A Venezuelan Christmas dish

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The HallacaWhen you come to Venezuela around Christmastime you probably will end up eating some Hallacas. They are a real traditional Venezuelan dish and can be eaten as an appetizer or as a main dish. And if you get to know Venezuelan people better you probably end up helping with the preparation of this tasty dish. Luckily our Venezuelan family as well wanted to share some of their traditions with me and so I ended up passing two days preparing Hallacas with the whole family. In the filling you can put what ever you like, though the traditional Venezuelan Hallacas are famous for having a lot of meat. Not just one kind of meat, but all mixed up. Beef, chicken, pork, all cut in small pieces and fried or cooked well.

As Hudie does not eat a lot of meat and I only eat meat when I saw the living animal before, which in Caracas is a bit complicated, we had to think of something else. So Senhora Mari helped us preparing vegetarian Hallacas with Soy-meat instead of real meat.

For the filling we need:

One kilo of Soy-meat

2 cups of water

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 onions, chopped

3 chopped tomatoes, chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

3 spoons of capers

1 tin hearts of palm

1 cup of sliced stuffed olives

some seedless raisins

some oil

and for the seasoning, depending on your taste: salt, sugar, vinegar, dried ground chilly

For the dough we need:

3 cups of cornmeal

4 cups of boiling water

1/3 cup of butter

2 beaten eggs

As well we need smoked banana leaves. I still remember that we had to wash and clean them because when we bought them on the market the were still carbon black. Maybe you have to substitute these somehow. I heard plastic foil might work as well… And some string to tight the Hallacas close at the end.

The filling:

In our case it is vegetarian, but it is really up to you how you want to have it. We first fried  the onion and the garlic transparent in a pot. Then we added the tomatoes, the peppers and after a while the soy-meat together with the water. Then let it cook until there is hardly any water left. It is important that the filling is not too wet, because it will make it difficult to form the Hallacas afterwards. The other ingredients for the filling you just got to cut in small pieces put each in a bowl and have them ready when we start forming the Hallacas.

The doughThe dough:

Put the cornflour in a pot and add under steady mixing the cups of hot water. Add the butter and some salt. Heat it up for 15 minutes and then add the eggs. Beat the mixture until a smooth dough is formed. Filling the Hallacas

Preparation:

Take a piece of more or less 25 square cm bananaleaf or foil. Put an about fist big ball of the dough in the centre and press it down to a thin circular form. On top you put the filling, adding some hearts of palm, raisins and olives. Then you fold the edges to the centre into a rectangular form.

Then tie the strings around it securely, there should be no dough exposed any more. Then boil the whole thing in a big pot for about one and a half hours. And ready to eat. Tying the Hallacas

ready to cookBecause preparation takes a lot of time people usually prepare a lot at once, so they can keep them in the fridge for some days and keep on eating them throughout Christmas until new year.

Cooking Hallacas Family pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for an unforgettable Christmas!!

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