Colombian tamales are filled with variety of ingredients, depending of the region of Colombia, and wrapped in banana leaves. Some great tasting examples include Tolimenses (from the department of Tolima), Hallacas Guajiras (from the Guajira department), Antioqueños (from the Antioquia department), Tamales de Pipían (from del Cauca department, Pasteles de Arroz (from the Atlantic Coast), among others.
The filling in Tamales Santafereños o Bogotános is usually chicken, pork belly, pork ribs, carrots, peas, potatoes, chickpeas, condiments, masa, while some people also add a Colombian sausage called longaniza. All of these ingredients are then wrapped with plantain leaves.
There are as many tamales recipes as there are cooks. This recipe is from a friend from Bogotá. You can always add or take away ingredients to suit your taste.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 4 tablespoons ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons sazon with azafran or color
- 2 cups water
- 1 pound pork belly, cut into 12 pieces
- 2 pounds bone in pork ribs, cut into pieces
- 12 pieces of chicken
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 cups of cooked chickpeas
- 1 pound of longaniza (Colombian sausage) optional
- 1 pound yellow precooked corn meal (masarepa)
- 5 cups water
- ½ cup marinade
- 2 tablespoons sazon with azafran or color
- 2 pounds banana leaves, cut into pieces about 15 inches long
- Water and Salt to cook the tamales
- Place all the marinade ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade to prepare the masa.
- In a large plastic bowl place all the meat, add 1 ½ cups of the marinade. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight. To prepare the masa: Place the masarepa in a large bowl, add the water, salt, sazon or color and reserved marinade. Mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands.
- Wash the leaves well with hot water and set aside.
- To assemble the tamales: Place 1 piece of the leaf on a work surface and place a second leaf on top, pointing in the opposite direction, like forming a cross.
- Spread ¾ cup of masa in the center of the banana leaves, at the point where they connect and form a cross. Place 1 chicken piece, 1 piece pork belly and 1 piece of rib on top of the masa and place about 1 tablespoon of peas, 2 or 3 slices of carrots, 2 or 3 slices of potatoes, and about 3 tablespoons of chickpeas on top of the meat.
- Fold the banana leaves up, one of the four sides at the time, so that the leaves enclose all of the filling, like you’re making a package. Tie with butcher’s string. Continue the process until all the tamales are wrapped and tied. Bring a large pot with salted water to a boil. Add the tamales and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the tamales from the pot and let them sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Cut the string and serve in the leaves. Serve hogao on the side if desired.