Vegan Botanical Tamales with Hibiscus-Jackfruit “Carnitas”
Fresh and dried flowers lend a festive, springtime touch to LA’s beloved Mexican treat.
1 hour 50 minutes
Combining both fresh and dried flowers in a single dish is a great way to get the best of both worlds—potency and visual appeal—as seen in Los Angeles baker Loria Stern’s eye-catching floral tamales. After enjoying a batch of locally made tamales with friends and family around the holidays, she decided to put her own botanical spin on the beloved Mexican dish. For a pretty, painted effect, Stern lines corn husks with fresh edible flowers; to make the dish suitable for vegans and vegetarians, she swaps out the traditional lard in the masa for olive oil and fills each tamal with a spicy, jackfruit filling.
The vibrant fresh flowers in these plant-based tamales retain their color even after cooking, freezing, and reheating, making this recipe especially well-suited to batching up and gifting around the spring holidays.
Read more about Stern's botanically-inspired recipes in "Loria Stern’s Floral Kitchen."
For the Hibiscus Jackfruit Filling:
- 2 tbsp. dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (8 oz.) thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tsp. medium jalapeño (2 oz.), seeds and pith removed, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. 20-oz. can young jackfruit in brine, drained, and broken up into shreds
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
- 1 smoked paprika
- Fresh lime juice
- Cayenne pepper or ground chipotle chile (optional)
For the tamales:
- 18 corn husks
- 3 1⁄2 cups masa harina
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup assorted edible flowers, washed and patted dry (including brightly colored pansies, violas, sunflower petals, nasturtium blooms, and marigolds), mixed with soft, fresh herbs (such as cilantro, parsley, chervil, or tarragon)
- Salsa or hot sauce, for serving (optional)