Vegetarian Tamales

Bean Tamales with Tomatillo Salsa — these are easy to make and totally vegetarian (for Mirra).  I had always been intimidated by making tamales but turns out it’s pretty easy.  Enjoy



  • 4 cups Masa Harina
  • 1 stick of butter (Cut into small chunks)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • one packet of corn husks (or 30 corn husks)

Take corn husks and pour hot water over them, weigh down with a heavy pan and let sit for an hour.

In a mixer, cream the butter by spinning on medium until all the chunks are broken apart and the consistency is smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients before adding the vegetable stock.  Mix thoroughly until it becomes a dough.  Add the dough to the creamed butter, and mix on medium for about 2 minutes until it gets a little fluffier.  The mixture should have the consistency of thick cake batter (it should just barely stick to the spoon).  If it’s too thick, add a bit more vegetable stock.

Time to assemble the tamales! Drain the water from the husks. Lay out each husk and put two heaping spoonfuls of the batter in the center of the husk, flattening the mixture a bit.  Add about a tablespoon of filling — in this case, beans (see recipe below) and cheese, but you could use anything.  Close the masa around the filling using one side of the husk.  Then fold the bottom of the husk upward and finally the other side of the husk across (see video) and tie with a strip of husk (torn off to act as string).  Steam the tamales for 45 minutes to an hour if they are small (like ours’ – easer to make) or an hour and half if they are bigger.

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 1 chile de arbol
  • 1 chile chipotle
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon of salt to start (the rest to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

There are a lot of ways to cook beans.  I often forget to soak them overnight so here is an easy way to make same-day beans and also avoid some of the stomach repercussions.

Cover beans in water (by a lot — too much water here is not an issue) and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat.  Let them sit for 20 minutes then pour off the excess liquid. Apparently a lot of the flatulence-causing-elements are in that liquid.

Re-cover the beans with water and all other ingredients (just put them directly into the water).  Bring to a boil and then simmer.  I find it pretty difficult to gauge how long beans are going to take, so I start them as soon as possible and just let them go — continuing to test the constancy every 20 minutes after they have been simmering for an hour.  The longer the simmer, the tastier the beans.  Once they are done, I like to let them cool and then heat them back up again, the cooling seems to infuse the flavor and the salt.  By the time the beans are done, the garlic and the chiles will be soft.  Take out the cinnamon and the outer skin off the chiles and the stem, then mix all the ingredients together so the garlic and the chiles get mashed into the sauce.  Let cool. If there is too much liquid by the time it’s cooled, just strain off a bit, or hold aside to add back in if there are extra beans.


Tomatillo Salsa:
  • 10 small tomatillos, cut in half
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1 onion cut in quarters
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • water
  • salt

Broil all the ingredients for 10 minutes or until charred (remove the garlic early if necessary to avoid burning it — charred garlic is not good).  Let the ingredients cool and add them to a blender.  Blend with the cilantro, add salt to taste.  Add water to create a runny salsa-like consistency.  Serve over your tamales or on just about anything!