I am crazy about street food. I think that there is nothing more authentic when travelling, than trying out the street food that the locals love.
Llauchas are one of Bolivia’s ultimate street foods. They are cheesy ‘Empanadas’ that are sold very early in the morning in the streets of La Paz (where I was born), offering an option for breakfast-on-the-go.
Empanadas are basically small pastry or bread dough filled parcels that are baked or fried. Different versions of the same concept – such as the Indian Samosas, the Italian Calzone, the Cornish Pasties in the UK and even the Chinese Spring Rolls -exist across the world, but Empanadas are hugely popular across Latin America and one can find many varieties of sweet of savoury ones.
This is a great recipe, adapted from one that a very good friend of my mum shared with her a few years ago. It’s a bit more refined than the Llaucha you would find on the streets and has the added twist of containing a bit of Aji Colorado, which is a typical Bolivian dried chilli powder or paste, that adds colour and heat to many Bolivian dishes.
The process is a bit laborious, but once you bite into one, still warm from the oven, you will agree that it was well worth it!
First you need to make a Bechamel or White sauce the night before.
White Sauce Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup of Flour
– 1 teaspoon of Fair Trade Sugar
– 3-4 teaspoons of Aji Colorado, or any chilly powder you like, to taste.
– 2 cups of milk
– 5 cups of cheese (I used a combination of grated Feta and Cheddar, which worked perfectly)
– 1 tablespoon of butter
1) Mix all the ingredients, except for the cheese in a saucepan.
2) Heat on a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the sauce thickens up.
3) Take off the heat and wait until it cools down, then place in the fridge overnight.
4) You will add the cheese to it the sauce when the pastry is ready and you are about to start making the Llauchas.
Pastry – Ingredients
– 1 Tablespoon of dried yeast
– 1 Teaspoon of Fair Trade Sugar
– 1 cup of warm water
– 4 cups of flour
– 200 gr of lard
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 2 Free Range Egg Yolks
The pastry is amazing. It’s quite naughty because of the lard, but it makes such a soft dough and once baked it is unbelievably soft and fluffy.
2) Mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water.
3) Sift the flour and add the salt, eggs and lard.
4) Add the liquid bit by bit and knead the dough, until it all comes together and is nice and soft.
6) Mix the cheese with the white sauce.
7) Now you have to seal the little parcels. Place about a heaped tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the middle and then fold over, ‘tucking’ the cheese in. Squeeze and fold over, repeating until the end.
9) Bake for 10-12 minutes… check them often! if the cheese starts to seep out, take them out!
10) Place them in a cooling wrack for a few minutes to firm up and cool down.
Serve! They are usually accompanied by Api, which is a thick warm drink made of a traditional purple maize… but a cup of strong Fair Trade Coffee will work very well!