The making of tamales in Oaxaca is nothing short of a labor of love.
Our guide arranged a celebration meal for us to celebrate the birthday of our friend Greg, who organized our trip down to the T-shirts we wore on the plane. Awesome friend and I can’t thank him enough for his hard work. Here he is with Señor Leo, our guide Odi’s father.
Odi’s family prepared traditional tamales for us, homemade all the way down to the banana leaves harvested from their land. Senior went out early that morning and chopped them down and brought them to his wife.
The señoras then cut them to size, and even used the stalks to line the bottom of the cook pot. No waste there at all.
She then tied and steamed them to make them soft and pliable.
All morning they had a pot of mole cooking on the stove. I was told there were 37 different ingredients in it. I tried to get the recipe, but it is a family secret. Shhhh.
They made a masa paste, and spread it over the banana leaf with a sheet of plastic wrap..
Added boil chicken and a couple tablespoons of mole, then folded the banana leaf around it all.
I watched for a few minutes as they made preparations, then asked if we could join in. I really wanted Mia to experience this unique moment of culture and they were happy to teach us!
Here is Mia and A making some Oaxacan tamales.
The kitchen in our hosts home.
Remember the stalks I said they lined the pan with? Well, they then poured water into the bottom and it created a steamer. The tamales were then staked in a spiral on top of the stalks.
This pan was staked to the top with tamales. Mmmmmm.
With the left over masa paste, the Señora added a bit of red powder (maybe ground beet?) to color it pink.
Then we added some sugar to it. This was then put in a banana leaf to steam for sweet cakes.
Senior made a fire on the kitchen floor…
And the tamales were steamed for around an hour and 15 minutes.
No words. At least he washed the sunscreen off for the most part.
Finished tamale. These were simple to die for. Sooooo delicious and special.
And the sweet cake. Best birthday cake for sure.
Here we are feasting on the most excellent and delicious of meals while we were there.
For Christmas this year, I have decided that we will make these tamales on Christmas Eve. Just have to find a mole recipe similar to Señoras.