When Encanto, the Disney movie came out, we went to see it right away. Loved the story, the music and the Colombian food they chose to portrait my home country.
First up is Colombian arepas. I think this dish is probably the most emblematic food.
Arepas are grilled corn cakes that are similar to a Mexican Gordita or a Salvadorian Pupusa.
The dough for arepas consist of white cornmeal, salt and water.
Arepas are the typical Colombian breakfast. We like to eat them smothered in butter, with a pinch of salt and topped with Colombian fresh cheese (Quesito Colombiano).
There are different kind of arepas depending on the color of the cornmeal, the thickness of the dough and the shape of the arepa itself. Here is a list of the most popular arepa types:
- Arepa Tela: this one is the classic breakfast arepa. It is thin disc, plain cornmeal with water and salt. We like it quite crispy, it is the perfect vessel for our fresh cheese and or scrambled eggs.
- Arepa redonda: This one is round, small and quite thick. This one is the perfect pairing for a Colombian soup, the bandeja paisa dish or any other stew or BBQ. We usually eat them at lunch time or when it’s time to grill with friends.
- Arepa de Mote: This arepa is yellow because of the type of corn we make it with. The main characteristic is that we use whole grain corn to make it. It is a rustic but delicious arepa.
- Arepa de yuca: This arepa is one of my favorites. It’s a blend of cornmeal and cassava flour which renders a soft, almost stretchy arepa. These are usually filled with mozzarella cheese and have a sweet flavor.
Although Colombians, and people from Medellin in particular, eat arepas any time of the day, breakfast is Arepa’s prime time.
Empanadas are very popular in all South America. Each country has their own version of these savory patties.
In Colombia, the most classic empanada is a fried corn patty filled with ground beef and diced potatoes.
I have a detailed post about how to make Colombian empanadas
Colombian cheese fritters are a delight! These bred-like cheese balls are deep fried to perfection creating a crusty outer shell and a pillowy, cheesy inside.
Although buñuelos are a must during the holidays, they are present year round in the Colombian diet. So much so that there are food stands that only sell buñuelos.
People usually eat them at breakfast with a cup of steaming hot chocolate or a Colombian cafe con Leche (latte), but they can also be a quick lunch with a refreshing soda.
During the holidays, buñuelos are paired with Natilla, a flan-like dessert that is perfect for that sweet and savory combo we all love.
If you want to learn how to make authentic Colombian buñuelos, I have a very detailed post with the best tips and trick to get them right on the first try.
Patacones or tostones are the Colombian version of chips and salsa. Instead of chips, we use green plantain rounds that we fry in oil twice. The result is a crispy chip that we top with a tomato and onion sauce (hogao).
To make the perfect patacon, the most important thing is to get green plantains that are firm to the touch. I have a detailed post about Patacones, including a healthy Air-fryer version.
If you’d like to learn more about Colombian foods you should try, I made a list of my favorites Colombian dishes.