Nicaraguan Nacatamales are a real treat. They are different than a Mexican style tamale as the masa has a bit of bitter orange added to it. It also has rice, meat, potato, tomato, and usually some prunes, green olive, capers and raisins. It is much more like a complete meal in a nice package.
Nicaraguan nacatamales are time consuming to make like all tamales are. They are also packaged in banana leaf as opposed to corn husks for steaming. The banana leaf also imparts a wonderful flavor to the tamale.
I made a bunch of these Nicaraguan nacatamales and they freeze great. This would be a wonderful recipe to recruit the whole family to participate in and then reap the rewards of all your hard work. One of the things I love most about Latin cuisine is how families work together to get the job done. It however seems most important to spend that quality time together.
Did you know that the Ruins of Leon Viejo in Nicaragua is the oldest city in all of Central America. It is over 1500 years old and is still occupied today. It was founded by the early Spanish settlers. If you would like to learn more about Nicaragua plus get some more delicious authentic recipes be sure to check out “Our Journey to Nicaragua”.
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Nicaraguan Nacatamales (Nicaraguan style Tamale)
- Masa Dough
- Masa harina -- 6 cups
- Lard or shortening -- 1 cup
- Salt -- 1 tablespoon
- Sour orange juice or bottled if you cant find fresh -- 1/2 cup
- Chicken stock or broth -- 4 or 5 cups
- Nacatamal Filling
- Pork butt cubed -- 3 pounds
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Rice soaked in warm water for 30 minutes -- 3/4 cup
- Potatoes peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 1/2 pound
- Onion sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 1
- Bell pepper sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 2
- Tomatoes sliced into 1/4-inch rounds -- 2
- 12 green olives
- 24 prunes
- 1/4 cups raisins
- 1/4 cup capers
- For the wrapper
- Banana leaves cut into 10x10-inch rectangles -- 12 pieces
- String to secure
- Or Aluminum foil cut into 10x10-inch rectangles -- 12 pieces
- Place the masa harina, lard or shortening and salt in a large bowl.
- Mix well to incorporate the fat into the masa harina and give it a mealy texture.
- Add the sour orange juice and enough chicken stock to make a soft, moist dough.
- Use a mixer to incorporate some air into the masa.
- Cover the bowl and set the masa aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Season the pork with salt and pepper.
- Drain the rice.
- Assemble all of your filling ingredients and assembly items.
- Start assembling the nacatamales
- Lay out a banana leaf square with the smooth side up.
- Place 1 cup of the masa in the middle of the banana leaf and, using wet hands, spread it out a little.
- Put about 1/2 cup of pork on top of the masa and sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of rice over the pork. Lay 1 or 2 slices of potato on top of the pork and then top with 1 or 2 pieces of onion, 1 or 2 pieces of pepper and a slice of tomato.
- Add next the prunes, olive, raisins and capers
- Fold the top edge of the banana leaf down over the filling.
- Bring the bottom edge of the banana leaf up over this.
- Then fold in both sides to make a rectangular package.
- Be careful not to wrap it too tightly or the filling will squeeze out.
- Flip the package over so it is seam side down.
- secure with string like a package
- Repeat until all the masa and filling material is used up
- Add 3 inches of water to a pot large enough to hold all the nacatamales.
- Place a rack in the bottom so they are mostly out of the water.
- Add the nacatamales and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Cover tightly, reduce heat to low and steam for 3 to 4 hours.
- Add more water as needed to keep the pot from boiling dry.
- Remove the nacatamales from the pot.
- Serve hot, please note the banana leaf should not be consumed.