Carimañola (or caribañola) is a popular recipe from the Caribbean coast of Colombia, as well as Panama. It is similar to an empanada, except mashed yuca (cassava) is used as the wrapper. It is often served for breakfast, but also as a snack or appetizer.
Carimañolas can be found throughout Latin America under various names. In other regions of Colombia, including the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Cauca Valley and Coffee Triangle, it is called pastel de yuca. In the Santander department of Colombia, it is called empanada de yuca.
In Costa Rica, milk, flour and margarine are added to the cassava dough to make enyucados. In Porto Rico, you will find a similar recipe called alcapurria, where the dough can be made with yuca or green plantains. In Brazil, this snack has a conic shape, is filled with chicken salad is called coxinha.
Yuca is a starchy tuberous root that we already used a few times on 196 flavors. Also called cassava, manioc or tapioca, we used this root in various recipes from Central America, the Caribbean and Africa, either in its fresh form or as cassava flour .
Carimañola consists of mashed cassava, which is filled with beef, chicken or cheese, depending on the area where it is prepared. These snacks are then deep fried and served with condiments like aji or suero.
Aji is the condiment I used. It is a spicy garlicky sauce that is very easy to make (click here for the recipe). Suero, also called suero costeño or suero atollabuey, is a fermented milk-based condiment from Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region.
It is difficult to determine the history of this dish, although the etymology of the word carimañola appears to come from carmañola which derives from the French carmagnole. Carmagnole was a short jacket worn by working-class militants called sans-culottes adopted from the Piedmontese peasant costume whose name derives from the town of Carmagnola. These jackets which became fashionable in Paris during the French Revolution (1789-1799) gave the name to the song “carmagnole” which was the most popular song during the French revolution.
It is possible the name of this dish comes from the times of the French Revolution, and it refers to cassava wrapping the filling as “a jacket”.
The truth is that Panama and Colombia share a tradition that surely comes from the era in which both countries were one. Indeed, the Viceroyalty of New Granada (jurisdiction of the Spanish Empire) included not only Colombia and Panama, but also Ecuador and Venezuela. Colombia and Panama separated over time, but both countries now share a number of culinary traditions.
- 1½ lb yuca (frozen or fresh ), peeled and cut in large chunks
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 scallion , chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ lb ground beef
In a large pot, place the yuca, salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 25 minutes or until fork tender.
Drain the yuca and remove any fiber from the center. Using a potato masher, mash the yuca, cover and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions, red bell pepper and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, scallions, cumin, salt, black pepper and cook for about 1 minute, stirring often.
Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more.
Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning and let it cool.
Divide the yuca mixture into 10 balls. Make a hole through the center of each ball with your finger.
Place about 1 tablespoon of meat filling and gently close the ball, giving an oval shape.
In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil and heat to 350 F.
Add the carimañolas to hot oil and cook about 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown, turning them often.
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with ají.