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May 13, 2021

Venezuela is a country that is characterized by the beautiful land it has and the beautiful crops it produces. Thanks to the varied climate in our country, you can harvest different things in different parts of the country, such as pumpkins, tomatoes, avocado, cocoa, corn, beans, peanuts, but today we will focus on the "aji dulce".

The "ají dulce"

It is considered a vegetable that has the shape of bell pepper, but with a significant sweet flavor, although sometimes it can become spicy. It can take three colors, green, yellow, and red, all depending on how long it lasts in the bush. It is very often used in the preparation of stews, since it brings a good taste and smell to food, making it one of the favorite ingredients of Venezuelans.

Let's see how it originated.

What is the origin of "aji dulce"?

            Even the "aji dulce" is a vegetable that is found in many places in Latin America, but it is originated in Venezuela, since the Aztecs consumed them a lot approximately 7,500 years ago, when the colonization arrived Cristóbal Colón named these fruits "Pimientos" because its flavor reminded him of the black pepper that was consumed a lot in Spain, later its name was changing until it became as we know it today "aji dulce". There are also variations of this fruit, which we will name and explain below.

What are the types of "ají dulce"?

There are several types of "aji dulce", these variations depend on where they are harvested and the seeds used for. What are these types?

  • The "ají dulce pepón" is common in the capital area (Caracas) and is characterized by not containing any spice and its balloon shape. Generally, it is green, but if it is left longer in the harvest it usually changes to red, purple, or yellow.
  • "aji dulce llanero" is generally concentrated in the state of Guárico, although it is marketed in the area of Caracas, is characterized by having an elongated shape and a much more marked flavor, sometimes this usually comes out spicy, but if they are placed very spicy the bush is cut and discarded.
  • The "aji dulce oriental" is grown in the states of Sucre, Anzoátegui and Monagas and is characterized by its intense red color, its elongated shape and its strong flavor when cooking. It has no trace of being spicy.

With these, we can prepare multiple dishes as we will see below.

What dishes can we prepare with "aji dulce"?

            The "aji dulce" is used to prepare everyday dishes, whether to season rice, prepare a sauce or stew, Venezuelans consume it almost daily, so in our traditional dishes, it cannot be missing.

Let's start talking about the "Pabellon", this was the food of the slaves of the colonization, it was a collection of leftovers that consisted of white rice, shredded meat, "caraotas" (black beans) and slices. Nowadays it is the traditional dish par excellence of the country and it is consumed by all Venezuelans.

Pabellon Recipe

For its preparation we need

  • White rice
  • Meat for “esmechada”
  • Caraotas
  • Ripe plantain
  • Tomatoes
  • "Ají dulce”
  • Chives
  • Onion
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Flavorings

For the preparation we must begin by preparing the white rice as we traditionally prepare it, while this is ready, we place to cook our meat, in a big pot with abundant water, as well as the beans.

After the meat is soft, take it out to a container and start to shred it. In the water that was cooked add a sauce of tomatoes, onion, chives and our famous "aji dulce", then add the meat and let it all cook together until the sauce is cooked.

With our beans you have to let them soften and when they are soft adding onion, chives, "aji dulce" and seasonings, generally you add a condiment called "Cubito Maggi" which is a league of seasonings and spices in the form of cubes.

To conclude, fry the plantains in slices until they are golden brown. 

Finally, plate it and it is ready to taste and enjoy.

Now let's talk about the "asado negro", although it is not very well known outside the country, it is very common to consume it inside the country. It is made with meat in a cylindrical shape together with a sauce made of "papelón" and "ají dulce".

Asado Negro Recipe

To prepare it we need the following:

  • Meat in cylindrical cut to colloquially known as "muchacho redondo".
  • "Papelón"
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Chives
  • "ají dulce"

It starts by placing the "Papelón" in a large pot until it dissolves and becomes a caramel, then add the meat and let it caramelize together with the "Papelón" after a few minutes add water and let it boil until the meat is completely ready.

While it is cooking the sauce is prepared, which is a mixture of tomatoes, onion, chives, "aji dulce" and any other seasoning of your preference.

When the meat is completely cooked, it is cut into circular pieces and the sauce is added to finish cooking and ready to be enjoyed. This is perfect to serve with rice, slices or salads.

 

Tell us if you have tried "aji dulce" and would you dare to try some of these dishes? We promise you won't regret it.