Deconstructed Tamale, Togolese Style

Deconstructed Tamale

My favorite vendor delivers deconstructed tamales to my office around 10:30 am most days. My coworkers refer to her as “Togo” because she’s from… you guessed it, Togo. Togo and Benin have similar cultures, ethnic groups, languages and cuisines. This dish is known as being Togolese though each component is eaten in very similar ways locally.


A lump of steamed corn meal, wrapped in a corn husk, is unwrapped, spicy tomato sauce ladled next to it, a dollop of chili pepper sauce and some sliced onions round out the basics. Fried fish is extra; I usually go for two small chunks, each costing $0.10. With $0.20 of tamale basics, my grand total is $0.40. It is eaten as follows: wash hands; pull off hunk of corn meal with fingers; drag through sauce; eat corn meal hunk with slice of raw onion and bite of fried fish. Slurp sauce from fingers. Repeat. The steamed corn meal is slightly moister than you’d get in a Mexican tamale but other than that, the taste is pretty similar. It’s delicious.

"Togo" with the tamale fixin's in front of my office.

“Togo” with the tamale fixin’s in front of my office.



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