These red chile jackfruit tamales are made with spicy guajillo chile seasoned jackfruit and masa, stuffed inside corn husks, and steamed to perfection. What makes these so good is that the masa is spiced with guajillo chiles, coconut oil, and cumin. They are so delicious and 100% vegan and gluten-free.
These are the first tamales I ever learned how to make. Back when I didn't know how to make tamales, my dad invited me to the family restaurant to learn. Over the years we had helped on several occasions with the spreading of the masa on the husk and the folding, but I had never done the whole process from start to finish. Tamales rojos are very typical of northern Mexico, they are usually filled with pork and are very small in size, but with a pretty equal ratio of masa to filling.
The thing about learning how to cook in a restaurant is that you learn how to make huge quantities of food. That day we must've made more than 200 tamales! Believe me, it was a few years before I decided to make tamales again all by myself. When I became vegan, I was very sad at the thought of not having good tamales again, and frankly the thought of tamales filled with veggies didn't appeal to me at the moment.
However, after some experimentation with jackfruit, I decided to veganize this recipe from the family restaurant. The result was shockingly similar to the original ones. So much so, that my omnivore husband was tricked into thinking that the tamales weren't vegan!!
This recipe is part of my ebook Vegan Tamales Unwrapped. After making these red chile jackfruit tamales I became so obsessed with making vegan tamales that I decided to make my obsession into an ebook. It has 50 detailed pictures on how to make vegan tamales from making the masa to spreading and wrapping.
Every possible aspect of tamal making is explored, the type of fats, wrappers, fillings, cooking methods. There's even an option for oil free tamales. It includes both savory and sweet tamal recipes such as:
- Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales
- Mole Tamales
- Salsa Verde Jackfruit Tamales
- Chocolate Tamales
- Strawberry Tamales
- Lime Tamales
It is available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Sadly it is only available in ebook format, but if you don't have a kindle you can also purchase it on itunes to read on your mac devices. I am so proud of this book and I know you will enjoy it too!
The Recipe: Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales
- Masa harina is dried nixtamalized corn flour. It is used in Mexico to make tortillas, tamales, sopes, etc. The brand most commonly found is Maseca, but you can also use Bob's Red Mill masa harina or may favorite is a brand called Masabrosa.
- I found coconut oil to be the most flavorful fat to use in this recipe. I recommend you use refined coconut oil so the coconut flavor doesn't affect the tamales. If you use unrefined coconut oil you will get a coconutty flavor.
- If you have a hard time finding jackfruit, (I find mine on Amazon) you can use mushrooms instead.
- If you would like to make these with fresh masa, replace the masa harina with 2 lbs. of fresh masa and use only 3/4 cup of vegetable stock. To substitute the coconut oil, you can use 8 oz. of vegetable oil or vegetable shortening. For tamales without fat, use 8 oz of cooked, unsweetened pumpkin.
Red Chile Jackfruit Tamales
Guajillo Chile Sauce
- 20 (4 oz._ Guajillo chiles, dry, seeded
- 3-4 Arbol chiles, dried, seeded
- 6 cloves Garlic
- ½ White onion, chopped
- 2 cups Chile soaking liquid
- 4 Garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cans (20 oz.) Green jackfruit in brine
- 1 ½ cups Reserved guajillo chile sauce
- 1 cup (8 oz.) Refined coconut oil, room temperature
- 4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz.) Masa harina
- 1 ½ tsp. Baking powder
- 1 ½ tbsp. Salt, kosher
- 1 ½ tbsp. Cumin, ground
- 3 ½ cups Vegetable broth or stock
- 1 ½ cups Reserved guajillo chile sauce
- 30 Corn husks
To prepare the corn husks
- Soak the corn husks in hot water, in a large pot or in your kitchen sink. Place a plate over them to weigh them down so they are completely submerged. Let them soak for at least an hour.
To make the sauce
- Place the chiles in a small sauce pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and let cook for about 10 minutes. Drain the chiles and reserve 2 cups of the soaking liquid. Place the chiles, garlic, onion, and soaking liquid in the blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and strain. You should end up with about 3 cups of sauce.
To make the filling
- Drain the jackfruit. Rinse, and pat with paper towels. Cut out the core of the jackfruit (tip of the triangle pieces), and cut pieces in half. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large sauté pan set to medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add the jackfruit and cook for 3 -4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Pour 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile sauce and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer for 20 minutes or until jackfruit begins to break down and the sauce has thickened slightly. Use a fork to shred the jackfruit as it cooks down. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.
To make the dough
- Beat the coconut oil, on medium-high speed, with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add the baking powder, cumin, salt, and beat for 1 minute to incorporate into the coconut oil.
- Add half of the masa harina to the bowl, pour in half of the vegetable stock, and beat to incorporate. After it is completely incorporated, add the other half of masa harina, vegetable stock, and 1 ½ cups of the guajillo chile puree. Beat at low speed, until thoroughly mixed. It should have the consistency of a thick cake batter. If necessary, add more vegetable stock until you reach that consistency. Taste the dough, and add more salt if necessary. It should be a little bit salty.
- For lighter and fluffier tamales, let the dough rest for an hour in the refrigerator. Remove the dough from the fridge and rebeat it, adding enough liquid to get it to the consistency it had before.
- Remove the corn husks from the water and set on paper towels. Reserve the largest husks to wrap the tamales and the small ones to line the steamer.
To set up your steamer
- Fill the bottom with water making sure the water is not touching the steamer rack. Line the rack and sides of the steamer pot with corn husks. Set aside.
To wrap the tamales
- Pull 24 pencil thin strips off of the corn husks and set aside. Take a husk and dry off the excess water with a paper towel. Place the husk in your hand with the tapered side away from you and the smooth side up. Using a spoon, spread 2-3 tbsp. of the dough (¼ inch thick) onto the corn husk, forming a 3 - 4 inch square. Leave a border of at least 3/4 inch on each side of the square.
- Place 1 ½ tbsp. of the filling in the center of the dough. Bring the two long sides of the corn husk together, this will cause the masa to surround the filling, and roll them in the same direction around the tamal. (If the husk is too small, fold one of the long sides towards the center, and then fold the other long side on top.) Fold down the empty tapered section of the corn husk, forming a closed bottom. This will leave the top of the tamal open. Tie with a corn husk strip to secure the bottom of the tamal.
- Place the tamal in the steamer vertically leaning against the side of the pot, with the open end on top. Repeat this process until you run out of dough and all the tamales are in the steamer. Cover them with a layer of corn husks. If the steamer is not full, fill the empty spaces with more corn husks. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and cook for 40 minutes. Check the tamales, when they separate easily from the corn husk it means they are done. If they are not done, steam for 10 more minutes and check again.
- Remove steamer from the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and let cool for at least an hour. Don’t be alarmed if the tamales seem really soft. As they cool, they will firm up.