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Colombian cuisine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Natural regions of Colombia.
  Pacific Region
  Amazon Region
  Andean Region
  Orinoquía Region
  Caribbean Region
  Insular Region

Colombian cuisine is a culinary tradition of the six main regions within Colombia (Pacific, Amazonian, Andean, Orinoco, Caribbean, and Insular). Colombian cuisine varies regionally and is influenced by Indigenous Colombian, Spanish,[1] and African cuisines,[2] with a slight Arab influence in some regions.[3]

History of Colombian food


Colombian food is a unique blend of indigenous, European traditions, and Afro-Caribbean influences. The two largest indigenous groups prior to European conquest were the Tairona, who lived along the Caribbean coast, and the Muisca, who lived in the highlands to the South.[4] Arepas, made from ground corn, is one of the oldest cooked dishes in Colombian cuisine and a popular modern dish. It is believed that the name derives from the word for corn in the Chibcha languages.[4]

Clockwise from upper left: Ajiaco from Bogotá, Bandeja paisa from Antioquia, Cutlet Valluna, Arroz de lisa from Barranquilla, Arepa and tamale from Santander, Ternera a la llanera (mamona) from the LLanos.

Regional cuisines


Colombian dishes and ingredients vary widely by region; however, some of the most common ingredients include an endless variety of staples: cereals such as rice and maize; tubers such as potato and cassava; assorted legumes; meats, including beef, chicken, pork, and goat; and fish and other seafood. Colombian cuisine also features a wide variety of tropical fruit.[5][6]

Among the most representative appetisers and soups are sancocho de gallina (chicken soup with root vegetables), of beef, of pork ribs or triphasic, sancocho of fish, the ajiaco (potato and corn soup),[7][8] patacones (fried green plantains), and buñuelos (Christmas season deep fried dough balls).

Representative snacks and breads are arepas (corn cakes), tortas de choclo, almojábanas, pandebonos, aborrajados (fried sweet plantains with cheese), empanadas, and mogollas.

Representative main courses are bandeja paisa, lechona tolimense, tamales, and fish dishes such as arroz de lisa, especially in coastal regions where suero, costeño cheese, peto costeño made from white corn, kibbeh, and carimañolas are also eaten.

Representative side dishes are papas criollas al horno (roasted Andean potatoes), papas chorreadas (potatoes with messy cheese), and arroz con coco (coconut rice). Organic food is a current trend in big cities, although in general, the country's fruits and vegetables are very natural and fresh.[9]

Representative desserts are natillas, bocadillo made of guayaba (guava jelly), cocadas (coconut balls), casquitos de guayaba (candied guava peels), torta de natas, obleas, flan de arequipe, roscón, milhoja, brevas (preserved in syrup) con arequipe, and tres leches cake (sponge cake soaked in 3 types of milk).

Typical sauces are hogao, a tomato onion sauce, and ají, a spicy raw cilantro-based sauce used as a condiment for many dishes and sides, which can be used for most foods. Ají sauce comes in many different varieties based on region and ranges from a sweet flavour to very spicy. Ají picante can range from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville.

Some representative beverages are coffee (tinto), aromáticas, champúss, cholados, luladas, avena colombiana, sugarcane juice, aguapanela, chocolate caliente, and fresh fruit juices (often made with sugar and water or milk as batidos).[10]

There are a large variety of dishes that take into account the differences in regional climates. For example:

Piqueteaderos are rustic eateries that serve a variety of fried foods and specialties on platters to share. Offerings can even include huesos cerdos (pig bones) and tarta de seso (brain pie), as well as fried dishes, morcilla, corn on the cob, and other foods common to Colombia.

Dishes and foods


Appetizers and side dishes

Name Image Description
Arepas ground maize dough divided into balls and pan-fried or grilled corn cakes
Aborrajado deep-fried plantains stuffed with cheese
Arroz con coco rice with coconut and raisins
Hormigas culonas large roasted ants, a santandereanas food from Colombia's Santander Department
Butifarras soledeñas sausage from Soledad, Atlántico
Carimañola yuca fritter stuffed with ground meat, onion and seasonings
Chunchullo pig, lamb, cow's small intestine
Hogao criollo sauce
The image contains: a table with patacones and hogao
Queso blanco white cheese, also referred to as queso fresco
Suero a topping similar to sour cream
Patacones Green plantain fried or deep fried squished and fried
Empanadas small fritters, made with a mixture of shredded meat, pork, beef, or chicken'
Chicharron deep fried pork rind
Lentil soup
(Sopa de lentejas)
a standard meal in many Colombian kitchens. The basic method is to soak the lentils for a few hours before adding chopped onion, garlic, and sometimes diced or grated carrots. It is then served with avocado, rice, tomato, and sweet plantain[11]

Pastries and baked goods

  • Achira are made from achira flour (native to the region) instead of wheat flour
  • Almojábana, small cheese buns made with corn flour and cuajada
  • Bollos (tubes of ground maize -similar to Italian polenta- or from scratched mandioc/cassava, served with coastal cheese and sometimes whey or butter)
  • Buñuelos deep-fried dough balls made on Christmas season
  • Carimañolas (like empanadas but made up of manioc)
  • Garullas (corn bread roll)
  • Pan de sagú (sago bread)
  • Pandebono made with cheese made with cassava flour and Costeño cheese
  • Pan de maíz similar to cornbread
  • Pan de queso (cheese bread, made with cassava starch, corn flour, cheese, butter, sugar)
  • Pan de yuca (baked cheese bread made with cassava flour)
  • Roscón (a soft and sweet bagel filled with either Arequipe or guava jam)

Varieties of arepa

Arepas and chorizo on the grill.
Arepa de huevo.
  • Arepa boyacense
  • Arepa de arroz
  • Arepa de huevo
  • Arepa de maiz
  • Arepa de queso
  • Arepa de yuca
  • Arepa ocañera
  • Arepa paisa (antioqueña)
  • Arepa santandereana
  • Arepa valluna
  • Arepas de choclo (sweet corn)
  • Brown rice and sesame seed arepa
  • Rice arepas (oreja de perro)


Mamoncillo. (Melicoccus bijugatus).
Spondias purpurea, ciruela or cocota.
Carica papaya. Longitudinal section of the papaya fruit.

Fruit and juice stands are found across Colombia, particularly on the Caribbean coast.[12] Being a tropical country, Colombia produces a large variety of fruits, such as:

Native fruit


Colombia is home to numerous tropical fruits that are rarely found elsewhere. Several varieties of bananas include a very small, sweet version. Other fruit varieties grown in Colombia include mango, apple, pear, grape, blackberry and strawberry.

Main courses

  • Arroz con Pollo consists of seasoned rice, chicken, and a variety of vegetables.
  • Bandeja Paisa, a traditional dish from Antioquia, and the "Eje Cafetero," which consists of white rice, red beans, ground beef, plantains, chorizo, morcilla, chicharron, arepa, avocado, and a fried egg. Along with Ajiaco, the bandeja paisa is considered one of the national dishes.
  • Cuchuco, a thick soup made of wheat, fava beans, potatoes, ribs, and peas, is from Boyacá. Also barley or corn soup.
  • Cuy asado, broiled guinea pig, accompanied by potatoes and popcorn. It is the traditional dish in Nariño.
  • Lechona, a traditional dish from the Tolima department, is a mixture of yellow pea purée and pork meat, with a side of rice arepa 'oreja de perro' and corn 'insulzo'.
  • Picada Colombiana, chopped specialties served as a combo platter.
  • Tamales are corn or corn/rice "cakes" wrapped in plantain tree leaves and steamed. They can be filled with everything from chicken, potatoes, peas, and carrots to rice. The tamales vary in shape and fillings in each region, and almost every region has its own variation. Some well-known variations are from Tolima, Santander, Cúcuta, Bogotá, and Valle del Cauca; just to name a few.
  • Fritanga is another popular Colombian dish made of meats, fried plantains, chicharrones, and yellow potatoes with aji sauce eaten throughout Colombia. Milanesa is another common meat dish throughout the country.
  • Frijolada («frejolada» o «feijoada» in Portuguese) is a robust dish made with a base of pinto or red beans. Frijoles are normally cooked with diced pork or pork hocks, carrots, corn, platano, and sometimes bacon as well. Generally, this dish is also served with rice and avocado. It's often used as a side dish and is always included in the Bandeja Paisa meal.[11]
  • Cocido boyacense, culinary preparation from the Altiplano Cundiboyacense.[13]


  • Changua (milk soup with eggs) is a typical breakfast soup of the central Andes region of Colombia, in particular in the Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Santander, including the capital of the country, Bogotá. The dish has Chibcha origins. The broth is served in a bowl with curly cilantro and a piece of hard bread called "calado" that is softened in the changua. Cilantro can be added as an option even while the soup is boiling. Next, add the eggs carefully so as not to break them.[14]
  • Caldo de costilla (Spanish for rib broth) is a dish typical of Colombian cuisine from the Andean region. It is made mainly from beef ribs boiled in water with slices of potato, some garlic, onion, and cilantro leaves.
  • Locro is a typical dish in the Nariño region. It is a corn, beans, zapallo, and potato stew.
  • Mondongo is a very filling traditional Colombian soup, containing a bit of almost everything. The base is made of diced tripe, to which are added several vegetables such as peas, carrots, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes, along with garlic, cilantro, and chicken, beef, and/or pork.[11]
  • Mute is a soup from Boyacá, Norte de Santander and Santander. In general, beef rib, parts of pork, tripe, corn and vegetables are used for its preparation.[15]
  • Sancocho is a popular soup originating from the Valle del Cauca region. It combines vegetables and poultry or fish with recipes differing from one region to the next, but usually contains yuca and maize and is frequently eaten with banana slices.
  • Ajiaco is a traditional Andean soup that originated in Bogotá. It is a chicken, corn, and potato stew with a hint of guasca (Gallant Soldiers), a local herb.

Desserts and sweets

Tres leches cake.
  • Arequipe is Colombia's version of the Dulce de Leche, a milk caramel.
  • Arroz con leche, sweetened rice with milk.
  • Bocadillo, guava paste.
  • Brevas en dulce, candied figs in syrup, or arequipe.
  • Cocadas are baked coconut confections similar to macaroons.
  • Enyucado is cake that has grounded cassava.
  • Flan is a type of custard dessert.
  • Gelatina de pata (Leg jelly ) is obtained naturally from the leg of the beef until the collagen dissolves.
  • Leche asada, similar to flan but less sweet, is made with condensed milk.
  • Manjar blanco is a boiled, creamy, milk-based spread that is thicker than arequipe and sometimes used as a pastry filling. A nationally recognized presentation is manjar blanco with guava jelly.
  • Mazamorra, a white maize drink.
  • Melado, a thick syrup derived from panela.
  • Merenguitos, little hardened meringue "cookies."
  • Milhoja, similar to Mille-feuille or Napoleon (literally means thousand layers).
  • Natilla, a Colombian derivation of the Spanish custard natillas, is made with milk, cornflour and spices but without eggs.
  • Pastel de Gloria is a puff pastry containing guava jelly or guava paste and sometimes cheese inside, sprinkled with granulated sugar.
  • Postre de Natas, a milk-based Colombian pudding, literally means milk skin dessert.[16]
  • Torta Maria Luisa, orange cake, and between layers any berry jam, decorated with icing sugar.
  • Tres leches cake, "three-milk" cake.



On a per capita basis, Colombia is one of the world's largest consumers of fruit juices, consuming on average more than three-quarters of a serving each day.[18]

Salpicon of fruit, mixing banana, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, etc.
  • Aguapanela is made by dissolving panela (a kind of sugarloaf) in water. Lime juice may be added for flavor. It can be served cold or hot. When served hot, it is common for Colombians to put fresh farmer's cheese in their aguapanela for it to melt.
  • Aromáticas are hot herbal teas, often served to guests with a little cracker or cookie on the side during social visits.
  • Batidos are creamy fruit drinks served cool and made with fruit and milk, occasionally sweetened with sugar. Popular flavours include papaya and blackberry.
  • Champús is a thick drink made from corn, pineapple, lulo, and other ingredients.
  • Chocolate caliente, or Colombian hot chocolate, is a common breakfast meal made with milk, water, and bars of semi-sweet chocolate. A special metal pitcher (called a chocolatera) is used for heating and pouring, and a utensil called a molinillo–essentially a stick with paddles at the end–is used for stirring and frothing. Colombian hot chocolate often includes cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla and is frequently consumed with sweet bread dipped in it. Fresh cheese is often dropped in to melt and spread on the bread.
  • Coca tea, an herbal tea made from an infusion of the leaves of the coca plant is considered a mild stimulant and a remedy for altitude sickness.
  • Colombian coffee is known for its quality and distinct flavor. Though much of the world's quality coffee beans come from Colombia, many Colombians commonly drink instant coffee rather than brewed coffee. It is popularly consumed as a "tinto," meaning black with sugar or panela on the side, or as café con leche, which is a preparation of half coffee and half heated milk. In 2011, UNESCO declared the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia a World Heritage Site.[19]
  • Colombiana is a kola champagne soda with a particular and different taste (generic trademark).
  • Guandiolo is an Afrocolombian drink made with Borojo fruit that has alleged aphrodisiac properties.
  • Lulada is a drink originating from Cali. It is prepared from lulo and has the texture and consistency of a smoothie.
  • Malta: carbonated malt non-alcoholic beverage (generic trademark).
  • Postobón, a variety of soda flavours from the maker of Colombiana, the most popular flavour being apple ("Manzana") (genericized trademark).
  • Salpicón (which literally means large splash) is made from diced fruit and soda, usually Colombiana or any Kola flavoured soda. It can also be a fruit cocktail beverage (often made with watermelon or mandarin juice).[20] The traditional fruit one consists of mixing banana, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, etc.

Alcoholic beverages

  • Aguardiente is an alcoholic drink derived from sugarcane and flavoured with anise. It is widely consumed at Colombian parties and ranges in potency from 20% to 40%. It is a variation of the Spanish alcoholic drink.
Boileds from Pasto of lulo and blackberry.
  • Canelazo is traditionally an alcoholic version of aguapanela mixed with cinnamon and aguardiente. Sugar is rubbed on the edges of the glass when served.
    • Hervido is a local variety of canelazo, traditional in Nariño.[21] It is often made with fruit juice (typically naranjilla, mora, or maracuyá juice).
  • Chapil is a traditional beverage in Nariño.
  • Chicha is a formerly forbidden strong alcoholic beverage originally made by the indigenous peoples of the Andes. It can be prepared from virtually everything but is typically made from corn. The corn is cooked and grounded with panela, which is later wrapped in green plantain leaves and left alone for three days until fermented.[22] It is later mixed with water and any chosen flavours, such as orange leaves or spearmint.
  • Guarapo is made from various fruits kept in a large ceramic jar and left to ferment. Within that time, panela is added to the liquid to make the alcohol stronger. Grapes and pineapples are typically used.
    • Chirrinche, distillated guarapo.[23] [24] This is fermented for several days and then transferred to a container where it is heated until a distillation process is carried out and it becomes the liquor.
  • Masato is prepared with rice, sugar, water, cinnamon, and whole clove (spice); it is strained, and the water is preserved and let aside to have a smooth fermentation.[25]
  • Refajo is a type of shandy beverage made by mixing Kola Hipinto (in the Santanderian region), Colombiana (in cities like Bogota), or Kola Roman (in the Caribbean region) with beer or rum. This mixture of soda and beer is very popular and seen a lot when it comes to accompanying foods that are higher in animal fat, generally at barbecues. The combination of the sweetness of the kola, the sourness of the beer, and the additional effect of the carbonated soda helps tolerate the fat in some of the typical dishes without hiding their original flavour.[26]
  • Sabajón is a sweet and creamy alcoholic drink from the Cordillera Oriental. It is made from eggs and milk with added flavours and juices of fruits and liqueur in half or less concentration.[27]
  • Viche (or biche) is a traditional home-brewed Afro-Caribbean alcoholic drink made from sugar cane popular on Colombia's Pacific Coast.[28]

See also



  1. ^ Ossa, Humberto; Aquino, Juliana; Pereira, Rui; Ibarra, Adriana; Ossa, Rafael H.; Pérez, Luz Adriana; Granda, Juan David; Lattig, Maria Claudia; Groot, Helena; Carvalho, Elizeu Fagundes de; Gusmão, Leonor (2016-10-13). "Outlining the Ancestry Landscape of Colombian Admixed Populations". PLOS ONE. 11 (10): e0164414. Bibcode:2016PLoSO..1164414O. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164414. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 5063461. PMID 27736937.
  2. ^ "The lasting influence of Colombia's African heritage". Colombia.co. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  3. ^ "A Cheat Sheet to Colombian Food". Eater. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  4. ^ a b Foss, Richard (2011). "Colombia". In Albala, Ken (ed.). Food cultures of the world encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. pp. 75. ISBN 978-1-78539-412-6. OCLC 915350255.
  5. ^ "Typical Colombian Food". Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Colombian Food: Variety, Tradition and Nature Fruits". going2colombia.com. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Receta: cómo preparar ajiaco, el plato típico colombiano (in Spanish) - Recipe: how to prepare ajiaco, the typical Colombian dish". El Espectador, Jorge Márquez, 2021-03-24. Retrieved 2024-07-08.
  8. ^ "'Cocina ancestral': ¿cómo hacían el ajiaco los indígenas muiscas? (in Spanish) - 'Ancestral cuisine': how did the Muisca indigenous people make ajiaco?". Canal Trece (Colombian TV channel), Fundación Universitaria del Área Andina, Paula López and Jaison Rodríguez, 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2024-07-08.
  9. ^ "Colombian Food; A List of Traditional and Modern Colombian Recipes". southamericanfood.about.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  10. ^ "10 Colombian Drinks You Must Try Before You Leave". Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  11. ^ a b c "15 Traditional Coffee Zone Dishes | BnB Colombia Tours". 2021-05-27. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
  12. ^ "100 Plantas del Caribe colombiano (in Spanish) - 100 Plants of the Colombian Caribbean" (PDF). ResearchGate, Fondo Patrimonio Natural, René López Camacho, Bogotá, 2016. Retrieved 2024-07-05.
  13. ^ "Cocido boyacense: el rescate de los tubérculos nativos (in Spanish) - Boyacense stew: the rescue of native tubers". Radio Nacional de Colombia, Gloria Morad, 2022-07-31. Retrieved 2024-07-08.
  14. ^ "Receta: ¿cómo preparar changua? y sus ingredientes (in Spanish) - Recipe: how to prepare changua? and its ingredients". El Espectador, Angela Martin Casas. Retrieved 2024-07-11.
  15. ^ "Receta: cómo preparar una tradicional sopa de mute (in Spanish) - Recipe: how to prepare a traditional mute soup". El Espectador, Jorge Márquez. Retrieved 2024-07-11.
  16. ^ "Postre de natas". tasteatlas.
  17. ^ Colombia Travel. "Jugos naturales" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  18. ^ Singh, Gitanjali M., et al. "Global, regional, and national consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, and milk: a systematic assessment of beverage intake in 187 countries." PLoS ONE 10.8 (2015): e0124845.
  19. ^ Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, UNESCO, unesco.org
  20. ^ Erica Dinho (2009-02-17). "Fruit Cocktail (Salpicón De Frutas)". My Colombian Recipes. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  21. ^ "El canelazo, una bebida para espantar el frío (in Spanish) - Canelazo, a drink to ward off the cold". Diario Correo, Perú, 2017-06-25. Retrieved 2024-07-10.
  22. ^ "Chicha". Colombia.com. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  23. ^ "Una guía de fermentados y destilados caseros de las regiones colombianas (in Spanish) - A guide to fermented and homemade distillates from the Colombian regions". Colombia Visible, Andrés Ortiz. Retrieved 2024-07-10.
  24. ^ "Chirrinchi, el licor del desierto guajiro (in Spanish) - Chirrinchi, the liquor of the Guajiro desert". El Heraldo (Colombia). Retrieved 2024-07-10.
  25. ^ "Masato". Colombia.com. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  26. ^ "El refajo". www.semana.com. 24 June 2006. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  27. ^ "¿No sabe qué es el Sabajón? Aquí le decimos qué es y cómo se prepara (in Spanish) - Don't you know what Sabajón is? Here we tell you what it is and how to prepare it". Periódico digital El Campesino, Colombia, 2016-04-11. Retrieved 2024-07-10.
  28. ^ "Colombian Drinks: Traditional, Popular, Unique, Tasty, and Crazy". The Unconventional Route. 2018-07-24. Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2022-01-03.