Belizean Tamales



Plantain leaves, Banana leaves or aluminum foil. For state-side folk: Plantain leaves can often can be found in ethnic grocery stores, look for: Pacific Islander, Thai, or Mexican stores.


Cull: (1 lb) Masteca Corn Flour

(4-6 tbsp) Red Recado

(6 cloves) garlic 

(6) Oregano Leaves 

(6) allspice seeds 

(6) Apazote leaves 

(1 tablespoon) whole Pepper Corn

(1 tablespoon) chile molido or cayenne if you want it spicy

(3 tbsp) chicken broth powder - Consome de Pollo, (1) Chopped Onion

Corn Dough / Masa: 

For state-side folk: Masa can often be purchased from a Mexican shop. If this is not available, you can make your own from

(4 lbs) Maseca brand corn flour

(1/2 gallon) water

(2-3 tsp)salt 

(2 cups) corn oil or lard

1 - quartered cooked Chicken (cooked pork or beef can also be used)

2 cups - Green peas

4 - Habanero peppers minced or slices

2 cups - green sweet peppers chopped into slices

3 cups - Tomato slices

3 cups - onion slices

2 cups - minced cilantro leaves


  1. Cook chicken or other meats like you are making Stewed Chicken with Recado. Cut up chicken into at least 10 pieces. Set chicken aside. Keep broth - it becomes the base for the Cull.
  2. Make Masa: In a large bowl combine flour, oil (or lard), and salt. Slowly add water and mix to make a thick mound of corn dough. Corn dough needs to be soft and spreadable, but not sticky. Four pounds of Maseca makes about 25 to 30 corn dough shells. Masa can be covered with plastic wrap and set aside.
  3. Make Cull: Take the broth from cooking the chicken, strain out any pieces. Add 1lb Maseca Corn Flour, and stir to prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a boil, let boil 3 minutes and then turn off heat.
  4. Prepare Plantain leaves: Boil water, submerge leaves. Removed from boiling water and wipe dry with a cloth. Cut into 12×12 inch sheets.
  5. Prepare the Masa: Pull fist-sizes pieces of dough off, and roll into fist-sized balls. Flatten each corn dough ball with the Maricona (a tortilla press) or by hand. Place flattened Masa ball on Plantain leaf. Keep in mind, you are going to fold the leave with the grain of the leaf.
  6. Start assembling the tamales! On a large table layout all the vegetable ingredients in bowls along with the Cull, Chicken pieces, and flattened masa on plantain leaves. Place a scoop (1/2 cup) of Cull in the center of the flattened masa. Then add pieces of chicken, a spoonful of green peas, onion slices, green pepper slices, tomatoe slices, cilantro, and a small scoop of habanero.
  7. Fold the tamale: Fold the tamales along the grain of the plantain leaf in half. After folded in half fold 3 sides of the plantain leave to contain all the ingredients. This can be tied with strips of plantain leaf, or it can be wrapped in a sheet of aluminum fold to keep it from unfolding.
  8. Steam tamales: Stack packages in an extra large steamer pot. Add water and steam for one hour.

Pro Tips

Habanero peppers can range in heat. We would recommend cutting your peppers into slices. Slices will still deliver flavor to the tamale, but if the pepper slice contains nuclear levels of heat, it can be removed while the tamale is being eaten.

Recipe courtesy of: