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Behind door number 13 unfolds vibrant Guatemala, where volcanoes glow in the sunset, and coffee fills the air with stories!
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An interesting Christmas tradition in Guatemala is "La Quema del Diablo" or "The Burning of the Devil." This tradition takes place on December 7th, the Day of the Immaculate Conception, and it serves to drive away evil and cleanse the land from negative energies.
On "Día de la Quema del Diablo," people gather debris and trash from their homes, including broken or unwanted items. This debris is then assembled into large piles, often featuring a puppet or figurine representing the devil. In some communities, the figurine is filled with fireworks to create a spectacular effect when burned.
People then gather around these bonfires and set them ablaze. As the fire burns, there is singing, dancing, and celebration. The tradition of "La Quema del Diablo" is not only a symbolic ritual to rid the evil but also an opportunity for the community to come together and kick off the upcoming Christmas celebrations.
Recipe Guatemalan Tamales
In Guatemala, Tamales are a traditional and highly popular dish. Guatemalan Tamales are prepared in a unique way and have their own regional variations.
Tamales are a staple of Guatemalan culture and are eaten throughout the year on various occasions, including Christmas, birthdays, and holidays. The preparation of tamales is often a communal effort, with families and friends coming together to prepare the tamales, underscoring the significance of this dish in Guatemalan culture.
Here's a recipe for Guatemalan Tamales:
For the Masa (Corn Dough):
• 4 cups masa harina (corn flour)
• 2 cups pork lard or vegetable shortening
• 1 tablespoon achiote (annatto) paste or powder (for color and flavor)
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
For the Filling:
• 2 pounds of boneless pork, chicken, or beef, cut into small pieces
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 2 bell peppers (red and green), chopped
• 1 cup cooked, shelled, and diced green beans
• 1 cup cooked peas
• 1/2 cup sliced olives
• 1/2 cup capers
• 2 tablespoons raisins
• 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Banana leaves, cut into 10x10-inch squares and softened by blanching in boiling water
• Butcher's twine or kitchen twine
Preparing the Masa:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa harina, pork lard or vegetable shortening, achiote paste or powder, salt, and baking powder.
2. Gradually add the chicken or vegetable broth while mixing to form a smooth masa. The masa should be the consistency of thick cake batter. If it's too thick, you can add more broth.
Preparing the Filling:
1. In a large skillet, heat some oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic and sauté until they become translucent.
2. Add the meat pieces and cook until they are browned. Then add the chopped tomatoes and bell peppers.
3. Season the mixture with ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook until the meat is tender.
4. Stir in the cooked green beans, peas, olives, capers, raisins, and sliced almonds. Cook for a few more minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Assembling the Tamales:
1. Lay out a softened banana leaf square. Place a spoonful of masa in the center and spread it out, leaving some space around the edges.
2. Add a spoonful of the meat filling on top of the masa.
3. Fold the banana leaf over the masa and filling to form a rectangular package.
4. Tie the tamale package with kitchen twine to secure it.
Cooking the Tamales:
1. Place the tamales upright in a large steamer or a large pot with a steaming basket.
2. Add water to the bottom of the steamer or pot but not high enough to touch the tamales.
3. Steam the tamales for about 1.5 to 2 hours until the masa is firm and no longer sticks to the banana leaf.
Let the tamales cool for a few minutes before serving. Remove the twine and banana leaves before serving.
Guatemalan Tamales are often served with salsa and accompanied by a warm drink like atole. Enjoy this delicious traditional Guatemalan dish!
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