For those lacking a Costa Rican grandmother or the patience to wait until December, there is Antojitos de Maíz - facebook.com/pages/Antojitos-de-Maiz/179719208714046 - a restaurant in San Isidro de El General completely dedicated to corn.
The restaurant’s tamales are such a hit that local hotel Monte Azul has begun sending its guests over for cooking classes. So, with the illusion that we would soon be professional tamale chefs, two Tico Times reporters headed to Antojitos for a crash course in tamale-making. It turns out, that there is a good reason Costa Ricans only make tamales once a year. But if you happen to have hours of free time, there are few Tico dishes as delicious as homemade tamales.
- Dried corn or masa mix
- Skinned potatoes
- Square-cut plantain leaves
- A stove or bonfire
- A large pot for boiling
Because they produce mass quantities of masa, Antojitos uses a grinding machine, and because no one has the time or energy to grind up corn with a rolling pin, most Costa Rican households use pre-made masa from a grocery store.
Next, add whatever it is you want to fill your tamales with on top of the masa trying not to pack too much onto the leaf. We added chicken, carrots, sweet chili, cilantro and cheese.
Fold the long sides of the leaf over the masa puddle and roll the ends once or twice (until it stays in place). Then fold the other two sides in forming a square. Finally, wrap the string both ways over the leaf and tie it in a bow forming what looks like a plantain leaf present.