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The Panamanian Tamal


[Corn is the main ingredient of the mix of the tamal.]

Corn is the main ingredient of the mix of the tamal.


[The mix is stuffed with chicken or pork meat. This one is a pork tamal.]

The mix is stuffed with chicken or pork meat. This one is a pork tamal.


[Plantain and bananas leaves are used for wrapping up the tamal.]

Plantain and bananas leaves are used for wrapping up the tamal.


[The leaves are washed and then briefly cooked, so they are clean and flexible.]

The leaves are washed and then briefly cooked, so they are clean and flexible.


[The tamal includes many vegetables such as cilantro, onion, tomato, peppers, etc.]

The tamal includes many vegetables such as cilantro, onion, tomato, peppers, etc.


[The corn and vegetables are then mixed and grounded in a manual milling machine.]

The corn and vegetables are then mixed and grounded in a manual milling machine.


[The filling of the tamal is done with the aforementioned meat, raisings, olives, peas and other vegetables.]

The filling of the tamal is done with the aforementioned meat, raisings, olives, peas and other vegetables.


[The tamal is then wrapped up on the leaves and everything is tied together.]

The tamal is then wrapped up on the leaves and everything is tied together.


[Next, the tamales are put to cook. The come out better if a wood stove is used.]

Next, the tamales are put to cook. The come out better if a wood stove is used.


[After their cooking, the tamales are ready to serve.]

After their cooking, the tamales are ready to serve.


[Here we see a tamal ready to eat.]

Here we see a tamal ready to eat.


By:

Marino Jaén Espinosa
2010-01-15

Being corn a staple of the Mezoamerican peoples of Mexico and Central America, there are still many traditional dishes in the region that are based on that grain. One of them is the tamal, which in many forms can be found all over the region. In this article, we will concentrate in the Panamanian variation.

Our tamal is made, as many others, of corn and some filling made of chicken or pork meat and assorted vegetables such as tomatos, onions, peppers anc cilantro. All these ingredients are milled together and made into a mix.

At the same time the processes described above are taking place, the meat is being cooked and also the wrappings of the tamale are being prepared. These wrappings are made of banana or plantain leaves, and of several other similar big leaves. After they are cut, they need to be cleaned and then cooked for a short time, in order to be clean and flexible enough for wrapping the tamal.

The next step is the stuffing and sealing of the tamal. In addition to the meat, more vegetables are put in, as well as olives, peas and raisings. The tamal is then sealed and wrapped up using the leaves and then tied. Next they are submerged in boiling water until ready to serve.

When the tamal is served, the person eating it first has to unwrap it. Then, when the brightly orange-yellow tamal is exposed, it is ready to be enjoyed.


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