When someone asks me what my favorite Colombian food is, I don’t know what to say. I mean, it’s hardly a fair question to ask a food lover. If I really had to choose, though, I’d have to say that it’s “perros calientes” (hot dogs).
They are very special and famous around the world. It's a mix of delicious ingredients, so if you like your hot dog with only ketchup and potato chips, I doubt you’d like this version of it.
There is no unique way to prepare a perro caliente—it can have coleslaw, pineapple sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard or crushed potato chips—but I recommend you to look for a recipe online to get tehe idea of the type of ingredients you’ll need.
Colombian cuisine is influenced by culinary practices and traditions of the European Spanish, African, and the indigenous cultures. For me, it's one of the best cuisines in the world because it's based on natural and fresh ingredients.
Even though every region has its own ingredients and a way of preparing its food, there are basic ingredients that are used in all regions, like rice and corn. So, as you can guess, I can't write about all the dishes here—I only chose a few. These dishes are very popular, but they are only an idea of what you can find in Colombian cuisine.
1. Bandeja Paisa
The Paisa Platter is a typical dish of the Andean Region. If you don't like too many different foods in one dish, you will probably need to share this dish with someone else. But, don't let this put you off because each food included in this dish is really good.
The dish includes beans, white rice, powdered beef, pork rind, fried egg, avocado, sweet plantain, sausage and arepa, but you can substitute the powdered beef for grilled beef or pork. It sounds delicious, right? It also tastes like heaven. This is one of Colombia’s most famous dishes.
A typical dish of the Caribbean Region and other Latin countries, sancocho is a soup made with vegetables, different types of meat and topped with onion, cilantro or garlic. There are various types of sancocho, and the flavors and ingredients vary in different regions and countries.
It can be made with chicken, fish, beef, oxtail, pork and ribs, but the Atlantic Coast version contains beef, pork, chicken, corn, pumpkin, green plantain and yuca among other ingredients. Some complements are white rice, aji, avocado, and lime. It’s a soup than many Latino grandmothers recommend eating when you’re sick.
3. Arroz Atollado
The tight mix rice is a typical dish of the Pacific Region. I fall in love every time I see it and I am not a fan of rice. However, this rice is made with different ingredients and has a particularly delicious flavor, so you just can't get enough of it. There are different types of arroz atollado in the country, such as atollado of duck, del Valle, of crab and of smoked meat.
When it comes to cooking the rice, you can add chicken, chorizo, longaniza, pork or sausage. There's no specific way to do it, so cook the rice with your favorite ingredients. Some common ingredients of this dish are potatoes, sweet red pepper, scallions, tomatoes and condiments while avocado and sweet plantain are often added as a garnish.
4. Ternera a la llanera
In the Orinoco Region, the Ternera a la llanera—also known as Mamona—is a well-known traditional dish that consists of meat only. However, you can eat it with rice, plantains or vegetables. You just need to have the principal ingredient, one veal of one year with four types of cuts: the osa, the tembladores, the raya, and the garza—all with salt.
There are two ways to roast this meat: in a brick oven and in a bonfire with sticks. The latter is similar to how you make kabobs. It can also be grilled, seasoned with beer, condiments or Chicha de Ahuyama—simply choose which seasoning you like.
As the largest freshwater fish in the Amazonia Region, it’s hardly surprising that the Pirarucú is also a famous dish in this area. Unfortunately, this also means that this particular fish is facing extinction since it’s being overfished. To curb this, it’s being bred in captivity and consumption of it is limited to local restaurants in the region.
The fish can be prepared in various ways as per customers’ preferences: fried, in a soup, roasted, grilled, etc. It’s filleted and can be served with yucca, rice or plantain. While I’m not much of a fan of fish myself—unless it’s been deboned—I guarantee you’ll love this dish!
Traveling to other countries is a great opportunity to explore new cultures and taste new foods. However, you can always try new dishes like the ones mentioned in this article. Let us know how your culinary adventures work out by sharing them below!