Bolivian cuisine is influenced by the indigenous people of the Andes and the Spanish. Staples of the country include corn, potato and beans. The Spanish brought with them rice and wheat, along with beef, pork and chicken. The Bolivian’s main meal is lunch which is a lavish affair, followed by a siesta. They then drink tea and biscuits in the afternoon at cafes, followed by a later light meal. A main course and an afternoon-tea style biscuit seem like good choices for today’s meal.
Amongst the hundreds of cookery books on the shelves in the kitchen I knew there was a South American one somewhere. I eventually founds it, dusted it off and went about bookmarking any recipe that mentioned Bolivia as its origin.
On a roll following the completion of Benin and Bhutan in one weekend I set about making the biscuits on Sunday evening as a post-work wind down. I found an interesting sounding corn-biscuit in the desert section sandwiched together with dulche de leche and sprinkled with coconut. Luckily (and surprisingly) I had a tin of dulche de leche left over in the cupboard from my Argentinian adventure.
The biscuits are called Alfajores de maicena. The dough is made from 225g cornflour (yes – cornflour this time not corn meal), 100g butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of dried yeast and the rind of a lemon.All the ingredients are mixed together and rested for a while and then baked at 250 degrees C for 5 minutes. I was curious as to how they’d taste as I’ve never used cornflour to bake with before but they were lovely!
I left them to cool for a while (after eating a few for quality control purposes) and then sandwiched them together with dulche de leche. If you want to know how I made the dulche de leche, check out my post from Argentina. The biscuits were then sprinkled with dessicated coconut. Quite an odd combination of light biscuit, lemon flavour and caramel but they were really tasty!
For a main I found a lovely blog post written by a lady who now lives in the USA, reminiscing about her youth in Bolivia:
Silpancho does seem to be a typical Bolivian food, especially common in the city of Cochabamba which is in central Bolivia. Silpancho is a fat-laden, carb-laden meal, not ideal for dieters! It is an odd sounding plateful; a base layer of white rice, followed by a layer of par-boiled then fried sliced potatoes, then a layer of super-thin breaded and fried steak. All of this is topped off with a salsa and fried egg! The salsa varies in content; mine followed the recipe from the blog post above and included tomato, green pepper and red onion with a vinegar and oil dressing.
Building up the Silpancho:
I can’t say I was hugely looking forward to this; I thought it’d be a bit bland but it was really lovely when a little of everything was eaten together. The vinegar in the dressing, the crunchy peppers and the egg yolk really livened up the meat and potato.