Lily cooks

Vegetarian Tamales

Vegetarian Tamales
Preparation time:
30 minutes
Cooking time:
1 hour
25 tamales

Lily’s tamales are a vegetarian take on this classic Mexican street food. Encased in a corn dough, these tamales are packed with spicy jalapenos, mature cheddar cheese and grated carrot before being delicately steamed for a delicious snack.

  • Ingredients

    For the dough:
    • 500 grams tamal masa-harina
    • 1 teaspoon table salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 160 grams of sunflower oil
    • 450 - 500 mls hot water (depending on your masa)
    For the filling and assembly:
    • 220 grams of tinned pickled jalapenos in strips, drained and place into a bowl
    • 300 grams of mature cheddar cheese
    • 1 carrot
    • 25 dried corn husks
    For serving:
    • Salsa of your choice – we used huevos ranchero’s salsa
  • Method

    For the vegetarian tamales:
    • Start by rehydrating your dried corn husks by putting them in a basin and covering them with boiling water. Use something heavy to weigh them down to keep them submerged in the hot water. Leave them to soak while you get the other prep ready.

    • Using your food processor, grate the cheese and then the carrots making sure to put them in separate bowls. Set aside. You can also do the fillings by cutting them into small batons instead.

    • In a large bowl, put all the masa-harina, salt, cumin, garlic powder and baking powder and mix with a spoon until all the ingredients are incorporated. Set aside.

    • In the bowl of your K-Mixer with the paddle attachment on, mix the oil and hot water for about 2 minutes at high speed until the oil and the water have emulsified (it will look white). Lower the speed of the mixer.

    • With the mixer still working, add the dried ingredients. Continue mixing for 2 minutes until you have a cohesive dough.

    • Detach the bowl from the K-mixer and bring it to the table. Drain the water from the husks and bring them onto the table too, along with the bowls of cheese, carrots and pickled jalapenos. Fit each bowl with a spoon.

    • Take a corn husk, narrow end pointing away from you, and make sure you are using the smooth side of the husk. You can identify the smooth side by feel or by the way the husk curls up naturally when you hold it in the palm of your hand (it curls up into the smooth side).

    • Spread a generous amount of tamal dough and, using your thumbs (or a spoon), spread the dough, thinning it out to ¼ inch of thickness and covering ¾ of the length of the husk (just until the husk starts narrowing down). Take care not to go all the way to the edges of the husk to allow for the dough to expand and not to spill out of the husk while cooking.

    • Take a generous spoonful of each of your fillings: cheese, carrots and one strip of pickled jalapenos and place them vertically on the dough. Layering them in the middle. Please be careful not to put too much filling in your tamal, or it will be difficult to fold.

    • To fold the tamal, take the right-hand side of the husk and fold it to the centre of the tamal. Follow by folding the left-hand side of the husk over the one you just did. Then take the narrow end of the husk, the one pointing away from you, and fold it upwards towards you; this will cover the seam left. Use some discarded bits of husk to make a tie or belt to secure all folds in the husk. Set it aside on a plate. Repeat these steps until you have used all your dough and fillings.

    To cook vegetarian tamales:
    • Once made, the tamales are very easy to cook. You will need a good size steamer or else a big pot and a steaming basket. Also, have kitchen togs handy and a timer. Follow these steps for perfect cooking every time.

    • Put some water in your steamer and turn the heat to medium-high.

    • Line the basket of the steamer with any leftovers (regardless of shape) of corn husks (if any).

    • Place all the tamales in the lined steamer basket standing up (opened side facing the lid of the steamer) and put the steamer lid on. Placing the tamales standing is super important as it helps them keep their shape and minimizes any leakages out into the steamer.

    • Bring the water to a boil and steam your tamales at medium heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can check at 45 minutes by carefully taking one tamal out by using kitchen togs and attempting to unwrap it from the husk. If the husk comes clean off the dough, your tamales are ready! If not, return the tamal to the steamer and steam for another 10 minutes before checking again. It shouldn't be more than 1 hour.

    • Once ready, serve with salsa and enjoy! 

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