In Perú, the festive season is embraced with a vibrant and diverse culinary celebration. The traditional Christmas dinner, known as “Nochebuena,” brings together a tapestry of flavours and dishes that reflect the country’s rich heritage and cultural diversity.
A Culinary Medley
At the heart of the Peruvian Christmas table is a fusion of indigenous ingredients and Spanish influences. The star of the feast often includes succulent roast turkey or roast pork, seasoned to perfection with an array of aromatic herbs and spices. The tantalizing aroma of roasting meats fills the air, heralding the joyous occasion.
Tamales: A Christmas Staple
One of the most cherished dishes during the holiday season is the beloved tamales. These corn-based parcels are a labour of love, with each family having its cherished recipe passed down through generations. To create tamales, a corn-based dough called masa is spread onto softened corn husks. A savoury filling, often made with marinated meats, olives, raisins, and spices, is placed in the center. The husks are then carefully folded and steamed to perfection, resulting in a delightful combination of flavours and textures.
- 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
- 1 cup warm chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening
- Salt to taste
- Corn husks, soaked in warm water until pliable
- Filling of your choice (cooked chicken, pork, vegetables, olives, raisins, etc.)
- In a mixing bowl, combine masa harina, warm broth, lard, and salt. Mix until a soft, spreadable dough forms.
- Spread a thin layer of masa onto the softened corn husks, leaving space around the edges.
- Add a spoonful of your chosen filling down the center of the masa.
- Fold the sides of the husk over the filling, then fold the top and bottom to enclose it.
- Place the tamales seam-side down in a steamer basket and steam for about 1 to 1.5 hours until cooked through.
The process of making tamales often brings families together, creating cherished memories and fostering a sense of togetherness. These delightful parcels are enjoyed not just for their taste but for the love and tradition infused into every bite.
The festive atmosphere extends beyond the dining table, echoing through homes filled with laughter, vibrant music, and heartfelt expressions of love and togetherness.