Colombia is full of mountains and lush vegetation which makes it a prime destination for exotic food. Ever wonder what Colombians eat? We put together a list of some of the most popular Colombian food. The food varies by region but you get the picture. Let’s get started!
Top 10 popular dishes – Colombian food
A traditional dish, Colombians grew up eating this throughout their life.
Traditionally, the Paisa Tray includes beans, white rice, chicharrón, meat powder, chorizo, fried egg, ripe banana, avocado and arepa. It is a flagship dish in antioqueña gastronomy (in Colombia people generally refer to food culture as gastronomy). The dish has transcended from generation to generation. It’s origin dates back to the 19th century when it was consumed in antioqueño wrap for its high carbohydrate content. It is one of the most representative dishes of the Antioquia region.
I love arepas.
When indigenous ancestors of Colombia began soaking corn kernels to give them a different consistency, the arepa was born. Arepas are and continue to be a staple in many Colombians diets. These corn patties have transcended from generation to generation and continue to keep their place at Colombian meal tables. Usually, arepas are made of either corn cheese or chocolo which I personally find delicious. Arepas can be eaten with butter, cheese, meat or as a side item. Many Colombians have their own businesses selling homemade arepas. You can find arepas on almost any street corner and its something you have to try if you visit Colombia. Pair it with a good coffee!
Filling and tasty!
So far there is no clear understanding of the tamales origin but enthusiasts believe it was born in the Americas (specifically Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia where corn was grown on a large scale and was part of peasant family diets). The tamale has been recognized as an insignia of Colombian gastronomy. Tamales can be found on street corners everywhere in Colombia. The delicious corn wrap can be filled with mixed meats, vegetables, boiled eggs, hogao (tomato and onion) and dough. What helps to preserve its flavor is the wrapped leaves of banana, bijao or maguey that give it a tasty touch. If you visit Colombia, try a tamale.
In terms of food, empanadas are considered one of the most delicious pleasures in Colombia since there are so many filling options. Empanadas are usually a deep fried corn dough stuffed with different ingredients including meat, cheese, vegetables and/or rice. Many Colombians like to eat empanadas with chili. The history of the empanada is rooted in shepherds and travelers who had a habit of filling breads with viands or vegetables. The name comes from empanar which means to enclose in dough or bread to cook. When you come to Colombia do not hesitate to try the wide variety of empanadas that are sold by all restaurants and street vendors.
Lechona is one of the most emblematic traditional dishes in Colombia. Originating in the Department of Tolima, its preparation consists of baking an entire big and filling it with meat, rice, peas, potatoes, vegetables and spices. This dish is very common at special events (marriages, birthdays, baptisms, etc.) Lechona can also be found in virtually all Colombian restaurants. Common side accompaniments include arepas or a piece of crispy pork skin. During the Spanish conquest it was recognized as a meal most desired by rich people. Today, all Colombian families enjoy lechona.
Morcilla (or blood sausage) is a sausage filled with cooked blood and mixed with a filler. In Colombia, pig blood is often used but blood from a cow, horse, donkey, goat or sheep is also sufficient. Preparation consists of filling the intestines of an animal with rice, hogao (tomato and onion) and vegetables to give it a bulkier consistency. Morcilla is popular in many countries throughout the world (the name varies depending on region).
Scholars believe Morcillas origins date back to ancient Greece because a similar dish prepared with goat skin was mentioned in “Homer’s Odyssey”. The black pudding is a typical traditional dish seen often at family gatherings, birthdays and during other festivities. The process of making Morcilla can be slow (the blood is cooked on a wood fire & the longer it’s cooked, the more flavorful it becomes). Although it may sound a little crazy, I recommend trying this dish as it is quite tasty.
One of the most emblematic dishes in Colombia (and other Latin American countries including Ecuador and the Dominican Republic) is a soup named sancocho. Sancocho is prepared with meat, tuberculo (which is a type of potato), vegetables and seasonings. It can be accompanied with rice, avocado, arepa and/or corn on the cob. The soup is nicknamed “raise the dead” due to its balanced carbohydrate and nutritional content. The choice of meat can vary between chicken, beef and pork. Some people use all three. When you visit Latin America do not hesitate for a second to try this wholesome and delicious soup.
Ajiaco ( also known as bogotano and santafereño) is a popular soup in the Cundinamarca region (Bogota) of Colombia. The soup is prepared with shredded chicken, creole potato, sabanera (or pastusa), corn millet and capers. It is so recognized nationally that you you can enjoy this Latin American delicacy anywhere you go. Traditionally, ajiaco is served in clay bowls which Colombians claim give it a better flavor. A herb named guasca is one of the main ingredients of ajiaco and makes it taste more characteristic of the region. The dish is usually served with white rice, avocado and often contains roots as this highlights the Bogotan tradition.
Patacon is everywhere in Colombia. The supermarkets are full of plantains and street vendors sell them everywhere so it makes logical sense to have patacon on the menu. Known as a common dish in the Caribbean, patacon is served as an accompaniment and is made by cutting up plantains and frying them. Once fried it is crushed and roasted. You can add cheese, tomato, onion or just sprinkle some salt over them. If you visit Colombia, you will eat patacon, it comes with everything. They even make patacon burgers and pizza.
Fritanga is a popular dish served during gatherings. Yellow potato (or Creole potato), ripe filling, chicharrón, pork ribs, chorizo, capon and stuffed pork loin (or sausage) are all a part of this giant feast. Many people enjoy this with dipping sauces and beer, me especially!
To conclude, we hope you liked our list of popular Colombian food. If you have any suggestions leave a comment and let us know! If you enjoy the content, take a moment and subscribe, we would love that!