Top 20 Latin American Dishes You MUST Try

Top 20 Latin American Dishes You MUST Try

In Europe mane people still think of Latin American cuisine as a wide selection of tacos, burritos and enchiladas topped with super spicy sauce and avocado paste ( guacamole) .

The reality is that dose dishes are actually from Mexico, and although they are delicious and original to this country, the rest of  Latin America has a wide variety of foods that differ from coast to coast.

Below I have decided to highlight Top 20 most noticeable dishes from selected countries of South American continent.


1. Churrasco – Brazil

Churrasco is a Portuguese and Spanish term referring to beef or grilled meat and is a prominent feature in Latin American cuisine, popular in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Uruguay. A restaurant serving grilled meat is known as a churrascaria (steakhouse). Often restaurants serve all-you-can-eat churrasco buffets, with waiters slicing meat onto patrons’ plates – this is called espeto corrido or rodizio and is particularly popular in Brazil.


2. Empanada – Venezuela

Empanadas are like Venezuelan hot pockets or calzones.   We usually serve them as appetizers (small ones), or as a main dish with delicious fillings and dipping sauces. The most common and easy to prepare are cheese empanadas, and they are the most popular amongst kids.   They also have exquisite ones like lobster, or Cazón (small shark), and common ones like ground beef, shredded chicken, shredded meat.   Then there are big ones like filled with Pabellón (Shredded beef, black beans and plantains), or combination ones like cheese and beef, or even ham and cheese.   One thing is for sure; you will like them no matter what is in them.


3. Feijoada – Brazil

The traditional and national Brazilian dish feijoada is a stew of black beans cooked with meat (usually pork and/or beef) and served with rice, vegetables, assorted sausages such as chouriço, morcela (blood sausage) and farinheira, and a variety of side dishes including farofai (toasted manioc flour).


4. Bandeja Paisa – Colombia

Popular in the Antioquia department of Colombia and the Paisa region, bandeja paisa is a platter-style meal served in a large, oval-shaped tray and consisting of a generous variety of different foods. Traditional items include red beans cooked with pork, white rice, carne molida (ground meat), chicharrón, fried egg, plantain, chorizo, arepa (flatbread), hogao sauce, morcilla (black pudding), avocado and lemon.


5. Asado – Argentina

Asado is a term used for particular barbecue techniques, and also for the social event surrounding the barbecue. Considered Argentina’s national dish but also traditional to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, the main ingredient in asado is flank-cut beef ribs flavored with chimichurri and cooked on a grill called a parilla, or on an open fire. Asado also includes embutidos (cured sausages), different meats including poultry and sweetbreads, bread, mixed salad and verdurajo (grilled vegetables).


6. Curanto – Chile

The traditional food of Chiloé Archipelago off the coast of Chile, curanto is traditionally prepared in a hole dug in the ground and covered with stones which are heated until red.  Typical ingredients include shellfish, meat, milcao and chapaleles (potato pancake/dumpling respectively), and other vegetables. Curanto preparation is specific: ingredients are covered with nalca (Chilean rhubarb) leaves, then covered with wet sacks, dirt and grass chunks, creating a pressure cooker effect.


7. Ceviche – Peru

Ceviche, or cebiche, is a dish of fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices (key lime or naranja agria ­– bitter orange) and spiced with ají (chili peppers). Onion, salt and pepper are also added to the marinade, which is often served in a small glass as an appetizer (leche de tigre or leche de panteraI) along with chunks of corn-on-the-cob and cooked sweet potato.


8. Encebollado – Ecuador

Encebollado means “cooked with onions” and is an Ecuadorian fish stew, commonly regarded as a national dish. Served with boiled cassava or yucca and picked red onion rings, encebollado also includes fresh tomato and spices such as pepper and coriander leaves. It is usually served with ripe avocado, plantain, popcorn, toasted corn nuts and/or bread.


9. Pabellón Criollo – Venezuela

Traditionally consumed for lunch and considered by many to be the Venezuelan national dish, pabellón criollo consists of rice with stewed black beans and shredded beef. Often served with tajadas (fried plantain slices) and/or a fried egg, some also add granulated sugar or queso palmita over the beans, or hot sauce over the meat. The beef can be replaced by chigüire (capybara), shredded caiman meat or freshwater fish depending on the region and season.


10. Ropa Vieja – Cuba

Literally translated as “old clothes”, ropa vieja’s shredded beef is indeed reminiscent of shredded rags of clothing. Ropa vieja is often accompanied by fried plantain, black beans and rice. An important flavoring is Cuban staple sofrito, made with sautéed onions, green peppers and garlic cooked with tomatoes. Extra additions to the sauce can include sausages or smoked meat, or wine, dry sherry or beer.


11. Mole Poblano – Mexico

Mole is a generic name for a number of sauces used in Mexican cuisine. Mole poblano is probably the best known of all mole varieties, and is often considered Mexico’s national dish. Containing around 20 ingredients, of which the most notable are chili and chocolate, this dark sauce is usually served over turkey and often at special occasions.


12. Huminta – Peru

Humitas are savory steamed fresh corn cakes made from a mixture of freshly ground corn, onion, garlic, cheese, eggs, and cream, which is placed inside corn husks and steamed. Humitas are hard to translate, if you’ve ever had an humita you know what it is, but to describe them to someone who’s never had them before is a little bit complicated. I guess you could compare them to a fresh corn and cheese tamale (and explaining the difference between a tamale from Ecuador and tamale from Mexico is a completely different story). Humitas are made using fresh corn, which is ground with other ingredients and then stuffed in a fresh corn husk and steamed


13. Cachapa – Venezuela

A traditional Latin pancake ripe for mainstream menu innovation is the Venezuelan cachapa. It’s a pancake with a fresh, intense and unmistakable corn flavour. Cachapas are traditionally eaten with Queso de Mano, a soft, mozzarella-like cheese, and occasionally with fried pork chicharrón on the side. Cachapas can be very elaborate, some including different kinds of cheese or milky cream. They can be prepared as an appetizer, generally with margarine, or as a full breakfast with hand cheese and fried pork.


14. Arepa – Colombia & Venezuela

A delectable, fluffy, white dough shaped in the format of a saucer and made mainly of corn flour, prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela.  It is eaten daily by both Colombians and Venezuelan and can be filled with various accompaniments such as cheese, avocado, beans or meat. A crowd pleaser!


15. Alfajores – Argentina

There is many reasons to love Argentina, but Alfajores is on the top o four list, hands down. The traditional sweet, made with two soft and crumbly cookies sandwiched around a tick layer of dulce de leche (caramel), is considered a national treasure.  Although officialy treat it as a pastry,  Argentinians eat them in the morning with coffee or tea, as an afternoon snack or after dinner. There is no “right” time to eat alfajores, actually. Any time is the right time to indulge in one. The most popular varieties are the ones filled with dulce de leche, of course, and either rolled in coconut or covered in dark or white chocolate.


16. Anticuchos – Peru

Anticuchos are a popular and inexpensive dish that originated in Peru in the pre-Colombian era but are also available at their neighbours Chile and Bolivia.  A very special addition to any barbecue party, the anticuchos are made of beef heart marinated, cut into small cubes, skewered, and seared over the grill. You can also use regular beef, chicken, fish, prawns, or lamb to make anticuchos, but the original and traditional recipe calls for cow heart.


17. Pão de Queijo – Brazil

An exclusive export delight from Brazil that pleases all palates and it is gluten free.   Putting it simple: pão de queijo is a small, baked, cheese ball made from sour cassava flour and of course,  lots of tasty cheese.  A popular snack and breakfast food in Brazil, pão de queijo originated from African slaves like many other Brazilian foods. Slaves would soak and peel the cassava root and make bread rolls from it.


18. Silpancho – Bolivia

Silpancho is a typical, popular Bolivian food from the city of Cochabamba. When prepared properly, this tends to be a large and filling meal laden with carbohydrates and fat. It consists of a base layer of rice, usually white, followed by a layer of boiled and sliced potatoes. Next, a thin layer of schnitzel-style meat is laid on top, followed by a layer of chopped tomato. In addition, onion, beet and parsley are mixed together and topped with either one or two fried eggs.


19. Hervido de Pescado – Venezuela

A traditional Venezuelan sea fish soup served along the country’s coastline. Also known as Sancocho and can be also found in several Latin American cuisines. It usually consists of large pieces of fish meat, tubers and vegetables served in a broth.


20. Mangú – Dominican Republic

Cooked, pureed plantains are topped with sauteed onions. This is a traditional Caribbean and Latin American morning favourite, but also makes a great side dish… The word came after a US marine exclaimed “Man, good!” after eating mashed plantains during the first United States invasion of the Dominican Republic.

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June 19, 2016 / by / in ,

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