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Tamales are one of the oldest foods in the world, dating back 10,000 years to the region now known as Central America. And the cooking method hasn’t changed much! But we think the melty, gooey oat cheese gives these an edge.

You will need

Serves 6

Tamale dough

  • 300g white cornmeal
  • 700ml water
  • Generous pinch salt


  • 4 jalapeños*, seeds removed halved lengthwise
  • 200g Swiss brown mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 brown onion, halved
  • Pinch salt
  • 40ml olive oil
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 200g baby spinach
  • 100g melty oat cheese, cut into cubes (or your favourite gluten-free vegan cheese)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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30 mins to prep

  1. Step 1

    Place the jalapeños, mushrooms, garlic, onion and salt into a food processor and pulse just until finely diced.

  2. Step 2

    In a pan, heat the oil and add the blended ingredients, cooking for 5–10 minutes or until the liquid has cooked out.

  3. Step 3

    Add the spinach and vegetable stock along with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until the stock is nearly all cooked out and the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat.

  4. Step 4

    Dice up the oat cheese into cubes and mix it through the veggie filling. Set aside to cool completely.

  5. Step 5

    Place the corn meal in a big mixing bowl and add 700ml of water to the mixture, then add salt. Mix until it comes together. It shouldn’t stick to your hands when you slap the mixture. If it does add a little more meal and if it is too dry add a little more water. (It absorbs water VERY easily so don’t stress if it’s taking a lot of water!)

  6. Step 6

    Place 1/4 cup of the cornmeal mixture in between two sheets of baking paper and roll out, aiming for a sort of oval shape roughly 9 inches long.

  7. Step 7

    Take off the top sheet and add 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture to the middle of the cornmeal.

  8. Step 8

    Using the baking paper, fold one long side of the tamale over until the mixture is covered, and sort of tuck it into the other side. Then fold the other side over to complete the roll, and tuck in one of the short ends; then fold the baking paper around the tamale.**

  9. Step 9

    Place in a steamer, in the baking paper, and steam for 40 minutes or until the cornmeal has set.

  10. Step 10

    Allow to cool slightly before serving, and enjoy!


*Make these kid-friendly or non-spice-lover-friendly by swapping out the jalapeños for green capsicums.

Hot tip!

**These perfect little parcels of veg can be enjoyed straight away, or frozen in bulk for a quick meal on a rainy day. At this step, after wrapping them in baking paper, you can pop any surplus tamales in a sealed container in the freezer and save them for later if you like!

Recipe: Simon Toohey

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