Colombian cuisine

Colombia is a very diverse country, and so is the local cuisine as well. In every part of the country, they have their own unique dishes. Some are local specialties, others are popular all over the country and even being enjoyed in neighbouring countries. The Colombian cuisine is a mix of Spanish, indigenous, African and Arabic culture.

To share with you this diverse cuisine, quite different from the Norwegian one, we’ve made a list of 10 things to eat in Colombia:

1.      Bandeja Paisa

Maybe the most famous Colombian dish, Bandeja Paisa originates from the region of Antioquia. It is a mix of rice, beans, ground beef or steak, chorizo, chicharron (pork rind), arepa, avocado, fried egg and morchilla (blood sausage). Everybody seems to make this dish a bit different, but the main ingredients are the same.

Bandeja paisa. Popular dish and hangover cure.

Bandeja paisa. Popular dish and hangover cure.

2.      Arepa

All over Colombia, this is a classic side dish. It looks like an American pancake, but its made with corn flour and is salty. It’s common to eat after work, as Colombians eat their main meal (almuerzo) at midday. Then they often eat it relleno (filled) with cheese, avocado, chicken, meat, or a speciality from the coast: fried egg. Arepas are eaten primarily in Colombia, Venezuela and Panama, where it's a staple food eaten nearly daily, and comes in a myriad of varieties.

3.      Tamales

Tamales consists of meat, chicken or vegetables covered in a corn dough wrapped in banana leaves and then cooked. The different regions have their own tamal. This is also a very popular Christmas dish.

Tamal

Tamal

4.      Mute

The most iconic dish from Norte de Santander. This dish, which is a stew of cow intestines, meat, corn, pasta, potatoes and vegetables, is very popular in Cùcuta where we live. This dish is sold only on Sundays, and they almost always sell out, so here it first come first serve that counts.

5.      Cheese and….

Colombians love cheese, and to mix it with everything. So far we have been offered cheese on cookies, cheese on ice cream, cheese and bocadillo (a candy made of fruit) and cheese in hot chocolate! In our local mall you have to specify no cheese if you don’t want cheese on you ice cream.    

Bocadillo with cheese

Bocadillo with cheese

6.      Sancocho

Is another traditional dish in Colombia. It is a stew, similar to Norwegian “lapskaus”, made of a meat or fish and big pieces of potato, plantain and corn. This food is popular for big parties with lots of mouths to feed. The dish is common in many Latin American countries, but originates from the Canary islands and was brought here with the slaves.

7.      Ajiaco

This is another popular soup from Bogotá and surrounding areas, containing chicken, potatoes and corn. It is served with capers, avocado, sour cream and rice on the side for you to add to your liking. Again, different regions make it differently, but most famous is the Ajiaco Santafereño.

8.      Lechona

This dish is typical of the Tolima area, which is to the west of Bogota. However, it is served in speciality restaurants throughout Colombia. Certainly if you are in the Tolima area, you’ll see lechona at any kind of special occasion. Lechona consists of a whole roast pig, stuffed with rice, peas, onions and a fragrant combination of spices and then cooked in a clay oven for up to ten hours.

9.      Buñuelos

The Colombian buñuelos are similar to the Norwegian ¨bolle¨. But, there are some significant differences; the buñuelo dough includes lots of soft cheese and they are deep fried. This energy bomb, is very common to buy from street vendors or in small kiosks. This treat can be enjoyed as a breakfast, a snack or accompanying other traditional dishes such as natill (a Colombian pudding prepared for Christmas)

10.  Arroz con coco

Rice with coconut is a dish from the costal regions. This dish is popular in both the pacific region as well as the Caribbean. Rice and grated coconut is boiled in coconut water or milk, and served as a side dish like regular rice. Delicious! 

Classic fried fish, served with coconut rice and patacones (chips of plantain) 

Classic fried fish, served with coconut rice and patacones (chips of plantain)