This post may contain Amazon affiliate links which means that if you click on the link and make a purchase I'll earn a small commision at no added cost to you
When I was little, I used to think tamales were just the coolest thing. I mean, it’s a meal wrapped in a corn husk. How cool is that? Maybe it’s just me, but I still think they’re pretty nifty. They’re right up there with stuffed grape leaves and homemade ravioli.
I don’t remember ever actually eating tamales but I’m guessing they typically have meat in them. In fact, when I was looking up traditional recipes, I realized that they are usually made with lard. Even if the filling doesn’t have meat, tamales may not be vegetarian friendly.
I based this recipe very heavily off of the “Mushroom Meat” and “20 Minute Tamales” recipes from The Southern Vegetarian by The Chubby Vegetarian. I substituted chickpea (besan) flour for the masa to add more protein. Well, that and I like chickpeas – but corn doesn’t really bring much to the table anyway.
Typically, I buy chickpea flour at health food stores, but I’ve also found it at Super One. For those of you who haven’t heard of Super One, it’s a lower end grocery store that sells random awesome foods. Recently, I learned how to make my own flour from a bag of dried chickpeas. It’s super simple, quick, and much cheaper than buying storebought. You can find the recipe here.
Chickpea Flour Tamales
Before you do anything else, soak the corn husks in water for at least two hours. You can do this the day before and soak them overnight. In a pinch, you can use parchment paper instead of the cornhusks.
To make the filling, peel the eggplant and chop it into large cubes. Throw them in a food processor and pulse until you have pea-sized bits, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the mushrooms. Toss the eggplant and mushrooms with olive oil, spread to a single layer and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
In the meantime, chop the chipotle peppers and set aside, retaining as much of the adobo sauce as possible. Once the vegetables are finished baking, transfer to a bowl and add the chipotle peppers and sauce.
Bring the broth and spices to a boil, then slowly whisk in the chickpea flour. This process is very similar to making polenta. Whisk constantly to prevent large clumps from forming. Cook until it thickens slightly.
While the flour mixture is still hot, spread 1/4 onto the center of a cornhusk and place a spoonful of the filling in the middle. Fold one side over the top, peel the husk back down, then fold the other side over and finish rolling it up. You’re kind of making a burrito. You do not need to fold the ends ups since the dough thickens as it cools and won’t fall out of the husk.
These tamales are pretty versatile. I like to top them with diced tomatoes, salsa, and guacamole, but you could add anything you wanted. They reheat well, though I actually prefer them cold. Although the recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you could easily replace it with onions and other spices.
To make a full meal, serve the tamales with Spanish rice, refried beans, or chips and salsa. Or do what I do – ignore the rules of Mexican cuisine and eat whatever you have in the fridge. Tamales and sushi make a perfectly acceptable meal.