Tamales are a most to celebrate the holidays in Colombia. There are many different types of tamales in the country, this variation is popular in the Andean region of Colombia and my favorite tamal recipe because it’s the way my mom make them.
What are Tamales?
Tamal is a traditional dish in Many Latin American countries. Every cook, region and family has its own variation. They use different fillings, cooking methods, ways to wrap the tamales, but the principal is the same.
There are many variations of tamales in Colombia, but they all have something in common and is that Colombian Tamales are all wrapped in banana leaves. This is one of the most popular dishes to eat during the Christmas season in the country, but I also love making them all year round for breakfast with arepa and Colombian Ají.
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.
Tips to Make Tamales
I suggest making the marinade a couple of days before to make the process easier, then the next day marinade the meat and place it in fridge overnight for extra flavor.
Then the next day assemble the tamales and you can cook them the same day or keep them wrapped in the fridge and cook them the day after.
Colombian Tamales Recipe
- 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
- 1 pound yellow precooked corn meal masarepa
- 5 cups water
- ½ cup marinade
- 2 tablespoons sazon Goya 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 Goya or color and reserved marinade. Mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands.
To assemble the tamales:
- Wash the leaves well with hot water and set aside.
- 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 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.
- 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 minutes before serving. Cut the stirring and serve in the leaves. Serve hogao on the side if desired.
- Banana leaves are sold in Latin and Asian markets.
- Colombian tamales are made with precooked corn meal. You can find it at Latin markets or Amazon.
- Tamales will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month in a zip lock bag.
- To reheat the tamales: Steam your tamales for about 30 minutes or 45 minutes if if they are frozen or use the microwave for a faster method place one tamal on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for about 10 minutes or until they are warm.