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 plantains or 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!