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Dec 5, 2008 06:15 AM

Need help to make Guatemalan Tamales & Order Products

My daughter is from Guatemala, so I thought now that she is 3 it is time to start making the traditional Guatemalan tamales for Christmas. I have a recipe from Saveur from last year that I think will work, however, I would like to see if anyone has made these and has a great recipe or good technique advice. Also, I am looking for a good place to order some of the ingredients over the internet, like the banana leaves. I am in a rural area, and would not be able to get those anywhere around here. Thanks for your help!!

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  1. i was wondering if you were able to get your answers. i was looking for the tamale receipt also, i'm guatameling and i'm looking for the receipts to make tamales.

    1. I don't know where you live; but virtually all the ingredients except banana leaves are available almost everywhere in the US in most large grocery stores and certainly in Hispanic markets. Check your yellow pages. Here's the Saveur ingredient list.

      canola oil, boneless pork shoulder, Kosher salt, plum tomatoes, garlic, white onion, distilled white vinegar, sugar,

      Ancho Chiles - these are dried Poblano chiles, found in plastic bags in the International section of your megamart (even Super Walmart). You can substitute dried Chiles Negro which are also mild, but other chiles may be too hot if you're not used to them...

      Banana leaf -- Saveur says you can substitute parchment paper. If you can't find Banana leaves, I would. Look for an Hispanic market. I live in Florida so I just go in the backyard and cut a couple leaves! Some places will have them dried, some may have them frozen...

      Achiote paste is optional. It gives a nice red color and taste. You can find Annato seeds in many grocery store spice sections and grind it yourself. Achiote paste can usually be found in the International/Hispanic section.

      Masa Harina can be found in your grocery baking goods section along with all the other flours. Maseca is best; but Quaker also makes it. You want "Masa Harina para tamales" not "para tortillas". Tamale masa is a finer grind.

      Rice Flour - Asian section of your grocery, if not in the baking section.

      Capers, on the pickle aisle

      1. There's an excellent Guatemalan and Mayan cookbook called "False Tongues and Sunday Bread" that has a number of recipes for Guatemalan and Nicaraguan tamales and paches. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print and I see from Googling that the online asking prices for it are simply astronomical. Perhaps you could manage to get a copy from your library?

        If you Google "tamales +guatemala" you'll find a few recipes online. They are very different from each other so you might want to take a look at each and see which appeals to you.

        As for mail ordering, I don't know of a site that specializes in Guatemalan ingredients specifically, but you might be able to find some of the ingredients you need at