Wherever you are, you should give in to the craving and savour Colombian cuisine. You might need a little imagination to replace those ingredients you cannot find where you live. Get inspired by these dishes — you’ll find links to the recipes in each subtitle.
1. “Bandeja paisa” (Paisa meal tray)
Without hesitation, this is one of the most popular dishes amongst Colombians. It is also well known around the world. The base is made of red beans, cooked in a sauce full of mixed spices and seasonings. You can serve it with rice, shredded fried beef, pork crackling, corn bread, plantain, avocado, chorizo, or sausage and fried egg.
2. “Lechona casera” (Homemade pork dish)
This is a very popular recipe from the Andean area, especially in the department of Tolima. The dish is mainly full of meat, rice and peas, all simmered and covered with a layer of bacon or pork skin. Its flavor is very aromatic. For any Colombian, just looking at the picture will bring out memories of family gatherings and meetings with friends.
3. “Tamales” (Banana leaf parcels)
The name “tamal” comes from Mexico. After colonization, the cooking method and the variety of ingredients spread to the rest of the continent. The truth is that many other cultures around the world have dishes that are cooked in leaves like this. One of my favorites is the Tolima tamal, which includes chicken, pork and bacon… plus many other ingredients.
4. “Sancocho” (Colombian beef stew)
The stew is made with meat, vegetables and seasonings. In Colombia, it’s usually served with white rice, avocado and Hogao. The sauce “Hogao” is a mix of fried green onions and tomato; it goes well with many other Colombian dishes.
5. “Cazuela de mariscos” (Seafood casserole)
Probably the best seafood dish you’ll ever try. For Colombians, it is reserved for special occasions. Rumor has it that this thick soup with strong sea flavors is an aphrodisiac… I guess you’ll have to see it for yourself.
6. “Viudo o viuda de pescado” (“Widow” fish)
A very colorful dish made with white fish. The key is to side the fish with plantain, potatoes, white rice, avocado, hogao, minced green onion and cilantro. Hmmm…
7. “Ajiaco Bogotano” (Bogota’s soup)
Another thick, rich soup that can become a main dish if it is supplemented with cream, avocado, rice and capers. It comforts us in days of bad weather… especially when we feel the cold is worse because we don’t have Colombian beaches close by.
8. “Chuleta Valluna” (Pork Milanese)
It consists in pork chops with breadcrumbs and egg, also known as “Pork Milanese,” deep-fried in oil and served with salad or French fries. An all-time favorite, no matter how old you get.
9. “Arroz con pollo” (Rice with chicken)
As it is very easy to prepare in large quantities, it has become a favorite for Colombian extended family reunions. People always come back for more… that’s guaranteed.
10. “Sobrebarriga al horno” (Roasted flank or skirt steak)
This recipe uses a cut of meat known as matambre or flank steak. It is slowly cooked in beer or water for several hours and then baked topped with breadcrumbs. You can serve it with grilled plantain, steamed potatoes, salad, avocado and many other side dishes. Let us know in the comments below which side you prefer!
11. “Arroz criollo” (Creole rice)
Not only a colorful variety of ingredients, but also a perfect combination of sweet and savory. The challenge, depending on which country you live in, is to find the correct type of “banana” (ripe plantain). There are places where you can only find one type of banana!
12. “Fritanga” or “picada”
Perhaps one of the most complex Colombian dishes — and definitely full of calories!
It consists in an exorbitant amount of meats (especially chorizo, pork sausage and blood sausage) cooked with vegetables and served with chili sauce. In Colombia, this dish goes well with “refajo”, a combination of beer and a kind of soda. Any Colombian will get homesick if you only mention picada with refajo, because he will instantly be reminded of good times with friends and family.