I love tamales and ate them often in Mexico. So when I learned that Nicaragua has their own version, aptly called the nacatamale, it went straight to the top of my to-eat list.
Nacatamales can be a bit hard to find, they are in the markets but not on any restaurant menu as Nicaraguans typically only eat them on the weekend. Traditionally they are eaten for breakfast on Sunday mornings along with bread and cafe con leche, but the family I was staying with likes to eat them on Friday nights.
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Like regular tamales, a nacatamal consists of a corn-based dough mixed with milk and lard. In Nicaragua it’s then filled with potatoes, green peppers, onion and other spices. It’s topped with meat, pork in my case, and olives, raisins and fresh chiles. Wrapped in plaintain, it’s then steamed for several hours.
Interestingly, when you look at the tamales in Mexico they tend to be quite homogenous but when eating a a nacatamal, you get a different flavor in each bite.
Unfortunately I have to admit that while it was good, I didn’t like it as much as the tamales in Mexico. It’s a personal perference; while the consistency was the same, I preferred the tomato-based flavours of Mexico to the saltiness of the nacatamale but you can’t go wrong with either.