The Colombian empanada is a baked or fried pastry that is stuffed with meats and vegetables, and it is a popular and delicious snack, which has a traditional origin. Read our guide for more facts and information…
Empanadas are made by folding thin bread patty or dough around a filling of meat, fish, vegetables or even fruits, along with salt and other ingredients. Colombian empanadas are made of corn-based dough or consist of potato flour. The word empanada comes from the Spanish word ‘empanar’, which means ‘to wrap or coat in bread.’ They are flavored with sauces, and are said to have come from Arabic meat-stuffed pies.
Origin of Colombian empanada
Empanadas originated in Galicia, Portugal and Spain, and they are known to have made their initial appearance in Iberia during the Moorish invasion period of the medieval era. In Portugal and Galicia, they are prepared as large pies, which form a meal for the working lot. The filling consists of tuna, chorizo or sardines, though pork loin and cod fish are also popular. Empanada gallega is popular in Latin America, owing to the presence of many Galician immigrants. Spanish colonists carried empanadas to Philippines and Latin American countries like Colombia, with variations in the stuffing.
Either baked or fried, Colombian empanadas are stuffed with salt, rice, ground beef, shredded chicken, cheese, boiled potatoes, peas and boiled eggs. In Valle del Cauca, the filling is made of ground meat and Creole potato or yellow potato, and they are served with spices as well as peas, cilantro and tomato. Chorizo filled empanadas are popular in Medellin, while shredded chicken, ground meat and costeno cheese are used as fillings in the Caribbean region. Sweet empanadas are common in the Amazon region, where the empanada-filling consists of a jam made from tropical fruits. Other variations include cheese empanadas, Trucha-Trout empanadas and chicken empanadas. Mushroom, carrots, spinach and chicken are also used. Papas rellenas is a stuffed potato variety, in which potato pastry is used rather than maize dough.
Usually, Colombian empanadas are served with Aji, which is a sauce made from cilantro, vinegar, salt, lemon juice, green onions, red pepper or black pepper and pieces of avocado pear. Commercially prepared bottled sauces are also used for flavoring the empanadas. The spicy flavor of the sauce balances with the taste of meat and potato, which are typical ingredients of Colombian empanadas.
Empanadas are popular among the common people in Colombia and are found everywhere, including the big cities of Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Barranquilla. Most of the empanada varieties are from homemade recipes that have been passed down generations, and are the favorites of natives.