Humintas: Bolivian Tamales

 

After receiving my package from Bolivia, I researched Bolivian food.  While majority of it isn’t vegan, because it uses fresh ingredients and simple cooking methods, it can easily be adapted. After looking at many mouth watering recipes, I saw humintas and knew I had to make them. They are pretty much just the Bolivian version of a tamale. I had a hard time fiding a basic recipe online, so I based this one on several. I also used followed some advice my friend Leslie gave me.

Although they are not complicated to make, they are time consuming (especially if you have to ground your corn by hand because your blend broke like me). But, I promise they are worth it.

I made a green chili and cilantro sauce to go with them. It’s a perfect compliment for the slightly sweet corn, and it’s not overly hot so don’t be afraid.

Green Pepper and Cilantro Sauce
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup green onion
2 hot peppers
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Red pepper flakes

If you have a blender or food processors, just throw everything in there and blend until your desired consistency.

Fresh from Farmers Market.

If you have a broken blender like me, finely chop the cilantro and green onions.

I really wished I had my blender to do this

Chop the peppers in half and remove the stem, membranes and seeds. I left a few seeds since I like it hot. Then chop finely.

Add the cilantro, green onions, and peppers to a small bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix together well, then let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors develop.

 
Humintas
3 cobs of corn, with husks still attached
1/2 corn meal
4 tbs Engr-G egg replacer
1 tomato
1/4 cup vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Only use fresh corn, canned will not work.

Carefully remove the cobs from the husks. Don’t rip or tear them, they are what you cook the corn filling in.  Remove the silk and rise clean.

 

Watch it, the kernels like to fly off.

Next cut the kernels off the cobs. This can get a bit messy so I suggest  doing this in a bowl so the kernels don’t end up everywhere.

Mashing by hand sucks.

Now, put the kernels in the blender with the corn meal and blend into a slightly sticky paste. I unfortunately had to ground mine by hand (the nice thing about being a geologist is I usually have a nice piece of rock laying around that can be used as a pestle. And yes mom, it’s clean!).

 

Next, remove the seeds from the tomato and chopped finely. Add to the corn mixture.

Traditionally the humintas are stuffed with the cheese, but I am not that talented yet. Add the cheese and egg replacer, then season with the salt and pepper. Mix together well.

Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large pot on the stove.

In another pot, put a few inches of cold water and set aside.

Sort the corns husks into large and small pieces. The large ones are will be the wrappers and the small ones will be used to tie the humintas shut.

Once it’s boiling, place the large husks into the boiling water for about 10 seconds. This makes the husks easier to work with.Then dunk straight into the cold water.

Spray a pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Now time to fill the husks. Spread enough of the corn mixture, 2-3 tablespoons depending on size of the husks, into each husk in a thin layer. I  suggest laying several husk on top  of each other, it is easier to fill and tie. I also suggest oiling the inside husk before you put in the filling. I didn’t do this and my huminitas stuck a little bit.

Not the easier thing to do, but it gets better with practice.

Now fold over the sides to make a little package. Then tie shut with the smaller husks like string.

Not the best wrapping job ever….

Place the humintas on the pan or cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. They are done when the husks are browned and steam is no longer coming off them.

 

I thought they might open, but I didn’t have any more husks.

Mine burst open because I didn’t wrap them tight enough. I should have used more husks and tied them better. They still tasted amazing, and the few that did stay closed were the best ones.

I topped them with sauce and ate them while they were still hot. Since most of mine stuck to the husks, I had to scoop them out. But normally, they should come right out and be eaten freely. Sweet, cheesy, and very filling.  The sauce provided a nice contrast. I can’t wait to have authentic ones, let’s hope I get to go to Bolivia soon!

Viva las humintas!

The recipes I based this on:
http://www.food2.com/blog/humitas-ecuatorianas
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Andean-Humita-en-Chala-230683
http://thefrugalchef.com/2009/10/humintas-bolivian-style-tamales/
http://www.boliviaweb.com/recipes/english/humintas.htm

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