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#502189 - 03/13/15 02:02 PM How To Make Tamale (bollo)
Marty Offline


You can’t possibly come to Belize and not try a Tamale! That would be like going to the beach and not getting into the water!

What is a Tamale?

A tamale or bollo is a delicious traditional Mesoamerican dish made of corn dough (masa) which is filled with seasoned meat (chicken or pork) then steamed or boiled in plantain or banana leaves.

Tamales have been traced back to the Ancient Maya people, who prepared them for feasts as early as the Preclassic period (1200–250 BC).  Maya people called their corn tortillas and tamales both utah.

Here is a super yummy, easy to follow recipe provided by: Uj Janal Aj Maya a collection of traditional Maya cuisines by Aurora Garcia Saqui.


But first, you’ll need to get two banana leaves! (Most international ethnic stores sell them- and once you wrap the tamale once, foil can seal the deal.)

Recipe makes 12 tamales

Roast the leaves directly over a fire or burner on both sides to soften. Cut each leaf into six pieces, three pieces on each side of the vein. Sponge each piece with a damp cloth and set aside. Save the veins for later.

Making the Cull (Red filling):

  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp annatto (red recado)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 T oil
  • ½ lb masa
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste

In a medium pot, mix the salt, pepper, annatto, bouillon, onion, garlic, and oil. Add the masa and water then bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove when it reaches boiling point and set aside.

Making the Tamale base:

  • 1 ½ lbs masa
  • ¾ cups oil
  • Some water
  • Salt to taste

Mix the masa with the oil, adding water until it is as soft as clay. Form into 12 balls. Place each ball on a piece of banana leaf. Flatten each ball into a tortilla shape.

Add one teaspoon of the cull to the center of each open tamale.

Chicken tamales: Take cooked chicken and add one piece of meat to each tamale.

Vegetarian tamales: Substitute chicken bouillon for vegetable bullion and add cooked greens or heart of palm.

Fold the masa over the filling, one side and then the other like an envelope. Next, fold the banana leaf over the tamale lengthwise and on the ends (If using foil, wrap a sheet of foil tightly to seal the tamale before steaming). Put the banana leaf veins on the bottom of the pot. Place the tamales on of the veins, and add water, but do not completely cover the tamales, and boil for one hour.

Once they have steamed the tamales/bollos will be firm. Let them cool a bit then enjoy!

Chaa Creek blog

#502306 - 03/17/15 06:49 AM Re: How To Make Tamale (bollo) [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Puerto Rican Pasteles/Tamales Puertorriqueños

Puerto Rican Pastales are somewhat similar to Belizean Tamales except it's made with green plantains instead of corn. This is a very dense dish, but very delicious. I also show you in 3 minutes or less how to make Belizean Tamales.

#503973 - 05/05/15 06:34 AM Re: How To Make Tamale (bollo) [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

How to Make Mexican Tamales/Easy Recipe

Cinco de Mayo Menu idea. I show you how to make Mexican Tamales in just a few steps. I make 2 types of masa from scratch and red and green salsa. I show you how to make 3 fillings for some the most delicious tamales.

#506714 - 08/16/15 06:36 AM Re: How To Make Tamale (bollo) [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
This is an excellent Belizean Tamales recipe made easy. It is broken down into steps for easy to follow instructions.

#510083 - 12/21/15 04:16 AM Re: How To Make Tamale (bollo) [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline



18 smoked banana leaves, cut in 10-inch squares
4 pounds chicken, cut into serving sizes
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Season All
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
²⁄₃ cup onion, diced
²⁄₃ cup green bell peppers, deseeded, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1¼ cups cilantro, minced
¼ cup vegetable oil, for browning chicken
1½ cups warm water
¼ cup red recado paste, diluted in water
Green olives, optional
Green peas, optional


Clean both sides of banana leaves with a damp cloth. Set aside. Season chicken pieces with salt, Season All, black pepper and sugar. Heat oil in a deep saucepot. Add chicken and cook until light brown. Add 1½ cups water. Dilute recado in approximately ⅓ cup warm water and add to chicken. Let simmer for half an hour, then remove chicken and set aside. Strain chicken broth for col and return to saucepot, reducing to a low heat.

Ingredients for Col

¾ pound corn masa
²⁄₃ cup water
2 teaspoons salt

Mix masa, water and salt until well blended. Add the masa mixture to broth and stir until thickened. Add water if mixture is too thick. Remove from heat and set aside. Mixture should have the consistency of thick cream.

Ingredients for Tamale Dough

2⅓ pounds masa
4 teaspoons salt
1¼ cups water
1 cup vegetable oil

Mix masa, salt, water and vegetable oil until well blended. Mixture will be like a soft custard.

To Assemble

On a flat surface place a banana leaf on a larger square of foil. Place ⅓ cup masa mixture in middle of leaf and spread into a 5-inch circle. Top with ⅓ cup col, a piece of chicken and a slice of tomato.olives or green peas are optional. Bring opposite sides of the banana leaf and foil together and fold down tightly. Carefully fold each side over tightly to contain the filling. Line the bottom of a large saucepot with banana leaves. Arrange the wrapped tamales on a slant to avoid water getting into it. You may place as many tamales as you can in the saucepot. Add 4 inches of water and steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check periodically to make sure there is always an inch of water in the pot. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 16 to 18 tamales


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