This is a very special recipe shared with us by Ana & Juan, two siblings born in Colombia and now living in different parts of the world. Sharing and making recipes, such as these sweetcorn arepas (arepas de choclo), from places we call home help us feel closer to each other when we are too far to hug. Thank you Ana Maria Millan and Juan for sharing a tasty treat and transporting us to your Mum’s Colombian Kitchen table, in that flat that was bought precisely because it could fit a table large enough to gather friends and family as its focal point of togetherness. Much love and respect to Ana’s wonderful Colombian Mama and all the Mamas many of us miss from afar! Thank you to Ana who shared this recipe and her words, which make up most of this post. Ana was born in Colombia and has been living in the UK for nearly 20 years.
Arepas are a traditional food of Latin America, and they come in many varieties. Some are made with different types of corn (e.g masa harina) or rice flour. They are eaten as part of a meal or as a meal itself. This recipe is made with young sweetcorn (choclo) and a mix of flours.
Ana says, ‘I like it because it is sweet, and also because it helps me bring together some of the components of my multi-cultural family: a Colombian recipe with Dutch cheese. My husband is Dutch so we try to make the most of both worlds. Although I only started making arepas after moving to the UK, this recipe takes me home, to my mum’s kitchen. The ideal way to have these is with Colombian hot chocolate, with cheese inside (but that’s another story).’
‘For us sharing food is very important. Growing up we always had dinner together – it was the time of the day when we would sit together and talk about our day and anything that was happening. And, that is something that I do with my family too – dinnertime is family time.’
What (feeds 2)
- 2 cups or 340g sweet corn kernels (use defrosted or tinned + drained)
- ½ cup or 110g flour – use either masa harina OR gluten free flour OR a mix of gluten free and fine cornmeal ground furtner in a stone pestle or mortar
- 1 teaspoon of softened butter or coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp. or around 60ml milk (dairy or vegetable)
- Pinch of sugar
- Place the sweetcorn in a food processor until it is mushy, but not smooth. Some kernels should be visible.
- Heat the milk and melt the butter of choice.
- Add the flours and sugar to the blender and blend till smooth.
- The batter should look like thick porridge but it should not be too stodgy. If it is too thick, dilute it with some more milk.
- Use a large non-stick pan to fit many small pancakes or a smaller to make 2-4 large ones.
- Heat a little bit of butter until melted. Pour the mixture in small or larger circle shapes. Flatten to about 1cm thickness (not too thin but a little bit more like an American or blueberry pancake).
- Cook on low heat until it is nice and golden for about 3-5 minutes.
- Flip over carefully so it doesn’t break. Put the sliced or grated cheese on top and cook for another 3-4 minutes. You can fold in half and flip over to melt cheese further.
- Serve and enjoy.
- My perfect Ana & Juan arepas used a mix of gluten free flour and fine cornmeal (used for cornbread) ground down further in a stone pestle and mortar.
- Gluten free flour arepas were the second best.
- Heating up the milk to melt the butter worked really well.
- After my third attempt, I realised that the best way to blend the mix well was to add all the ingredients to the blender after first blending the corn kernels
- I used round metal moulds/cooking rings to make my round arepas. It helped my shape them and spread them thinner but they were mostly 2cm thick. I made mine about 10cm wide so the recipe quantity yielded between 8-10 small arepas.
- I LOVED using oat milk and coconut oil in my arepas. Ana is right it enhances the arepa sweetness
- I LOVED Ana’s Colombian/Dutch family tradition of using Edam cheese for the filling. It’s saltiness counterbalanced the arepa sweetness perfectly.
- Torn shreds of mozzarella was the second best cheese to use.
- I didn’t always fold the arepa as mine were mostly small.
- I loved serving with vegan or crisped up real bacon. Yum!
- Yes, I did the full Colombian thing and had chocolate with those. However, sweetened milky coffee was amazing too.
This summer I am working on a very important project with Oasis Cardiff and Festival of Voice in Wales. It is called Refugee Food Stories. And it is all about recording the recipes of people who work at and are supported by Oasis, and upskilling/mentoring some amazing individuals. These recipes helped create a menu which you can try at the Oasis Food Trailer at the Wales Millennium Centre Hub at Festival of Voice between 7 and 10 June and 15 and 17 June.
This is a recipe from Sudan and most importantly of an amazing lady called Huda who has made Wales her new home. About a year ago I went to one of Oasis’s Cardiff Supper Clubs where Huda showed us how to make and eat these Sudanese meatballs. I left with images of her family feasting in backyards in celebration of their bonds and life. I left feeling a little bit closer to her and with my belly full and happy. This is her recipe, a nourishing and delicious dish. If you have not tried it yet make sure you visit the Oasis Trailer outside the Wales Millennium Centre and between the Pierhead building this weekend. And why not try to make it at home.
Ingredients (yields 5 portions)
- 500g minced lamb
- 1 onion (150g), finely grated or minced in a food processor
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1tsp ground pepper
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 50g parsley finely chopped
- 1tsp salt
- Flour (approx. half a cup)
- 1-2 cups vegetable oil to fry meatballs
Tomato & yoghurt sauce
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1lt passata
- ¼ cup water
- Up to 250g Greek yoghurt (strained)
- ½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 250g basmati rice
- 500ml water
- 1 small carrot grated
- 1 small handful frozen peas
- 1 heaped Tbsp butter salt (50g)
Yoghurt and tahini dip
- 125g yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove
- Pinch of salt
- 25g tahini
- Pinch chili powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Mix all the mince ingredients (apart from the flour) well in bowl with your hands.
- In a flat tray place ½ cup of flour and spread thinly.
- Place the vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan, cover and heat whilst rolling the meatballs.
- Roll the meatballs into small round balls (3-4cm diameter) and place in the floured tray. The recipe should yield around 25 meatballs.
- Flour the meatballs well by gently shaking in the baking tray until they are lightly covered in flour.
- Fry the meatballs between 6-7 minutes on medium heat, until they are browned. Remove and set aside.
- Add two tbsp of vegetable oil in a deep pot, heat, add the minced garlic for the sauce and stir fry for a couple of minutes on low heat.
- Add the passata, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, salt and some water and stir well.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble add the yoghurt, shake to mix.
- Take off the heat and stir quickly before returning to the hob.
- Add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
- To make the yoghurt and tahini drizzle, add all the sauce ingredients and mix well in a bowl.
- For the rice: add the rice, water, carrot and frozen peas to the boiling water and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
- Add the butter and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve a portion of rice with a ladle of 5 meatballs, a drizzled of the dip and a garnish of parsley (as would Huda).