Spice up Your Palate with Tamales of Oaxaca Recipe

Indulge in the rich flavors and vibrant history of the Tamales of Oaxaca! This article takes you on a culinary adventure through the Zapotec kingdom, sharing a traditional recipe, and historical insights. Discover the magic of this ancient stew today!

Spice up Your Palate with Tamales of Oaxaca Recipe
A spread of Tamales of Oaxaca, showcasing the colors and rich flavors that embody the culinary heritage of the Zapotec kingdom.

Prepare your taste buds for a journey to the vibrant land of Oaxaca, where culinary traditions have deep roots and flavors burst with history. In this piece, we delve into the enchanting world of Tamales of Oaxaca, a festive stew that originated from the ancient Zapotec kingdom.

With a recipe that tantalizes the senses, we'll explore the unique ingredients, share fascinating historical tidbits, and guide you through the preparation process. Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure like no other!


To embark on this gastronomic expedition, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 kg of lard: Now, before you raise your eyebrows and question this hefty amount of lard, allow us to clarify that this traditional recipe harks back to a time when indulgence was celebrated. The rich flavor and tender texture of these tamales owe a great deal to the generous inclusion of lard. So, set aside any reservations and embrace the decadence of this ancient delight.
  • 500 gr of chilhuacle: Ah, the corn flour for tamales mixed with ground chili! This ingredient brings a delightful kick to the table, infusing the tamales with a tantalizing heat. Chilhuacle is a quintessential element of Oaxacan cuisine and has been cherished for centuries. The Zapotec people, with their ingenuity and appreciation for flavors, perfected the art of incorporating this fiery spice into their culinary creations.
  • 250 gr of salt: While we appreciate the importance of seasoning, we must admit that this recipe calls for quite a substantial amount of salt. The historical significance of this generous use of salt lies in its ability to preserve food in ancient times, ensuring sustenance during long journeys or challenging circumstances. So, sprinkle this ingredient with a sense of reverence for the past.
  • Meat from 2 hens: Poultry has always held a prominent place in Mexican cuisine. The delicate and succulent meat from these hens adds a tender contrast to the robust flavors of the tamale stew. Historically, hens were a precious commodity in the Zapotec kingdom, symbolizing prosperity and abundance. By incorporating them into this recipe, we pay homage to the cultural and culinary heritage of Oaxaca.
  • 1 pork loin: Now, it's time to introduce a touch of indulgence. The pork loin lends its rich flavors to the tamale stew, infusing it with a deliciously savory essence. In ancient times, pork was considered a delicacy, often reserved for special occasions and grand feasts. By including this ingredient, we honor the spirit of celebration that accompanies the tamales of Oaxaca.
  • The meat broth: Waste not, want not! The broth in which the hens and pork loin are cooked serves as the liquid base for our tamale dough. The utilization of this flavorful broth not only adds depth to the stew but also echoes the resourcefulness of our ancestors. They understood the value of extracting every bit of flavor from their ingredients, leaving nothing to waste.
  • 12 plantain leaves: As we embark on the final step of our tamale-making journey, we encounter the humble yet essential plantain leaves. These broad, sturdy leaves play a crucial role in enveloping the tamale mixture, imparting a subtle botanical aroma. In Oaxaca, plantain leaves have been used for centuries, serving as natural wrappers for various culinary delights. Their presence in this recipe is a testament to the sustainable and environmentally conscious practices of the Zapotec kingdom.
Step into history with each bite - Tamales of Oaxaca pay homage to ancient traditions.
Step into history with each bite - Tamales of Oaxaca pay homage to ancient traditions, blending indulgence, creativity, and cultural significance on a plate.


Now, let's venture into the realm of preparation:

  1. The hens and the pork loin are cooked separately in salted water: This step ensures that each meat attains its unique tenderness and retains its flavors. We acknowledge the wisdom of our ancestors who understood the importance of cooking each ingredient to perfection.
  2. Grind the dough and mix it with the melted lard: The transformation begins! Here, the corn flour and ground chili blend together, creating a vibrant canvas for our tamales. The melted lard joins the party, lending its richness to the dough. Mix the ingredients with care, ensuring each element is harmoniously incorporated.
  3. Beat the dough with the lard: Grab your wooden spoon and channel your inner culinary maestro. This step involves beating the dough and lard mixture, adding air and lightness to the composition. The magical transformation occurs in parts, where the dough becomes porous, inviting the flavors on your palate. Embrace this process and let your creativity flow.
  4. Salt and the meat broth enter the stage: As the tamale dough reaches its desired level of porosity, salt joins the ensemble. Sprinkle in this crucial seasoning, enhancing the flavors that are yet to be fully unleashed. Then, pour in the broth in which the meat was cooked, intensifying the depth and character of the tamale mixture. Beat the ingredients once more, elevating the dough to its final form, thick and porous.
  5. Leafy enclosures and the grand finale: It's time to present our tamales in their glorious wrapping. If you're fortunate enough to have banana leaves at your disposal, cut them into suitable pieces and prepare them for cooking. A pot filled with a little water takes center stage, with corn sod leaves artfully arranged on top. The tamales find their place in this botanical oasis, finally covered with a totomoxtle tapesco, a leafy blanket that seals in the flavors and essence of our creation.
  6. The waiting game: Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to culinary delights. Allow the tamales to simmer and meld their flavors for approximately 40 minutes. During this time, let your anticipation build, as the aromas waft through your kitchen, teasing your senses and preparing you for the flavors that await.

And there you have it – Tamales of Oaxaca, a culinary journey through time and tradition. As you savor each bite, relish the flavors that have been passed down through generations, connecting you to the history of the Zapotec kingdom. Let these tamales be a reminder that food is not just sustenance but a celebration of culture, heritage, and the boundless creativity of human ingenuity.

So, go forth, gather your ingredients, and embark on this extraordinary culinary adventure. Let the Tamales of Oaxaca transport you to a world where flavors tell stories, and every bite is a journey unto itself. Bon appétit!