Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
Last week we were in Brazil and luck would have it that this week, we’re only one country over in Bolivia. I must admit that Bolivia was never really on my radar. But after this week, I want Bolivia to be one of my first post-pandemic trips. From La Paz, to the salt flats, to the Valley de la Luna, this country looks absolutely spectacular.
The national dish of Bolivia is the Salteña, a crescent-shaped pocket of dough filled with a meat-based filling. Similar to the Sambusas we made from Somalia, but different in many ways; mainly, Salteñas are baked, not fried. Across lists of top Bolivian foods, Salteñas are highlighted at #1 on this list by TasteAtlas, #1 on this list by CultureTrip, #1 on this list by NomadParadise, #1 on this list by Flavorverse, #2 on this list by Trip101, and #2 on this list by BolivianLife. With those kinds of ratings, we knew we had to try these.
For this dish, we went back to our trusted pals at 196Flavours. Boy, are we glad we found their site. We love that their recipes are validated by culinary experts or locals from the country, because sometimes it’s hard to find authentic recipes elsewhere that use ingredients readily available in rural Canada. Here is the recipe:
We started with our filling, which involved lots of prep work such as boiling and dicing potatoes, boiling and chopping eggs, grating bell peppers, and dicing and chopping many other veggies. We let that simmer while we prepared the dough. (We skipped the gelatin portion of this recipe as we didn’t have time to let the filling set).
My sister made the dough and she did an amazing job. We couldn’t get achiote locally so we mocked up a substitute with equal parts paprika, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder. This added a really nice flavour to the dough. We found it amped up the dough compared to our Somalian Sambusas and Australian Meat Pies. The hardest part was stuffing the dough, as was the issue with the Sambusas. Some popped open, but for the most part, they retained a really uniform shape.
The recipe calls for an 8-12 minute bake time, however, we found we needed 15 minutes. Perhaps our dough was too thick? Nonetheless, they tasted absolutely amazing and the texture was spot-on. We served our Salteñas with fried rice and ketchup with hot sauce. They were filling, delicious, and a satisfying meal.
Like our Somalian Sambusas and Australian Meat Pies, the Bolivian Salteñas were a lot of work. Would we want to eat them again? Absolutely. Would we want to sweat over the oven for a couple hours to make them again? Not so sure. We hope you try them and let us know what you think. Stay tuned for next week’s country!