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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.
These vegan tamales cut down on traditional cooking time by precooking the dough. The chickpea flour adds more protein than masa.
- 1 medium eggplant
- 3 Portobello Mushrooms
- 1/4 C Olive Oil
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, 7 oz can
- 4 C Vegetable Broth, MSG-Free Bouillon
- 2 Tbs Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 C Chickpea (Besan) Flour, Homemade Flour
- 18-20 Corn Husks, Soaked in warm water for 1-2 Hours
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Dice the eggplant, then pulse in a food processor to get pea-sized morsels. Repeat with the mushrooms. Don't over-process them or they'll turn into paste.
- Toss the mushrooms and eggplant with the olive oil, then bake on a foil lined tray for 20 minutes.
- While that bakes, dice the chilies into pea sized pieces, making sure to reserve as much sauce as possible.
- When the eggplant and mushrooms finish baking, transfer to a bowl and stir in the peppers and adobo sauce.
- Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in the olive oil, chili powder, and baking powder.
- Slowly add the chickpea flour, a little at a time and whisking constantly to prevent clumps. Continue cooking and whisking until it has the consistency of grits, then remove from heat.
- While it's still hot, spread 1/4 of the dough onto a corn husk, then add a spoonful of the filling in the middle. Bring the two sides of the dough together to sandwich the filling.
- Roll the tamale up. There's not need to fold the top and bottom down since the dough is thick and will continue to thicken as it cool. Continue with the remaining husks.
- To eat, unwrap from the husk and garnish with avocado, salsa, hot sauce, or anything else that sounds good to you.
- Allow the tamales to come to room temperature, then place in a ziplock bag. To reheat, simply microwave still wrapped in the corn husk until warmed through, 1-3 minutes.