Shrimp Stuffed Tamales
“Cinco de Mayo” (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5. It is celebrated in the United States and in Mexico.This celebration of Mexican culture and heritage grew in popularity in larger communities of Mexican American population in areas like Los angeles,Chicago and Houston initially and then spread across the whole of the United States in the later parts of the century.As the city gets busy for the “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations, decided to be a part of the celebrations of the latino culture & cuisine.
Food is the most vivid expression of the culture.Tamales are to Mexican food what BBQ is to the South.The origin of tamales can be traced back to the conquest of Aztecs,Mayan and Incan cultures.Tamales are recorded in the pre-Colombian history, when women were taken to the battle as army cooks,then as the armies grew the demands for readying the corn became overwhelming and the need for more portable sustaining food became essential, thus was born the tamales it is said,on tracing it’s history.Mexican cuisine with its fortitude has survived the intimate intermingling of Spanish & French colonialism, the traverse of Asian goods in its terrain for centuries, maniacal dictators, multinational corporate invasion yet Mexico’s cuisine has emerged stronger, more complex more delicious.
“Tamales are a part of Mexico’s collective consciousness….a celebration of its own…carried into the middle of all parties”~ Rick Bayless in his book, Mexico, one plate at a time.
Tamales have emerged in all different variation, today I chose the stuffed shrimp one.A tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (a starchy dough, usually corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a corn husk. The wrapping is discarded before eating. Tamales can be filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies or any preparation according to taste.
Note: Please soak the dry corn husks in warm water for 15-20 minutes before placing the masa & shrimp stuffings in, coz dry corn husks cannot be used for steaming, since they crack up & the stuffing leaks!
For the Tamales:
Masa Harina( finely ground corn meal) – 1 1/2 cup
Water- 1 1/4 cup
Butter/ghee -1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Corn husks- 10-12
For the filling:
Onion- 1 big
Garlic- 3-4 cloves
Cinnamon powder- a pinch
Shrimps 20- 30
Curry leaves- a few
Black Pepper- 1/2 tsp
Chili powered- 1 tsp
Bell pepper-thin sliced
Salt- to taste
For the shrimp stuffing:
1.Heat a teaspoon of oil,garlic cloves, the cinnamon powder ,then the onions and sauté it.
2.To this add the cleaned & deveined prawns , adding the black pepper chili powder and salt, along with thinly sliced bell pepper and allowing it to cook in its own steam( I added a tsp of coconut grating to add to the flavor ).When cooked switch off the heat & set aside.
For the Tamales:
1.Mix the masa, 1 1/4 cups water, butter and salt into a thick paste.
2. Set a corn husk out on a flat surface (double up or shingle 2 husks if they are small or have tears)
3 Add 3-4 tablespoons of the masa mix into the center of the corn husk. Push the mixture with wet fingertips to 1 inch from the side of the husk.
4.Add 2 tablespoons of shrimp stuffing to the center.
5. Fold one edge of the husk to the center, and then fold the other side to cover the entire tamale. Fold the ends over by 2 inches and tuck under to hold in place.
6.Place a colander in large pot of boiling water, but do not let the colander touch the water. Place the tamales in the colander, cover and steam the tamales for 30 to 40 minutes.
6.Serve them steaming hot, be a part of the culture and the celebrations of the Latinos,sharing their merriment.Enjoy!