Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tamales Vallunos (Colombian Tamales)

Tamal is a dish made of masa (dough) and filled with meat. They are found all over latin america and every country has different variations. For example in mexico are wrapped in corn husk and steamed. In Colombia and south america in general, are wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. In Colombia there are several variations like the tamales tolimenses that are filled with rice and hard boiled eggs, tamales bogotanos, tamales pastusos, tamales antioqueños, etc. This recipe is for the variation from the Valle del Cauca region.

Makes 10 TAMALES


  • 5 chicken thighs cut in half
  • 1 pound pork butt cut into cubes
  • 1 cup minced scallion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin based adobo "triguisar"
  • 1 cup frozen carrots and peas
  • 2 medium white potatoes, peeled and sliced

*if you can't find triguisar at our latin store you can make your own mixing ground cumin, ground achiote, garlic powder and ground pepper.


  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup minced scallion
  • 2 teaspoons cumin based adobo "triguisar"
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground pepper


  • 5 cups Maseca corn flour for tamales
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup "guiso"
  • 1/2 cup pork lard or vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt


20 Banana leaves (can be bough frozen at latin or asian stores) If you are using frozen leaves you need to defrost them a head of time.
butcher string for tying
Aluminium foil
The tamales are cook in a large stock pot in boiling water.

In a large bowl mix the chicken, pork, scallions, garlic and Worcestershire sauce and triguisar. Add salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but for better results leave it in the fridge overnight.

To prepare the Guiso:

In a frying pan, heat the oil in medium heat and add the mince scallion and garlic, add the chicken bouillon until is dissolved, add the tomatoes, bell pepper, 2 teaspoons of condiment "triguisar" and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Separate 1/2 cup of the Guiso and blended in a blend or food processor.

To prepare the Masa

Take the meat our the fridge while you make the masa, also put a large pot with enough water to boil .

In a large pot place the Maseca cornflour, 1/2 cup of the blended Guiso, salt and the pork lard or vegetable shortening. Add the chicken broth slowly and cook in low heat for 5 minutes until you get an homogeneous mix without lumps. Add water if necessary. Set aside.

Cut the leaves in half and prepare them passing them over the hot element on the stove to seal the pores. The color will change for dark green to bright green.

To assemble the tamales place 1 banana leave over the working surface, place a second one perpendicular to the first (forming a cross). In the center of the leaves place a generous portion of the masa and flatten with a spoon or spatula. On the masa place 1 piece of chicken and 1 piece of pork, add about a tablespoon of carrots and a tablespoon of peas and 1 or 2 slices of potatoes and add guiso to cover.

Start wrapping the tamal folding the leaves from the sides making sure the masa is covering the filling (you can add more masa on the top if you prefer). Tie the tamale with the butcher string. 

Wrap the tamale with aluminium foil. Repeat the process for each tamale.

Add the wrapped tamales to the pot with boiling water and cook for about 2 hours.

To serve, remove the aluminium foil, the string and place in a plate. Serve hot accompanied with rice.