Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vegan Tamales

These were to die for...

Yes, there was a little extra prep time involved ,
But the end result was
so delicious, and what really made these extra special was the Chile Colorado sauce that was made from scratch.
So, if you are feeling adventurous and have a day with some extra time on your hands, make some of these. In fact, make extra while you are at it and freeze them for instant warm ups!
Do not be intimidated by this recipe, its actually really easy. There are just different steps to making it. Just focus on one step at a time, then set it aside in the refrigerator and move to the next step.

Vegan Tamales
adapted from Chef Roberto Martin (Ellen's Personal Chef)

Step 1: The Masa

2 cups Masa Harina
1.5 cups warm water
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter, melted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tsp. baking powder
1 Tsp. Kosher salt
Mix it all up with a wooden spoon and refrigerate.Can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Step 2: Chile Colorado (for tamale filling and extra sauce for drizzling)
7 dried Anaheim chilies
3 cups strong vegetable broth
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 med yellow or white onion chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 pounds sauteed vegetables of choice (I used Broccoli, Cauliflower, carrots, red bell pepper, corn, and peas)
Working on one chile at a time, use a paring knife to cut a slit all the way down one side of a chile. Open up the chile and remove the stem and seeds. Remove as much of the veins as you can.
Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Flatten out the dried chiles as well as you can and place on the skillet to heat. Press down on the opened chiles and leave for a few seconds. Turn the chiles over and heat a few seconds more. You do not want to toast or burn the chilies, just heat them enough to draw out more of the flavor.
Place the chilies in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit for 15 minutes, until softened.
Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add oregano and cumin and sauté for one minute more.
Remove the chiles from the bowl and place in a blender . Discard the soaking liquid. Add the vegetable broth, and onion mixture. Puree until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, add vegetables and add just enough sauce to coat. Save the remaining sauce to enjoy with cooked Tamales.
NOTE: This mixture can be used as a great burrito filling as well

Step 3: Soaking the corn husks
2 bags of dried corn husks
Go through the corn husks removing any debris. Separate the larger, usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces.
Place the husks in a large bowl. Cover husks with warm water. Set a heavy item (like a heavy bowl) on top of the husks to keep them submerged until they are wet and pliable.
Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Place into a covered dish or a large plastic bag to prevent from drying out. Use only the larger and medium sized husks for the tamales.

Step 4: Assembling the Tamales:
Lay a husk on a flat surface with the long end at the top. Have the point or narrow end at the bottom. Place 2 - 3 tablespoons of dough onto the husk. Starting from the upper left hand corner spread the dough about 4" across and 3" down. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Spread about a tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough
From the masa covered left, fold the husk over the filling. Take the bottom of the husk and fold it up towards the top. Wrap the extra husk around the tamale and lay it flat, seam side down.

Step 5: Steaming Tamales
Set tamales upright in a steamer. You can buy large steamers made just for this purpose or you can rig something up. The idea is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a colander or mesh of some sort to keep the tamales away from the water. Cover the tamales loosely with more husks and a good fitting lid.
Steam for about 90 minutes. Serve with lots of sauce on top!

Step 6: You Guessed It! Eat up and enjoy!


  1. I love making tamales. These look so good.

  2. So my husband is really excited for me to make these but I went to Whole Foods tonight to get the ingredients and could only find fresh anaheim chiles. Where do you find dried ones? And do you have any ideas for how to use the fresh ones instead? Thanks!!

    P.S. - Made your coconut key lime pie for the non-vegan extended family last weekend and it was a big hit!

  3. Hi Schleffs! Im so glad you liked the key lime pie!
    I hope you do make this recipe, it is so amazing!!! You should be able to find dried chilis in your ethnic foods section, and sometimes they are by the fruit section. Pasilla chilis or ancho chilis would also be really great!! So you dont HAVE to use Anaheim. Thats just what I could find. If you want to try the fresh, skip the toasting and soaking period, just scrape out the seeds, and add them where you would normally add the soaked ones. Add a few at a time and taste as you go to add the right amount for the flavor you want! But I will ssay that dried chilis add such a great flavor after being toasted a little! Good luck!!

  4. Thanks! I made them with fresh Anaheim chiles and it was great - but next time I will definitely try them using whatever dried variety I can find. I was very scared of tamales but your instructions were great and made it so easy! Seriously... love your blog. Thanks again!