The curious case of Colombian Christmas and holidays cuisine!
For many Colombians December brings sweet childhood memories of an month-long celebration full of family parties, novenas, children running between houses, and all the fun of the midnight’s New year “agueros”: raw potatoes under the bed, raw lentils inside the pockets, people running around the block with empty luggage all this while wearing yellow underwear, traditional rituals made to secure a prosperous and very lucky new year.
When it comes to food Colombians are equally interesting and passionate, here you have a list of some of the most traditional Christmas and new year’s dishes guaranteed to make your palate wonder if you have landed in a carnaval!
Tamales are a very popular dish throughout all the Americas, in the Caribbean the Cubans and Mexicans have their own version filled with minced pork and a mild corn “masa” and wrapped in cornhusks. The Colombian Tamal is slightly bigger and traditionally wrapped in green plantain leaves, the masa is made out of cornmeal and a selection of different cuts of meats and vegetables: peas potatoes carrots and hardboiled eggs.
The wrapped dish is then boiled for a few hours before it is served hot along with hot chocolate and cheese bread. A myriad of sweet aromas from the unique seasonings emanate from the hot leaves as you unwrap and open the Tamal, revealing all the tender meat cooked to perfection and fused along with the masa and vegetables creating one single unity full of flavor and texture.
Tamales are typically served for breakfast, but during the holydays they are consumed at any hour and surprisingly every December distant relative
2. Natilla y Buñuelos
The dynamic Christmas Duo. Buñuelos are perfectly spherical balls of deep-fried cheese that stay crunchy on the outside and heavenly fluffy on the inside. The secret to the perfect Buñuelo relies not only on the use of the right ingredients being the “Costeño cheese” the most important but also on the controlled temperature of the oil. Too much heat will make the Buñuelos hard on the outside and raw on the inside, too little heat and you will end up with a pancake
Buñuelos pair wonderfully with Natilla, a firm custard dessert made out of corn starch sweetened with “panela” (cane sugar blocks) and cinnamon, usually topped with a few raisins. The holydays bring memories of Colombian children licking the still hot wooden spoon and pot after the Natilla was transferred to the fridge, usually given by the abuela 😉
New versions of the original recipe have emerged with a white natilla made with white sugar and significantly less sweet paired with homemade blackberry sauce (salsa de mora)
3. Muchacho relleno
Literally translates “stuffed boy” is tender stuffed beef marinated in traditional Colombian spices and simmered for hours to obtain a compact piece of meat that slices beautifully in to colorful sections of combined vegetables and meat.
the ingredients vary from region to region, but the most common ingredients for the stuffing are carrots, hard-boiled eggs and bacon. Some other popular ingredients used for the filling are dried fruit, hot dogs and green beans, depending on the cook.
“Muchacho” is traditionally served on Christmas eve as the main dish paired with potatoes, rice, salad or plantains.
Try something new this season. A Colombian dinner can be an excellent alternative for your holiday party! Call Las Orquideas Restaurant so we can help you curate a wonderful dinner experience. Visit us and have a sample of our menu!