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Special Ingredients make the Tamal Special

by Sr. Chit Bartolome, icm

Special Ingredients make the Tamal Special


Within the Guatemalan gastronomy, “tamal” is the most popular.  In general, this is taken on Saturdays.  For  Christmas, this is a special fare;  families  prepare their special Christmas tamal with special ingredients, so that is comes out the best, in comparison with the tamales prepared during the year.


The recipe varies from family to family, depending on the economic situation of each person.  The preparation of tamales has evolved and at present, there is a variety of recipes in almost all the  American continent.  The following is but one of these varieties.  So,  “Buén provecho.”


2 lbs. corn meal dough

10 oz shortening

1 chicken or 1 ½ pork (cut into pieces)

1 lb husk tomatoes

8 tomatoes

2 chile guaques

4 hard rolls (soaked in milk)

2 oz hard cheese

Pinch of saffron, sesame seeds toasted zucchini seeds, annatto, clove, pepper,   1 stick of cinnamon, salt to taste.

Filling:  Grind together tomatoes, husk tomatoes, chiles (pre-cooked), clove, pepper, cinnamon, the soaked bread, sesame seeds, zucchini seeds and fry in 2 oz. shortening – then mix with meat.

To shape tamales, make a flat cake of 6 tbsp. dough and 2 tbsp. filling in center.  Roll the tamales in banana or plantain leaves.  Fold over center and double back all edges and tie as a package.  Cook in large kettle of boiling water for 3 hours.  Makes 20-30 tamales.

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