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.
Tamales Santafereños o Bogotános (Santa Fe Region Tamales)
- 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.
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.
From my experiences (none of which have been good) I end up with a piece of chicken carcase that comprises mostly bones and would seem to have been from a slow bird that was crossing the road in front of a Bolivariano so I end up with bits of broken bone especially from the spine and neck in my mouth.
Next time make your own tamales and use good chicken pieces, Alan! Or make Tamales Antiqueños just with pork.
This looks like a hearty and delicious meal. I miss pork belly!!
I do enjoy good tamales but that is just not something you find here in Montreal really, enjoyed them more in trips. I so want to try this amazing recipe.
i'm pretty sure i've never eaten authentic tamales. i'd remember that, right? these sound amazing! 🙂
I have noted all the comments. Here is my "contribution". first, your masa needs to be a bit on the wet side, just enough so you can spread it in a smooth pad with wetted hands. I use a small dish called a sidekick to hold the start of the tamales together. The banana leaves work great but, be sure to cut them big enough to enclose all the ingredients. If you have trouble finding pork belly, you can use brine ,not dry, cured salt pork if you boil it for a couple of hours before you use it to draw the salt. I wrap my tamales like a Christmas package. Just lay your string under the first wrap, roll the first layer around the masa&etc and roll it in the second wrap, fold up the ends and package tie. These are great tamales!
I noted your chicken carcass comment, Alan. I first just poach the chicken tender enough so it can be stripped from the bones. you can then boil the bones until the meat falls of the bones and strain off the broth to use for your cooking stock. The chicken that you use in the tamales really doesn't have to be cooked to much. It will finish off when they are steamed. I know what you mean about the small bones. Those ribs are nasty! Don't forget to make some nice salty Aji!
How do you cook the meat? Pan fried, boiled, oven?
Question - do you place the tamales directly into the boiling water? Or into a steamer basket?
Directly into the boiling water.
Hi Erica. Does it make a difference if you use white masarepa instead of yellow?