Tamales De Rajas Recipe

Tamales are one of the oldest foods, tracing back to 8000 B.C. and originating from Mesoamerican civilization (per G Adventures). There are several versions of this Mexican dish, but today we are sharing tamales de rajas — a vegetarian-style tamale full of flavorful poblanos and cheesy goodness on top. This recipe is brought to you by recipe developer Miriam Hahn, and will have you steaming up delicious tamales with ease. 

"My favorite thing about this recipe is the mouth-watering taste of the roasted poblanos and tomatillos. Roasting gives them a deep, smoky taste that is savory and delicious. I also have always really loved how tamales are cooked and served in corn husks," Hahn remarks. You will need some time and patience with this recipe, but we guarantee that it will be worth it. There are several steps to making these tamales, but after just one bite, you will be happy you did it.

Gather the ingredients for the tamales de rajas

For this recipe, you will need a few items: a bag of corn husks, fresh tomatillos, poblano peppers, 1 onion, and cilantro. Then, you'll need some oil, masa harina, baking powder, broth, Monterey Jack cheese, salt, and pepper. If you aren't familiar with buying tomatillos, they will be near the poblano peppers, and usually come encased in a thin husk. "Once you remove the husks," Hahn tells us, "the tomatillos will be a little sticky, so just soak them for a few minutes in a bowl of water, and then pat dry." Hahn says you can use a different cheese from Mexico such as queso fresco, Cotija, or queso de Oaxaca for the tamales, but regular Monterey Jack cheese works fine.

Roast the peppers and tomatillos

Preheat your oven to broil. Then heat some water, (Hahn uses her teakettle), and soak the husks in a bowl or pot for about 30 minutes, until they are soft and pliable. After soaking, lay them on a towel to dry. Next, cut the tomatillos in half, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut-side down, along with the uncut poblano peppers. Roast these for 20 minutes, flipping the poblanos halfway through. They should be blackened and blistered. Blend the tomatillos in a small blender until smooth. When the poblanos are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, discard the seeds, and slice them. 

Sautée the remaining vegetables

Now that the poblanos and tomatillos are good and roasted, add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a medium pot, and sautée the chopped onion over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour in the blended tomatillos, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes. Then, add the cooked poblanos and chopped cilantro, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Stuff the tamales

Combine the remaining oil with the masa harina and the baking powder in a bowl, then mix in the broth. It should hold together like cookie dough; if it is not holding together, add a little more broth. We will be using thin strips of the corn husks to tie our tamales, so cut or rip some ¼-inch thick strips from the husks. 

To fill each cornhusk, lay it out vertically in front of you with the wide, fan-shaped part at the top. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the masa harina mixture onto the top half of the corn husk. Then, add a spoonful of the poblano mixture, and a small handful of the cheese on top of the masa harina mixture. Now bring the side ends to meet, twist, and roll down to seal. Then, fold the pointed, unfilled part of the husk up to lay flat on top of the filled portion. Now, flip the tamale over, with the folded part facing down, and tie a knot with a strip of corn husk to secure. Repeat the steps to fill the other tamales. 

Steam the tamales and serve

The final step is to steam the tamales. Fill a pan with water, and place the tamales into a steamer basket sitting on top of a pan filled with water. Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce to medium, and cook for 45 minutes. Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge, and will be good for up to 5 days. "I love to serve these with this Mexican rice recipe, and this Mexican kale salad," Hahn shares. 

Tamales De Rajas Recipe
5 from 20 ratings
Tamales are a delicious, authentic Mexican dish, and this tamales de rajas recipe will become a favorite for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Prep Time
1
hour
Cook Time
1.33
hours
Servings
16
Tamales
tamales on plate with rice
Total time: 2.33 hours
Ingredients
  • 16 corn husks
  • 10 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon oil, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 ¼ cups masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 ¼ cups Monterey Jack cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to broil. Place the corn husks in a large bowl or pot, and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes, then lay them on a clean dishtowel to dry.
  2. Cut the tomatillos in half, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side down, along with the uncut poblano peppers. Cook for 20 minutes, flipping the poblanos halfway through, until blistered.
  3. Blend the tomatillos in a blender until smooth. Let the poblano peppers cool, then discard the skin and seeds, and slice them into thin strips.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pot over medium. Add the onion, and sautée for 5 minutes. Add the blended tomatillos, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes. Then, add the poblano peppers and cilantro, and cook 5 more minutes.
  5. Put the remaining oil in a large bowl, and add the masa harina and baking powder. Mix to combine, then add the broth. The consistency should be like cookie dough; if it is too dry, add more broth.
  6. To fill each cornhusk, lay one out vertically in front of you with the wide, fan shape at the top. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the masa harina mixture onto the top half of the corn husk. Then, add a spoonful of the poblano mixture, and then a small handful of cheese on top of the masa harina mixture.
  7. Now, bring the sides up to meet, roll down to seal, then fold up the pointed, unfilled part of the husk to lay flat on top of the filled portion. Flip the tamale over, with the folded side down, and tie a knot with a strip of corn husk to secure. Repeat the steps with the other tamales.
  8. Next, fill a large pan with water, and place the tamales in a steamer over the pan with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to medium, and let the tamales steam for 45 minutes.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 266
Total Fat 13.0 g
Saturated Fat 3.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 9.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 34.3 g
Dietary Fiber 3.8 g
Total Sugars 8.0 g
Sodium 177.9 mg
Protein 7.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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