Llanos Venezolanos is a region that includes different states of Venezuela characterized by extensive savannahs, varied vegetation and fauna, hot and humid climate and perfect conditions for livestock and agriculture.
The gastronomy of the Región Llanera is very varied and rich, one of the most outstanding dishes is the "Cachapa". This food combines the flavor of the salty with the sweet and is often accompanied with a cheese that melts easily, butter and "carne en vara" (beef cooked in fathoms). In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about cachapa, and probably at the end you will be encouraged to prepare one.
Cachapa is a fine ground corn cake cooked in budare that is usually accompanied with "queso e' mano" and spread with butter. It is similar to a pancake (hotcakes), the difference is that it is made from a very tender corn to make a kind of lumpy dough. This dish is also consumed in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and is usually called in other ways, for example, arepa de choclo, changa, chorreada, maíz jojotoor tortilla de choclo.
The origin of the cachapa is attributed to the Venezuelan central region, the indigenous people who inhabited Miranda cultivated corn, a cereal that was worshipped and considered of divine origin.
It is a source of fiber and starches, proteins, lipids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, E and C, fiber and mineral salts such as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, sodium and phosphorus. Corn grain germ contains an oil that does not contain cholesterol, has low calcium content and high phosphorus level, like most cereals. Zinc is essential for the activity of more than 70 enzymes and is part of proteins that act as hormone receptors and are involved in growth.
Cachapa is consumed in any corner of Venezuela, however, the way of preparation, the flavor and the accompaniments will depend on the region and the taste of each person. In the eastern part of the country and areas of the Venezuelan plains, cachapas tend to be drier and firmer due to the type of corn used, and sweeter because more sugar is added. Cachapas in Margarita are salty, larger and harder in consistency than those from the central region of the country.
Other variations of the cachapa can be found in restaurants and stores, for example, stuffed with yellow cheese and ham. They are also usually accompanied with chorizo or bacon.
There is also another food with the same flavor of the cachapa but in a different presentation known as cachapa de hoja or cachapa de olla, this is a corn bun wrapped in corn husks and then cooked in water, its shape is similar to that of the hallaca.
In Venezuela, cachapas are readily available on roadsides, in the city center or in small establishments and restaurants. They can be bought ready and refrigerated in supermarkets or the mixture in packages in the form of flour, ready to be prepared by adding water and/or oil. For example, Empresas Polar commercialize "Cachapas P.A.N" a mixture with the delicious flavor of jototo, to prepare cachapas in only 3 steps: Mix with water, rest and cook.
The ingredients needed for 2 or 3 servings are the following: 2 cups shelled corn cobs, 1/4 cup milk, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 pinch of salt and sugar to taste. For the preparation, the cobs are shelled and cut with a knife and 2 cups are measured. Place the corn, 2 tablespoons of flour, milk, egg, salt and a pinch of sugar in the blender until the mixture is homogeneous. If the dough looks too liquid, more flour can be added to make it more consistent. In a lightly greased and very hot non-stick griddle or frying pan, pour the mixture with a ladle and spread it so that they are round, cook on one side and then on the other, just like a pancake.
In Venezuela it is typically eaten with queso de mano, queso telita or guayanés, or any type of white cheese and butter. But it can also be served with any other cheese, with ham, cebú cheese, butter or margarine, chicharrón and various combined ingredients.
There are many ways to eat Cachapa and any recipe can be adjusted to personal taste to modify the flavor, consistency and texture. If where you live it is difficult to get the traditional ingredients for cachapas, you can substitute the tender corn (jojoto, mazorca) for frozen corn and the “queso de mano” for mozzarella cheese, or some soft cheese that melts easily. In any case, you can also try the cachapas mixes marketed by some brands, which make the procedure much easier. The cachapa may look like a pancake but it is not, its flavor is exceptional and you have to try it!