A tamalada (tamal-making party) is a traditional Mexican party that brings family and friends together to assemble tamales. While making tamales can be labor intensive, it's not especially difficult and doesn't require tremendous focus. A tamalada makes the time-consuming aspect more enjoyable and rewarding; in addition to taking home just-made tamales, guests take home wonderful memories.
As the host, you make the masa (tamal dough), soak the corn husks, and mix the drinks. Ask guests to bring filling options and/or an appetizer to share while assembling. The possible fillings for tamales are endless. Personal favorites include red chile and lamb (it's exotic, savory, and spicy); zucchini and corn (a simple vegetarian tamal filling); and coconut and pineapple (a delicious choice for dessert tamales).
Demonstrate how to make the first tamal and then have your guests roll up their sleeves and participate in the filling and the wrapping. As the little bundles steam and fill the house with fantastic aromas, guests can snack on appetizers and drink a hot cup of champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) or toast with a salt-rimmed margarita.
After the tamales are cooked it's time to feast. Freshly steamed tamales aren't just delicious, they're fun to eat - unwrapping their husks is like opening a gift - which makes them the perfect party food.
But a tamalada is as much about cooking together as it is about eating together. The point is to strengthen the bonds between family and friends and create memories that are passed through generations.
Be sure to check out the published Muy Bueno cookbook for more tamal recipes, heartwarming family stories, and beautiful photography.