Thursday, 9 May 2013 This is what tamales are meant to taste like

Note the expert wrapping.

If there are two universal truths about tamales, they are:
1) tamales are delicious

2) tamales take forever to make

(The third truth is that the singular of tamales is tamal.)
In Mexico, when tamales are on the menu, the whole family comes together to make an assembly-line and share the workload.

But what do you do in Britain, when you really want tamales but don't have the time to make them yourself (or an army of expert helpers)?

Order them from!

Unlike some companies who import ready-made tamales from Mexico (which is a lot of food miles for a finished dish), make their tamales freshly to order, right here in Britain.

I was very keen to try them because I'm a firm believer in tamales as one of the great dishes of Mexican cuisine.

They have topped my list of favourite foods since I was a kid, and as they're still relatively unknown in fajita-ruled Britannia, I believe they can turn a lot of people around about Mexican food.

However, they are not easy to make, and they demand specialist ingredients like masa harina and corn husks (to say nothing of the fillings).

So is important to me in my quest to get everyone eating tamales. Because, honestly, we can't all make our own.

For our test-drive, we ordered a selection of savoury tamales:
Pork in red chile sauce (for me, the classic filling)

Chicken in salsa verde (another favourite)

Chicken in mole poblano (a decadent choice!)

Rajas con queso (green chile strips and cheese)
And for dessert we got two strawberry tamales. Because sweet tamales are awesome!

The tamales can be steamed from frozen but I defrosted mine in the fridge overnight.

(There are also microwaving instructions if you don't have a steamer.)

The tamales themselves were expertly wrapped in their corn husks and absolutely perfect in texture and flavour.

The fillings were uniformly delicious. Of particular note for me were the pork in red chile sauce, which really brought back memories, and the chicken in mole (as soon as they started cooking, my kitchen was filled with the lovely, complex aroma of mole).

The runaway star, though, was the tamal de rajas con queso.

I love rajas anyway, but the cheese was amazing (either real queso de Oaxaca or a very close substitute, and there was a delicious (and quite spicy) tomato and chile sauce.

Then we tried the strawberry tamales.




Anyone who doesn't try these is doing themselves a major disservice.

I've written about making tamales a couple times before, but for anyone who finds the workload a bit daunting or who just isn't sure what tamales are meant to taste like (not having grown up eating them), is the option for you.

This is exactly what tamales are meant to taste like.
Tamales all look alike, so they arrive with handy labels.