Colombia has a large variety of traditional dishes and many completely different ingridients are used depending on the region. The Paisa Region, for example, is known for a popular dish called Bandeja Paisa. The soup Ajiaco, for example, is most common in the Bogotá Region. The Atlantic Region and the Pacific as well as Cali also have their own cuisine. Because of the cultural diversity in Colombia it is not possible to say that there is only one Colombian Cuisine in the country. Every region has ist own taste so it is very interesting to try all the different dishes while travelling through the country. However there are some dishes that can be found throughout the entire country.
One of the most common foods for breakfast is Arepa which is made of corn flour. The 'Plain Arepa' (Arepa Limpia) can be eaten with a fried egg on top, cheese or anything that tastes good. There are many different types of Arepas including the Arepa de Huevo (with egg inside) and the Arepa de Yuca.
In some regions it is also common to eat soup as breakfast. Changua is one of those soups which is eaten in the Andes Region, especially in Boyacá and Cundinamarca. The Changua is made of heated up milk and boiled egg. The people of the Caribbean Region eat Sancocho, which is a soup made of fish, for breakfast.
One of the most typical dishes is Arroz con Pollo, meaning rice with chicken. This can be eaten in many different restaurants.
In Bogotá and the Andean Region, the Ajiaco is a very popular dish. Ajiaco is a potato soup with chicken breast, potatos, onions and corn. The different types of potatos used for the soup give it an unforgetable taste. The soup gets served with rice, avocado, cream and capers.
If you enjoy pork, Lechona is the right food for you. It is a small grilled pig of at least 25 kg weight mostly common in Tolima. It is stuffed with rice, yellow peas and corn. Another popular dish from the Tolimo region are Tamales. They are corn cakes which are cooked inside a palm leaf. Tamales are filled with potatoes, rice, peas, carrots and chicken. However, Tamales are also popular in other regions of Colombia.
In the Colombian Llanos Region it is very common to eat barbecued meat. Also typical in this region is freshwater fish from the local rivers. The kitchen of the Llanos Region has some influences of the Amazon Region.
In the Antioquia Department and Paisa region, the most popular dish is the 'Bandeja Paisa'. Its main ingredients are rice, meat, fried eggs, sausage and red beans.
The Bandeja Paisa varies from places to place and can also have some additional ingredients such as black pudding, avocado and chicharon. Also in other Regions than the Paisa Region it is possible to order Bandeja Paisa in restaurants. In Cundinamarca, for example, there are some different varieties of Bandeja Paisa where the pork gets replaced with chicken breast.
The most common dish of the Caribbean Region is fried Red Snapper (a complete fish), usually accompanied with coconut-rice, Salad and fried plantain.
Also popular in the Caribbean Region is 'arepa' which is made of corn-flour. Typical forms of the arepa are: Fried Arepa with egg inside, Arepa with cheese and Plain Arepa (arepa limpia).
One typical Colombian soup is called Sancocho and eaten in all regions. However, Sancocho is not only a typical Colombian dish as you can also find this soup in Venezuela, Canary Islands, Ecuador, Peru and many other countries.
One of the most common deserts in Colombia is Arrequipe, also known as 'Dulce de Leche', which is a caramel. Arequipe can be eaten together with some thin waffles (also called 'Obleo') and are a perfect desert or snack during the day. Other deserts are 'Arroz con Leche' (Milk Rice), Flan, Guava Jelly, and 'Mazamorra', a corn-based desert.
Melado is another popular desert. It is a syrup made of panela (sugarloaf). Besides all the deserts described here, Colombian's can choose between a large number of fruits which grow in the country. Because of the different climate zones fruits that grow in Colombia include strawberries, blackberries, pears, apples, oranges and many tropical fruits such as mangos, bananas, mamoncillos, guanábanas, lulos and many more.
The Pandebono is a great snack made of yuca, flour, egg and sugar and can be eaten while drinking a hot chocolate, coffee or juice. It is served hot and tastes incredibly good. In Colombia you can find many bread-like snacks such as the Almojábana which is made of corn-flour, sugar, eggs, butter and cheese.
Colombian's don't only eat Arepas as breakfast but also as a snack in between. Similar to the Arepa are the Empanadas which are made with the same corn flour but have a filling inside. Depending on the region, this filling can vary from cheese, eggs, chicken and beef to jam made of tropical fruits.