Around the World #2: Green Chile Chicken Tamales

DSC_0038Goodness me! Did I really make Tamales? From scratch? Yes ..And that too on a weeknight after work? I must be crazy!  Well  a little bit crazy perhaps… but I did have a reason for doing what I did – trying to make tamales on a weeknight! And the reason was that I had soaked corn husks in water over last weekend when I had planned to prepare an elaborate Mexican meal. It was very ambitious and hence I couldn’t finish making everything on my list – I got only as far as – tostadas, chicken enchiladas with a green chillie and tomatillo sauce and guava rolls. And then on Sunday hubby dear ordered me to stay out of the kitchen since it was Mother’s day!  That’s why I couldn’t get to my tamales….alas! And hence all Monday morning at work I kept worrying about my corn husks rotting having been soaked for over 48 hours then. So I came home determined to work on my tamales. I took the over soaked corn husks out of the refrigerator.  I had some cooked chicken left over from the weekend when I had made the enchiladas. So all I had to make was the tamale batter and the sauce and then steam them. How hard could that be, right? Wrong.

As I was getting the ingredients for the tamale batter ready, the electrician who had been working on our new room addition walked into the kitchen and disabled all the kitchen electrical outlets. So no electric mixer for making the batter. I was still unfazed – no problemo, I shall use my wooden spoon for the mixing! And so I made the masa harina dough using my hands and then added butter and chicken stock to it all the time stirring vigorously with my spoon. I managed to get the batter ready. Done. All happy.

IMG_0261Then I put some tomatillos and green chillies in the oven to broil. Got them out of the oven and then remembered that I had no electricity in my kitchen. Again the fierce determination took over. I picked up my food processor and walked over to the dining room and whirred it up. Voila, sauce ready!

Now the assembly – so I spread out all the ingredients for my tamale on the kitchen counter – the batter, the chicken and the sauce. I take one husk and start to spread the batter on it when my doorbell rings and my contractor enters. The gentleman that he is he pretends to ignore the mess on my kitchen counter but he has to talk to me about things and at first I stop my assembly work and give him undivided attention. But after a few minutes as I realize the clock ticking by, I resume my work whilst still talking to him. Did I imagine the quizzical look on his face? oh never mind.!

IMG_0262IMG_0263IMG_0264Anyways fortunately my husband gets home and he is able to answer the contractor’s questions and also manages to get him out of my kitchen! Finally I breathe a sigh of relief. And finish assembling the tamales and steam them in batches in my makeshift steamer using a sieve pan and a large pot with a lid.

IMG_0266We had the tamales along with some left over rice and lentil curry from the weekend which was also the reason I decided to embark on this rather proud tamale mission on a Monday night.  But the climax of my story – Ooh la la – Soft, spongy tamales ! I have had tamales only once before while on vacation in Mexico and I have to say that my tamales tasted better than what I had over there. Mind you, I am not bragging …hardly that. Just being factual 🙂 No seriously, these came out so good – soft and airy coating of the corn meal dough and delicious, spicy chicken filling inside! The chicken stock I used for the tamale batter was the home made one from cooking the chicken with the mexican spices and I think that imparted additional flavor to the tamales. I also had some bean puree left over from the weekend when I had made tostadas. So I also made a couple tamales using the blackbean puree as filling and they turned out tasty too!

And here’s how you make them. Make sure you have no distractions like I did! 🙂 I am bringing these tamales to Angie’s for the Fiesta Friday! This week’s party will be wild with Justine from Eclectic Odds n Sods and Jess from The Not so creative cook as the co-hosts! Happy weekend all!

Green Chile Chicken Tamales

  • Time: about 45 minutes preparation time and 30 minutes cooking time
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican

For the tamale batter


  • 10-12 dried corn husks, soaked in hot water for about 1 hour (Keep extra husks for the strings)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 tsp bkg pow
  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina (I used Maseca brand)
  • Abt 1 cup luke warm water
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock*


Take a small bowl and add the masa harina and add the hot water slowly and stir with a wooden spoon to form a dough. It is best to use your hands to form the dough so you can feel the texture – it should be soft and not crumbly.

Now take another large mixing bowl and add the softened butter (you can microwave the butter for 5-10 seconds to make it soft) and the baking powder. Stir using an electric mixer (or wooden spoon as I did !) Then add the masa haring dough little bit at a time until it blends completely with the butter mixture. Then add the chicken stock little by little until you get a very thick batter (it is actually the consistency of a dough but very soft) You can test the consistency of the dough by dropping a piece of it in a bowl of water to check if it floats. If it sinks, then you need to add more water or stock.


The chicken stock I used was from when I cooked my chicken for my enchiladas the other day (with all the spices-  oregano, achiote and garlic) and so the stock was extremely flavorful which I think made the tamales extra delicious!

For the chicken filling:

  • 3 tomatillos, husk removed
  • 1 green chill (serrano or halopeno)
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • Shredded cooked chicken, 2 cups

Place the tomatillos and the chile on a tray lined with foil and broil in the oven for about 5-6 minutes turning them after 3 minutes. Remove from oven and blend with the cilantro leaves.

Take a shallow pan and add the chicken pieces and the tomatillo sauce and cook for about 5-7 minutes until you get a thickened sauce.

Assembling the tamales:

While you are assembling the tamales, Keep a tamale steamer ready or take a large pot and fill with water to about 1/2 of it and bring the water to boil. then place a sieve over the top.

Take a corn husk and spread about 2 tbsp of the batter on it with a spoon leaving some room on the edges. Then place about 1 tbsp of chicken filling inside. See picture above.

Fold the corn husk longitudinally to seal the edges with the filling inside.Then take the lower narrow bottom of the husk and fold it a little bit and then use a piece of string from the extra husks and tie the tamales.

Place the tamales in the steamer and cover and cook for about 25-30 minutes on medium heat.

Wait for the tamales to cool a bit before opening them!



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0 thoughts on “Around the World #2: Green Chile Chicken Tamales

  1. These tamales look so good Indu! I love the taste of tomatillos and your filling sounds awesome! Hats off to you for making them after work….tamales seem so labor intensive….but then I can relate to being driven to make something I have on my mind:)

  2. Your tamales look great Indu! I haven’t had any in ages and never thought about making any, but I’d love to try doing these ones! They look delicious… and well done on managing to make them despite the distractions! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this recipe! 🙂

  3. That looks so totally different and intriguing. I would never be brave enough to make it but would certainly order it, so that just means you have to deliver me some now if that is alright? grinz. Thank you for coming to FF #68 and I hope you are having some bubbly, Justine x

  4. I don’t think I have tried Tamales before but this sounds really nice. Thanks for sharing at FF table. I hope you are having fun. 😉 xx

  5. Yum! I love tamales, Indu! I just bought some masa the other day and am planning to make some soon too! If they turn out nicely, I will blog them…in the meantime I will dream of yours! 😀

    • ha ha Julianna I am sure yours will turn put great considering you are such an accomplished cook! I look forward to your post! These chicken ones turned out fabulously. To be honest I wasn’t expecting these to be great based on my one experience of eating them before. But this recipe of the batter gives the tamale covering a great texture -soft and porous almost bread like!

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