Skill level

Average: 3.9 (28 votes)


  • pork belly, cut into 4 cm pieces
  • 3 sweet corn cobs
  • 350 g polenta
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 onion
  • 1 capsicum
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bottle tomato purée
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • aluminium foil, for wrapping

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 30 minutes

Marinate the pork belly in lemon juice and 1 tsp of cumin for 30 minutes. In a saucepan, fry the pork belly pieces to render the fat and set aside.

Remove leaves from the corn cobs keeping some leaves to make ties for the tamale parcels. Cut off the kernels from each cob and in blender mix with a little water to a creamy consistency.

In a bowl, mix the polenta with the corn mixture and add the salt. The polenta will absorb the moisture.

Chop the onion, capsicum and garlic and fry in the pork fat until soft, then add the tomato pure. Mix well. Pour in the polenta and corn mix and stir until the mixture thickens.

Cut the foil into even sized squares. Scoop one spoonful of the tamale mixture into the centre of the prepared foil. Place on piece of pork belly in the middle and fold the foil into secure little parcels.

For authenticity, tear the leaves from the corn into thin strips and tie the parcels across the middle with the ribbon of corn leaf. It is said that a mark of a good tamale is that it has a waist. Tying also stops the packages from splitting.

Pack in a large pot of boiling water, enough to cover the tamale packages and keep on the boil for 1 hour.

Serve warm.