Arepas are one the most popular foods in Venezuela and Colombia. They’re served in almost every home and are the equivalent of tortillas in Mexico and bread in Italy.The Venezuelan Arepas has its origins hundreds of years ago; cooked by the various indigenous tribes across the areas that is now Venezuela and Colombia. Arepas can be prepared for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. depending on the region of the country where it is prepared, the arepa varies in cooking technique, main ingredient, color and filling.
Having said that the main ingredient of Arepas is corn, the most common and internationally recognized brand of Venezuelan pre-cooked white corn meal is the P.A.N. brand. It might be difficult to find, because I could not see it in any supermarket. Instead, I used instant Masa Harina. To make Masa Harina, the corn kernels are removed from the cobs, dried, then are soaked in water with lime (the chemical) or lye until the skins on the kernels loosen and can be easily removed. The kernels are then mashed, dried, and ground into flour.
Shape the dough into palm sized flying saucers,
… then cook them until golden brown on both sides.
Transfer them to the preheated oven and cook them for 15 minutes. While the Arepas are baking, prepare the guacamole and heat up the black beans.
- For the Arepas:
- 2 cups warm/hot water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups instant masa harina (masarepa)
- For the guacamole:
- 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
- Lime juice
- Fresh Cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- A few cherry tomatoes, diced
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 red birdseye chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped (optional)
- To make the Arepas:
- In a bowl, mix Masa Harina with salt.
- Add water and oil.
- Knead together the flour and water with one hand (keep one hand clean to add more flour or water if needed) until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Don’t overwork the dough. Stop as soon as the dough is free of any lumps.
- If the dough sticks to your fingers add a little more flour. If it is too dry add a tiny bit of water. The perfect dough should roll easily into a large ball without cracking.
- Take a small fistful of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten it out so it looks like a flyer saucer. No cracks should appear on the outside (if so, add a bit of water). Neither should the saucer stick to your hand (add flour).
- Preheat the oven to 375F (170C) and heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a tiny bit of olive oil if needed. Fry AREPAS on both sides until golden brown. Transfer them to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until they sound hollow when you tap them with a spatula.
- Meanwhile, prepare the guacamole:
- Mash the avocado, add lime juice to taste and stir in tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and coriander.
- On the stove, heat up the black beans.
- Remove the Arepas from the oven and let them cool off a bit. Slice them in half and fill them with the beans and the guacamole.