Growing up vegetarian meant learning how to cook on my own in order to enjoy my favorite Mexican dishes . Learning that tamales- even cheese tamales- most of the time aren’t vegetarian friendly was one of my biggest heartbreaks. Many people use pig lard to make Tamale dough (masa), and sometimes even use beef or chicken broth as well; please be careful when purchasing tamales. Learning this made me unable to trust anyones tamales, so I began to make my own- and I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am to my aunt for teaching me how to substitute ingredients and still get delicious (vegan) tamales.
Tamales can be stuffed with pretty much anything your heart desires- that’s what makes them so great! One of my personal favorites is queso con rajas (cheese with jalapeño and poblano chile slices). I will be trying out other different ways to make/stuff tamales, but I thought it’d be best to start off with a simple, yet classic one first. This recipe is vegan but can also be vegetarian depending on the cheese that you use.
Keep in mind, tamales do take some time to make but the end result makes it worth it.
Vegan Tamales de Rajas
Prep time 1.5 Hours| Cook Time 1 Hour| Total 2.5 Hours
This recipe makes 25-30 tamales
- 3 Jalapeños
- 2 Poblano Chiles
- 1 Bag of Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese (you can use the cheese of your preference)
- 1 Bag of Corn Husks (Tamale Leaves/Wrappers)
- 2 Cups of Masa Harina
- 1 Tsp of baking soda (I use Royal)
- 1/2 Cup of Crisco all Vegetable Shortening (olive oil is also a good option)
- 1 Tsp of salt (or to your liking)
- 2 1/4 Cups of Warm Water
- Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water and leave them to soak. You don’t have to soak the entire bag, but do make sure you soak a little over 30 corn husks.
- Remove the stems and seeds from the chile pods and cut the jalapeños and poblano chile into slim slices. Add a tiny bit of salt to them, and place them to the side. Be very careful when doing this step as the chile can be spicy, gloves are recommended.
- FOR THE DOUGH Combine the masa, royal (baking soda) and salt; stir them.
- FOR THE DOUGH Heat the Crisco shortening in the microwave for about 40 seconds to a minute, then add it into the masa mix; stir again. (If you use olive oil, you do not need to heat it, simply stir it in)
- FOR THE DOUGH Continue to stir everything together and little by little add the warm water as you stir.
- FOR THE DOUGH Continue to stir until the consistency of the dough is similar to that of peanut butter. It is okay to add a little more water if you feel that it is too dry, or a little more masa if you feel that it is too loose.
- Remove the corn husks from the water and begin to spread the dough over the corn husks. The amount of dough used on the corn husks can differ. I like to keep my tamales small and thin so I only use about a spoonful, but if you prefer them to be thicker you may use a little more. -Do this repeatedly until you are out of dough.
- Use a small handful of of cheese and chile slices to fill the center of the tamales. Then fold all of the sides of the husks into the center.
- Place the tamales in a steamer for about 40 minutes (if you doubled up the recipe, steam for about an hour). If you do not have a steamer you can use a pot. I will place a picture down below of how to properly place the tamales in the pot.
- After the 40 minutes (or an hour) take out one tamale and let it sit out for a minute or two, then cut it open. If the masa is firm, they are all done! Otherwise wrap it back up and let it steam a little bit more.
TIP: Tamales are always amazing, but they are even more amazing the day after! Heat the tamales on a skillet until the corn husks are a little burnt, pair them with coffee, and oh gosh, THE BEST.