stuffed with an herb called Chepil and black beans), Monterrey (tamales are smaller, are made with either a smooth or rough masa and are stuffed with shredded beef and red chiles) and Yucatan (they are flavored with achiote seasoning, and are stuffed with either chicken or pork). Another delicious variation are the tamales made with cheese and spicy rajas (chile strips), there are also vegetarian tamales that are cheese-less and are only stuffed with rajas and potatos. Due to the labor involved in Tamales, they have recently become a holiday meal served during Christmas time (particularly posadas), New Year’s and the Day of the Dead festivities; and are served alongside steaming champurrado or atole.
MexGrocer.com has a vast selection of Tamale products for any tamale lover or anyone interested in tasting or learning to make Tamales. Of course this delicious meal cannot be made without proper guidance and instruction, our Tamales Cookbook by Mark Miller, Stephan Pyles and John Sedlar is the perfect tool to get you started; succulent recipes, as well as a complete guide on how to stuff, wrap and cook tamales can also be found in this book. If you’re anxious to get started on your tamales be sure to start with El Mexicano and La Mexicana’s tamale steamers, Maseca’s Corn (Masa) Flour Mix, as well as El Guapo and Corona Real’s corn husks. Also check out Mex-Sales tamales spreader which is sure to make your tamale creations smoother and easier to make. If you prefer ready made tamales or it is your first time having tamales, than be sure to check out our ready to heat Tamales from Del Real Foods and Mole made with chicken, corn, pork or cheese and seasoned with red or green sauce, as well as Hormel’s canned Beef Tamales in Chile Sauce.
MexGrocer.com also has some excellent Gift Ideas and Packs to get you and your loved ones started with the art of Tamale Making. Whether you want to learn to make tamales or get started a on a great holiday meal, our packages are the ideal gift for you and your family. Share the fun and flavor of Mexico with our gift packs.