Of course, mixing up the tamale ingredients is easy — assembling them is an art. You have to get the perfect ratio of masa to filling and wrap them so they cook evenly and stay contained.

Tamales are cooked in a special tamale steamer, which you can get at most stores that sell cooking supplies. Mamiverse has a few insider secrets to help ensure your tamales are perfectly cooked every time.

• Place a coin, like a penny, in the water in the steamer, it will make a sound to let you know the water is boiling. If you don’t hear the coin, you’re out of water!
• Place a layer of cornhusks at the bottom of the steamer for even distribution. This is especially important if you’re improvising and not using a steamer.
• Place a cotton cloth over the tamales, then place the lid of the steamer over that, especially if you are not using a steamer.
• Making tamales is labor intensive. You can make the filling the day before.
• Involve the whole family. In Mexico, as in other places, tamales are made for special occasions, so making them can also be a special occasion.
• Make a lot of tamales because they freeze well.