from Nahuatl: tamalli. Tamales are a traditional mexican dish, its origins are traced back to ancient mayans. Tamales are prepared with a starchy dough, usually corn-based, filled with meat, vegetables, fruits, salsa, or other fillings, this dough is wrapped in corn or banana leafs (depending on the region) for cooking. Tamales can be sweet or savory and they are often accompanied by hot maize-based beverages.