The diverse flavors, aromas, and colors of Colombian cuisine resoundingly reside in plantains, coconuts, yuca, fresh seafood, grilled meat, and rich stews that combine all of the above. These ingredients only scratch the surface of inspired ingredients from the coast to the mountains, and into the jungle of Colombia.
Take a culinary ride through the following Colombian appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, snacks, and deserts on your tailored trip with Kuoda!
Ceviche styles and flavors vary dramatically through Latin America. Other countries have adopted the original Peruvian method of marinating fresh fish and seafood in lime juice.
Colombian ceviche departs from Peru’s classic preparation due to the presence of tomatoes in its sauce, alongside lime, salt, and cilantro. The Colombian appetizer most resembles Ecuadorian ceviche in this sense. However, in Colombia, ceviche is served with crackers instead of the canchita (popcorn) that accompanies Ecuador’s ceviche.
From plantain chips to plantain fritters, plantain donuts, and plantain soups… Colombian cuisine is all about the plantain. And platano asado (roasted plantains) remains one of the most popular Colombian appetizers and side dishes.
Platano asado consists of an entire ripe plantain, sliced open, rubbed with butter or oil, and filled to the brim with smooth mozzarella cheese. It is then gingerly placed in a white-hot oven and baked to perfection until the mozzarella begins to bubble over the sides.
Ajiaco is the chicken soup for the soul of Colombia, and especially for Bogotá. Ajiaco starts with a thick soup base of either beef or chicken broth, and at least three varieties of local potatoes.
As the potatoes slowly break down, the cook will add the most essential ingredient, a Colombian herb called guascas (gallant soldier). Finally, they add shredded chicken as a garnish, along with thick slices of avocado, capers, sour cream, corn, and cilantro.
Bandeja Paisa joins ajiaco as another national Colombian must-try dish. Bandeja means “tray” in Spanish. This replete tray of goodies includes ground beef, fried pork, chorizo, white rice, red beans, a fried egg, fried plantains, avocado, and an arepa (see below).
Offering a bite from every Colombian region, the bandeja paisa also brings together rich local culinary traditions all on one giant plate.
Some say the arepa is the only side dish that really counts in Colombia because Colombians will eat them with every single meal. Although arepas are eaten throughout Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, the arepa serves as a symbol of national pride for many Colombians.
Put simply, arepas are savory maize patties or corn flatbread. Arepas can be grilled, fried, boiled, baked, or steamed depending on regional preference. They can either be served plain or stuffed with cheese, egg, or meat. However, no matter how the arepa appears on your plate, your taste buds are in for an enjoyable ride.
Arroz con Coco
The ubiquitous coconut graces many Colombian recipes on the coast, both in the Pacific and Caribbean. Arroz con Coco is a sumptuous savory-sweet side dish featuring white rice, coconut milk, raisins, sugar, and salt. Arroz con Coco pairs perfectly with fish dishes!
Yuca (aka cassava) belongs to the root vegetable family and represents a food stable for much of the world. Colombian cuisine features the yuca root in various types of bread, empanadas, stews, and, in the case of enyucado, cake!
This savory-sweet baked-good features shredded yuca, cheese, coconut, and star anise. It is perfect for an afternoon snack served with a rich cup of Colombian coffee.
Soaked in wine, this cake brings life to any dinner party or celebration! Roughly translating to wine cake, torta envinada presents a glorious combination of spices, dried fruit, nuts, caramel, and wine! The sweet red wine comes in after it bakes and is left to soak for a good day or so.
With such a deep roster of ingredients and regional variations on classic dishes, it is no wonder that Colombia is gaining international ground as a culinary destination!