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The Best Colombian Foods & Dishes Everyone Should Love

colombian food and dishes everyone should love

Tasting the Colombian Culture

Find out what Colombian food you need to try if you really want to get a taste for the culture and the beauty that is Colombia!

In this Guide:

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Colombia is a country that is exploding with life, vivacity, and culture. And if you really want to experience the beauty of the Colombian culture, you have to start with their traditional, delectable, and utterly mouth-watering cuisine. Here is a guide to the most amazing Colombian dishes everyone on this planet must try.

What Makes Colombian Cuisine So Tasty?

The first thing to know about Colombian food is that no meal is complete without carbohydrates in it. That’s probably why everything tastes so darn delicious! Unlike other Latin countries, Colombia isn’t known for its cuisine – but it really should.

Colombian dishes often include several elements: cheese, carbs, grilled meats, flavorful herbs and spices, and a wide selection of exotic fruits. Some of the most popular meals include fried meats or seafood, sides of rice or potatoes, eggs, zesty spices, fried cheeses, and zesty spices. But fresh fruits and legumes are a pillar of Colombian cuisine as well—everything in moderation.

How Is Colombian Food Different From Other Latin Cuisines?

The popularity of Latin foods is largely dependent on the foods available in each Latin country. Depending on their location, certain foods or spices may be easier to find in one region over another and will be more present in their traditional cuisine.

Colombian cuisine is a unique blend of popular local foods combined with both European and indigenous cultural influences. This makes Colombia one of the most unique Latin countries when it comes to food. If you think Colombian food is Mexican food, you’re dead wrong!

Traditional Colombian Food

Here is a look at some of the most popular Colombian dishes you’ll want to try when visiting Colombia or authentic local Colombian restaurants in your area:

Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja Paisa

This popular Colombian is perfect for the foodie who wants a stacked meal. This traditional Colombian dish includes grilled steak, fried pork rind, chorizo sausage, white rice, and beans. You can safely say you’ve got all the food groups balanced on this one dish with its signature-fried egg on top and sides of avocado and fried plantain. (Fried plantains are a very flavorful and popular item in Colombia and for a good reason!)

Empanadas

Empanadas

These are common in some other Latin American countries, but they’re usually baked. Colombians fry them, and we can probably all agree that fried is always better! This tasty pastry dough is stuffed with beef, chicken, or cheese, and rice and coriander. Then each delicious stuffed pastry is deep-fried for a crispy crust that is flaky and delicious.

Tamales

Tamales

Famous in the Tolima region of Colombia, Tamales are banana leaves stuffed with pork, chicken, rice, potatoes, and spices. The banana leaf around unleashes some powerful flavor that has helped earn Tamales their fame all over the world. You don’t know how good this is until you have tried it yourself.

Colombian Food Recipes You Can DIY at Home

Recreating authentic Colombian dishes can be a challenge if you don’t have access to exotic ingredients or aren’t a very skilled chef. Luckily, there are a few traditional Colombian recipes that anyone, even a beginner cook, can master at home. Bring a little bit of Colombia home with one of these simple and delicious recipes:

Colombian Arepas Recipe

Colombian Arepas Recipe

Arepas are a popular Colombian breakfast. They’re actually so good that they really are an anytime snack! Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 cup pre-cooked white cornmeal
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and form a dough.
  • Knead until the dough has a soft consistency.
  • Cut up the dough into equal pieces and roll into balls (about the size of an orange).
  • Place the dough between two layers of plastic wrap and roll out to about ½ inch thick.
  • Coat a pan with cooking spray and fry arepas for five minutes on each side.

Colombian Buñuelos Recipe

Colombian Buñuelos Recipe

Typically served during the Christmas holidays, these cheese balls are authentic, delicious, and easy to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) cassava flour
  • ½ cup (65g) cornstarch
  • 1 cup (150g) shredded cheese 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons (14.2g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions:

  • Mix the first eight ingredients together using only your fingertips to prevent overworking the dough.
  • Next, add the milk and mix until a Playdoh-like dough is formed.
  • Next, add the oil to a pan and preheat.
  • Divide the ball of dough into 32 equal pieces and roll into a ball.
  • Fry in batches until all are fried and heated all the way through.

Colombian Arroz con Pollo Recipe

Colombian Arroz con Pollo Recipe

This rice and chicken meal is not only authentic and delicious, but it really brings a taste of Colombia into your home.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped in small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups of rice
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 cups of mixed veggies in pieces (carrot, peas, beans, yellow corn)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 packet of seasoning with saffron
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a large pot over low heat. Stir-fry the chopped peppers, garlic, and onion. Stir until they are golden brown.
  • Add 3 cups of rice; remember to stir everything well.
  • Add 5 cups of water, chopped veggies, chicken breast, bouillon, seasoning, and salt. Stir and let cook at medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until the rice dries.
  • Once the rice has absorbed all the water, cover the pot, and cook at low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the rice is soft.

Colombian Restaurants

If you’re not game for a cooking spree, you can’t go wrong with a restaurant. Look up “Colombian food near me,” in Google to find your nearest authentic Colombian restaurants.

The Takeaway

The important thing to remember is that food is a reflection of culture, history, and more. To really appreciate Colombia, you have to try the delicious cuisine. If all Latin food is the same to you, you’ve missed out on exploring different cultures and understanding them, as well.

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