Unusual Fact: Colombia is classed as a “mega-diverse” country, ranking as the 2nd most biodiverse country in the world. It has the highest amount of species by area in the world, including the most endemic species of butterflies, the most orchid species, the most amphibian species and more species of bird than all of Europe and North America combined.
While my friend Emma-Kate has just left Peru this week we are arriving in Colombia which is next door.
This Colombian was similar to the one we had for Brazil. What I mean is that the stew that we had for mains is, well, almost similar. They both have chicken and coconut milk. But what differs the two is that the Brazilian meal used more stews and this Colombian one uses more spices.
This stew had incredible flavour. All of the spices mixed with tomato and coconut. It is a match made in heaven. When I was looking for recipes for Colombia, there was so many good-looking ones but what really sold me on this one from 196 Flavours (who have finished their around the world cooking journey) was the fact that there was vanilla in it. I have never had a savoury dish with vanilla in it before.
But what really made this dish was the fried plantains on the side. Unfortunate for the umpteenth time we were unable to source real plantains so we bought some green bananas instead. These added another textural element and added some sweetness. A spoonful with some stew, some rice and a piece of plantains is perfect.
The dessert took tropical fruit to a whole new level. The two sauces were quite different, the very sweet berry syrup and the tart passionfruit. I didn’t have any berry or passionfruit puree so we just used fresh passionfruit and frozen berries instead. The ice at the bottom adds crunch and the condensed milk is just delicious.
The fruits we used were pineapple, mango, strawberry and banana. Just be careful on two points. The ice melts quickly once crushed, even in the middle of winter when we made this. And the pineapple and berry sauces are quite strong taste, you don’t need much. The recipe is from My Colombian Recipes.
Recipe of Pollo en Salsa Coco
– 1 lb of chicken (breast or thighs)
– 1 cup of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
– 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
– 1 large onion, diced
– 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
– 1 cup of coconut milk
– 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
– 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds, ground
– 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
– a few thread of saffron, diluted in a 2 tablespoons of hot water
– cilantro for garnishing
– olive oil
– White rice
– Fried plantains
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Place the chicken and cook for a few minutes or until golden brown on all sides.
Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Add onions, garlic and red pepper to the pan.
Cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes.
Add tomatoes, coconut milk, cumin, mustard seeds and saffron and cook, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes.
Return chicken to the pan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, add vanilla, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.
Add salt and pepper.
Stir in chopped cilantro and serve hot with white rice and/or fried plantains.
- 1 cup diced strawberries
- 1 cup sliced banana
- 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
- 1 cup diced mango
- Sweet condensed milk to your taste
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- Maraschino cherries for garnish
- Straws and spoon for serving
Passion Fruit Syrup
- 2 cups passion fruit (maracuyá) pulp
- 1/2 cup of water
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 2 cups Colombian blackberry(mora) pulp
- 1/2 cup of water
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- Dice all fruit to bite size. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To make the syrups: Combine water, fruit pulp and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Continue cooking the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, and you have a thick mixture. Let the syrup cool in the refrigerator before using.
- When ready to assemble: Crush the ice in a blender or food processor.
- Set plastic cups or other serving glasses on a work surface. Add about 1/2 cup of crushed iced, drizzle passion fruit syrup and berry syrup over ice.Add some condensed milk on top.
- Place 1 pile of fruit on top of the ice. Drizzle more condensed milk on top of the fruit. Garnish with shredded coconut and a cherry.