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Instead of ?galapong? (ground rice), all-purpose flour is used. For toppings, one can experiment with pork, beef and seafood
TAMALES IS ONE OF PAMPANGA?S favorite snacks. However, the Kapampangan version is not to be confused with the Mexican tamale which comes in tortilla wrapping.

Tamales, the Pampango version, is a special rice delicacy topped with salted eggs, meat slices, peanuts and other condiments and wrapped in banana leaf and steamed.

This recipe comes close to the Pampanga original tamales because instead of using galapong (ground rice), the dish makes use of all-purpose flour to make it easy for foodies to do at home. The flour is toasted over moderate heat until golden brown.

Chef Rosel Nicoleta, Maya Kitchen researcher and demonstrator, shows how to prepare tamales the simplest way. Cooking time is less than two hours. It?s a bit sweet and topped with pieces of hard-boiled egg. The ingredients are readily available.

?For the toppings, you can experiment and use whatever you like, such as pork, beef and seafood,? says Nicoleta, who conducts demos at the Maya Kitchen (tel. 8921185). ?You can also put vegetables if you?re a vegetarian.?

This tamales is best eaten with a few drops of Tabasco sauce for that extra kick.

Before wrapping the tamales, pass the banana leaves over medium flame to wilt them, as well as to sterilize.

Ingredients

2 c Maya all-purpose flour, toasted

3 c coconut milk

1 c chicken broth

1 tsp salt

? c brown sugar

? tsp black pepper

? c peanut butter

2 tbsp atsuete oil

? c oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

? c sliced onions

1 c flaked cooked chicken

1 c ham strips

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cayenne

salt to taste

2 pcs hard-boiled eggs, sliced

banana leaves (for wrapping)

Yield: 24 pieces

For suggestions, e-mail the author at vbaga@inquirer.com.ph

1 IN A SKILLET, heat oil then sauté garlic and onion. Add flaked chicken and ham. Season with paprika, cayenne and salt. Set aside to cool.

2 IN A DEEP pan, combine toasted flour, coconut milk, chicken broth, salt, sugar and pepper.

3 ADD peanut butter. Cook over low heat until thick. Stir constantly to prevent sticking.

4 CONTINUE cooking paste until it separates from the sides of the pan.

5 TRANSFER half of the paste mixture to another container and add the atsuete oil. Mix until mixture is fully coated with oil. Cool.

6 FORM both pastes separately into rectangles, then divide each into 24 portions.

7 CUT banana leaves into 5?x 3? pieces. Lay two leaves one on top of the other in a cross form. At the center, put side by side one portion of the white and red paste. Flatten lightly to form two-tone paste.

8 TOP each tamales with enough meat mixture and sliced egg.

9 WRAP with banana leaf in four folds. Repeat procedure with the remaining tamales.

10 WRAP three pairs of tamales in a sheet of cling wrap, then wrap again with a sheet of aluminum foil.

11 STEAM for 25-30 minutes. Cool, unwrap and serve with a nice warm cup of coffee or tea.