June 25, 2021 3 min read

While the origins of tamales can’t be exactly traced back to a certain moment or place, it’s no secret that they are the most representative dish from many Latin American countries, including Peru. One exquisite way to make them is theTamales Criollos recipe, a spin of this food that includes the typical Peruvian sauce that mixes different types of ajíes. Keep reading to learn this recipe that takes 3 hours to make and serves 30 tamales! 

Ingredients for Tamales Criollos 

  • 2 kg of mote corn or hominy (This type of giant Peruvian corn is soaked and cooked with calcium oxide) (4.4 lb)
  • 2 lt of olive oil (½ gallon) 
  • 1 cup of garlic paste (you can buygarlic paste here)
  • 1 cup of ají panca paste (you can getají panca paste here)
  • 1 cup of ají amarillo paste (purchaseají amarillo paste here)
  • 4 large plantain leaves
  • 1 medium bar of achiote (pressed powder with a bitter and peppery taste)
  • 1 kg of pork pulp (2.2 lb)
  • 1 jar of black olives
  • 8 medium sized ajíes panca
  • 4 large sized eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder (5 gr)
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (5 gr)
  • 1 cup of plain peanuts
  • Salt to taste


  • First off, if for some reason you  can’t get your hands on garlic paste and the ají paste, you can make it yourself the night before. For the garlic paste peel some garlic cloves, mince them thoroughly and grind them with olive oil. For the ají paste (either panca or amarillo), you have to remove the veins and seeds and soak in warm water for a few hours, take out most of the water and grind the ají until the paste is formed. 
  • In a large pot with water put the pork on high temp, let it cook until the meat is soft.
  • Take the mote corn (which should be already pre-cooked) and serve some on the blender. Slowly grind it and add all of the kernels with a bit of water.
  • Take a small pot with water and boil the eggs until they’re hard.
  • All of the achiote bar should be dissolved in a bit of water and then put on a skillet with olive oil and fry it, this will make the achiote release its flavor. 
  • Take a large pot or casserole and put it on high temp, once it’s hot enough add one cup of olive oil and then two tablespoons of garlic paste, let it fry. 
  • Add 4 tablespoons of ají amarillo paste to the casserole, stir until it mixes with the garlic paste, which should be fried by now.
  • Add the ají panca paste to the casserole along with a bit of salt, stir well.
  • Let the pastes combine well and release their flavors, after 5 minutes add the mashed mote corn slowly. 
  • Lastly, add the achiote paste. Keep cooking for 10 more minutes until, when picking some dough with your fingers, it doesn’t stick. If you notice the dough is too dry just add a bit of broth from the pork meat. This step gets thetamales criollos dough ready. 
  • For the stuffing, shred the pork meat and set aside. 
  • In another medium casserole pour a big amount of oil and add some garlic paste, once it’s fried add aji panca paste and let it fry along with the garlic. 
  • Add the cumin powder and pepper. Mix well and lastly add the shredded pork meat with a bit of broth. Let the mix cook, check the flavor and set aside. 
  • Take the plantain leaves and clean them well, cut them into 4x4” squares and put them on a skillet for a few minutes until they change color. 
  • To “build” thetamales criollos, take a big spoonful of dough and serve it on the less green side of the leaf, then add a portion of the pork meat, a small piece of hard egg, some olives and peanuts. 
  • Fold the plantain leaf until the ends meet and then roll it, the side ends should be folded to opposite sides and then tie the tamale with a string.
  • Take a large steamer, fill it with water and carefully place the tamales with enough space for the vapor to go around them. Cover the top of the steamer with the remaining leaves, a clean cloth and a plastic bag to stop the vapour from going out, this only in case the steamer doesn’t have a lid. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the tamales. 

Once your tamales are ready you can serve them on their leaf to keep the flavor strong and even pour some more Salsa Criolla on top of it for extra spice. now you know hoy to makeTamales Criollos, enjoy!