Colombia is perhaps better known for its coffee than for its food. Overshadowed by the more famous cuisines of Brazil, Peru, or even Mexico, Colombian dishes are nonetheless full of flavour, colourful, and comforting. They often include pork, potatoes, plantains, chicken, beans, corn, and rice.

The cuisine varies across regions but is generally influenced by both indigenous Colombian traditions, as well as Spanish, African and Arab cultures. While some might say that Colombian dishes are bland, overly fried, too salty and meat-heavy, that is not always the case. Here are 13 delicious Colombian dishes you have to try.

1Bandeja Paisa

One of the most popular Colombian dishes, the bandeja paisa is basically a platter filled with different foods. Usually, there is rice, red beans, a fried egg, avocado, fried plantains, chicharron, (pork crackling), ground beef or steak, and pork sausage. Much like the English Breakfast, there is regional variation to the combinations on the platter.

2Aborrajados

This dish of plantains stuffed with cheese is found throughout Colombia. Cheese-filled plantain is dipped in batter and is deep-fried. It can also be baked or grilled. There are also variations of the aborrajado that are filled with guava pasta (bocadillo).

3Ajiaco

A thick and hearty chicken and potato soup, ajiaco is especially popular in the Colombian capital, Bogotá. It is usually made with guasca (the Galinsoga parviflora herb found throughout South America) and served with corn, avocado, and sour cream. Variations of ajiaco can also be in Cuba and Peru.

4Pandebono

A Colombian bread made with corn flour, yuca (cassava), cheese and eggs, pandebono is said to have been first sold by an Italian baker in the city of Cali. It is traditionally eaten warm with hot chocolate. The cheese bread is also sometimes filled with guava jam (bocadillo).

5Sancocho

Another popular hearty soup is the sancocho. Based on the Spanish cocido it usually consists of meat, plantain, yucca (cassava), coriander, sweetcorn and potatoes. The ingredients vary depending on the region, such as the use of fish on the Caribbean coast; Sancocho de Gallina, which is made with chicken; and Sancocho Trifásico made with three types of meat. Sancocho is often served with rice, either on the side or added to the soup itself.

6Pastel de Gloria

One of the most delicious Colombian desserts, the Pastel de Gloria is a puff pastry filled with guava jelly and cheese. It is sprinkled with granulated sugar.

7Cazuela de Mariscos

This rich and flavorful seafood stew is found along the Colombian coast. It is made with coconut milk and various kinds of seafood, such as shrimp, prawns, clams, octopus and fish.

8Obleas

This delicious Colombian dish consists of a waffle-like wafer filled with dulce de leche (known as arequipe in Colombia). It is similar to the Dutch stroopwafel.

9Fritanga

fritanga is essentially a communal basket of various fried meats meant to be shared by a group. It typically consists of sausages, chicharrón (pork rind), plantains, papa criolla (small yellow potatoes), and arepas. It is often topped with spicy ají sauce.

10Enyucado 

This Colombian cassava cake is typically found in the Caribbean region. It is made with boiled yuca, anise, sugar, and sometimes guava jam. Enyucado is sometimes served with the soft costeño cheese.

11Buñuelos

These starchy bread balls are both a traditional Christmas dish and a breakfast favourite. They are made with flour and filled with gooey costeño cheese before being fried until golden brown. They can be eaten with chocolate sauce.

12Natilla

This is a Colombian version of a Spanish custard, natillas. Made with milk and cornstarch and spices, this firm eggless custard is traditionally enjoyed at Christmas.

13Patacones

Fried green plantains are popular all over Latin America. However, to make the Colombian patacones, the plantain is squashed into pancakes before being deep fried. They are often served as a side dish at restaurants.

Of course, Colombian cuisine is also full of the more famous Latin American dishes such as arepas, churros, empanadas, and tamales. But even these dishes are given a unique Colombian flavour.

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