From the Nahuatl word (tamalii), a tamale is a delicious Mexican dish featuring a filling surrounded by a corn masa dough, wrapped in corn husk and steamed. Savory fillings of meat, chicken or pork are the most popular but cheese, vegetables, and fruit may also be used. Sometimes written as tamal, or tomale.
Regional Tamale Names
Tamales are made in many different Latin America countries and are known by different names. Here's a list of commonly used names by region.
- Nicaragua - Nacatamal
- Guatemala - Paches and Chuchitos
- Bolivia and Ecuador - Humita
- Columbia - Bollo
- Cuba, Mexico, South and Central America - Tamal
- Michoacan, Mexico - Corunda
- Veracruz, Mexico - Zacahuil
- Venezuela - Hallaca
- Aztec - Tamalli
Several varieties of tamales are made across Mexico. Some of the commonly known varieties are listed below.
Culiacan, Sinaloa - Everyday tamals are small and made of sweet brown beans, pineapple and corn. Larger versions are made on special occasions with meat and vegetables.
Veracruz - Tamales from this region are made of fresh corn and pork seasoned with hoja santa. Other types include chicken seasoned with hoja santa, wrapped in masa and rolled in a banana leaf.
Oaxaca - Black mole is Oaxaca's regional specialty. Large tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and filled with black, yellow or green mole, black beans and chepil.
Monterey - Small tamals made with shredded meat and red chilies.
Yucatan - Tamales from this region are cooked in an underground pit or oven. Fillings of chicken or pork flavored with Achiote are often used. Vaporcitos are also created consisting of a single layer of masa on a banana leaf and steamed. Tamales colads are another variety consisting of a dough filled with chicken and tomato and seasoned with achiote.
San Cristobal de las Casa, Chiapas - A variety called tamales untados are created here. A filling of pork and mole is wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.
Michoacan - Special varieties called corundas are created of masa wrapped in fresh corn leaves and unfilled.