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Recipes from around Latin America

One way to truly experience another country and immerse yourself in the culture is to try the local cuisine.

Below you will find some of the most traditional foods from around Latin America. Remember that food always tastes better when shared with others and Latinos love to eat with their family and friends so for a genuine experience make sure you get a big group of people together to enjoy the moment.

Chile - Pastel de Choclo


Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Over medium flame heat oil in sauté pan and than add onion until translucent. Mix in garlic and continue sautéing for 1-2 minutes. Add ground beef, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté. Break up meat until it is completely cooked. This should take about 6-8 minutes.

Pour in water or stock and allow to simmer. Shake flour over combination and mix in well. Simmer for another 5-8 minutes until thickened slightly. Remove from heat.

Pour in water or stock and allow to simmer. Shake flour over combination and mix in well. Simmer for another 5-8 minutes until thickened slightly. Remove from heat.

Put corn, cornmeal, cornstarch and sugar in food processor until smooth. While the blender is on, add milk a little bit at a time until corn forms a thick batter.

Over medium-low heat melt butter in large saucepan. Mix in corn puree and cook until thickened for about 5-8 minutes. Stir constantly. Put to one side.

Pour beef mixture into greased casserole dish. Top mixture with cooked corn puree spreading evening over dish. Over the corn topping, sprinkle sugar.

Place dish in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top.

Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)

  • Oil - 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Onion, finely chopped - 1
  • Garlic, minced - 2 to 3 cloves
  • Ground beef - 1 pound
  • Paprika - 1 tablespoon
  • Cuminseed - 1 teaspoon
  • Oregano - 1 teaspoon
  • Water or stock - 1 cup
  • Flour - 1 tablespoon
  • Fresh or frozen corn - 1 pound
  • Cornmeal - 1/4 cup
  • Cornstarch - 1 or 2 tablespoons
  • Milk - as needed
  • Sugar - 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper - to taste
  • Butter - 1 tablespoon

Uruguay - Asado


Typically a Uruguayan asado will be cooked on a parrillo (wood fire oven). Begin cooking the meat at a medium temperature. Do not add salt at this point as it can cause the the meat to become dry. When you start the cooking make sure the bone side is towards the heat and than turn it halfway. At the halfway point spread the mojo over it.

Put the chimichurri in bowls on the table so people can add it as they wish.


  • Meat - 300/500g per person - typical meats include tira de asado' (beef rib area about 4 inches wide) and chorizos (sausages)
  • Salad - Lettuce, tomato, onion
  • Salad dressing - Vinegar and olive oil
  • Salt
  • Potatoes
  • Chimichurri - Oil, oregano, salt, garlic (finely chopped), bell peppers (finely chopped), black pepper
  • Mojo - water and salt

Paraguay - Puchero


Over medium-high flame heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and sauté for about 4-5 minutes until translucent and wilted. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes and finally add tomatoes and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Add water, chicken, pork and sausage. Allow to boil and than turn down the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer with a cover until meat is tender, for about 1.5 hours.

Add chickpeas, potatoes, carrots and cabbage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase heat again to simmer and cook vegetables thoroughly for about 20 minutes.

Add seasoning if required and serve in bowls.

Ingredients (6 to 8 servings)

  • Oil - 3 tablespoons
  • Onion, chopped - 1
  • Garlic, minced - 4 to 6 cloves
  • Tomatoes, chopped - 1 cup
  • Water - 6 cups
  • Chicken, cut into serving pieces - 1 (3-pound)
  • Pork butt, cubed - 1 pound
  • Spanish chorizo, or other garlic sausage, cut into
  • rounds - 2
  • Chickpeas, cooked - 2 cups
  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks - 3
  • Carrots, peeled and chopped - 3
  • Cabbage, cut into wedges - 1/2 head
  • Salt and pepper

Bolivia - Majao


Pour 5 cups of water into a big pot over high heat and wait for it to boil. Add the charque and allow it to cook until it is tender. Once you have removed it from heat, shred the meat.

Add rice and salt to the water where the meat was cooked. Allow it to cook for around 25 minutes over medium heat until rice is well cooked but not dry.

Over medium flame, heat 1/4 cup of oil. Add shredded meat and stir-fry until golden. Remove from heat. In another pot heat up the other 1/4 cup of oil over high flame and than add the onion and stir fry for a while. Than add tomato, urucú, water and salt. Allow it to cook for 5 minutes. Add the fried shredded meat and mix. Lastly add meat combination to the rice pot and mix together. The mixture should not be dry so if necessary add water or broth.

Serve hot, with the fried egg on top along with the fried plantain and fried yucca.

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 pound charque (dry and salty meat)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup onion (without washing), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup tomato, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (if charque is not very salty)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 seeds urucú soaked in 1/2 water cup (paprika will also work)
  • 1/2 cup water or broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To Serve with

  • 1/2 fried plantain, per person
  • 2 slices yucca (also known as cassava or tapioca)
  • cooked and fried, per person
  • 1 fried egg, per person

Brazil - Feijoado


In a large pot heat oil. Add 3/4 cup of chopped onion, green onions and garlic, stir mixture and cook until softened for about 4 minutes. Add soaked beans and fill pot so that the beans are covered with 3 inches of water. Once boiled, reduce heat to medium low and than allow to simmer uncovered for 2 hours or until tender.

While beans are cooking, put ham hock in a small pot with a 1/4 cup of chopped onions. Cover with water and allow to simmer for about one hour, until meat comes off from the bone wth ease.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Put bacon, ham and the other onion into a baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is crispy.

Drain mixture and add to beans. Use bay leaves, coriander, salt and pepper to season. Simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro and parsley before serving.

Ingredients (8 servings)

  • 1 (12 ounce) package dry black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 8 ounces diced ham
  • 1/2 pound thickly sliced bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Peru - Ceviche


Mix all ingredients together well except red onion. Put red onion on top and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to marinate before meal. Mix well and serve with corn, avocado, lettuce or other cold salad vegetable as a side platter.

Ingredients (6 to 8 servings)

  • 2 lbs tilapia fillets or 2 lbs other firm white fish fillets, cubed
  • 8 - 10 garlic cloves - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper, seeded and chopped (or real Peruvian Aji Amarillo, if you can find it)
  • 8 -12 limes, freshly squeezed and strained to remove pulp, enough to cover fish 1 red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed

Ecuador - - Llapingachos


On medium high heat put potatoes in a big saucepan and cover with salted water and allow to boil. Cook potatoes until soft than drain and allow them to steam dry for 3-4 minutes.

Mash potatoes until smooth and add salt according to taste. When the potatoes have cooled create balls of mashed potatoes in portions of 1/3 cup. Put on a baking sheet and allow to cool in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Start the mani sauce while potatoes are cooling. In a small saucepan simmer milk and sliced onion in a small saucepan for 10 minutes. Do not boil. Strain onions from milk and throw away. Add peanut butter to warm milk and whisk. Add salt according to taste. Allow to boil, turn down heat to low and simmer until thickened for 4-5 minutes. Consistency of sauce should be like heavy cream.

Take potatoes out of refrigerator. Mix scallions and cheese together and fill each ball with about 1 tablespoon of the mixture. Make patties by flattening balls with your hands. Over a medium flame heat oil in a skillet. Sauté patties until they are browned on each side. Keep in a warm oven until all patties have been made. Serve with salsa de mani on top.

Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)

  • Russet potatoes, peeled - 2 pounds
  • White cheese, shredded - 1 cup
  • Scallions, chopped finely - 6
  • Salt - to taste
  • Achiote powder - 2 teaspoons
  • Oil - 1/4 cup
  • Salsa de Maní (Peanut Sauce)
  • Milk - 1 1/2 cups
  • Onion, thinly sliced - 1/4 cup
  • Natural peanut butter - 1/3 cup

Colombia - Arepas


Add arepa flour, cheese and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl and then stir water in until well mixed. Allow to stand for 1-2 minutes until a soft dough is formed. Create a ball from 3 tablespoons of dough and than flatten with your palms, gently press to form a 1/4 inch thick patty (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches wide), ensuring there are no cracks. Move to a surface covered with wax paper. Create more discs with the rest of the dough using the same method. Heat oil over medium flame and than fry arepas in 2 batches, turning over once until golden brown in parts. It should take about 8-10 minutes per batch. Drain oil using paper towels.

Ingredients (10-12 cornmeal cakes)

  • 1 cup arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)
  • 1 cup crumbled ricotta salata or grated mozzarella (1/4 pound)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Costa Rica - Tamales


Chop meat into large chunks of 2,5cm and brown on high heat into 1/2 cup lard or vegetable oil. Add garlic, peppers, onion, salt, cumin and black pepper. Add an extra teaspoon of salt for the last few minutes while the meat is browning and than cover with water and allow to simmer for 2-3 hours until tender. Take out meat from broth and once cool shred it. Save broth for later use.

While meat is simmering being preparing potatoes and rice. Peel potatoes and boil with with salt, cilantro and oregano until soft. Allow to cool and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.


  • 2 lbs instant corn masa mix
  • 3 lbs (1.4 kg) pork shoulder roast -or- beef roast -or- boneless chicken
  • ¼ lb (110 gr) pork lard (or vegetable shortening)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) corn oil
  • 1 batch (~5 cups cooked Tico style rice, see ingredient list and recipe below)
  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) potatoes
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • ½ lb (225 gr) sweet or hot peppers to taste
  • 1 large onion (optional)
  • 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) banana leaves (corn husks can be substituted, or if desperate aluminum foil) coriander leaves (cilantro), salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano, achiote (annato)

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