Traditional Colombian Dish: What is Ajiaco?

A trip to Colombia doesn’t just involve discovering an exciting new culture or beautiful landmarks. It also means shoveling as much delicious food in your mouth as your stomach will allow. Of course, we’re not telling you to gorge yourself, but good luck trying to resist a steaming bowl of Ajiaco in your face.

What is Ajiaco?

Ajiaco is one of the many regional Colombian dishes you can’t leave the country without trying. It’s a hearty soup made from three different kinds of potatoes (criolla, sabanera and pastusa), chicken, guasca leaves, with a half an ear of corn splashed in for good measure. Most times, Ajiaco is accompanied by a plate of rice and a slice of avocado. A helping of capers and something similar to sour cream is sometimes provided to mix with the soup if you choose.

Where is it popular?

Someone who has never been to Colombia could be forgiven for thinking Ajiaco is just a soup from Colombia, but the dish has very specific ties to the Andean region of Colombia. Mountainous and chilly, the Bogotá area is best-known for serving up Ajiaco. The climate and soil combine for the perfect potato growing conditions. So if you’re in Bogotá, be sure to grab a spoon – or maybe even the actual ladle – and get ready for something hearty and savory.

History of Ajiaco

Colombia grows hundreds of varieties of potatoes, which makes it the perfect place to serve a dish heavily based on potatoes. But the exact place it originated is murky. What we do know is Cuba and Peru also serve a potato-based soup and natives living in the land now called Colombia were harvesting and eating potatoes long before the Spanish conquistadors barged through the Western Hemisphere.

Where can you try it?

It’s hard to walk a block in Bogotá without stumbling across a sign advertising Ajiaco. You can find the soup both in glitzy mega mall food courts and humble mom-and-pop restaurants that don’t even have menus. While there’s no shortage of Ajiaco, these restaurants are known for offering lip-smacking Ajiaco in Bogotá: Ajiaco Don Santicos, Paella de la Candelaria, La Puerta Falsa and Andrés DC.

How you can make it

Eating Ajiaco is only half the fun. It’s also a great experience to see how it’s made. Our 5-hour Food and Cooking Tour in Bogotá teaches you how to prepare Ajiaco, and it all starts with a trip to a traditional Colombian market to pick out the fresh ingredients. By taking this tour, you’ll learn how to make this yummy soup so you can whip it up again when you return home.

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