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Columbia’s Culinary Arts Centre: Colombian recipes for beginners

Colombian cuisine is a unique experience all on its own. Not only does it have a different flavour than the foods that would have in the United States, but it is also vastly different in the way that it is prepared. For this reason, it is a fun challenge for non-Colombian natives to try out in the kitchen.

If you are a beginner, you might have difficulty crafting these Colombian dishes to life. That is why we have compiled the easiest Colombian foods to make regardless if you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook. Get a full course of the best dishes Colombia has to offer without pulling a muscle in the kitchen. Let’s get right to the list of recipes below: 

Pan de Coco bread 

Pan de Coco bread is a popular snack all over Colombia. It is a soft bread filled with a sweet coconut filling that melts in your mouth. The slightly burnt and caramel taste of the coconut adds a delicious twist to your regular bread meal. What’s amazing about this bread is that it is filling and could help satisfy your hunger with just a few loaves. 

You can eat this bread for breakfast and pair it with your favourite Columbian blend coffee or serve it as a snack on a lazy afternoon as you chill with your friends. No matter when you want to eat it. Pan de coco is a delectable treat to have on the table. Here are the ingredients that you would need: 

  • 500 grams of wheat flour for bread or use a strong white flour 
  • 200 millilitres of coconut milk or a can of coconut milk 
  • 100 grams of butter 
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 100 grams sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence 
  • 1 beaten egg to glaze 
  • 1 sachet of dry yeast (7 grams)
  • 100 grams of dehydrated grated coconut to cook and decorate

Crab rice or Arroz atollado de cangrejo 

This delectable and hearty recipe is hailed from the Pacific coast region. It is often packed with different seafood meats and combined with a wonderful array of tropical flavours. Traditionally, it is prepared with coconut milk to give the rice a rich and mildly sweet taste as well as a fragrant smell. Once you eat it, you will find that the mellow flavour of the rice blends well with the umami flavour of the seafood. Take a look at the list of ingredients below: 

  • 2 tablespoons of oil (Avocado oil or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 2 scallions finely chopped 
  • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced 
  • 2 tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice 
  • ½ cup organic vegetable broth 
  • ½ teaspoon ground achiote 
  • 2 cups coconut milk 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin 
  • ½ pound fresh cooked crabmeat 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Fresh cilantro leaves chopped

Hot chocolate and cheese bread 

This combination is popular in Colombia, especially for kids. You might find it as a snack all across the country since Colombia is popular for its cacao plantations. Usually, the hot chocolate is served with cheese bread or a slice of cheese dropped directly in the drink. It might sound different from your usual hot chocolate in the United States, but it is a surprisingly fitting combination with the saltiness and creaminess of the cheese balancing the strong and sweet flavour of chocolate. Take a look at the ingredients below: 

  • 1 litre of coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons of chocolate drink mix or melted chocolate 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • A slice of cheese 

Ajiaco 

Ajiaco is one of the most popular traditional dishes in Colombia. It is a warm and hearty meal that is made of simple ingredients you will find in the market. What’s amazing with this dish is that it can go with any meal and dish. If you want, you can even have it on a rainy day to give you a soothing and comforting feel. Here’s an easy recipe that you can follow: 

  • 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock (you can make it by boiling the chicken for a few hours)
  • 1 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, split into small cubes 
  • 1 large onion cut in half 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks 
  • 2 pounds papas Criollas peeled 
  • 1 pound red bliss potatoes peeled and split into four pieces lengthwise 
  • ¼ cup dried guascas 
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked and broken into 3 pieces 
  • 1 small onion finely diced 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1 serrano or ½ jalapeño chile seeded and finely minced 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup sour cream thinned with 1 tablespoon of milk 
  • ½ cup capers rinsed, drained and roughly chopped 
  • 1 ripe avocado, light-green Fuerte variety sliced into wedges 

Colombian meatball stew 

If you are craving a slow-cooked meal, this meatball dish is perfect for you! It is a meal that all the kids love in Colombia and we are confident that it would be welcomed on your table as well. It is the perfect mixture of hearty, warm and savoury. Try out this perfect comfort food and breeze through the cold United States weather with a bowl of Colombian meatball stew:

Meatball 

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef 
  • 2 large eggs beaten 
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin 
  • ⅓ cup masarepa 
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ grated onion 
  • 1 scallion finely chopped
  • ½ bell pepper finely chopped 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Stew 

  • 1 cup alinos sauce
  • Salt and paper to taste 
  • 4 cups of beef stock 
  • 1 cup tomato sauce 
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon achiote or Sazon Goya with azafran 
  • 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 large carrots peeled and sliced crosswise 
  • ¼ cup of fresh cilantro 

Sobrebarriga or flank steak 

Flank steak is a kind of meat that is often avoided by cooks due to its tough meat. Colombians took up the challenge by using it in one of their best dishes. To make the meat softer, the traditional Colombian style of cooked suggests that you should slow cook the meat first before mixing it with the other ingredients. Take a look at the list of ingredients that you need to prepare below: 

Flank steak 

  • 2 pounds flank steak 
  • 8 cups water 
  • Slat and pepper
  • 1 large onion cut into two pieces
  • 2 scallions 
  • 3 garlic cloves 

Creole sauce 

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 4 ripe tomatoes chopped 
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 scallions finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed 
  • ½ teaspoon ground achiote or annatto 
  • ½ ground teaspoon cumin 
  • Salt and paper to taste 

Bistec a Caballo 

Bistec a Caballo is a traditional Colombian dish that is often served for breakfast. Its name means steak on a horse. Traditionally, you can use horse meat to make this dish. However, beef has been a popular alternative since it is found to be softer in terms of texture. Moreover, the flavour is richer. 

Before being served, this dish is often topped with a serving of sunny side up egg seasoned with pepper, salt and cajun. Here’s how you can make it at home: 

  • 1 pound beef flap meat or skirt steak 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or dried oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper 
  • 1 large onion sliced in rings 
  • 2 tomatoes chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic crushed 
  • White rice 
  • Eggs
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish 

Arepas 

You might have seen this delectable Colombian snack in the popular Disney movie Encantoand it is just as delicious in cartoons as it is in reality. In fact, it is so loved by the people of Colombia that a day dedicated to it is named World Arepa Day which takes place on September 2. This mouthwatering dish is perfect for cheese lovers who can’t get enough of the creamy and salty snack. What’s wonderful about arepas is that you can stuff them with practically anything including savoury meat slices town to fresh fruits and jams! Check out what you need to recreate this delicious snack at your home: 

  • 1 cup lukewarm water 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup queso fresco shredded 
  • Salt 
  • 1 ¼ cups arepa flour
  • Your choice of filling 

We recommend creating this dish with fresh cuts of fruits and stuffing it with cream.

Tamales 

Colombian tamales never disappoint with their unique taste and flavour that you will never get enough of. Check out the ingredients below: 

  • Chicken thigh
  • Pork ribs 
  • Scallions
  • Sazon goya
  • Ground cumin 
  • Garlic cloves 
  • Tomatoes
  • Cilantro 
  • Sugar
  • Olive oil 
  • Fresh lemon
  • Masa harina
  • Carrots 
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Banana leaf 
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