Best Mexico City Cooking Class: Review of Arturo’s Tamale Class 

by | Last updated Dec 11, 2023 | Best Food Mexico, Mexico

What better way to experience a country than through its food. Our passion lies in unraveling the secrets of local cuisines across the globe, from the rustic kitchens of Italy to the vibrant street markets of Vietnam. However, one experience that stands out as a favorite is Arturo’s Tamale Mexico City Cooking Class—it truly became the highlight of our journey. Read on for our comprehensive review.

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Part: 1: Let’s Salsa!

Making red salsa at Arturo's Tamale Class in Mexico City

Making red salsa at Arturo’s Tamale Class in Mexico City

Our warm host, Arturo, graciously transforms his delightful apartment into a vibrant setting for the cooking class.

Arturo was born and raised in Oaxaca, which boasts some of the most exceptional Mexican cuisine globally. His family is still in Oaxaca, but he moved to Mexico City and is currently a chef.

After his skillful icebreaker where each member introduced themselves, it was time to throw the apron on and start cooking.

First, we learned how to make green and red salsa.

Once you’ve made homemade salsa, you will never buy the store-bought version again.

Making salsas is surprisingly simple, and that’s saying a lot, especially considering my limited (nonexistent) cooking skills.

Arturo taught us there are four components to salsa: tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spice (pepper or chili).

A green salsa has jalapeños, tomatillos, and cilantro, and a red salsa has dried chilis and red tomatoes.

Making green and red salsa at Mexico City cooking class

Making green and red salsa at our Mexico City cooking class

We boiled our ingredients for the green salsa and pan roasted them for the red salsa. Then we blended each salsa up and sent them back to the stovetop for additional cooking on low heat for another 15-20 minutes.

Easy, breezy, and so delicious!

We got extra practice making more salsa during Mimi’s Mole Cooking Class when we went to Oaxaca later.

Part 2: Tamale Time!

Corn husk tamale at Mexico city cooking class

Making corn husk tamales at our Mexico City cooking class

Now it gets a little more technical. Tamales are traditionally eaten in Mexico for breakfast. They are a lot of work but well worth the effort.

Get your muscles ready! There’s a lot of whisking and kneading.

There are not many ingredients for the body of the tamale- just masa, lard (I know, but that’s what makes them taste so good!), and chicken (or vegetable or beef) broth.

The lard has to be whisked until it’s super smooth, and the masa has to be kneaded with stock until a certain consistency. Then you mix both together.

What I really enjoyed about the cooking class was that we got to make both corn husk AND banana leaf tamales.

Banana leaf tamales

Banana leaf tamales

Corn husk vs. banana leaf. Is there a difference?

I think so, but you be the judge after you take Arturo’s class. I think the banana leaf makes for a more moist tamale, which I prefer.

Arturo will show you how to prepare the corn husks and banana leaves, so they cradle the tamale perfectly.

Preparing the banana leaves for the tamales

Preparing the banana leaves for the tamales

For the banana leaf, you just throw it on your lit gas stove to soften it. Otherwise, it will tear. If you have an electric stove, one of Arturo’s Grandma’s Tips is to use an iron instead.

Now for my favorite part of the tamale class.

We next assembled the tamales with all the amazing toppings and made them look pretty. The seal is important. You don’t want tamale juice squeezing out the ends.

Our toppings included pollo (chicken), huitlacoche (corn fungus), nopales (cactus), beans, queso fresco, and of course our freshly made green and red salsa.

Part 3: Chill Time!

Steaming our corn husk and banana leaf tamales

Steaming our corn husk and banana leaf tamales

While we waited for our tamales to cook in the steamer, we all gathered around Arturo’s living room to chat and eat chips and salsa.

Arturo graciously offered us some Mexican wine and beer. It was like hanging out at a friend’s house.

Part 4: Lunch on the Rooftop!

Tamale lunch on the rooftop

Tamale lunch on the rooftop!

Arturo’s apartment has a fantastic shaded rooftop to enjoy a meal al fresco. A perfect setting for our tamale lunch!

We took our delicious efforts upstairs and shared a fantastic meal, all while enjoying the good company and the free flow of wine and beer. What a fun experience!

The best part? We didn’t have to clean up after. Thank you Arturo! 😉

Final Thoughts

I hope this provides a sneak peek into what a day of cooking with Arturo entails. Undoubtedly, it was one of the highlights of our Mexico City trip! And don’t worry about memorizing all the recipe steps. Arturo will send you the recipes after the class. 

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Questions about our Mexico City Cooking Class experience? 

Let me know in the comments below!

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