HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it

Tamale Ingredients - Where in Boston?

Eat Well Nov 20, 2004 12:14 PM

Anybody know where I can buy fresh Masa and other tamale ingredients in the Boston area, preferrably Somerville, Cambridge, Medford, Arlington.

While I'm asking. Anybody have a great recipe or website on making tamales? How about a turkey day version?


  1. d
    Dax Nov 20, 2004 12:31 PM

    Not sure where you can find Masa in Boston, but for recipes, I'd repost on home cooking board to get the expertise of hounds across the world (especially Cristina)

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/cooki...

    1. m
      Mercedes Nov 20, 2004 01:04 PM

      I've been able to find Masa Harina and lard at most grocery stores in Cambridge/Somerville area and then you can make your own masa. The harder thing to find is corn husks, and while I did find them at the Star Market on McGrath a few times this store is currently closed for renovations. I've also ordered them online, just do a google search and usually get quite a few results. I'm attaching a link to quite a few recipes. I basically modified a few of them until I came up with something that tasted like those my nana makes. Once you get the masa right, you can be pretty creative with the filling.

      Link: http://www.recipegoldmine.com/swtamal...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mercedes
        J Bert Nov 20, 2004 02:02 PM

        Christina's Spices in Inman Square has corn husks and other useful things, like a couple of dozen varieties of dried chiles.

      2. g
        g Nov 20, 2004 11:51 PM

        For masa, I would recommend contacting one of the area tortilla makers and ask if they will sell you some. Let me know if you do. I've been meaning to ask around, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

        1. o
          oniontears Nov 22, 2004 10:27 AM

          You should be able to find masa at any grocery store with a more ethnic twist. I've seen it at Market Basket on Somerville Ave. But my favorite source is Harvest Coop in Central Square. You can buy in bulk so you don't have to buy those massive 5 lb bags.

          Last I made tamales I had a difficult time finding husks as well (ended up having someone bring me some from NYC) but I'm sure any of those Latino grocery stores in Allston or East Cambridge carry them.

          1. rcastanon Oct 2, 2011 02:07 PM

            Eat Well I get my ingredients at a local store in Lynn (Poblano's on Central Square), however I am sure you can get them at other places if you look for Mexican/Latino supermarkets. If you are in Somerville/Medford I'd check East Boston, Revere or Lynn. The place I mention above is a small hole in the wall but the owners are Mexican and they carry a lot of stuff I cannot find elsewhere (queso fresco, salsa Valentina, maseca, Poblano peppers). I recommend you call first to make sure they have what you need, sometimes they run out. I don't think they have a website but their phone number is (781) 580 9156.
            One thing to keep in mind: there are two types (that I know of) of Maseca, one is used for tortillas and the other one is for tamales, so make sure you get the right one. I don't know what the difference is but I've tried both and the other one (tortillas) gives you a rougher dough that crumbles when cooked.
            Hope this helps!

            6 Replies
            1. re: rcastanon
              BobB Oct 3, 2011 08:07 AM

              In case anyone's still looking, a good bet in Somerville would be La Internacional grocery in Union Square. But the OP here probably found what they needed when this was originally posted seven years ago.

              1. re: BobB
                rcastanon Oct 3, 2011 08:12 AM

                Oops I just noticed this is from 2004 that's funny LOL

                1. re: rcastanon
                  BobB Oct 3, 2011 09:17 AM

                  Don't feel bad, I've done that too. There are some long-standing requests on the site that when you start to reply to a post older than X years to get a message saying "Do you really mean to respond to this old post?" but it's not something the site techs have decided to (or have the ability to) implement.

                  1. re: rcastanon
                    cpingenot Oct 3, 2011 11:44 AM

                    I will say that since the last time i searched for corn husks ( a couple of years ago) I have seen them crop as a regular thing at the WF' at both River street and Prospect.

                    1. re: cpingenot
                      BostonZest Oct 3, 2011 12:32 PM

                      Saw corn husks at River street yesterday. They on the back of an end display next to the spices. All the way at the bottom below bags of dried chilis.


                      1. re: BostonZest
                        Allstonian Oct 5, 2011 03:59 PM

                        Jenny Ondioline & I saw them at the Packard's Corner Star a couple of weeks ago - in the produce section, near the fresh chiles.

              2. e
                emannths Oct 3, 2011 09:12 AM

                Now open in Chelsea: http://laninatortilla.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: emannths
                  rcastanon Oct 3, 2011 09:28 AM

                  Thanks for the tip emannths, definitely interested in checking them out ...

                2. a
                  amy_wong Oct 5, 2011 03:00 PM

                  I'm partial to Oaxacan style tamales myself, so I use banana leaves. These can easily be found in the freezer section of Asian groceries. Prior to wrapping the tamales, make sure to soften the banana leaves by quickly heating over an open flame or by steaming.

                  If you've had cochinita pibil before, you can try that as a fillling, although it is mighty fine on its own. I'm vegetarian now so I don't think I'll find out for sure if it's a good tamale filling.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: amy_wong
                    zonagirl Dec 19, 2011 08:05 AM

                    La Nina tortilla company is closed, but if you are looking for ingredients for your Christmas tamales, I just called Tesoro Market in Framingham, and they have everything for making tamales and tortillas. They also said there is a location in Everett for those of you closer to the city. Hooray!

                    1. re: zonagirl
                      bear Dec 19, 2011 08:16 AM

                      When did La Nina close? I was just there a few days ago, and was planning on hitting them up again for masa soon. Chips were excellent (made terrific chilaquiles and migas) and the guacamole was very good.

                      Jamie Mammano didn't mention anything about it on twitter. As a matter of fact, on Dec. 17, he added a link to a video of the tortillas being made.

                      1. re: bear
                        zonagirl Dec 19, 2011 08:25 AM

                        That's odd. So maybe the flyer posted was for a different La Nina? In any case, I found the masa I'm looking for in Framingham.

                      2. re: zonagirl
                        Madrid Dec 19, 2011 08:17 AM

                        La nina is closed? I thought they just opened....

                        1. re: Madrid
                          zonagirl Dec 19, 2011 08:24 AM

                          re La Nina I tried calling, and then emailed the contact who replied:

                          "Sorry we’re closed until the middle of January to move to Everett into a larger wholesale facility. We don’t make flour tortillas now but are looking into the machinery to do it. I don’t know anyone else that has fresh masa. Again sorry we couldn’t help but thanks for reaching out. Hopefully you’ll be able to buy our products in grocery stores soon."

                          1. re: zonagirl
                            Madrid Dec 19, 2011 08:26 AM

                            thank you! I am really looking forward to buying fresh masa.

                            1. re: zonagirl
                              bear Dec 19, 2011 08:29 AM

                              Thanks for the info. That's good news that they're moving to a larger facility. I was hoping that they'd start making flour tortillas, too.

                              You saved me a trip to Chelsea and thanks for the Tesoro Market info.

                      3. Chris VR Jun 1, 2012 05:41 PM

                        A nice rundown of ingredient locations in the North Shore area is on this blog: http://networkedblogs.com/yhXUk Here's a synopsis, more details at the link:

                        * Fresh masa for tortillas and tamales - La Nina Tortilleria in Everett
                        * Corn husks, banana leaves, Maseca for tortillas, dry chiles - Ernie's Harvest Time at 65 Boston Street Lynn, MA 01904, phone (781) 593-2997.
                        * Queso fresco - Ernie's, Stop & Shop on Washington Street and Shaw's on Market Street, both in Lynn.
                        * Lard, Corn husks, Queso fresco, Maseca for tamales, Maseca for tortillas, dry chiles - Poblano's, 21 Central Square, Lynn MA 01901 phone (781)780-3060.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chris VR
                          Small Plates Jun 4, 2012 09:47 AM

                          I know this original thread is old, but having JUST been through a tamale making adventure last Friday, this is a good resource (one I wish I had last week! :) ) I ended up using the husks from the corn I used in the recipe, as it was the one ingredient that eluded me. I shall cut and paste this for future. Thanks, CVR! :)

                        Show Hidden Posts