IMPULSE TRAVEL TEAM
We are a team of storytellers here to bring you the best Colombia has to offer. On our blog, we answer your most frequent questions and uncover our countries mysteries, culture, and highlights for you.
Besides salsa, music, coffee, and festivals, Colombia also got some fantastic food. For this week’s blog, we want to show you some of our team’s favorite dishes and recipes from our moms and pops. Bringing you the freshest, most authentic, the home feels recipes. We have asked our team members to gather some of their favorite Colombian dishes and the most comforting food for us. Here are some of our favorite Colombian dishes and we even brought some of our secret ingredients as well.
The recipes mentioned below are not your typical "perfect recipes"; however, these are our moms and pops, grandmas, and close friends' recipes that we have collected through our team. In Colombia, we cook from our heart and we mainly adjust any ingredients to our personal taste. So as you go through these ingredients, please keep in mind that our recipes might not have an accurate exact amount of ingredients.
First and foremost, we cannot get away with this list without arepas. This is the ultimate easy food that you can find just about every corner in Colombia, you can’t miss it. The smell of arepas will attract you from blocks away. Most Colombians will eat this as a snack or breakfast. Arepas are made with simple ingredients so that you can make them just about anywhere in the world. Often, when you visit a restaurant, arepas will be served to replace bread. If you visit Colombia and did not try arepas then it’s like you didn’t really come to Colombia.
- 2 cups Arepa Flour (precooked corn flour)
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
This is where it gets fun and creative, you can choose whatever fillings you desire. Some of our favorites are beans, cheese, pork, and corn salad with sauteed onions. If you want to go with a simple version just top your warm Arepa with melting butter and salt.
- Mix arepa flour and 2 tbsp salt together in a medium bowl and mix with roughly 2 cups of water. Then let the flour soak up the salt and water together for about 5 minutes until the flour is ready to be used as a dough.
- Use a handful of dough and make it into a ball (making about 6-8) and flatten them out like pancakes (as seen in the photo).
- Use a pan and heat to medium/high heat. Add your vegetable oil and add your dough to the pan. Wait until the Arepa turns golden brown on both sides.
- Add butter and salt for the classic topping.
Next up, this is one of many of the team’s favorites. Ajiaco is a well known traditional Colombian potato soup and a true local’s favorite as well.
INGREDIENTS (4-5 servings):
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 1 onion
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-5 cups of water
- ¾lbs of each criolla potato (Yellow) and/or sabanera potato (White)
- chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch of green onions
- 1 Tsp of salt and black pepper or to taste
- 2 ears of corn
- Guasca leaves (herb very popular in Colombia) for real Colombian sazón
- In a large pot bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil. Boil your chicken and onion together for about 20-25 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, you can put the chicken on the side.
- Add your vegetables (potatoes, garlic, onions, corn) into the water and cook with 1tsp salt and pepper for about 20 minutes. The yellow potatoes will dissolve and turn the broth into delicious potato soup.
- Then add your cooked chicken again to the soup for about 5 minutes with low heat. Season to your own taste preference. For us, we usually add a bit more salt and garlic.
- Once finished, garnish with green onions and cilantro.
- For our personal taste preference, we like to add sliced avocado and sour cream
This next dish is a snack favorite that we cannot live without. Colombian empanadas can be found mostly on streets in Colombia or at many small side restaurants. They are an easy grab and go-to snack and can be eaten at any time of the day. You can catch us sneaking out of the office to grab empanadas on a weekly basis. Empanadas are made with deep-fried dough surrounding the most important ingredient - the fillings. The fillings are everything to empanadas. Our favorites are ground beef and shredded pork.
- 2 cups of pre-cooked yellow corn flour
- 1 Pack of butter (we prefer to cut ours in cubes for better mixing results)
- 1Tbsp of canola or corn oil
- 1Tbsp of salt
- 1 lb of beef
- 2-3 whole green onions (not chopped)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 large onion
- 1 Tbsp of salt and pepper
- 1lb of potatoes
- 1 large tomato
- Bring a large pressure pot to low-medium heat and add your beef, whole green onions, garlic cloves, and sliced onions in the pot.
- Once your beef is cooked and softened. Let the meat cool and start shredding your beef into fine pieces.
- In a medium pot, boil your small pieces of potatoes (add some flavor and use some of the beef broth from the other pot) and cook your potatoes for about 5-7 minutes. Then drain out your potatoes and put aside.
- Now we will make the sauce to saute our stuffing. Using a pan, heat pan in medium heat and add oil.
- Add chopped green onions, garlic, tomatoes and cook for about 1 minute. Then add your seasoning salt and pepper. Use your leftover 1-2 cup of stock broth to water down the sauce.
- Add your shredded beef and your mashed potato to the saute sauce in the pan. Stir and mix everything together and set aside.
- Smash or flatten out your dough, add your stuffing in the middle (2 spoons worth of stuffing), fold the dough into a half-moon, using your fingers to seal the dough together (like dumplings), cut out your dough into its shape.
- Deep fry your empanadas in about 360 degrees for about 5-7 minutes. Once done, set aside to let them cool down on paper towels and enjoy.
- For additional taste, we like to enjoy ours with a slice of lemon or with a homemade sauce.
Bandeja de Paisa is a food from the Antioquia region around Medellín. This plate is commonly served with two types of carne
including beef and sausage, an over-easy egg, rice, a slice of an avocado, an arepa or patacón
(smashed fried banana), and you can’t forget the beans (frijoles
). It’s a heavy dish, and we’re not over exaggerating. Pro Tip: We sometimes order our Bandeja Paisa without/ or with fewer beans and more eggs which makes it less filling. Colombians might think you are crazy about doing that but by the end, you will feel much better, and you can actually move after. However, this truly depends on how much you can eat. The locals are used to eating an entire plate of the dish, but if you didn’t grow up with it, there’s a chance that it will be a little bit hard to adapt. Better be safe than sorry with the beans. 😉
This dish is no joke, it has been said that the dish is for the brave because oh boy, it can be enormous and filled with large portions of heavy meat, beans, and other ingredients like plantain and avocado. When eating, eat with precaution because after you might just have to call off from work for the rest of the day. For us, we have a hard time getting through the day with eating this dish as well. But we must say that it is so worth it.
INGREDIENTS (4-5 servings):
- 1 lb of ground beef
- 1 lb of cooked rice
- 2 cups of pre-soaked red beans (leave in water the night before cooking)
- 2 green plantains to make about 4-5 patacones
- 2 large onions
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 lime
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4-5 eggs (optional if you want fried eggs with your dish)
- 1 avocado
- Make a side of pico de gallo (fresh condiment): chop 1 onion, 2 tomatoes, 1 bunch of cilantro into small pieces and mix with a pinch of salt and lime (as you prefer).
- Bring a large pot to a boil and cook your pre-soaked red beans and prepare Gizo in a separate pan sauteeing one tomato with chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic and salt. Mix the Gizo with the cooked and drained beans to give them some flavor.
- Sautee the beef in a pan with salt, garlic, and pepper. Pro Tip: Add some oregano for more flavor.
- To cook patacones, cut the green plantain into 3cm pieces (depending on the size that you want), then pre-fry the pieces for a few minutes. Then take them out and smash the piece into a round form, then fry them again until golden brown and crispy, and voilá.
- If you want to add an egg to the dish now is the time to fry it.
- Arrange rice, beans, meat, pico de gallo and fried egg on a plate, adding a slice of avocado to go along with everything else.
Last but definitely not least. Sancocho is many of our second favorite dish following Ajiaco. This recipe is a lot easier to cook than Ajiaco but you use just about the same ingredients except you don’t need different types of potatoes, you only need one. It’s a dish soup or a similar to a stew that you can use either chicken or beef ribs depending on the region of Colombia. In some regions, it is easier to have beef. We personally prefer our Sancocho with beef ribs, as it is a bit richer in flavor. However, when cooking with beef ribs it does take a lot longer because you are boiling the meat in the soup for about 2 hours long mixed with corn, celery, potatoes, yuca, and plantain.
1 lb of beef ribs
2 lb of potato
2 lb of Yuca
1 large plantain
1 large onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp of salt
1 bunch of celery
1 bunch of cilantro
1. Bring 4-5 cups of water to boil in a large pressure cooker. Boil your beef ribs and celery with 1 tbsp of salt for about 45 minutes.
2. In a different medium pot, add your vegetables (banana, crushed garlic, sliced onions, yuca, potatoes) cover them with water and cook with a pinch of salt for about 30 minutes until your vegetables soften and depending on how you like your vegetables to be cooked.
3. Then add beef and celery with the broth to you vegetables. Let simmer for a few minutes.
4. Garnish the final dish with cilantro.
After mentioning some of the dishes above, we are excited for you to try making them and share with us your favorite Colombian dish. We would love to know. Now it is time to get to your kitchen and start cooking. If you decide to use any of our ingredients or use this for an inspiration to cook, we would love to see some of your work. Tag us @impulse_travel on Instagram or in your story. We hope you will enjoy our recipes from our kitchen to yours.