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Paches ~ Potato Tamales

Paches ~ Potato Tamales

David Taylor
The people of the western highland city Quetzaltenango put their own twist on the famous tamale. Due to the abundance of potatoes in the region, they opted to use them (rather than corn) as the dough base.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Guatemalan
Servings 21 Paches
Calories 280 kcal


  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 3 lbs tomatoes
  • 2 chili pasa
  • 1 chili guacque
  • 1 chili chocolate green
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 oz sesame seeds
  • 1 oz pumpkin seeds
  • 2 lbs chicken pork
  • 20 mashan leaves
  • 20 banana leaves
  • 6 tbsp butter


Potato Preparation:

  • Boil 3 pounds of potatoes (about 30 potatoes) for 30 minutes.
  • After boiling remove the water and take off the skin and mash.
  • In a frying pan melt the butter.
  • Pour the melted butter onto the mashed potatoes and mix together.

Sauce Preparation:

  • Cut and take our the seeds from 2 chili pasa, 1 chili guacque, and 2 red bell peppers. Boil all with 3 pounds of tomatoes for 10 minutes.
  • In a frying pan brown 1 ounce of sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Blend the boiled chillies, bell peppers and tomatoes with the sesame and pumpkin seeds on high for 30 seconds.
  • Pour the blended mix into a pot and add salt.

Meat Preparation:

  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

Leaf Preparation:

  • Wash and wet the mashan leaves and cut the stems off.
  • Cut the banan leaves into squares roughly 12 x 12 inches and soak in hot water.

Pache Preparation:

  • Spoon the sauce onto the mashed potatoes and mix. The key here is not to pour too much sauce. The potatoes should be runny but not liquid.
  • Take a square piece of banana leaf.
  • Place 3-4 tablespoons of the potato and sauce mixture in the centre.
  • Add a tablespoon of sauce on top.
  • Place a portion of chicken or pork.
  • If you like spicy food, add a chilli.
  • Fold the sides of the banana leaf over the mixture.
  • Fold the bottom edge up.
  • Fold the top edge down.
  • Place the package face down in the centre of a mashan leaf.
  • Follow the same procedure to fold the mashan leaf. This is one pache.
  • Continue the process until you have the desired number or you run out of ingredients. With 3 pounds of potatoes we were able to make 21 paches.
  • To cook, place paches into a pot with some water about 3 fingers deep. Arrange the pahces so air can circulate between them, cover, and place on high heat for 60 minutes.
  • When the leaves turn light green the Pache has finished cooking. If you open and eat it now the potato mixture will be quite runny. Most people let them cook down first to allow the potato mixture to firm before eating with bread.