Mexican Tamales

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Mexican Tamales History and Origin

Tamales Mexican

Mexican Tamales are considered one of Mexico and Central America’s greatest contributions to global cuisine. 9,000 years of social, cultural and religious history wrap this traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (starchy and corn-based) steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf.

Tamales Meaning

The word Tamal comes from Tamalli, its origin is Nahuatl (the language spoken in Mexico by the Aztecs), and it is believed that the first tamales were made during Pre-Columbian time as early as 7,000 B.C.
Like tortillas, Tamal emerged with the dominance of corn as a base crop in Mexico and Central America. The Mexican Style Tamal is made of dough, corn-based, steamed and wrapped in a corn or banana leaf. Tamales are filled with pork, beef, chicken, chillies, fruits or vegetables, the truth is that the ingredients and style depend on the region. You can eat as many kinds as the number of states of Mexico.

Tamales Banana Leaf

In the Mexican Republic, each region and state has its own way of preparing Tamales, in fact, there are 370 different types of Tamales registered throughout the country. The Oaxacan Tamal is one of them and one of the favourites of Mexicans, they are prepared and eaten in every part of the country. The authentic Oaxacan Tamal is the one wrapped in the banana leaf, traditionally made with corn dough, and as ingredients the black mole, chicken, pork or iguana.

Tamales Recipe

There is no single recipe, the preparation will depend on the region, state and even country.

Candlemas Day

Mexican people celebrate Candlemas Day on February 2nd. It is a religious festivity know as “Día de la Candelaria” during which the figure of Baby Jesus is dressed up. Día de la Candelaria is linked to the tradition of “Día de Reyes” (Three Kings´ Day) when people eat “Rosca the Reyes” (special bread with hidden figurines of Baby Jesuses that is made only for this celebration). So, the person who got the figurine of Baby Jesus while eating Rosca de Reyes has to buy Tamales for their family, friends or Co-workers.

 

What is Candlemas Day

By the way, February 2nd is celebrated by the Catholic church as the feast of the Purification of the Virgin or as the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple. Though Tamales are special food for Candlemas Day, in Mexico it is one of our favourite street food to eat every day.

Tamales Ingredients

There are no unique ingredients, prepare them with the ones you like the most.

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Tamales y el 2 de febrero, Día de la Candelaria.

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Tamales How to Eat

The tradition consists of eating a Tamale accompanied by an Atole. In Mexico, you can eat every day Tamales and drink an Atole, these are sold on the outskirts of subway stations, on street corners, in front of office buildings or work centers, at the entrance of schools, or even there is always someone who passes to sell in front of the houses.

Tamales Food

As part of our daily life, you can always find Tamal and Atole vendor to enjoy them as breakfast or dinner. The most typical are those made of pork with green or red sauce, chicken with mole, rajas for vegetarians and sweet type for children.
In Mexico City, you can eat them alone or in Torta, which is called Guajolota.

Tamal Blanket

Dried corn husks to make tamales.

 

Types of Tamales

In Mexico, 370 types of Tamales are registered, however, it is believed that there may be more than 5 thousand recipes to prepare them throughout the country.

In addition to the Oaxacan Tamales, there are other types that can be made.

  • Elote
  • Dulce
  • Veracruzanos
  • Piña
  • Verdes
  • Rojos
  • Yucatecos
  • Chiapanecos
  • Rajas
  • Norteños
  • Jarochos
  • Vegetarian
  • Tabasqueños
  • Sinaloenses
  • Michoacanos
  • Poblanos
  • Guerrero

Tamales, as well as tacos, are some of the ancestral foods that can be eaten on the streets of Mexico. Always fresh, freshly made, but above all very tasty.

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