Tag Archives: venezuelan

South American Bean Cakes with Arepa Bun and Tomato Chilli Salsa

19 Apr

 As promised, here is what to make with the rest of that can of kidney beans. I first made this recipe for Brazilian Bean Croquettes last summer during the World Cup. I decided I was going to make a lunch and dinner every day from the countries that were playing in the afternoon or evening game. It was quite a challenge especially being vegetarian but I really started to enjoy it and we ate some amazingly diverse food. From Cape Malay Samoosas, Jollif Rice from Ghana, German potato pancakes but the most memorable were these Bean Cakes from Brazil.

I have adjusted the original recipe slightly because it included breadcrumbs. As you know I am going gluten-free this month so no breadcrumbs for me. I used chickpea flour instead to coat the cakes but the breadcrumbs definitely give it extra crunch, so you decide.

To keep with the South American theme I wanted to try making Arepas. Arepas are a kind of bread pattie made from a special type of cornmeal. They are very popular in Venezuela, Columbia and the rest of Latin America. They can be grilled baked or fried and are usually stuffed or topped with cheese, eggs, meat or fish. Not that I needed any encouragement to try making these but the packet of the cornmeal is irresistable.

How cute? I actually bought the packet without realising it was for making Arepas just because I like the design. It’s not normal corn flour or cornmeal its precooked. Just look out for this packaging. You can’t miss it.  It’s really easy to make the arepas you just add hot water and salt to the corn meal and bring it together to form a stiff dough. Cut it into four then roll them into balls.

Wet your hands with some more hot water and roll the ball in your palm until smooth. Then press it out into a disc shape. Using more hot water (to glue it)  if it starts to crack at the edges.

To cook them I just heated a little oil in a frying pan and cooked them for 6 -7 minutes turning occasionally until they have what the Latin Americans call a cara (face).  And they really do develop a face, it’s hilarious…

I may have had the heat a little too high, but you get the idea.  Take them out of the pan and then keep them warm/continue cooking them for five or 10 minutes in the oven. Then slice like an English muffin. You can fill them with whatever you like but these bean cakes are great topped with a spicy tomato chilli salsa & some mashed avocado with lime juice.

Add some leaves and the spicy bean cake and you have a delicious vegan, gluten-free  Brazilian burger in a bun. Sometimes you need this kind of food. The kind of food you eat with your hands in front of the football. Or is it just me?

Brazilian Bean Cakes

makes 4 small cakes enough for 2 people, vegan, gluten-free

  • about 300 gr red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 or 5 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree, passata)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander

Blend the beans and tomate frito (puree/passata) in a bowl or food processor. Heat the oil over a medium high heat and fry the onion with a pinch of salt until well browned (5- 8 minutes).  Stir the chickpea flour into the onions then add the bean puree, oregano, chilli, coriander and season well with salt & black pepper.

Cook until the mixture holds it’s shape and comes together. Cool, covered in the fridge then shape into 4 patties. Put some chickpea flour on a flat plate and roll and dust the cakes with the flour while shaping them. (You can also roll in flour, egg & breadcrumbs if you want) Then put them back in the fridge to chill.

Heat 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook until browned on both sides. About 3 minutes a side.

Arepa Buns

makes 4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 300 ml hot water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225 gr masa harina flour (precooked corn flour see photo above)
  • about 1 tbsp oil for frying

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and gradually add the hot/warm water, mixing with a wooden spoon to form a stiff dough. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then cut into four and roll into balls. You may need to wet your hands with some more hot water to make it easier. Flatten the balls with the palm of your hands into discs about 3 inches in diameter about 3/4 inch thick. Use the hot water to smooth out any cracks around the edges.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the arepas for about 6-8 minutes turning 3 or 4 times until they are golden & crispy and have a cara, face. Drain on paper towels then put in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes while you cook the bean cakes.

Tomato Chilli Salsa & Avocado Puree

enough for 4 bean cake arepas, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic/ young garlic green parts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • the juice of 1/2 lime
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomate frito (tomato puree/passata)
  • salt & black pepper

Blend everything together in a bowl or processor. Check seasoning and add more salt/lime juice/olive oil if necessary.

  • 1 small avocado
  • the juice of 1/2 a lime
  • salt & black pepper
  • chilli oil

Put everything in a bowl and mash together with a fork. Taste for seasoning.

To serve cut the arepa through the middle, spread tomato chilli salsa on one side and the avocado puree on the other. Put the bean cake in the arepa, add some leaves, close, squash down and devour, trying not to get tomato salsa down your front…..!

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