Diversity, especially when talking about food, is the key to a tasteful and happy life. It sounds like a repeated postcard but it has some truth to it. There are so many different cultures and with each one there is a different set of dishes that not all people know about. South American food is all about exotic flavors and family made dishes. They have a great influence around the world and learning how to make a few of them will really open your eyes (or mouth) to new easy-to-make tasteful flavors.

  1. Venezuelan Arepas

Arepas are a typical Venezuelan dish, although it is also consumed in other nearby countries, such as Colombia, with certain variations in its elaboration. The arepas are prepared based on corn flour, which is cooked and then accompanied with any type of filling: ham, cheese, tuna, pork, egg, etc. The Arepas can be accompanied with anything. They’re usually eaten at breakfast but you can make them anytime of the day and they’re very easy to make, not to mention delicious.

Ingredients:

2 cups and a half of water.

2 cups of cornmeal.

1 teaspoon salt.

Preparation:

The first step is to put the water and salt in a bowl, and add the cornmeal slowly to mix without caking. Mix it until uniform mixing is done.

To shape it,  make balls of dough that are then crushed forming a kind of round mass, like a disk. Usually, they are about one finger thick, and have a round form of 7 to 10 centimeters. You can make small or large Arepas according to your personal taste.

Once they are formed, they are put in a frying pan with very little oil, until the edges look golden-ish.

2. Argentinian Empanadas

Argentinian empanadas are a classic dish of this country, and they are considered a delicious and easy to prepare appetizer. Empanadas have spread to several parts of South America and have become very popular in many of its neighbor countries.

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour

¼ cups of butter

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon of sugar

1 tablespoon oil

½ cup of milk

 

Preparation:

Take a bowl and place the flour in the form of a volcano. In the center, incorporate chopped butter, egg yolk, oil, sugar and salt and mix it all. Pour the milk slowly while mixing it.

When you obtain a homogenous dough, spread it with a roll on a previously floured surface. Once stretched, cut circles of 10-12 cm in diameter. Fill it in with anything you want from meat to scrambled eggs. Once the filling is done, distribute it with a spoon in the center of each circle of dough. Do this, fold the patties, seal the edges with the tips of a fork and paint them with the beaten egg. Then fry them with a lot of oil and place them on kitchen paper when they are ready to remove excess of oil.

3. Tres leches

Tres leches is a dessert that from the South America and is characterized for containing, as its name indicates, the three different types of milk: condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream of milk. The decoration of the cake may vary depending on the country and region where it’s made. Its a delicious plate that will melt in your mouth.

For the cake

2 cups leavening wheat flour

1 spoon of vanilla

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

4 eggs

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup milk

 

For the cream tres leches

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can of condensed milk

1 can of table cream (Nestle preferred)

1 cup of milk

 

For meringue

3 egg whites

5 tablespoons of sugar

 

The cake: In a bowl, beat until egg whites look like snow, then add the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks one by one and beat. Add flour, baking powder and liquid milk. Pour the preparation into a buttered container. And bake for 30 minutes at 355 ° F.

The cream: in a bowl, mix the evaporated, condensed and liquid milk with the table cream. Refrigerate until needed.

The meringue: beat the egg whites to the point of snow, at this point incorporate the sugar and continue beating until incorporated.

Mounting: after the cake has cooled, open small holes with a fork and soak the mixture of Tres Leche, top the dessert with the meringue and decorate with a little powdered cinnamon. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

    

4. Peruvian papa a la huancaina

The simplicity of its preparation and the tastefulness of its flavor made this dish very popular in Peru. Nowadays, in every Peruvian restaurant of the world you will find this typical bake potatoes.

Ingredients

300 gr. of fresh cheese (preferably with a little salt)

½ cup of evaporated milk

3 yellow peppers

1 tablespoon ground garlic

1 packet of soda crackers

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt to taste (to rectify the taste)

1 kg. Of cooked potatoes

4 boiled eggs

250 gr. Of bottled olives

1 lettuce

Preparation:

Remove seeds and veins from yellow peppers. Once clean cook the peppers for one to two minutes in boiling water and then remove the skin. Put in the blender a piece of cheese cut into small cubes, milk, skinless peppers, garlic, oil and soda crackers. Blend and add the rest of the cheese until it forms a cream. Boil the potatoes and then cut them into round slices, put them on a plate and cover them with the sauce that you just prepared. Serve with boiled egg halves, olives and a few lettuce leaves.

       5. Ecuadorian baked ripe plantains with cheese

Baked plantain with lots of cheese are a combination that looks pretty good. You can eat it as an appetizer, as side plate to the main course or even for dessert. This is a very popular appetizer in Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela and it has the perfect mixture of sweet and salty you need on any latin dish.

Ingredients:

6 ripe plantains, whole

1-2 tbs melted butter or oil, use as little as you want

6 thick slices of mozzarella

 

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven to 400 F

Peel the plantains, place them on a baking sheet and rub them with butter or oil.

Bake the plantains for 30 minutes, then turn each one and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden on both sides.

Remove the plantains from the oven, made a horizontal slit on the middle of each plantain, and stuff them with the cheese slices.

In a few minutes the cheese will have melted, serve immediately, with or without hot sauce.

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