Well, hello there, Mr. Tomato! Can you believe that my tomatoes are starting to grow flowers? I’m having a hard time believing it, you can be sure!
Anyway, so here goes an old recipe in a new dress. I’ve already proclaimed my love for humintas, and for white corn, as it grows in South America, very early on this blog. Humintas are a relative of tamales. They are a Bolivian version of a corn batter, seasoned with cheese and aniseed (instead of vegetables in spicy sauce or meat), and wrapped in the leaves of the cob, rather than in banana tree leaves, as tamales would. They are also steamed for hours, just like humintas. You can also bake them in the oven in their wrappers, which brings about an amazing flavour of white corn, which you cannot achieve without the wrappers.
But what if you don’t have any corn cob leaves left? And what if you do, and don’t feel like going through all the trouble of shaping the wrappers, and the threads? Well, then you make huminta al horno! It’s essentially the same recipe as for regular huminta, but with a couple of variations. I already kind of wrote how to do it in my old recipe, but I’ve since made this dish twice and think I have made the leafless version even better!
The ingredients are a bit exotic for Germany, but I’m a lucky gal, and I can purchase frozen white corn and other goodies such as aji amarillo paste, imported from Peru, from a local store, called Hola Mundo, which specializes in Latin American food products. I have huminta about twice a year, and I am very happy that I can indulge in this delicacy after going so long with out it. It was a running joke that whenever someone from my family would go to Bolivia and ask if I wanted them to bring something back for me, I would say “huminta”, my cousin eventually suggesting that he would bring back some if they brought out a canned version. Having white corn is also nice during winter, when I will cook ajiaco. It’s a spicy dish from Peru, including cheese, aji amarillo (yellow chilli) and potatoes. I’ll feature my ajiaco recipe on here eventually!
Humintas al horno are a great meal any time of the day. I have them for breakfast along with a hot cup of sweetened black tea. Or I eat a slice for lunch, accompanied by a nice salad and homemade lemonade. In winter, you can serve a slice of huminta al horno along a vegetarian chili, e.g. like the one here. It makes a very filling meal on its own, and it will heat you up from the inside out! I love how it is all things at once: sweet and exotic from the aniseed, salty and creamy from the cheese, the milk and butter and also a bit spicy – for a bit of extra kick! Not to mention the flavor of white corn is exquisite!
I guess it is more of a winter dish, as it comes straight from the oven, and it is kind of heavy, but I love it just the same. This recipe makes a whole casserole, so you can easily just make half the recipe if you like. Here, the packages of white corn bring 500g and I enjoy eating this dish so much, that I just keep the rests in a Tupperware in my fridge and then re-heat in my microwave oven at my convenience until I have eaten it all. I would feel bad about freezing the corn again. I know it has already been cooked and everything, but still, no need to overdo it.
500g white corn (fresh off the cob or de-frosted)
125g melted butter
two to three cups milk
¾ cup Masa Harina (also known as Maseca or tortilla flour)
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp aji amarillo paste
1 generous tbsp aniseed
150g cheese, shredded (I used one part old gouda, one part mozzarella)
Place the corn into a large bowl or into your blender. You can puree these in your blender or use a hand blender, like I did. I suggest adding at least one cup of milk, in order to ensure finer results, and to continue blending for about five minutes or even longer in order to obtain a very fine batter. Add the eggs. Add the melted butter the sugar, the salt and the baking powder and continue mixing using either a large spoon or a whisk. Add the aniseed, the aji amarillo paste and the remainder of the milk, saving about ¾ of a cup for later. Heat your oven to 230° C.
Generously grease a large casserole dish and pour about half of the huminta batter into it. Grate the cheese and mix well with the remaining batter. Pour over the first batch of batter, starting in the middle, so that you have a cheesy center, and a non-cheesy edge. You can use a spatula to flatten out any unevenness in the batter’s surface.
Place into your oven and bake for about an hour or until done. I suggest pouring the remainder of the milk over the huminta after about twenty minutes and covering the casserole tightly with aluminum foil after twenty minutes and taking it off about ten minutes prior to the end of the baking process, so that your huminta has a golden brown colour and has a chance of really cooking well on the inside.