What is Bandeja Paisa?
It’s one of the most traditional Colombian foods and it can be summed up as “a festival of meat on a Frisbee-sized plate.” In fact, the word bandeja in Spanish means platter, so you know you’re in for a lot of food. Traditionally, a Bandeja Paisa consists of two types of Colombian sausage, ground beef, rice, red beans, a fried pork rind called chicharrón, an arepa, a plantain, a slice of avocado (you know, to be healthy) and a fried egg to top it all off.
Where is it popular?
The Bandeja Paisa can be found in many parts of Colombia, but the meal has roots in the Antioquia region of the country, which encompasses Medellín, Guatapé, Rionegro and more. People from these areas are called Paisas. (Colombia is very regionalized, so people from different parts of the country have identifying names and diverse cultures.) So if you happen to be visiting Medellín during a trip to Colombia, make sure to order a Bandeja Paisa while you’re there.
What is the history of Bandeja Paisa?
This Colombian cuisine has humble beginnings. It was originally considered peasant food because farmers in the Antioquia region would eat the protein packed meal for breakfast before working in the fields. The combination of meat and carbs kept them going throughout the day. Currently, Bandeja Paisa, with all its components, isn’t considered peasant food. The dish is usually one the most expensive meals on menus because it’s such a large serving of food. It can cost anywhere from 12,000 COP (4 USD) to 40,000 COP (13.50 USD) in nicer restaurants.
Where to learn more about Colombian food?
Foodies who want to learn about the history and culture of Colombia through its gastronomy should take a food and cooking tour. During the tour, visitors will have a chance to visit a traditional Colombian market, try various exotic fruits and learn about different Colombian dishes such as a hearty soup called Ajiaco and of course Bandeja Paisa. Visitors will also get a chance to make and eat their own traditional Colombian dish.
As you can imagine, Bandeja Paisa isn’t for someone who’s “not that hungry, but could eat.” Enjoy this meal on an empty stomach while traveling in Colombia. Most restaurants allow you to order a half portion and usually that’s more than enough food.
Pin for later!
The Uncover Colombia Team
The bandeja paisa (paisa platter/tray) is probably the most well known meal in Colombia. In fact, the Colombian government has gone so far as to make it their national dish and they now regularly adorn the media waves with television commercials and print ads stating as much. So, why so much pride regarding a single plate of food? The answer to that question takes you back to the roots of the dish which originate in the Andean state of Antioquia where peasant field workers would consume the high calorie bandeja paisa as a means of providing them a full day’s worth of energy and nourishment to keep them going throughout the entire day. If you know anything about Antioquia or the people who come from Antioquia that are known as paisas, then you understand that pride runs deep in this region of Colombia.
There are several components that make up the traditional bandeja paisa that include red beans, rice, ground beef, chorizo with lime, plantain, arepa, avocado, fried egg on top and of course a big slice of chicharron or fried pork belly. This is normally accompanied by mazamorra which is a milk based beverage served cold that contains crushed maize grains or kernals.
If you thought the combination of items was confusing then listen to this – there are several versions of the bandeja paisa. The addition of the chicharron makes the bandeja a “paisa”. If you would like beef or chicken, the platter simply becomes a “bandeja”. I have also heard the term “bandeja montañera” or mountain tray mentioned a few times. If you know of any other versions, please leave a comment below and please let us know about them!
Here is a recipe for bandeja paisa that was provided by Erica at My Colombian Recipes :
1 Recipe Paisa Pinto Beans (Frijoles Paisas)
1 Recipe white Rice (Arroz Blanco)
1 Recipe Shredded Beef (Carne en Polvo)
4 Fried Pork Belly (Chicharrones)
4 Cooked Chorizos
4 Fried eggs sunny side up
4 baked plantainsor Tajadas de Plátano
1 Recipe Hogao
Lime and Avocado for Serving
1. Prepare the beans, hogao and powdered beef one day ahead and keep in the refrigerator.
2. When you are going to serve the bandeja paisa, heat the beans and powdered beef and hogao. Make the chicharrones.
3. Cook the white rice and plantains.
4. Fry the eggs and chorizos.
5. To serve, place the rice in a tray or platter and place the rest of the ingredients as you like. I prefer the beans in a separate bowl, but you can ladle the beans next to the rice if you like.
6. Bring the hogao in a serving dish to the table, so people can place it on top of the beans if they like. Enjoy!