Paraguay is a small landlocked country located in the heart of South America. Despite its small size, Paraguay is a country rich in culture and history. Its cuisine is a reflection of its diverse heritage, blending indigenous, Spanish, and Guaraní influences. Paraguayan cuisine is known for its hearty dishes, grilled meats, and fresh ingredients.
In this guide, we will explore some of the most delicious and popular dishes in Paraguay. From traditional stews to grilled meats and refreshing drinks, we will take a closer look at what makes Paraguayan cuisine so unique.
Traditional Paraguayan Stews
One of the most popular dishes in Paraguay is the traditional stew called “sofrito.” Sofrito is a hearty and flavorful stew that combines beef or chicken with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and spices. The stew is typically made with onion, garlic, tomato, bell pepper, and paprika. The vegetables are sautéed in oil until they are soft and then the meat is added. The stew is then left to simmer for several hours until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together.
Another traditional Paraguayan stew is “sopa paraguaya,” which is a cornbread soup. The soup is made with cornmeal, cheese, eggs, and milk. The ingredients are mixed together and baked in the oven until the cornbread is golden brown. The cornbread is then cut into squares and served in a bowl with a rich chicken or beef broth.
Grilled Meats And Asados
Asados, or barbecues, are a big part of Paraguayan culture. Grilled meats are a staple of the Paraguayan diet, and there are many different cuts and preparations to choose from. One of the most popular cuts of meat is “asado de tira,” which is a strip of beef ribs that are grilled over an open flame until they are crispy and juicy. The meat is seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices and then grilled to perfection.
Another popular dish is “matambre,” which is a thin cut of beef that is rolled with vegetables and spices and then grilled. The filling can include onions, bell peppers, garlic, and olives, among other ingredients. The rolled meat is then tied with string and grilled until it is crispy and brown.
Chorizo, or sausage, is another favorite among Paraguayans. The sausage is made with ground pork or beef and seasoned with paprika, garlic, and other spices. The sausage is grilled until it is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Chorizo is often served with bread, chimichurri sauce, and a cold beer.
Empanadas And Pastries
Empanadas are one of the most popular snacks in Paraguay and are a staple in the country’s cuisine. They are small, handheld pastries that are typically filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, or a combination of ingredients. The pastry dough used for empanadas in Paraguay is usually made with cornmeal, which gives the pastry a distinct flavor and texture. The filling for the empanadas is seasoned with various spices and herbs, giving it a unique flavor that is often spicy and aromatic.
There are many different varieties of empanadas in Paraguay, depending on the region and the filling used. In the eastern region of the country, empanadas are typically filled with beef or chicken, while in the northern region, empanadas are often filled with pork or goat meat. In some areas, empanadas are also filled with cheese, onions, and other vegetables.
In addition to empanadas, Paraguay also has a variety of other pastries that are popular throughout the country. One of the most popular is “chipa,” a savory bread made with cornmeal, cheese, and eggs. The bread is often flavored with anise or other spices and can be baked or fried. Chipa is a staple of Paraguayan breakfasts and is often served with coffee or tea.
Another popular pastry is “mbeyú,” which is a flatbread made with cassava flour and cheese. The dough is mixed with cheese and formed into a flatbread that is then cooked on a griddle until it is crispy and golden brown. Mbejú is often served with mate, a traditional South American tea, or as a snack with chimichurri sauce.
“Pastel mandi’o” is another popular pastry in Paraguay, made with mandioca (cassava) dough and filled with meat and vegetables. The dough is rolled out and filled with a mixture of ground beef, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and other vegetables. The pastry is then folded into a half-moon shape and fried until it is golden brown and crispy.
In Paraguay, pastries are often enjoyed as a snack or a light meal, and are usually served with a dipping sauce or salsa on the side. They are also commonly sold by street vendors and can be found in markets and bakeries throughout the country.
Desserts And Sweets
Paraguayans have a sweet tooth, and there are many delicious desserts and sweets to choose from. One of the most popular desserts is “mbejú,” which is a cake made with cassava flour and cheese. The cake is often flavored with anise or other spices and is traditionally served with mate, a popular South American tea.
Another popular dessert is “arroz con leche,” which is a rice pudding made with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. The rice is cooked in the milk until it is tender, and then the sugar, cinnamon, and raisins are added. The pudding is then chilled in the refrigerator until it is set.
Paraguayans also enjoy “dulce de leche,” which is a sweet caramel-like sauce made with condensed milk and sugar. The sauce is often used as a topping for desserts or spread on bread and pastries.
Paraguayans love their beverages, and there are many refreshing drinks to choose from. One of the most popular drinks is “terere,” which is a cold tea made with yerba mate, lemon juice, and herbs. The tea is traditionally served in a gourd and drunk through a metal straw called a “bombilla.” Terere is a popular drink in the hot summer months and is said to have many health benefits.
Another popular drink is “cocido,” which is a hot tea made with yerba mate, sugar, and milk. The tea is often flavored with anise or other spices and is a popular breakfast drink.
Paraguay’s cuisine is a reflection of its diverse heritage, blending indigenous, Spanish, and Guaraní influences. From traditional stews and grilled meats to empanadas and sweet desserts, Paraguay offers a unique culinary experience that is sure to delight foodies from all over the world.
Whether you are looking for a hearty meal or a refreshing drink, Paraguay has something for everyone. So, if you are ever in South America, be sure to try some of the delicious dishes that Paraguay has to offer.