Wednesday, August 6, 2008

South of the border...

N and I love to try out different cuisines when we hit the road. When we were returning from a trip to Anna Ruby Falls, we went to this place called Uncle Julio's Casa Grande. The thing about Mexican restaurants is that the food tastes great (I am absolutely nuts about guacamole and salsa!) but unfortunately, there isnt much variety for vegetarians. Some of the restaurants just offer beans, rice, lettuce and tons of cheese....stuffed within bread in different shapes and sizes (Tacos, Chalupas, Burritos, Quesedillas). But when I ordered one of their platters, this exotic looking thing wrapped in corn leaves came along, and I was certainly intrigued by its appearance. As I unfolded the leaves, I was pleasantly surprised to see something totally different! It had no rice, no beans and no cheese! I immediately enquired the waitress about the preparation. She told me that they were called Tamales. They looked and tasted like upma, a common South Indian preparation, except the base was corn instead of rava. It tasted fantastic and was a pleasant deviation from the usual Mexican dishes. I learnt more about it by reading online and wanted to make it on my own, of course ;)

Tamales need Masa Harina or a form of corn-flour which is prepared in a very special way. This is used to make the Masa dough which forms the base for Tamales. But thanks to my tongue that likes to experiment, I found a quick-fire way to make Tamales. They came out a bit harder, but they tasted pretty well....mucho delicioso ;) Check 'em out....


Ingredients (10-12 Tamales)

Cobs from 1 1/2 corn kernels (make sure to save the leaves)
1.5 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp cornstarch ( the more you put, the harder it gets. So, be careful!)
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste

Vamos a empezar! (Lets begin!)

1. Blend the corn cob, cornmeal, salt and the cornstarch until a coarse paste is formed. Set aside. This is our quick Masa dough. The corn starch will help the dough harden as it is steamed.

2. In a pan, add the oil and saute the onions followed by the vegetables. Add salt and chilli powder to taste. I also added some cumin powder and some Taco seasoning to give it a spicy kick :) The spice and the veggie bit is totally optional, and depends on your choice/palate.

3. Take a corn leaf and divide it into several long strings.

4. Take 2 corn leaves and make a "+" sign out of them. Apply some dough in the middle and put some of the sauteed veggies on top. Close the leaves and then tie them with the strings. When all the Tamales are done, steam them for 15 mins or until they are hardened enough to look like upma.



5. Untie, open the leaves and enjoy the steaming hot Tamales with sour cream or guacamole or any dip.

Terminar (finished) :)

I personally loved the taste of steamed corn. Tasted rich and yet there was very little oil so they were pretty healthy.

Err...I have a confession. I have to have something sweet after every meal :D The origin of this idiosyncracy is unknown, but I must have something sweet after lunch and dinner. So while a tired N decided to take a siesta after the Tamale-lunch, I was itching to tingle my sweet buds. And I decided to surprise N by making a quick sponge cake. I guess quick is the common theme between the Tamales and the cake ;) Sponge cake recipes can be found all over the internet. I adapted one such recipe.




It came out moist, fluffy and tasted pretty good. I also gave it a citrusy touch by adding lime zest, some orange juice and some lemon extract. N loves citrus ;)



All in all, we had a day filled with adventure, fun and food and we capped it off with a sweet touch ;)


Mucho Gracias!

28 comments:

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

A and N,
I like your site. This is the first time I see it (thanks to Dibs) and I think it's cool that you like Mexican food. Congratulations on the BFF award from Dibs.

Cham said...

Muy Bien senor! Love tamale, try so good salsa (hot) with nachos. They re great too :)
They look tasty ur plate

lakshmi said...

I've been meaning to go through your blog since god knows when. I remember landing here once before and making a mental note!

First of all, that sapadu pic on your header is fabulous. Secondly, Happy Birthday A (I had some trouble figuring who's the I writing!! Hope I got it right). And thirdly, that Homer cartoon was so cool. I am telling you baking is an obsession with me now!

Nags said...

N is really lucky to have an A who makes her a sponge cake while she is napping! I mean seriously!! Btw, nice corn recipe too, its a nice idea leaving the skin around and using it to serve the dish :)

kittie said...

Mmmm - the tamales look really tasty... I am intrigued by your method... and tempted by the citrusy sponge!!

Adam said...

I love your take on Mexican food. The tamales looks great, and I never knew they could be so easy.

And you topped off the night with some sponge cake... this is my jealous face :)

sowmya said...

nice recipe..looks good too.. i too love to have something sweet after food...sponge cake looks really good!!

Sukanya Ramkumar said...

This is a very different recipe. Looks so good. Love ur sponge cake. Really wanted to try the recipe u followed.

Uma said...

yummy tamales. delicious spong cake.

Madhavi said...

Delicious tamales, look mouthwatering and love that yumyyyy spong cake!!!

Laavanya said...

Tamales and sponge cake - sounds like a delicious meal. I've even heard of pineapple tamales but not tasted those yet.

As for the qn about the summer rolls on my blog - i didn't use wonton wrappers... these are rice wrappers that are thin and translucent and soften when placed in warm water. No need to fry these.. just fill and roll. I think Nupur's blog has a picture of the raw wrapper.

Passionate About Baking said...

YUM YUM YUM...I think I can make tamales now too...they are singing to me! Like your sweet confession too...LOL!

PG said...

Lovely tamales! And a great recipe. Have to try it out, as they are also gluten free. I want to make them for my nephew who has to live on gluten and dairy free diet.

PG said...

Forgot to mention. Wow! What a spongy cake!looks so good.

Sireesha said...

Lovely tamales......Delicious spongy cake...I also love to eat sweets after meal.....

Kitchen Flavours said...

Tasty spongy cake and recipe looks yummy

Kitchen Flavours said...

I have a sweet suprise for you in my blog check it.

Usha said...

Never tried tamales but now I am tempted to do so,your sponge cake looks perfect :)

Deborah said...

I grew up eating tamales - my grandma makes them often. I've never tried to make them myself before, but now I'm thinking I should!

VEGETABLE PLATTER said...

tamales look so tasty, have never tried it

Suma Rajesh said...

delicious tamalas...luved sponge cake too...ecellent snaps

Sameera.. said...

Yummm...especially the sponge cake !
I've been absent for long from the blog scene...
Rgds
Sam !

A_and_N said...

@Teresa: Your site is so Mexican. Suits us fine ;)

@Cham: Gracias!

@Lakshmi: Thank you for your lovely words. We love the header too. Its from our wedding.

@Nags: Please ok? Its the other way round too!

@Kitti, Adam, Sowmya: Thanks :)

@Sukanya: Do let us know if you try!

@Uma, Madhavi: Thanks a lot!

@Passionate...- Everything sings to you, and you make everything! So well, at that :D

@PG: Do let us know how it came out.

@Sireesha, Kitchen flavors, Usha: Thank you so much!

@Deb: You grew up with these? Wow! Send us the authentic recipe? ;)

@Vegetable Platter, Suma and Sameera: Thank you all for your compliments!

Shari said...

Ooh, I've never made tamales before, but they look like fun!
Shari@Whisk: a food blog

Jayashree said...

The tamales look delish and the pic of that sponge cake has me craving some right now. It really does look absolutely spongy:-)

Dershana said...

WoW! Those tamales look really lovely. Being easy too, will surely try them :-)

I've tagged you, scroll

http://thefootloosechef.blogspot.com/2008/08/tricolour-raita.html

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Two other Atlantans! Very cool. I loooooooove tamales. Have you tried Bone Garden Cantina yet? Oh, except both of their kinds of tamales have meat in them. :( Nonetheless, it's good, pretty cheap Mexican food if you can find the place. (It's tucked away in a weird part of West Midtown.)

Madhuram said...

I have not tasted tamales so far, but as you have mentioned it tastes like upma I guess. I'll also try it out soon.

I have a simple recipe in my blog for eggless chocolate cake using tofu. It came out so tasty. Try it out and N will be surprised to find out that it does not have eggs.