Happy Birthday Bolivia! 3 Traditional dishes to celebrate (RECIPES)

Today is Bolivian Independence Day and, although I'm not Bolivian myself, I'm wishing my fellow Latinos a happy birthday! And we all know that the best way to celebrate a birthday is with food, right?

That's why I'm so excited to share these traditional Bolivian dishes, if you're in the mood to celebrate with a truly delicious meal today. Whether you're starting the day off with some salteñas (an empanada-like treat that is served with coffee or tea in the morning), having some humitas for lunch (a Bolivian tamale, basically) or indulging in some picante de pollo (a spicy chicken stew served with white rice), any one of these Bolivian dishes are sure to please--even if (like me), you've never had them before!


Read more ¿Qué más? 3 delicious and authentic Cinco de Mayo dishes

Salteñas (recipe courtesy of Bolivia Bella)

Ingredients (for the dough, aka masa):
1 pound of flour
1/2 pound of shortening
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup of water with 1/2 tsp. salt dissolved
2 tablespoon of chili powder (yellow aji, in Bolivia)
2 egg yolks

Ingredients (for the stew inside, aka jigote):
1 pounds of meat (beef, chicken or pork) in small cubes
1/2 pound of bone marrow (beef, usually)
5 cups of beef broth, adding one package of unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons of powered yellow chili pepper
6 boiled (but firm) potatoes - diced
2 white or red onions - finely chopped
3 tablespoons of parsely - finely chopped
1 can of black olives - pitted
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 cup of cooked peas
1 tablespoon of pepper
salt to taste

1. You will prepare the dough AFTER preparing the stew. The stew must remain overnight in the refrigerator. So prepare the dough the next day right before getting ready to add the stew and then bake the salteñas: for the dough mix the flour, sugar, shortening, eggs, and yellow chili pepper in a blender. When the dough starts to get thick add the water and egg yolks. The dough will be come very firm. Knead the dough until it is well blended. Then roll out the dough and cut into rounds (like tortillas) that are 1/2 an inch thick and about 10 centimeters across).

2. For the stew fry the onions and yellow chili pepper. When cooked, add 4 cups of the beef broth (having already added the unflavored gelatin to the broth) and allow to boil. Add the diced meat and cook 15 minutes.

3. Take it off the stove and add the bone marrow, parsley, peas, cooked potatoes, pepper, salt and the 1 remaining cup of beef broth.

4. Put it into a container in the refrigerator overnight. This will allow the gelatin to firm up the stew enough to be able to spoon the stew onto the rounds of dough you made. It will have become gelatinous which is necessary otherwise it would be impossible to fill the dough with the stew. Place one scoop of gelatinous stew onto each round of dough, add one olive to each, fold over in half and crimp to seal (like you would the edge of a pie). It is VERY important it be completely fully sealed because while it is baking the stew will become juicy again.

5. Place the salteña upright with the sealed edge on TOP on a greased cookie sheet. Brush the entire exterior with egg white and bake at 375º until the crimped edge is very well toasted and the dough is a dark golden brown (also will look yellowish because of the chili pepper which is fine). Serve piping hot!

Humitas (recipe courtesy of Laylita's Recipes)

6-7 fresh ears of corn, with husks
3 cups grated or crumbled cheese, mozzarella or a fresh farmers cheese
1 cup diced white onions, about ½ large onion
1 tsp ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, crushed
About 1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup of heavy cream
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
Sides: tree tomato hot sauce

1. Remove the husks from the corn; try to keep each husk intact, the large ones will be used as wrappers for the humitas and the smaller ones will be broken into long strips to tie around the humitas.

2. To help make the corn husks more pliable place them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain the water and save the husks until ready to use.

3. Remove the silky hairs from the corn and use a knife to cut the corn kernels from the cob, if you don't have a steamer save the cobs to use as a steamer.

4. Place the corn kernels, 1 cup of cheese, diced onions, crushed garlic, ground coriander, corn meal, cream, eggs, and salt in the food processor, mix until the corn is pureed.

5. In large deep pot place about 2 ½ cups of water and a steamer, the water should be just below the steamer, if you don't have a steamer arrange the cobs on the bottom of the pan instead and cover them with some of the leftover husks.

6. To fill each humita (see detailed instructions on filling above as well as pictures), use 2 of the large corn husks per humita, place them on top of each other, fold the left side of the husks, then fold the top half over the bottom half, this creates a semi-pocket, fill it with a spoonful of the mixture (how much mixture will depend on the size of the husks, the larger the husks the more filling you can add) and stuff some of theremaining cheese in the middle, now fold over the right side of the husk and tighten it up a little bit, use the thin strips to tie around the wrapper and keep it closed.

7. Place the humitas in the pot on top of the steamer, I like to keep them slightly inclined with the open end on top. Place any leftover husks on top and cover well.

8. Place the pot on the stove over high heat until you hear the water boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes, the cooked humitas will be slightly firm to firm when they are done.

9. Serve warm with aji de tomate de arbol or tree tomato hot sauce.

Picante de Pollo (recipe courtesy of BoliviaWeb.com)

3 pounds chicken, divided into parts
1/4 cup ground cayenne pepper
2 cups of white onion, cut into small strips
1 cup tomato, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh locoto or chili pepper, finely chopped
1 cup green peas, peeled
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crumbled oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
3 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped and roasted
3 cups broth or water
2 spoonfuls oil

1. In a large casserole put the chicken pieces with all the other ingredients. Pour the broth or water until covering the ingredients completely.

2. Set to cook over high heat until it boils, and later over low heat for at least an hour and a half or until the chicken is soft. Stir occasionally.

3. If while cooking the broth diminished much, add a little bit more of broth or water so that when serving there is enough liquid.

4. In a deep plate serve one piece of spicy chicken with one boiled potato, cooked aside, chuño phuti uncooked sauce on top.

5. Finally, sprinkle the chopped parsley on top of the spicy chicken.

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What is your favorite Bolivian dish? If you've never had one, which of these would you like to try? Share with us in the comments below!

Imágenes vía Wikimedia Commons, anitasarkeesian/flickr, Visit Bolivia

Topics: traditional latin recipes