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10 Mouth-Wateringly Delicious Colombian Foods
If it’s hearty food that fills you up to the point of bursting that you’re looking for, Colombian cuisine may just be the food for you.
Anthony Bourdain visits Colombia to try the food
In Colombia there are two things sacred in society: food and music. These things go to the very core of what it is to be Colombian and a love for each is cultivated from the cot onwards. Both represent a lot for Colombians: nationality, culture and family.
For this reason, perhaps, Colombian food feels familial. It’s hearty cuisine that’ll never taste better than it does when cooked by your mother (or, maybe, her mother). It’s also very filling, as mentioned. Just take a look below at some of the dishes prized by Colombian culture; sancocho (which contains 3 types of meat), bandeja paisa (which contains almost everything) and other favourites all operate with a “more is more” ethos.
Even the hot chocolate contains cheese. Haute cuisine this is not.
Still, it’s a world of flavor and deliciousness that you’ll love getting lost in. So without further ado, here they are – Colombia’s finest meals.
10. Arroz con Pollo
A world standard done Colombian style
When I was first told about arroz con pollo as a national Colombian dish, I scoffed. “Have you tried it?”, my friend asked.
Well, yes, I replied. It’s chicken and rice – maybe the most famous, widely-eaten dish in the world.
“Yes, but here it’s different. It’s delicious”, came the response. How is it different? I pondered… How could chicken and rice without the addition of much sauce possibly be different?
The truth is, it’s not so different. Simple. In fact, chicken and rice made in China or India is likely to be nicer thanks to the range of spices and sauces used. But that doesn’t change the fact that a well made arroz con pollo is a delicious and healthy treat.
Key ingredients: Chicken, rice
Where to eat it: In many corrientazos around the major cities you’ll find a decent plate.
How to make it: quericavida.com
9. Fried Mojarra
Perfect for the beach
Mojarra is a type of fish that’s popular to eat in Colombia, and if you’re lucky enough to travel to the Caribbean coast it’s an absolute must-eat.
Fried mojarra usually comes with coconut rice (and/or patacones) and a delicious lemonade, making it the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing day at the beach.
Key ingredients: Fish, patacones/coconut rice
Where to eat it: La Guajira
How to make it: mycolombianrecipes.com
8. Arepa de huevo
Deep fried eggy goodness
Looking for an unhealthy snack? Maybe you’re not now but once you’ve drunk a few Aguilas I’m pretty sure you will be.
That’s where arepa de huevo (or “egg arepa”) comes in. This deep-fried delight is pretty simple, but it’s my favorite iteration of the humble arepa, which is considered nationwide to be something of a treasure.
(Not sure what an arepa is? Find out here).
Key ingredients: Arepa, egg
Where to eat it: On the streets of a coastal town
How to make it: about.com
The perfect snack
To tell you the truth, empanadas would be way further up my list if there was more to them, but it somehow seems inadequate to put a snack at the top of a list of meals…
But what a snack. For a mere $0.50 you can get your hands on a deep-fried, corn-based (or pastry) filled-to-the-brim pocket of goodness. They’re available pretty much anywhere and despite their small size and smaller price tag, because they’re so stuffed full they’re actually very, very filling.
They come in many different variations, whether you’re after chicken, beef, sausage, vegetables, rice, egg, olives, cheese or something else you’ll most likely find something you like. Top it all off with a delicious spot of aji and you’re snacking Colombian style. No wonder they’re such a happy bunch.
Key ingredients: Meat/vegetables/chicken, deep-fried corn and rice.
Where to eat it: Almost anywhere
How to make it: food.com
Unhealthy mornings with a mushy twist
Tamales make for a delicious breakfast (even if they’re not the most healthy thing you’ll eat all day). Within the plantain leaf that you prize open with a fork is chicken, pork belly, ribs, an egg, carrots, peas, potatoes, some spices and masa. It usually comes out steaming hot and is best enjoyed with a delicious hot chocolate.
Key ingredients: Chicken, pork, masa
Where to eat it: The Tolima region of Colombia is famous for its tamales.
How to make it: hispanic-culture-online.com
5. Sancocho Trifásico
More is more is defined by this thick, tasty soup
Whether it’s cold outside, you’re hungover or you just need a hug in a bowl, sancocho trifasico is the meal for you.
Sancocho is a popular soup around all of South America, but this version comes complete with 3 different kinds of meat, yuca, potato, corn, cilantro and much more, giving it a twist that’s as tasty as it is filling.
Key ingredients: Beef, chicken, pork, potatoes
Where to eat it: Opinions will vary, but for a safe option go for the epic one served at Andres Carne de Res.
How to make it: thelatinkitchen.com
Perfect for a rainy day
This chicken and potato soup might not sound so revolutionary, but one spoonful will have you hooked.
Ajiaco is a Sunday afternoon ritual in Colombian homes, especially in and around Bogota. The addition of guascas is what really sets the dish apart, giving it an earthy texture and taste that’s utterly unique and completely delicious.
Key ingredients: Potato, chicken, guascas
Where to eat it: Mama Lupe, Bogota
How to make it: thekitchn.com
Melt-in-your-mouth tender pork
The Tolima department of Colombia isn’t so known to many travelers, but it certainly has a special place in the hearts of Colombians. Tolima is the original home of lechona, a dish that consists of an entire pork full to the brim with rice and peas. It’s cooked in a brick oven for 10 – 12 hours, meaning the meat is beautifully tender, the skin nice and crispy and the taste absolutely delicious.
If you’re invited to a family party or a special occasion in Colombia there’s a good chance that this dish will be served, so try your best to attend.
Key ingredients: Pork, rice, peas
Where to eat it: Tolima
How to make it: spoonacular.com
2. Bandeja Paisa
More food than your stomach can handle
The bandeja paisa is undoubtedly the most spoken about meal in Colombia. Hailing from the Paisa region of the country (hence the name), it’s a dish that more or less embodies Colombia’s approach to food: keep it hearty, keep it simple, keep it maximalist.
The dish, for those who wish to attempt it (I would recommend sharing), is a mixture of protein-heavy foods and carbs. The belt-challenging ingredients are beans, beef, sausage, chicharron, rice, yuca, rice, avacado, plantains, eggs, lime and probably some other stuff that I’ve forgot.
Key ingredients: Everything
Where to eat it: Anywhere in Antioquia will serve you a great bandeja Paisa, but Brasarepa Restaurant in Envigado is where Anthony Bourdain tried the dish and fell in love.
How to make it: discovercolombia.com
The absolute pinnacle of food in Colombia, and fruit anywhere
Whether it’s conventional fruits such as bananas, oranges and watermelons or more obscure treats such as dragon fruit, lulo or guanabana, there’s no doubt that Colombia’s fruit resources are as deep as they are varied.
I recommend trying as much fruit as possible in Colombia, and sampling all the smoothies your stomach can handle.
Key ingredients: Fruit!
Where to eat it: Anywhere. See a list of Colombian fruits here at off2colombia.com.
How to make it: Just grab a bite!
Agree with my choices, or would you choose something else? Let me know in the comments!