Tamales Costa Rica


  • 2 lbs instant corn masa mix
  • 3 lbs (1.4 kg) Pork Shoulder and Blade|pork shoulder roast or beef roast or boneless chicken
  • ¼ lb (110 gr) lard|pork lard (or shortening|vegetable shortening)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) corn oil
  • batch (~5 cups cooked #Tico-style rice|Tico-style rice, see ingredient list and recipe below)
  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) potatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • ½ lb (225 gr) sweet pepper|sweet or chile pepper|hot peppers to taste
  • 1 large onion (optional)
  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) banana leaves (corn husks can be substituted, or if desperate aluminum foil)
  • cilantro|coriander leaves (cilantro), salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano, achiote (annato)
  • === Tico-style rice ===
  • 3 - 5 sprigs cilantro (cilantro|coriander leaf)
  • 1 small or half a medium onion
  • ½ small red bell pepper|red or yellow bell pepper|yellow sweet pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups (700 ml) chicken broth or water
  • 2 cups (350 ml) white rice
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil


  1. If you are adventurous and demand complete authenticity, you must start from raw corn ground for tamales (3 lbs, 1.4 kg maíz cascado, malido crudo).
  2. Soak the flour in water then rinse it well, cook with a tablespoon of achiote, and a little of the garlic and peppers in salted water to just cover until tender then stand overnight.
  3. The next day, knead it into dough.
  4. You should probably have a demonstration first if you're going to try this method.
  5. For first timers we'd suggest the masa version described below.
  6. Chop the meat into large (2", 5 cm) chunks then brown on high heat in the ½ cup lard or vegetable oil.
  7. Add the chopped garlic, peppers, onion, 1 teaspoon salt, 1teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt for the last minute or two of browning, then cover with water and simmer until very tender (2-3 hours).
  8. Remove the meat from the broth and reserve the broth.
  9. When the meat is cool shred it finely.
  10. While the meat is simmering prepare the potatoes and rice.
  11. Peel the potatoes and boil with salt, cilantro, and oregano to taste until soft.
  12. Cool and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes.
  13. === Tico-style rice ===
  14. Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine.
  15. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 minutes.
  16. Add water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes).
  17. ==
  18. Allow the meat broth to cool until it is just warm.
  19. To the dry masa add 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon ground achiote, and mix dry.
  20. Then add the vegetable oil, mix with your hands while adding the warm broth.
  21. It should take about 2½ cups to make a paste the consistency of mashed potatoes.
  22. Mix and add slowly, and if you over shoot on the broth and get it too thin, add a little more masa.
  23. ==
  24. Wash the banana leaves then cut them into ~15 inch (38 cm) squares. Spread 2 tablespoons of masa paste in the center, add 1 tablespoon each of potatoes, rice and meat. Fold and cook the tamales in gently boiling water for about one hour.
  25. If you substitute corn husks, you will need to make slightly smaller tamales, pack the pot full and steam them rather than boiling them, because the husks won't hold together while floating around.
This article uses material from the "Tamales Costa Rica" article on the Recipes wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License