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Pamonha de Forno Goiana (Brazilian Tamale Casserole)


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Ah, tamales… Who can keep from going crazy over such a delicacy?!  I know, I know…tamales are a Mexican dish — but Brazil also has its own version.  I bet you didn’t know that!  So a Brazilian Tamale Casserole or Pamonha de Forno Goiana  is the dish that I am sharing with you today.  This is the modern version of the traditional, corn husk-wrapped Brazilian tamale or pamonha.  It is naturally gluten-free and as delicious as the traditional dish, but much quicker and easier to prepare.  Oh, it is comfort food on my plate!!!

The basic differences between the Mexican tamale and the Brazilian pamonha are:

1. Tamales are made from masa (a starchy dough, hominy-based) while pamonha is made from fresh yellow corn.

2. Tamales are wrapped in dry corn husks, while traditionally pamonha is wrapped in fresh corn husks (although our recipe is not wrapped but baked in the oven).

3. Tamales are usually steamed, while the traditional pamonha is boiled.

The similarity between them lies in the fact that both tamales and pamonha can be either savory or sweet.  Since I have already made a sweet Pamonha Cake last year, our recipe for today is a savory version.

As Wikipedia explains:

Pamonha (Portuguese pronunciation: [paˈmõȷ̃ɐ]) is a traditional Brazilian food.  It is a paste made from fresh corn and milk, boiled wrapped in corn husks, turned into a dumpling.  Variations may include coconut milk.  Pamonhas can be savoury or sweet, the latter being the norm in Northeastern Brazil and in the state of Rio de Janeiro.  They can be filled with cheese, sausage, minced meat, minced chicken, pepper, or served plain.  Roadside restaurants specializing in pamonha and other corn dishes are common in Northeast Region Brazil.

The name pamonha comes from Old Tupi language pa’muña meaning “sticky.”‘ 

I could have not explained it better!!!

Our modern, baked version is made from yellow corn as well, and filled with cheese and sausage.  It is an economical, versatile dish since it can be eaten anytime of the day.  Ready?!  Let’s cook this baby together.


Brazilian Tamale Casserole

(Pamonha de Forno Goiana)

Yield: About 6-8 portions

Segment: Brazilian cuisine

Brazilian Tamale Casserole (Pamonha de Forno Goiana) -- Naturally gluten-free, economical, and beyond comforting!!!


5 cups yellow corn, fresh or canned (if you are using canned corn, please drain off all the water very well)
8.5 fl. oz (250 ml) whole milk
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon Knorr vegetable or chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
7 0z (200 gr.) smoked pork sausage, sliced in rounds, quartered, and cooked according to the instructions from the package
2-1/2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella or any other that melts well.  I prepared mine with Fiesta cheese blend)**

** Although cubed cheese is usually added to the traditional pamonha goiana recipe, I do prefer to use shredded cheese in the casserole.

Note: If you are a fan of heat, you are welcome to add 1/2 to 1 chopped jalapeño to the casserole when you fill with the sausage and cheese.   You can also add chopped fresh herbs to the topping right before serving (I topped mine with fresh thyme).  Both  jalapeño and herbs are not customary ingredients in traditional Pamonha.


1. Preheat oven to 325º F ( 163 º C).  Fill half of a larger baking pan with boiling water (this will serve as the bain-marie bath).

2. In a blender, blend together the corn, milk, eggs, bouillon powder, salt, and pepper until obtaining a homogeneous, creamy mixture.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 12 x 7-inch ovenproof dish ( 30.5 x 18 cm) and pour in half of the blended mixture. Distribute the cooked sausage slices and 1 cup of the shredded cheese over the mixture.  Pour over this the remaining blended mixture, reserving the remaining 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheese for later.

3. Bake in bain-marie for about 40-45 minutes or until center is firm yet jiggly.  Remove from oven and top casserole with the reserved cheese.  Increase oven temperature to 350º F (about 180º C) and bake casserole (no more bain-marie but dry-air heat oven) for about 5 minutes — just enough for the cheese melt.  Let cool down a bit and serve warm!



Receita em Português:

Pamonha de Forno Goiana

Rendimento: Aproximadamente 6 a 8 porções

Brazilian Tamale Casserole (Pamonha de Forno Goiana) -- Naturally gluten-free, economical, and beyond comforting!!!


5 xícaras de (chá) de milho, fresco ou em conserva (se você estiver usando o milho enlatado, escorra bem toda a água)
250 ml de leite integral
4 ovos grandes à temperatura ambiente
1 colher de (sopa) de caldo de galinha ou de legumes Knorr em pó
1 colher de (chá) de sal
Uma pitada de pimenta do reino moída
200 g de lingüiça de porco defumada fatiada, picada em quatro e cozida de acordo com as instruções do pacote
2 e 1/2 xícaras de (chá) de queijo em tirinhas (mussarela ou qualquer outro que derreta bem)**

** Apesar de que o queijo em cubinhos é geralmente adicionado à receita tradicional de pamonha goiana, eu prefiro usar queijo em tirinhas para a pamonha de forno.

Modo de Preparo:

1. Pré-aqueça o forno a 163º C. Encha uma assadeira grande até a metade com água fervente.

2. No liquidificador, bata juntos o milho, o leite, os ovos, o caldo de galinha ou legumes em pó, o sal e pimenta até obter uma mistura cremosa homogênea. Unte o fundo e laterais de um refratário médio e despeje metade da mistura batida. Distribua as fatias de linguiça cozida e 1 xícara de queijo sobre a mistura. Despeje o restante da mistura batida por cima, reservando 1 e 1/2  xícaras de queijo para mais tarde.

3. Asse em banho-maria por aproximadamente 40 a 45 minutos ou até que o centro esteja levemente firme. Retire do forno e distribua o restante do queijo. Aumente a temperatura do forno para 180 º C e asse a pamonha (sem banho-maria) por cerca de 5 minutos para que o queijo derreta. Deixe esfriar um pouco e sirva morna.


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32 Responses to Pamonha de Forno Goiana (Brazilian Tamale Casserole)

  1. Shashi @ August 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    This “Pamonha de Forno Goiana” looks so creamy! I had no clue that Brazil had it’s own version of a tamale
    Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    • Denise Browning August 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

      Thank you for stopping by, Shashi! It is always a pleasure to hear from you.

  2. Ash-foodfashionparty August 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Yet another introduction to a unique dish but something we are a bit familiar with. thanks for sharing all the information and the dish sounds yummy.

  3. Jennifer Bass August 28, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    I have a dear friend who lives in Goiania and her mother makes wonderful pamonha! I know it takes a lot of work so I am happy to have his recipe. I love things that remind me of Brasil!

  4. The Café Sucre Farine August 28, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    What’s there not to like about this Denise. It looks amazing, such a star cast of ingredients!

    • Denise Browning August 29, 2013 at 12:19 am #

      Thanks, Chris! I love the combination of the corn with the cheese and sausage.

  5. Adele August 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Hi Denise,

    I was born in Goiania a long time ago. And I still make minha pamonha assado ou cozida na palha aqui na America.Sao pratos e tradicoes que nos acompanham para onde vamos.Gostas de curau de miilho verde? E sobre o nosso famoso “Empadao de Goias” ja ouviu falar?? tente se puder entrar na historia e culinaria da cidade de Goias e da nossa poetisa CORA CORALINA. Obrigada por me fazer viajar sem sair do lugar.

    • Denise Browning August 29, 2013 at 12:11 am #

      My pleasure, Adele! Thanks for stopping by…I love when my people visit me here. Yes, I have heard about empadao goiano e Cora Coralina. I love curau de milho but we call it canjica in my Northeast region. I grew up eating it… It is so creamy and comforting for me. I am looking forward to featuring here an empadao recipe in the future. I don’t know if it will be possible to make the goiano one b/c of the guariroba. I’ve never seen here in the US. Well, at least I can talk about it a bit. Have a great day!

  6. Mi Vida en un Dulce August 28, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Delicious…!!! We also have a Tamal, very similar to the Mexican, but different. I los Latin America…!!!

  7. Julia | August 28, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    Denise, this looks amazing! You’re right, this is an absolutely perfect comfort food, at its best. Look at that mixture of pork sausage, shredded cheese – all together with a whole bunch of corn baked until still a bit jiggly! Oh mine, pinned!

  8. Kumar's Kitchen August 29, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    such a sunny casserole,have had tamales before but never thought they can be so beautiful as a casserole dish as well,very well presented and a lovely dish 🙂

  9. Liz August 29, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Mmmmm….definitely comfort food! And so much easier than making tamales 🙂

    • Denise Browning August 29, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

      It is true, Liz! It is much easier than the traditional dish…

  10. [email protected] is How I Cook August 29, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Love Mexican tamales, Denise. Can’t wait to try these!

  11. Deb August 29, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    What a tempting tamale casserole! Perfect for the fist whispers of fall!

  12. cquek August 29, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Super fabulous. i need to save your recipe

  13. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania August 29, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I loved this Brazilian version of Tamales. This is such a wonderful comfort food!! Your photography was holding me over for a while! Corn and sausages in a casserole…the very thought of it is making me drool! Pinned it!

  14. [email protected] August 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Denise, this looks so delicious and unique. I love the way you garnished the top!

    • Denise Browning August 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Thanks, Nik! Pamonha is a very traditional dish although I have made its modern version.

  15. Coffee and Crumpets August 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    I do like tamales. I like how this one is easier than making tamales individually. Looks super delicious with the corn and the sausage, creamy, sweet and salty. Yum!


    • Denise Browning August 30, 2013 at 12:26 am #

      Thanks, Nazneen! It is good to have you stopping by.

  16. Sugar et al September 2, 2013 at 7:03 am #

    Oh wow! You come up with such amazing recipes Denise. I am falling in love with Brazilian cuisine. And your pictures are so beautiful…my mouth is watering at the sight of this Casserole. Love it!
    P.S : I was not able to read or comment on your posts for some time. Made several attempts last week. Every time I click on a title, it takes me to a page called Reddit. Today, when I tried, it went through. Wondering what could be the issue!

    • Denise Browning September 2, 2013 at 9:04 am #

      Thanks for letting me know, Sonali! I had no idea about that. I am so sorry for the incovenience.

  17. Wizzy September 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Another dish that is familiar to me yet different at the same time.We also make a tamale pie and something similar to tamales except that they are wrapped in banana leaves, not corn husks.

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