COLOMBIA’S constant climate and different altitudes makes it the ideal place to grow fresh fruits, vegetables and other produce all year round. This fresh produce is used to make Colombia’s delicious traditional dishes, which have been influenced by the country’s indigenous communities, Latin American cuisines, Spanish cuisines and African flavors. Colombia’s city and small-town restaurants often serve meals made with recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
1. Bandeja paisa
Bandeja paisa (literally ‘workman’s platter’) is a traditional dish from Colombia’s Antioquia region. It contains white rice, red beans, succulent ground beef, fried plantain, chorizo, a corn variety called morcilla, crunchy chicharron (pork crackling), an arepa, and fresh avocado. It is all topped with a fried egg. This dish is often served as a full plate or half portion, and can be enjoyed at Hacienda, which has four restaurants located in the Medellín area of Colombia.
Ajiaco is a traditional white soup served in the country’s capital, Bogotá, and other parts of the Andes mountain region of Colombia — where cold weather calls for a warm meal. Traditional ajiaco is prepared with chicken, three variety of potatoes, and guasca herbs. It is often served with white rice, corn and a slice of avocado. A uniquely decorated restaurant with a great atmosphere that serves ajiaco, is the Bolero San Francisco in Downtown Bogotá.
Lechona is a typical Colombian dish from the Tolima region of Colombia. This dish is made from a slow roasted pig, stuffed with yellow peas, rice, and green onion, and slow-cooked for around 10 hours. This dish is often served with arepas and can be traditionally found at events or parties all over Colombia, as well as Tolima. A great home-style restaurant in Bogotá that serves traditionally prepared lechona is La Planchoneria.
Sancocho is a typical soup from Colombia’s Valle del Cauca, or Cali, region. The soup is water based and contains vegetables, yuca, plantain, potato, corn, cilantro, and either chicken, fish or beef. It is frequently eaten with a slice of avocado and white rice. Sancocho can be sampled at the La Barra restaurant in Cali.
Changua is a hearty breakfast soup originating from the Boyacá and Andes mountains region of Colombia. Changua is a milk-based soup containing chopped onions, egg and coriander. Changua is traditionally served throughout the Colombian Andes region. Pastelería Florida, an 80-year-old bakery in Bogotá, serves some of the best changua in the area.