Bandeja Paisa, Digging into Colombia’s National Dish

If “Bandeja Paisa” sounds like Greek to you, don’t worry, it’s Spanish. Bandeja literally translates to platter and paisa refers to the place in Colombia.

Unlike many other Latin American national dishes, it wasn’t until recently, in 2005 the government of Colombia decided to name it their national food.

The Bandeja Paisa Controversy

Yes, even food inspires controversy. The fact that Bandeja Paisa was named after a specific region in Colombia, was not well received by their fellow Colombians. Several people felt excluded and demanded a more “inclusive” national dish.

However, despite putting forth their contenders, Bandeja Paisa stood strong against its opposition, holding on to its title of the national food of Colombia and making our list of the 17 Best Colombian Food Dishes You Should Try Right Now.

So What Is Bandeja Paisa and How To Make Bandeja Paisa?

Colombia's National Dish Bandeja Paisa, plate filled with various foods
Bandeja Paisa, Colombia’s National Dish

If you’re ever in the mood for some authentic Colombian cuisine, this right here should be your go-to.

A typical serving is made up of chorizo, minced meat, red beans, white rice, Colombian flatbreads (arepa), a tomato-based sauce, fried eggs, fried pork (chicharron), plantain and a slice of avocado.

All of this food is traditionally served together, usually on a single oval plate.

The Story Behind the Food

You may have noticed that the ingredients contain a high amount of protein. The reason behind this goes back to the origins of Bandeja Paisa.

Traditionally, having originated from Paisa, an agricultural or plantation based land, it was regarded as “peasant food”.

A hearty meal of Bandeja Paisa used to be enough to fuel a farmer for a day’s worth of work in the fields.

This isn’t the only story. Another tale traces back its origins to an inspired owner of a restaurant in Bogota.

Apparently, one day as he watched his guests serve themselves from a typical Colombian buffet, he had the idea of creating a fusion of several foods to create a single dish, ie. “Bandeja Paisa”.

This, however, is not credited with being very accurate. Most people believe its origins are far more likely to have come from Paisa.

Are You Hungry Enough?

If you aren’t a reputed big eater, this meal is probably not for you. Most restaurants in Colombia serve half portions that most people find extremely filling.

There are several restaurants that have wised up to this issue and now offer smaller portions to those who want it.

Popular Variations and Presentation Styles

Like any other traditional dish, Bandeja Paisa has been subjected to a fair amount of variations.

Traditionally, it is served alongside milk and ground panela. Sometimes a beverage called “mazamorra” made from maize will also be presented to you.

A few eateries also serve additional steaks with the Bandeja Paisa. In Bogota, it is often served with black pudding, salad and grilled chicken instead of pork steak.

The Best Places to Try Colombian Food

A full dish of Colombian Bandeja Paisa
Bandeja Paisa, Colombia’s National Dish

Well, now that you’re sufficiently educated on the Bandeja Paisa, what’s a good place to try it?

Most restaurants in the Antioquia region are a great bet for some delicious Bajenda Paisa, among other traditional food.

Additionally, you can also try out Fulanitos in the Valle del Cauca region. If you’re thirsty, wash it down with one of Colombia’s famous drinks.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about a great main course, head over to our blog and check out some amazing Colombian desserts!

Have you developed an appetite for Colombian cuisine yet? Well, you are in luck, you can shop for traditional Colombian foods at our online store today!

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