Sunday, 28 February 2010

Paraguay - Cuisine

I set myself a challenge of making three traditional Paraguayan dishes.  I took ideas from different sources, but probably the best source I found for Paraguayan recipes was which has a free PDF version of Flavours of Paraguay:  A Cookbook by Lynn Van Houten

Payagua Mascada

The first dish I made was Payagua Mascada which are cassava patties with beef and onion.  I'd never cooked cassava before and had no idea how to prepare this root, so it was fun finding out - I watched a video on YouTube of a woman in Africa preparing cassava root, so I took my lead from her.

Cassava has an unusual texture and taste.  The peel is almost like a bark and I couldn't help feeling that I was eating some kind of tree.  I fried some minced beef and onion, boiled the cassava and mashed it, mixing all the ingredients together (with cumin, salt, garlic and cornflour), then made patties which I fried on a pan.

Sopa Paraguayana

Probably, the most traditional dish in Paraguay, Sopa Paraguayana is a type of cornbread.  I've made cornbread before, by mixing cornflour with wheat flour, however this bread is cornflour only, lots of cheese and milk, also fried onions and tomatoes, which was really delish!


My main dish was Zoo-Tosopy, a traditional Guarani beef stew.  The recipe said I should boil the minced beef in water, but I couldn't bring myself to do that, so I made sure the minced beef had cooked through properly before adding water to it. 

I then fried onions, tomatoes and plantain, adding them to the beef, with some long-grain rice and a dash of hot-pepper sauce.  Just like cassava, I had never cooked plantain before, so that was cool and the banana aroma was tantalising.  The overall taste was a bit bland, so I would recommend having some hot-pepper sauce to hand as a garnish, or perhaps using tinned tomatoes, to give the stew a more tomatoey taste.  My pot was probably a bit too small as well, just about managed to get everything in!

It took me about three hours to prepare all three dishes.  I'm not sure whether these dishes are meant to go together, but I wanted to learn how to cook cassava and plantain, and I think the tastes kind of complemented each other.  I ended up making a lot of food, so I imagine we'll be freezing some of it.  The whole lot cost me about 14 GBP, which is approximately $21 and 99,000 PYG (Paraguay Guarani).  

Image credits 

All photos were taken by me.    

Post a Comment