Christmas is one of the most celebrated traditions in the world. An exquisite dinner on Christmas Eve or a brunch on Christmas Day makes us long for the holidays to arrive.
The menu varies for each country, but the main dish usually features pork or turkey or a great fish dish. Regardless of what you choose to prepare, you can give your dinner a spin using the extensive variety of side dishes in Latin American cuisine. The options are endless.
Coconut Pumpkin Cream
Simple and delicious! A great idea that utilizes a product that is in season. It’s easy to make and by adding leeks, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg the flavor of the pumpkin is enhanced. A touch of coconut milk at the end will give this cream its distinctive flavor. Serve hot and sprinkle with croutons.
Peruvian Tacu Tacu
Peru has made many interesting contributions to Latin American gastronomy, not only for its great wealth of natural products, but also for its culture, which due to the varied influences it has had has resulted in a wide range of options for all tastes.
This dish is delicious, and not only because of its ingredients, but also due to its unique preparation. Although this is a rice and beans dish, stir frying the rice and seasoning it with spices like ají amarillo (yellow pepper) elevates it to something quite especial. It takes only 20 minutes and you can use other legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or green beans.
Venezuelan Style Ham Bread
Bread is always a great accompaniment to a main dish, and if you want something truly special, you have to try this great delicacy from Venezuelan cuisine, a staple during the Christmas holidays.
Although it’s easy to make, time has to be devoted to this preparation, but it is worth it in order to keep the tradition alive and to obtain a bread that will leave everyone speechless.
This is a spongy bread, like milk bread, and is filled with cooked ham, olives and raisins. You can be more creative and add other ingredients such as bacon, turkey ham, figs, almonds, nuts, cheese, etc.
Moro de Gandules con Coco (Coconut Rice and Pigeon Peas)
If your main dish is meat or fish, this traditional delicacy from Dominican Republic will elevate your food to another level. This rice has all the characteristics of Caribbean cuisine and is very easy to make, with a few simple steps you can cook a spectacular recipe, worthy of such a special holiday.
Pastel de Choclo (Corn Casserole)
This is a traditional dish across Latin America. There are versions that originate from Chilean gastronomy, but this preparation is also very common in countries like Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and even the Caribbean islands. Mexico also has its own version of this recipe. There are minimal variations to this dish, but it has one thing in common: it is simply delicious!
The star ingredient of pastel de choclo is corn, usually the tender grain is ground, liquefied or grated to create a dough. The Chilean recipe includes a base of ground beef, which can also be varied and made with vegetables or cheeses.
The Peruvian version has a dough of a different consistency, does not have meat, and is more like a sweet side dish to be enjoyed after dinner. In Paraguay, it’s known as chipa guazú and is used as a side dish to complement roasts or meats.
What dish is always present on your Christmas table? Happy Holidays!
by Alex Tabar & Jose V. Arcieri