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Taste the World: Colombian Empanadas


Empanadas are small baked or fried pastries that are featured in the cuisines of many Latin and Asian countries.

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Similar to small pasties, empanadas are usually stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables or sometimes fruit, but the ingredients vary for both the pastry and the stuffing, depending on where they are made.

This recipe for fried savoury beef and vegetable empanadas made with cornmeal pastry has been shared by Edmar Castaneda, a Colombian harpist playing with his group the Edmar Castaneda Trio at WOMADelaide (March 11 to 14) in Botanic Park.

Edmar Castaneda Trio will be participating in WOMADelaide’s Taste the World event, where musicians swap their instruments for cooking utensils and introduce festival-goers to the food of their homelands.


Edmar Castaneda. Photo: supplied

Colombian Empanadas



250g corn meal
½ tbsp salt
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup warm water


1 bunch spring onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
½ tbsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
500 g cooked beef, shredded
1 kg potatoes, peeled, chopped into chunks and cooked
1 ½ litres sunflower oil (for frying)


1 white onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ bunch coriander, chopped
Juice of 4 lemons
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tbsp salt
1 small green chilli (optional)


Mix together all the pastry ingredients to make a dough that is smooth and pliable. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat cook the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and onions until soft, then add the shredded meat and potatoes and set aside.

Mix together all the sauce ingredients and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Now take the dough and make little balls (about an inch across) and roll out into taco-size tortillas. Add a tablespoon of the filling to each and close it tight, making sure the filling is completely covered by the pastry so that it won’t leak out during frying.

When the empanadas are filled and closed, pour the sunflower oil into a saucepan, bring to high heat and fry in small batches until golden on all sides.

Drain on paper towels and serve with the sauce on the side.

Join local chef and food identity Rosa Matto and selected WOMADelaide artists at Taste the World as they celebrate the delicious food and fascinating cultures of their home countries, all entwined with musical interludes and intimate personal anecdotes. More information about Taste the World can be found here.

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