I have made tamales myself, many times. While there are lots of different kinds, they are all made out of this basic stuff and they are quite easy to make, too.
Here are the basic ingredients and procedure
- Masaharina or Maseca (corn flour)
- chicken broth
- Fat (it can be butter, margarine, pork fat, vegetable oil, etc But pork fat is the best kind for 100% original tamale recipes)
- Seasoned tomato sauce (This is called "recado" in Spanish. It may be as thick or thin as you like. It may also be mild or hot. See below for ingredients)
- Aluminium foil
- A large pot with boiling water
Recado (tomato Sauce)
- green and/or red peppers
- Chilli peppers (if you want it hot)
- onions (sliced)
- vegetable oil
- salt, oregano and pepper to taste.
Bake the tomatoes, onions and peppers (yup, bake as in "stick them in the oven, until tender" Use a greased (with oil) cookie sheet or Pyrex dish)
When done, wait until they cool off and peel the skin off the veggies. Then liquify with cilantro, oregano, salt, pepper and chilli peppers. Ad chicken broth if you like it thin, let it be if you like it thick.
Make a dough with the corn flour and fat. The consistency should be like "Play Doh". Season to taste with salt. if you want to make "light" tamales, use chicken broth instead of fat. They will taste good but they will turn out dry. Or you can combine broth and fat. In this case, first ad the broth and THEN, when you have a smooth dough (no lumps) ad the fat.
Once you have your "Play Doh" consistency dough, make tennis ball size tamales and wrap them in aluminium foil. Let them simmer in the boiling water for 20 minutes. Take them out of the heat and dry the wrapped balls with a kitchen towel, then unwrap, serve on a plate and cover with your tomato sauce and sprinkle with "queso duro" (hard cheese) which looks and kinda tastes like parmesan cheese.
This is the quick and easy way to make tamales. It can't go wrong. Unless your dough is too soft..., Which you can fix by adding more corn flour to the dough, BEFORE you cook it.
Hope this helps a bit... Good luck