Hallaca is a dish from the cuisine of Venezuela. This dish is typically prepared by wrapping an assortment of ingredients in plantain leaves. Hallaca is also sometimes spelt as ‘hayaca’.
The popular version of hallaca recipe is ‘pastelle’ that is mainly consumed in Trinidad and Tobago and this dish is often misunderstood with ‘empanadas’.
There is a tradition to serve this dish at the special occasions and during holiday season, so the people in Venezuela prepare hallaca well in advance in large batches for the entire season of holidays.
The preparation of this dish enables the families in Venenezuela to gather collectively and this is the best part of this dish-making.
History and Origin of Hallaca Recipe
The origin of hallaca is based on a popular myth that in the colonial times, the plantain owners donate their leftover Christmas foods to their slaves who use to wrap the bits in the plantain leaves and cook further for more 2-3 hours.
Though there are many alternate stories related to the origin of the dish, but since ancient times it is considered the staple holiday food in Venezuela and it also shows the multicultural heritage of the country. This dish includes European, African and local Venezuelan ingredients that make this dish the representation of the food culture of various ethnicities.
Preparation of Hallaca Recipe
Hallaca is traditionally prepared in a plantain wrap that is oiled with the fat that is typically with the color of annatto cooking oil. On the plantain leaves, a round ball of corn dough is placed on which special ingredients are sprinkled. These ingredients may include various kinds of meats such as pork, chicken, lamb or beef. Even olives, capers and raisins are also added to increase the crunchiness and the richness of the dish.
The meats are usually stewed and added either single or in the combination. Pepper olives are highly popular in the modern day hallaca. Other ingredients that are included by the people outside Venezuela are boiled eggs, red pepper, chickpeas and various nuts.
The actual wrapping of the ingredients include folding the plantain leaf filled with dough and other ingredients in an oblong manner. The leaf is then tied with a string to give the shape of square. For final cooking, the square shaped wraps are boiled in water.
Once the hallaca is boiled at the desired level of time the wraps are taken out and drained. In some regions, the filling is cooked inside the wrap, but in most of the regions, the stuffing is cooked well in advance.
Prepared wrap can easily be frozen and it remains fresh for several weeks.
Serving and Eating of Hallaca Recipe
Boiled hallaca is unwrapped and served as it is on the plantain leaves. It can be accompanied with chicken salad, ham bread or any kind of plain bread. The cooked plantain wraps looks like golden red from the outside and tastes salty as well as sweet due to the presence of meats, olives and raisins.
During Christmas dinners in Venezuela, hallacas are traditionally served for the entire family.
Nutritional Facts Related to Hallaca Recipe
Hallaca is indeed a healthy dish because of various meats that provides protein and nuts and olives that are always beneficial and provides vitamins and other nutrients. Boiling is also a very healthy method of cooking.