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Honduran tamales - Printable Version

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Honduran tamales - labradors - 12-20-2008

Here's the recipe for the Honduran tamales traditionally served to guests on Christmas Eve. With the exception of formatting it for the forum, and making it clear that "green pepper" means "green BELL pepper," and not "green chiles," the recipe is entered, here, exactly as I have it. The "steps" mentioned in the "assembly instructions" refer to a page, in the book, that shows pictures numbered with those "steps." I have put the picture of that page after all the instructions. Also, I have eaten these, but have never made them, and can say they are MUCH tastier than the typical tamales.

Santa Bárbara Style Nacatamales
(Central-American tamales: Santa Bárbara, Honduras version)
Makes 20

Dough preparation ingredients:
  • 5 C Corn flour/masa (e.g. Maseca)
  • 15 C Water
  • 1 1/2 C Chopped onion
  • 1 C Chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 2/3 C Vegetable shortening
  • 2 tsp Ground white pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Salt
Dough preparation instructions:
  1. In a frying pan, melt 1 C vegetable shortening. Cook the onion and green pepper at medium heat until slightly golden. Cover the pan and cook at low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool and grind in the blender. Strain using a sieve.
  2. In an 8-quart pan, place the corn flour dissolving it gradually with the water. Add the salt, pepper and the sieved mixture of the onion and the green pepper.
  3. Cook at medium heat and stir the mixture constantly. When the dough begins to boil, add the remaining melted vegetable shortening. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Meat preparation ingredients:
  • 2 pounds pork meat, without fat
  • 1 C Dough prepared in the first step
  • 1 1/2 C Tomatoes
  • 1 C Onion
  • 8 Cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 C Chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 C Tomato paste dissolved in water
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Achiote
  • 1 Tbsp Finely chopped jalapeño pepper
Meat preparation instructions:
  1. Cut the pork meat into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Place the tomato, onion, garlic and green pepper in the blender and chop. Prepare the recado by mixing with the rest of the above ingredients and add them to the meat. Refrigerate overnight in a glass container or 8 hours before preparing the nacatamales.
Assembly ingredients:
  • 2 C Short-gran rice, uncooked
  • 2 C potatoes, cut lengthwise (2 x 1/4 inch)
  • 2 C Green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 C Peas
  • 2 C Water
  • 20 Plantain (or banana) leaves (4 x 12 inches) washed and soaked in boiling water
  • 2 C Stuffed green olives
  • 1 1/2 C Raisins
  • 3/4 C Capers
  • 2 Tbsp Corn oil
  • 1 tsp Achiote
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Roll thin string
  • 20 Pieces of aluminum foil
Assembly instructions:
  1. Heat the oil in a small pan and cook the rice. Add the water and the achiote dissolved in hot oil. Season with salt and cook uncovered until the water evaporates.
  2. Take 1 plantain leaf and place 2 Tbsp of dough in the center and extend. (Step 1)
  3. Place the ingredients approximately in the following order: a piece of meat, 4 pieces of potato, 5 pieces of green beans, 1 Tbsp peas, 4 olives, 1 tsp capers, 1 tsp raisins, 3 tsp rice and 1 Tbsp of the meat recado. (Step 2)
  4. Fold the plantain leaf and wrap in the aluminum foil so that the size of the nacatamal remains 4 x 6 inches. (Steps 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Tie with the string (Step 6). Repeat the same process in making each nacatamal.
  6. Place in an 8-quart pan and add enough boiling water to cover them. Boil for 45 minutes and lower the heat afterwards and cook for 1 1/2 hours at low heat. Check once in a while to see that the water does not evaporate completely. (Step 7)
NOTE: Recado is a paste, usually made with achiote and other ingredients, used to marinate meats or add flavour to other dishes. The word may also refer (as in the above instructions) to the meat that has been so marinated. Either way, this is all strange, since the word recado actually means either an errand, or a brief message (e.g. a telephone message left for someone). LOL!

Re: Honduran tamales - cjs - 12-20-2008

Haven't done these for years - would love to try your version. thanks labs.

Re: Honduran tamales - Mare749 - 12-21-2008

So would I, but they sure do look labor intensive! I'm sure they are worth it though.

Re: Honduran tamales - labradors - 12-21-2008

You're welcome, Jean. Mare, any tamales involve a lot of work, and the degree to which most of them LACK flavour is the reason I've never considered them worth making - or even eating, for that matter. When I had these at a Honduran friend's house one Christmas Eve, I thought they were wonderful and, finally, were tamales actually worth going through the work.

Re: Honduran tamales - cjs - 06-11-2011

Anon was looking at this thread - Labs, if I can't find plantain or banana leaves, the Mexican corn husks would probably work, don't you think?

I'm just tasting these mentally with the banana ketchup. I mentioned the ketchup to a Filipino friend the other day and he said such and such a store here in town carries it. I might buy some to compare, but can't imagine liking the commercial any better.

Re: Honduran tamales - labradors - 06-11-2011

Jean, corn husks would be okay, although probably a little more difficult to use since they are so much smaller than banana leaves. There would also be a slight taste difference, of course. Even though you don't eat the leaves, they do impart some flavour to whatever you wrap within them.

If you DO find the store-bought banana ketchup, I'd love to know how close the recipe is. For that matter, you could also ask your Pinoy friend to taste what you just made and give you his opinion. It could be that it may be different from what you find in the store but he may say it's the same as a different brand that that store doesn't happen to have. Of course, post any of that info in the other thread.

Re: Honduran tamales - cjs - 06-11-2011

Good idea, in fact we have quite a large Filipino community here in P.A. and because my neighbor is also from the Philippines, I've met quite a number, so can have some of them taste.

Re: Honduran tamales - labradors - 06-11-2011

See if you can find their recipe(s) for Pinoy Spaghetti. With banana ketchup, hot dogs and/or Vienna sausages and grated Cheddar, it will probably sound like a recipe from a third grader, but I'm curious to try it and would like to get a clearer idea of the recipe than I've been getting from various online sites.

Re: Honduran tamales - cjs - 02-11-2014

Hello!! The day I'm looking for Tamale recipes, anon is looking at this thread!!

Labs, I forgot about the spaghetti you mentioned in the above post until I looked at this again -

I may try this one - (but I do have to make some more banana ketchup, haven't for, what, a couple three years??

Filipino Style Spaghetti Recipe
Estimated & preparation & cooking time: 40 minutes.
Spaghetti Ingredients:

1 kg. spaghetti noodles
1/2 kg. ground beef
1/2 kg. ground pork
1/4 kg. hotdogs, diagonally sliced
1 kg. tomato sauce (or 3/4 kg. tomato sauce and 1/4 kg. banana catsup)
3 pieces laurel leaves (bay leaves)
1/4 cup brown or white sugar (reduce to 1/8 cup if using banana catsup)
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 onions, chopped
1 head garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of cooking oil
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated cheese

Spaghetti Cooking Instructions:
Cook spaghetti noodles according to package instructions.
In a sauce pan or wok, sauté garlic and onions in cooking oil.
Add ground beef, ground pork, laurel leaves, bell pepper and a cup of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Add tomato sauce or combination of banana catsup and tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste then let simmer for another 10 minutes
Add brown sugar and hotdogs. Continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Optional: add hot sauce e.g. Tabasco for more spice if desired.
Serve with the cooked spaghetti noodles and grated cheese on top.

Re: Honduran tamales - labradors - 02-11-2014

Yes, a strange dish, indeed, but tasty - although a bit on the sweet side (that's how they like it).