& vegetable tamales
Hominy is dry corn that has been soaked in an alkaline solution. (lye or slaked lime) This softens the corn and kills it so it cannot sprout while in storage. If you can get it, buy the frozen hominy. It tastes so much better than the canned stuff.
Masa (or masa de maíz) is a corn dough that comes from ground nixtamalized corn. It is used for making corn tortillas, gorditas, tamales, pupusas, and many other Latin American dishes. Its dried and powdered form is called masa harina, masa de harina, and sometimes Maseca, [which is] the name of one commercial brand. The flour is reconstituted with water to make a dough before it is used in cooking.
In Spanish, masa harina translates to "dough flour", which can refer to many other types of dough.
The ground product can be called masa nixtamalera. In Central American and Mexican cuisine, masa nixtamalera is cooked with water and milk to make a thick, gruel-like beverage called atole. When made with chocolate and sugar, it becomes atole de chocolate. Adding anise and piloncillo to this mix creates champurrado, a popular breakfast drink.
In Mexico, tamales are often prepared with the meat obtained from cooking a whole pig's head. The defining ingredient in this dish is the corn masa. Other meats can be substituted or it can be prepared without meat.