There are many variations of tamales in Colombia, but they all have something in common and that is that Colombian Tamales (Tamales Colombianos) are all wrapped in banana leaves.
I am going to post many types of tamales recipes in my blog but to start let me introduce you the Tamales Antioqueños, from the region Antioquia, my hometown. This tamales recipe is my mom’s and they are delicious. Nobody makes them as good as my mother, but these came pretty close :). It is a tradition in my family to make these tamales for Noche Buena, our traditional Christmas Eve celebration, although we eat them year round as well.
Some Colombia tamales variations are: tamales tolimenses, tamales Vallunos, tamales de pescado, tamales de pipian, tamales de Nariño, tamales Santandereanos and there are more. One of the secrets for making good tamales is to marinade the meat overnight.
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 Goya with azafran or Color
2 cups water
1 pound pork belly, cut into 12 pieces
1 ½ pounds pork meat, cut into 12 pieces
2 pounds bone in pork ribs, cut into pieces
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
2 pounds banana leaves, cut into pieces about 15 inches long
Water and Salt to cook the tamales
1. Place all the marinade ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade to prepare the masa.
2. In a large plastic bowl place all the meat, add 1 ½ cups of the marinade. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. To prepare the masa: Place the masarepa in a large bowl, add the water, salt, sazon Goya or color and reserved marinade. Mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands.
4. Wash the leaves well with hot water and set aside.
5. 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.
6. Spread ¾ cup of masa in the center of the banana leaves, at the point where they connect and form a cross. Place 1 piece of pork, 1 piece pork belly and 1 piece of rib on top of the masa and place about 1 tablespoon of peas, 1 tablespoon of carrots and 2 tablespoons of potatoes on top of the meat.
7. 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.
8. 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 minutes before serving. Cut the stirring and serve in the leaves. Serve hogao on the side if desired.