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The Queen of Venezuelan Christmas - La Hallaca (EN)

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Written by   32
1 month ago

One of the most recognized and elaborate dishes that is presented in gastronomy is undoubtedly Hallaca. This masterpiece of our cuisine is the most traditional of the dishes that decorate the Christmas festivities in our Venezuela.

The Hallaca is the result of the historical process that our society has lived, From its covering of banana leaves to the details that adorn and make up its stew, passing through its main ingredient, the corn dough colored with onoto, the Halla is the expression most visible miscegenation of the Venezuelan. Each ingredient has its roots: the banana leaf, used by both the African black and the American Indian, is the wonderful wrapping that covers it; When we discover it, we bring our indigenous past to the present, since the corn dough colored with onoto is the one that welcomes us with its splendid yellow color; Then inside you can appreciate the arrival of the Spanish to these lands, chicken, pork and beef, olives, capers, raisins, all finely chopped, stewed and wonderfully distributed become part of an exquisite delicacy. Its ingredients, all start from different roots, complement each other harmoniously in the Hallaca, an expression of the miscegenation and color of which our people are part.

The word Halca comes from Guaraní and derives from the word "ayua" or "ayuar" which means to mix or stir, from these words it is presumed that "ayuaca" is a mixed thing, which due to linguistic deformation was renamed "ayaca". version presumes that the word comes from some aboriginal language of the west of the country, whose meaning is' wrapper 'or' bojote, whatever the origin of this word,

We know that the Hallaca "is completely Venezuelan, both for its name and for its preparation and it is the pride of our cuisine, since it without social distinctions appears splendid at everyone's Christmas table.

Venezuelans, providing a touch of wonderful taste and flavor to our Christmas.In the month of December when the Christmas festivities overflow with the joy of Venezuelan, the Hallaca is an important part of the celebration, they are exchanged, they are given away, they are sold ... in short, in the Christmas holidays for the Venezuelan, the well-known Hallaca cannot be missed.

For its preparation there are various recipes, because in each region of the country there are traditional recipes, in addition, as in most Venezuelan dishes, each family contributes its seasoning and varies its preparation.

The recipe for preparing Hallacas is divided into three parts:

  • The preparation of the stew

  • Preparation of the dough and conditioning of the leaves.

  • The preparation and cooking of the delicacy.

Ingredients for 50 Hallacas

  • Stew

1 kg of finely chopped pork leg.

2 kg of finely chopped beef

2 kg of chicken boiled and chopped (without bones)

1/2 Kg. Of cooked and finely chopped bacon

1 ½ Kg. Of onions finely diced

½ kg of garlic joint finely cut.

¼ Kg. Of chives finely cut.

¼ cup garlic peeled and crushed

½ cup of small capers.

1 Kg. Of red paprika without seeds and in Julienne

2 Kg of crushed seedless tomato.

1 cup raisins cup finely chopped sweet pepper

2/3 cup of corn flour



Oil with onoto

  • Ornament

1 Kg of paprika in julienne

½ Kg of bacon cooked in strips

½ Kg of pig in strips.

½ Kg of boneless breasts in strips

½ Kg of onion in rings

200grs. capers

400 grs of stuffed olives

½ kg of raisins

  • Leaves

50 pieces of banana leaves of about 30x30 cm.

50 pieces of banana leaves of about 20x20 cm.

50 strips of banana leaves of about 15x20 cm.

1 roll of wick

  • Mass

22 packages of cornmeal

5 cups of lard

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups of water


Onoto seeds


Start the first day making the stew, let it rest and reserve, the next day prepare the dough and the ornaments to assemble the hallacas.


Check that the meats do not have excess fat, and are cut into small cubes, cook each meat separately in boiling water, without completely softening, reserve the broths. In a large cauldron, sauté the onion and garlic in hot oil until transparent, add the garlic porro and chives and cook for about 5 minutes, add the paprika and sweet pepper, cook for a few more minutes and add the meats, leave them that they are incorporated and add all the other ingredients, leaving last the tomatoes and the wine, salt and pepper to taste.

Separately dissolve the papelón in water and the corn flour. You should check that the stew does not dry out and add chicken or beef broth. Add the dissolved paper and cornmeal, and stir with a wooden paddle, add a little color with oil with onoto. Let cook for about 40 minutes, until it is thick. Let stand and reserve.

The next day you can prepare the dough, the leaves and the decorations to assemble the Hallacas.The dough is prepared by pouring the cornmeal into a wooden pan or a container large enough to be able to knead it, and adding some lard to it. (1 cup) boiled with onoto, the butter is strained to discard the onoto, and another without coloring (3 cups), the salt is added and everything is blended well, 3 cups of chicken broth are added little by little and it is knead again until you get a smooth dough.

The preparation and cooking of the delicacy

Arrange all the decorations on a large counter, the leaves are removed from the thick vein that brings to the shore and they are washed very well, dried with a cloth and arranged on the counter, place the dough and the stew so that they are at your fingertips and surrender to the art of Hallacas, do not rush, take your time, practice will make you a master.

Now, first you are going to take a leaf of the largest and grease it with a little bit of butter, place a ball of dough in the center of the leaf and thin it with your fingers, creating a symmetrical circumference, then add the stew already cold and on it place the ornaments harmoniously distributed. Then fold across the wide part of the leaf, creating a fold until it is closed, fold the ends inwards and wrap it with the smallest leaf, then take the strip of leaf, secure the find in the middle, tie it with wick crossing it twice in every direction.

When you have several snacks ready, place them in a large pot with boiling water for an hour, remove them and drain them, let them cool completely, and if possible wait a whole day to serve them so their flavor can be better appreciated. To heat them, put them in boiling water for 20 minutes, remove and drain.

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Written by   32
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