In Venezuela, there are a great variety of grains that are used throughout the country by all the inhabitants regardless of their social status. The most popular beans are the “caraotas” which we will talk about next.
What is “caraotas”?
These are black beans that is found in many parts of the world, generally in Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Canary Islands, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia. In Venezuela, it is considered a very traditional food since it is part of the traditional dish called “Pabellón” which is accompanied by white rice, shredded meat, “tajadas”, and cheese.
The “caraotas” are usually eaten at lunch, either alone or accompanied with cheese, fried egg, rice, and some unusual combinations are sugar and mayonnaise.
How are “caraotas” prepared?
The ingredients we need are:
- Black beans
- Large onion
- Sweet peppers
- Green bell pepper
- Bay leaf
To begin the preparation, we must select the beans on a plate preferably white and remove the stones and twigs that you find. Use another container to place the selected beans.
Then we will place to soak the grains and add the bicarbonate, we will leave to rest for 24 hours, we will try that the container is deep and the water is two fingers above the “caraotas” because they will grow a little.
Stir the water well and remove all the grains that float, then cover the container and set aside until the next day. The next day drains the “caraotas” using a strainer and washes them with plenty of water.
To cook our black “caraotas”, boil the beans for a while. When they boil, discard the water with the foam they give off. Put water back in the pot until it completely covers the beans and continues cooking. While we cook the beans, we are going to chop all the vegetables, the ones that will be used for the sofrito base and on the other hand the ones that we will use to give taste to the beans.
Make sure that the water in the cooking pot completely covers the beans. Add the paprika, chili, onion, and cilantro for taste and keep the pot over medium-high heat. When the beans soften a little, remove the paprika, cilantro, and onion if you don’t enjoy them, you can leave them if you like.
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With the vegetables that we remove we are going to place them in a frying pan to make a sofrito with the onion first until it browns a little, then the garlic, and finally the rest of the vegetables.
These should be cut very small and stir constantly. When the sofrito is ready, pour everything into the pot with the beans and stir to integrate the flavors. Now add a bay leaf and turn off the heat when you consider that the pavilion beans have the desired consistency. It all depends on your taste if you prefer more or less broth.
Wait a few minutes and that’s it, although the recipes vary in some details, from house to house and from state to state, the basics remain the same.
Now let’s talk about another grain that is also very well known in Venezuela, which is the “arvejas”.
The “arvejas” (Peas)
What are “arvejas”?
They are a type of green legume that is produced all over the world, so in some places, they are called “Peas” or “Chicharos”, but in Venezuela, they are called “arvejas”. These are very famous for their high nutritional value, thus becoming a favorite of vegetarians and vegans since it serves to replace some foods such as meat.
How are “arvejas” prepared?
The preparation of these is a little simpler, we will only need:
To begin with, we must choose the grains a day before the preparation, the same as with the “caraotas” to make sure that everything is fresh, without stones and branches. These we will leave them soaking for one night.
The next day we will cook the “arvejas” at medium-high heat and cook them together with the paprika and the onion for 20 minutes with the water that exceeds the grains, after this time we will let them cool down a little.
Chop the leftover vegetables very small and fry them in a frying pan and let them fry for about 6 minutes. After 6 minutes add the garlic and cilantro sofrito to the pot with the peas and let it cook over low heat for 10 more minutes. They are ready to serve hot and accompanied with hard cheese.
Let us know if you would prepare some of these beans the Venezuelan way.