Bolivia, a landlocked country in South America, is a culinary treasure trove. Its cuisine reflects the country’s diverse cultural heritage and geographical landscape. Bolivian food is a fusion of Spanish, indigenous, and African influences, resulting in a unique blend of flavours and textures. From hearty stews to crunchy snacks, Bolivian food is a delight for foodies.
One of the most popular dishes in Bolivia is the Salteña. This savoury pastry is filled with beef, chicken or vegetables, potatoes, peas, and spices. The crust is flaky, and the filling is juicy and flavorful. Salteñas are a breakfast favourite, and vendors sell them in the streets of La Paz and other cities.
Another Bolivian staple is the Pique Macho. This hearty dish is made with French fries, beef, onions, tomatoes, locoto (a spicy pepper), and a variety of other ingredients. It is often served with a side of hard-boiled eggs and pickled vegetables. Pique Macho is a filling meal that is perfect for cold days.
For those who prefer vegetarian options, Bolivia has plenty to offer. Chupe de Mani, a peanut soup, is a popular dish in the country. The soup is made with ground peanuts, potatoes, corn, and cheese. It is a warm and comforting dish that is perfect for chilly evenings.
Bolivia is also known for its street food. One of the most popular snacks is Anticuchos. These skewers of beef heart are marinated in spices and grilled over an open flame. They are typically served with a side of potatoes and a spicy sauce.
When it comes to beverages, Bolivians love their Chicha. This fermented corn drink is a staple in many households. It is slightly sweet and has a mild alcoholic content. Another popular drink is the Api, a hot beverage made with purple corn, cinnamon, and cloves. It is often served with a side of fried dough or cheese.
In conclusion, Bolivian cuisine is a delicious blend of traditional and modern flavours. The country’s diverse cultural heritage has given rise to a unique culinary experience not found elsewhere. From savoury pastries to hearty stews, Bolivian food is a must-try for anyone who loves exploring different cuisines.
Make your own Salteñas
Salteñas are a type of Bolivian savoury pastry that is typically filled with beef, potatoes, peas, and spices. Here is a recipe for traditional Salteñas:
For the dough:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
For the filling:
- 1 lb. beef (flank steak or sirloin), diced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup diced potatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the egg wash:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the vegetable shortening and butter, and use a pastry cutter or your hands to mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the warm water, milk, and eggs. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until the dough comes together. Knead the dough on a floured surface for a few minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes.
- Add the cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and cloves to the skillet and stir to coat the beef and onion mixture. Add the frozen peas and diced potatoes and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover the mixture, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer until the potatoes are tender and the liquid has thickened about 30 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each one into a ball. Flatten each ball with a rolling pin to form a disk about 6 inches in diameter.
- Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling onto the centre of each dough disk. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges to seal the Salteñas.
- Place the Salteñas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Whisk together the egg yolk and milk to make the egg wash, and brush it over the Salteñas.
- Bake the Salteñas for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot and enjoy!
Note: Salteñas can be quite spicy, so feel free to adjust the amount of spice to your taste. You can also use ground beef instead of diced beef, and add other vegetables such as carrots or peppers to the filling if you like.