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questions from a tamale virgin

I would really really like to make tamales around the holidays.  I like to eat tamales, but I've only had the frozen kind.  I have no relatives of any kind who have made tamales. I myself have not made tamales ever.

When I read the tamale recipes they don't sound that hard to make. But there is always the cautionary introduction about what a chore they are.  What is it about making them that is so hard? Is it having two separate entities--filling and masa?  Is it dealing with the cornhusks? Can someone explain exactly why they are so difficult and what is a realistic amount of time to allow for making them? Is it a good idea to invite over friends who have never made tamales either and plan to make them and eat them for dinner?

thanks very much!

Many years ago, I was invited to a Mexican family's home to make tamales (not vegan).  I would compare them to making lasagna.  Just a lot of messy, time consuming steps if you want to make them really good.  We spent pretty much all day making them but we made a ton.  I could not break it down for you, it was over 20 yrs ago so my memory is not clear on timing.  I don't remember them being especially hard to make other than just taking a long time and trying the patience.


In the long run I don't think they're that hard to do. The thing that can be a pain is figuring out how to close the corn husks/tying the strips around them so they don't pop open.

What I usually do to fill them is seasoned/sauteed black beans/corn/onion/garlic/spices.
It works best if you have two people doing them like a food production line, one person filling them, one wrapping them


I don't think they're difficult, they're just time-consuming.

But, there are some tamales where the dough is just mixed together and ready, and others where the dough has to be cooked on the stovetop first; those are harder for me, 'cause the dough is tough.


I agree there not really hard they just take a lot of time.  To me the actual spreading of the dough is what pains me. I was taught to spread it with the backside of a spoon and you have to spread it so it's not to thick or to thin.  My sister however puts the dough on the husk and puts it between two pieces of plastic and puts it on the tortilla press.  Her way is faster. Mexicans usually only make tamales one day a year usually christmas eve and they do make a ton.  It's an all day thing.


spreading the masa onto the husks sucks butt. if you can get banana leaves or something other than crappy grocery store corn husks that would probably help it not be so difficult. depending on how many you make and how many helpers you have is what will determine how much time you need. The times I have made them I have pre-made the masa dough and filling, and then just fixed them up before steaming (which also takes like and hour or hour and a half if I remember correctly) so that it wouldn't take SOO long.


Echoing all that has been said. Grab a buddy or two and start rolling. The hardest part is getting the dough to the perfect thickness. You don't want it too thick, but definitely not too thin either. Have fun. Tamales are awesome!

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