Nacatamal is a bigger version of the Mexican Tamale. It is a popular stable and large parts of central America where it can be bought on the streets and in super markets. Every one have their own favorite nacatamale and if you ever find yourself at a border in central America it is very likely that you will see the customs seizing nacatamales that someone has bought at their favorite place and are trying to smuggle home to their country. It is very common to bring nacatamels home with you when you have visited your family.
The recipe below will teach you how to make a simple nacatamal. It is up to you to experiment with the recipe until you find a version you love. Try using different vegetables and different seasonings. You can try adding garlic and other types of union, different cheese and pretty much anything else you can think about. The only thing that sets the limits is your imagination.
The Nicaraguans eat Nacatamales all your round and it can be served as dinner, lunch or breakfast. Other central American countries such as Honduras only eat them at special holidays.
Masa de harina is a special type of corn flour. It is maid from dried corn that as been treated in a mix of calcium hydroxide (lime) , ash and water. This makes the corn softer and releases certain nutrients in the corn (vitamin B3). Vitamin B3 is essential for human survival and this process have played an important role in allowing the native tribes to survive on a corn based diet.
Try to find fresh masa in a local store. You will usually need to go to a specialty store to find it. If you are unable to find it you can buy masa de harina instead. An alternative if you are unable to find either in store near you is to buy corn tortillas and grind them to to a paste together with some water. This works as a substitute for Masa when you make Nacatamales but might not work in all other recipes. You can find corn tortillas in most supermarkets.
If you are unable to find banana leafs you can use any other large non toxic leaf. Different leafs will give different flavor. Some works great other don’t. The only way to know is to try. Many stores sells frozen banana leafs.
The aluminium foil it not necessary but makes the process easier for novice chefs.
You need a larger steamer that is large enough to make all nacatamales at the same time. They need to be steamed for 3-4 hours. Doing them in batches is not a good choice.
The nacatamal can be served right away or reheated at a later date. It should be server in its unopened banana leaf.