Tamales: The Heart of Mexico (National Tamale Day is March 23)

March 23 is National Tamale Day. Now is the perfect time to take stock of this most time-honored and traditional of Mexican dishes, a basic part of the daily diet and also made to celebrate special occasions. It is estimated that there are 500 different varieties created throughout the country.

“Tamalli”, which means “wrapped” in Nahuatl, consists of corn flour dough filled with meat, chicken, chili, or other ingredients, wrapped in corn or banana leaves, and steamed in double boiler.

The deceptively simple preparation of this dish —consisting of maize dough (masa) mixed with other ingredients such as shrimp, beef, pork, beans, fish or iguana, wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed—yields incredible flavors.

One bite of a tamale, and you can taste the succulent flavor of corn mingled with delicious fillings. Tamales not only taste good, but they also contain healthy micronutrients. Along with fiber, corn has vitamin A, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. Tamales are served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cooked with sugar and raisins, jam, or fruit inside, tamales are also served for dessert. Our chefs at Pueblo Bonito Resorts have developed a special recipe to celebrate next week’s National Tamale Day.

Tamales from The Market at Quivira

Recipe makes 12 to 15 tamales


  • Corn flour                               1 kg
  • Vegetable shortening             250 gr.
  • Chicken broth                         1 cup
  • Baking powder                        1 teaspoon
  • Salt                                          1 teaspoon
  • Corn husks                              20 pieces
  • Cooked green sauce               ½ cup
  • Shredded chicken breast        1 piece

How to make it:

  1. Whisk the corn flour with the vegetable shortening, chicken broth, baking powder, and salt until you have a uniform mixture.
  2. Hydrate the corn husks in hot water for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve a spoonful of tamale dough on top of the corn husks.
  4. Place the chicken with the green sauce on top of the masa and close the corn husks.
  5. Cook tamales in double boiler recipient in a steamer for one hour or until cooked.

Making the chicken breast and green sauce

Chicken Breast


  • Chicken breast                        1 piece
  • Onion                                      100 gr
  • Carrots                                    100 gr
  • Leek                                         200 gr
  • Celery                                      200 gr
  • Salt                                          1 teaspoon

How to make it:

  1. Boil a chicken breast in approximately 2 liters of water.
  2. Add half an onion, the carrots cut in four, 200 grams of leeks, and 200 grams of celery and salt to taste.
  3. Once the chicken breast is cooked, set aside, and strain the chicken broth, this will be useful to add it to the flour for tamales.

Green Sauce


  • Chicken broth                         200 ml
  • Onion                                      100 gr
  • Garlic                                       2 pieces
  • Jalapeño pepper                     80 gr
  • Tomatillo                                1 kg
  • Coriander                                40 gr
  •  Vegetable shortening or oil   20 ml
  • Salt                                          1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper                           1 pinch

How to make it:

  1. Fry the onion, garlic, jalapeño pepper, and tomatillo in oil or vegetable shortening.
  2. Add the chicken broth and coriander, until you have a liquid consistency with a slight thickness. At this time, add salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  3. Let the sauce cool down a little to be able to blend it.
  4. Once blended, pour it into a pan to finish seasoning.