Tamales are a traditional Mexican streetfood. They are made from a corn-based masa dough, filled with anything from pulled meats to vegetables and cheese, wrapped up and steamed in corn husks.
The following recipe however, is anything but authentic. It is more a student-friendly version that doesn’t require the sourcing of specific ingredients and equipment that you will only use for one recipe then gather dust on the shelf for a couple of years. You can adapt the recipe to your tastes/dietary requirements and it is so straight forward and cheap but best of all, these tamales do not skimp on flavour.
I used fine semolina to make my dough as masa is a bit tricky to obtain in Dorset as are corn husks so I used greaseproof paper which worked a treat. In keeping with my vegetarian lent challenge, I also used margarine instead of lard for the dough and made refried beans with added veggies and cheese for the filling. Folded together and steamed, the spices blend together in a warming dumpling-like parcel of flavours and textures. I recommend a good strong stock and decent seasoning for depth of flavour too.
Serves 4 as a small meal
70g/2½oz lard (or margarine)
225g/8oz masa flour (or fine semolina)
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp each smoked paprika, oregano
150ml/5fl oz warm stock
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
100g mushrooms, chopped
1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
50g/2oz Cheddar, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the tamales, beat the lard in a bowl with a wooden spoon to soften, then add the masa, baking powder, smoked paprika, oregano and salt and continue to beat. Slowly add the warm stock, beating to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a clean surface and knead for a couple of minutes, until soft. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion, garlic, pepper, mushroom, cumin seeds and paprika for 10 minutes, add the tomato puree, kidney beans and a splash of stock and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the coriander and then mash the beans roughly with a potato masher.
To assemble the tamales, place a tablespoon of dough on a square of greaseproof paper and use your hands to flatten it into a rectangle shape. Place a spoonful of the beans in the middle and sprinkle with the Cheddar then fold over the sides and the ends to form a parcel and press down to seal. Wrap with the greaseproof paper, tie with string then repeat until you run out of dough.
Place the tamales in a steamer and cook for about an hour. Remove the tamales and carefully unwrap. Serve with salsa on the side.
This pull-apart bread hits the spot. It’s buttery, salty, bagel-y, flaky, cheesy, garlicky, soft in the centre, crisp on the edges and addictive! You’ve been warned.
Unlike a traditional loaf, the dough is rolled out and a cheesy filling is spread on top. The dough is then cut into disks and slotted into a loaf tin to create textured layers of cheesy, doughy goodness.
2 teaspoons yeast
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk
3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg
2 and 1/3 cups (290g) plain flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1-2 teaspoons mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup (70g) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried onion powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried garlic flakes
1 teaspoons coarse salt
2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
Make the dough: Place the yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave until warm to touch. Pour warm milk on top of yeast/sugar. Whisk gently to combine, then loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. The mixture will be frothy after 5-10 minutes.
Add the butter, egg, flour, and salt. Mix lightly for 3 minutes. Dough will be soft. Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Using lightly floured hands, knead it for 1 minute. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add 1-3 more Tablespoons of flour but you want a very soft dough. Shape into a ball.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with cling film. Place in a slightly warm environment to rise until doubled in size, around 60-90 minutes.
As the dough rises, prepare the filling and topping in the next steps and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Make the cream cheese filling: In a large bowl, beat all of the filling ingredients together until combined. Cover tightly and set aside until ready to use.
Make the topping: Combine the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried minced onion, dried garlic flakes, and coarse salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Assemble the bread: Punch down the dough to release the air. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and with a floured rolling pin, roll out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick. The dough can be any shape, just as long as it’s around 1/4 inch thick. Spread cream cheese filling on top. Using a 3.5 – 4 inch circle cookie cutter, cut into circles. I get about 12 circles. Fold circles in half and line in prepared baking pan, round side up.
Cover cling film and allow to rise once again in a slightly warm environment until puffy, about 45 minutes.
Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position then preheat oven to 170°C.
Brush dough with the 2 Tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle bagel seasoning on top.
Bake until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. If you find the top of the loaf is browning too quickly, tent with aluminium foil. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and serve warm.
Can you tell I have a lot of potatoes to use up at the moment? If I see another jacket potato any time soon, I might scream so this recipe jazzes up the humble spud with a bit of spice. Wrapped in a flavoured wholewheat dough, these tasty warming buns deliver on flavour and comfort.
For the dough:
1 cup Plain Flour
½ cup Whole Wheat Flour or Atta
1 tsp Salt
1 ½ Tbsp Sugar
1 7g packet instant dried Yeast
¼ cup Hot Water
¼ cup Milk
2 tsp Chilli Powder
½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
1 ½ tsp Oil, plus extra for preparing the dough
a few pickled Jalapenos
For Potato Filling:
4 Boiled Potatoes, crushed
1-2 Red Onions
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch Ginger, grated
1 Green Chilli, chopped
¼ tsp Asasoetida
½ tsp Turmeric
2 Tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp Fresh coriander, chopped
For preparing wet ingredients add salt, sugar and hot water in a bowl and mix for the salt and sugar to dissolve. Add milk to bring the liquid to room temperature and then add yeast and allow to sit until it foams. Then add oil.
For dry ingredients add the flours, chilli powder and coriander and mix them well. Add the liquid and mix to form a dough. Make a ball and then apply 1 tsp of oil to coat the dough and allow it to rest anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough has to double in size.
For the filling heat the oil in a wok. Add asafoetida, green chillies, garlic, onion and salt and cook until the onions are well done. Then add turmeric, potato and cilantro and mix well and cook it for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before making the buns.
Set the oven to 200 degrees C and when the dough is ready, take a little over a golf ball size dough and pat it. Place a heaped tablespoon of the prepared stuffing in the centre and cover up the filling with the dough. Place it on a baking tray and add jalapenos on top and bake for 14 -15 minutes.
When the buns are done brush them a little with melted ghee or butter for a lovely gloss and serve them hot with any chutney.
Aloo chaat is an Indian street food made by frying potatoes with spices and chutney. It is a versatile dish that has many regional variations. This particular recipe uses it as a filling for a baked snack that is comforting and delivers on fresh and vibrant flavours.
To make 4 Pockets
2 Boiled Potatoes, roughly broken by hand
1 can of chickpeas
1 tsp Cumin seeds
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
½ tsp Chaat Masala Powder
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch root Ginger, grated
1 Onion – 1 finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, finely chopped (remove seeds if you do not want extra spice)
¼ cup fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Sweet Tamarind Chutney
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
A squeeze of Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Oil plus extra for coating the pockets
Dough for Pockets:
1 cup Bread Flour
½ tsp Ajwan Seeds
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Ghee
A pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Water
Heat a frying pan with oil. Add turmeric, cumin seeds and chilli powder. When the cumin starts to toast add garlic, onion and ginger and give it a toss and allow for the onions to cook.
Add salt and chickpeas, mix well. Add 1/3 cup sweet tamarind chutney. Then add the mint, chillies, coriander and mix before adding the potatoes. Add the chaat masala powder and mix well. Allow for the mix to cook for a few minutes. Add some lemon juice. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Set the oven to 200 degrees C. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda and ajwan seeds in a bowl.
Add oil and ghee, rub to blend them well with the flour. Then add the water and make a very hard dough. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
Roll each portion out into a round shape. Add a sufficient portion of the aloo stuffing to one half of the round.
Cover the stuffing with the other half. Tightly pinch the corners to seal the pocket. Pat them and try to shape into rectangular log.
Spread some oil all over the pocket and place in a foil lined baking tray. Bake the pockets for 20 – 25 minutes until the pockets look golden brown. Serve them hot with sweet tamarind chutney.
These Uzbek/Central Asian flaky shells are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The meat filling is nicely textured, juicy and flavorful. Make sure to make the full batch – these puppies have a tendency to magically vanish in the blink of an eye.
The dough in this sambusa recipe is very traditional: one part flour, half-part water and salt. The dough will be stiff and hard to knead, and that’s exactly how you want it to be. Modern recipes add an egg or two to make kneading easier. The resulting dough is more supple and easier to work with, but the sambusa lose their crispness and this is one of the best things about them.
Traditionally Uzbek meat sambusa is made with lamb meat and tail fat. A lot of tail fat. And a lot of onions. This fat and onions, which release water during baking, is what makes sambusa juicy and moist. While it tastes amazingly delicious, it’s very greasy. My sambusa recipe is a leaner variant made with lamb leg or shoulder. Shoulder works the best as it has the right lamb to fat ratio and is a very flavourful cut. Removing the fat does not make it taste any worse.
Meat for sambusa must be finely diced with a knife. It takes some effort, but this is very important. If you grind the meat you will get a dumpling, you don’t want that. Diced meat gives sambusa its peculiar texture and juiciness as diced meat retains water better than ground meat. Add finely chopped onions, salt and spice to the meat and the filling is ready. Cumin is one of the traditional spices added to sambusa, as well as black pepper. I am not a big fan of cumin, so I use black pepper and coriander instead for flavour. If you prefer, you can substitute coriander for cumin.
For the dough:
400g plain flour
1 1/2tsp salt
3Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
For the meat filling:
2lbs beef chuck diced into about 1/4 inch pieces
2large onions finely chopped
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tsp ground coriander seeds
For the egg wash:
Prepare the dough by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl and let the flour hydrate for 5 minutes or longer, then knead for 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic and let sit at room temperature for at least half an hour.
Prepare the meat filling by combining the meat, the onions and the seasonings.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle about 1/16 inch thick. Pour 3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil and spread out evenly across the entire surface. Roll the dough into a tight log, making sure there are no air pockets. Slice the log into about 16 1 ¼ inch cylinders. Flatten each cylinder with the palm of your hand then roll out to a 5 inch circle.
Put about 3 – 3 ½ ounces of meat filling in the centre of each circle. Seal and place on a large baking sheet seam side down.
Whisk egg yolks and milk until well mixed. Using a pastry brush paint the sambusas with a light, even coat of egg wash.
Bake on the top rack of the oven preheated to 220C for 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet around once after 15 minutes. For softer crust, bake at 210C for 30 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
Refrigerated leftover sambusa can be re-heated for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 200C.
Fatayer is a pizza-like dough stuffed with a herby cheese filling in this case. They are found throughout North Africa and the Balkans in differing variations and are traditionally served during breakfast or as a snack with a hot drink.
The combination of the salty cheese, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and nigella seeds makes these fatayer irresistible. I used feta cheese since it is more readily available but if you wish to make the fatayer more authentic, use akkawi cheese.
I have also tried a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, using half of each, which was equally tasty but more subtle and creamy. Experiment with different cheeses and see what you like best. I prefer the tart tanginess of feta.
Tip: Shape the fatayer as soon as the dough finishes resting. To keep the fatayer from puffing up too much and losing their shape, it is important to bake them right away. I made the cheese fatayer into boat-like shapes, which is the way they are traditionally made, but you can use any shape you prefer, including making them into mini pizzas.
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
300ml warm water
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
200g crumbled/grated cheese of choice (I used 100g feta, 50g parmesan, 50g boursin)
½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped
½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
½ tsp baking powder
3 spring onions, finely sliced
Freshly grated black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg
For the dough: Place salt, caraway, nigella seeds and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
For the filling and constructing: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well until combined.
Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces.
Roll out into an oval shape.
Put 1½ teaspoons of the filling in the middle and spread.
Lift one edge and press the ends. Do the same with other edge making a boat-like shape.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.
The house smells incredible as these bake and there’s not much that comes close to enjoying them warm out of the oven. The buns keep for 3-4 days and if they last that long, you can microwave them for a few seconds to warm them through and it’s as if you’ve cooked a fresh batch all over again. Win!
7g active dry yeast
1 cup milk warm
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
4 cups (500g) plain flour
1/3 cup soft brown or demerara sugar, packed
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
Cream cheese icing:
6 tbsp margarine
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to froth up slightly.
Add sugar, butter, salt, egg, baking powder and flour to a mixing bowl and mix well.
Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and mix well until well incorporated.
Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 inch thick.
Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking tin with butter.
To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1 ½ inch slices.
Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.
Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! If the tops brown too quickly before the dough is cooked, cover loosely with foil to prevent burning.
While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well until fluffy.
When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.
You could leave them plain at this point as the icing is very sweet and I’m not normally a fan of overly sweet thing but this icing is amazing and melts beautifully into the warm buns giving them a sweet, sticky glaze that works perfectly with the pillowy soft dough and cinnamon.