Easter in Colombia
Easter is a celebration that in Colombia is mostly rooted in the Catholic tradition and it is called the Holy Week. When you are a student, you get a week of holidays that goes from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday. Nowadays not everybody is Catholic, however, people go on holidays or take these days to relax at home, if you work, you get Thursday and Friday off. If you are catholic, you would usually assist to Palm Sunday mass, go to Thursday's mass, meditate on Friday's about the death of Jesus on the cross or walk the Via Crucis. Saturday is dedicated to the Light mass, where people pray and praise God at night and light candles at midnight to receive the Paschal Sunday, day in which the resurrection of Jesus is commemorated.
On Thursday, the celebration is centered around the Last Supper, the lavatory of the twelve disciples' feet and Jesus' Gethsemane prayer. I usually visited the seven churches, which is a Catholic tradition, walking with my family in Bogotá's from our house to the city downtown. I usually did not walk the Via Crucis on Fridays, which represents the suffering of Jesus on His path to the cross and death, but stayed at home enjoying of the special T.V Programmation broadcasted there on public holidays. I watched most of the religious films on the TV guide. That was my Holy Friday plan.
Regarding food, only fish is eaten on the Holy Week in the Catholic tradition. On Sunday, the pot is "broken", eating again all kind of meat. However, there are plenty sweet dishes that are prepared during the whole week. I would like to share with you some of the recipes that I remember were classic to this time of the year.
I know that hunting eggs is a traditional activity in many countries during this time of the year. I am going to join them, but hunting recipes on the web for Easter traditional dishes in Colombia. As I mentioned earlier, fish dishes are prepared the whole week so I am going to start with some of these recipes. All of them are served with rice, green plantain or potatoes.
Colombian Fish Soup and Colombian-Styled Fish Stew
These two dishes are classic dishes for Easter. I found their recipes on My Colombian Recipes website.
(4- 6 servings)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 2 pounds of cod fish fillets
- 10 cups of fish stock
- 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into pieces
- 2 corn ears
- 1 pound yuca (cassava), cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon color (turmeric or achiote)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- In a large pot, over medium heat, place the olive oil, onions, scallions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the fish stock, achiote, ground cumin and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the plantains, corn, yuca, salt, and pepper. Simmer covered for about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Add the fish and chopped cilantro. Cook for 12 minutes and serve with white rice, lemon, and avocado on the side.
(4- 6 servings)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 pounds swordfish steaks
- 1 pound frozen yuca (cassava)
- 2 cups water
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric or achiote
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and scallions and sauté about three minutes or until onions are translucent. Then add the tomatoes, garlic, salt and ground pepper and sauté for 5 more minutes.
- Add water, yuca and cumin powder. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add Fish steaks and cilantro and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the yuca is tender.
- Serve with white rice and fried sweet plantains on the side.
Colombian Fried Whole Fish
This dish is one of my favorites. It is delicious and very easy to prepare indeed. The trick is to buy a clean and fresh fish, then it is just to fry it. I found this recipe in Sweet and Salado website.
- 4 whole small tilapias or mojarras, cleaned and scaled (you can also use red snapper)
- 2 medium sized limes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Oil for frying (vegetable, canola, corn)
1. Rinse the fish and dry well with paper towels. With a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal cuts on both sides of the fish.
2. Squeeze the juice of ½ lime on each fish. Season with the garlic and salt. Make sure the juice and the seasonings go inside the cuts you made, as well as inside the cavity. Let the fish rest for about 10 minutes.
3. Heat 1 inch (2.54 cm) of oil in a large pan on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until the temperature reaches 350ºF (180ºC).
4. Dredge both sides of each fish with the flour, shake off the excess and add them to the hot oil, you may have to do this in batches. Pan-fry for about 5-7 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with Colombian coconut rice, patacones (fried green plantain chips) and a side salad.
I remember that from Thursday to Sunday, a lot of sweet dishes were served. Except for the rice pudding, they are exotic dishes that you do not see in the everyday Colombian cuisine.
Red Sweet Beans
This recipe is very rare in Colombia. I found it in a Nestlé website with the name of Dominican Sweet Beans, but it is exactly what we make in the Easter week.
- 1 lb. dried, dark-red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
- Water, divided
- 2 cinnamon sticks, divided
- 8 cloves, divided
- 1 to 2 medium (3/4 to 1 1/2 lbs.) batatas (Caribbean sweet potatoes), peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cans (12 fl. oz. each) evaporated milk,
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Milk crackers for garnish (optional)
- Soak beans in a large bowl overnight in 6 to 8 cups water; drain. Place soaked beans in large saucepan; add the same amount of water. Cook gently over medium-low heat with lid tilted, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are tender. Drain; set aside.
- Bring 4 cups water, 1 cinnamon stick and 2 cloves to a boil in large saucepan. Add batata chunks. Reduce heat to medium; cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain; reserve cooking water (this will be needed in next step). Remove spices.
- Place about 1/3 of cooked beans in food processor or blender container; add 1/2 cup of reserved batata cooking water. Cover; process until a thick paste is achieved. (Mixture should be the consistency of sour cream.) Over a large bowl, push pureed beans through fine mesh strainer to remove skins. Repeat with remaining beans and reserved batata water.
- Bring the evaporated milk, coconut milk, sugar, salt and remaining cinnamon stick and 6 cloves to a boil over medium heat in large saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Remove cloves.
- Add bean puree, raisins, and nutmeg to milk mixture (mixture will be the consistency of oil). Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Add cooked batatas; continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes or the consistency of heavy cream. Remove cinnamon stick.
- Serve warm or chilled in dessert or soup bowls. Garnish with milk crackers.
Colombian Rice Pudding
2 cups white rice
12 cups milk
½ cup sugar
1 cup condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
6 sticks cinnamon
Powdered cinnamon to taste
- In a large saucepan, boil the milk, sugar and the cinnamon sticks
- Add rice when milk comes to a boil and lower heat to low.
- Cook until the rice is almost fully cooked and the milk has been absorbed, stirring constantly
- In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk and vanilla
- Stir this mixture into the rice
- Continue to stir until the condensed milk has thickened.
- Pour into a glass container and top with powdered cinnamon and raisins if desired.
Can be served warm or cold.
I did not find a complete recipe for the Colombian queques, but this description explains what it is. In Colombia, the preparation includes various ingredients such as sugar, molasses or chilled Panela (Colombian sugar block) honey, shredded coconut, milk, eggs, flour, lemon or orange zest, baking powders and baking soda. The dough is allowed to stand and put in a mold greased with butter and sprinkled with flour in the oven for 30 minutes. When cooled it is cut into squares. It can also be sprinkled with sugar or cocoa powder.
Rice Pudding Is Made Mostly for Easter and Christmas in Colombia
http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/sudado-de-pescado-colombian-style-fish-stew. Accessed on 14 of april 2017.
http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/?s=fish+soup. Accessed on 14 of april 2017.
http://www.sweetysalado.com/2014/09/colombian-fried-whole-fish.html. Accessed on 14 of april 2017.
https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/142090/dominican-sweet-beans/?recipeDifficulty=challenging. Accessed on 14 of april 2017.
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queque_(Am%C3%A9rica_Latina), Accessed on 14 of april 2017.
https://lasesana.com/2012/10/22/colombian-rice-pudding-arroz-con-leche/. Accessed on 14 of april 2017.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on April 15, 2017:
MariaInes (author) from Johannesburg on April 14, 2017:
Thank you Louise!
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on April 14, 2017:
Thanks for the recipes. The fish soup sounds lovely. =)