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arepas - Echoes of Flavio's Ghost Dreaming
I'd put something on one of my twitter accounts, https://twitter.com/theotherflav (I notice that you don't follow me on either of them, I must be more boring there than here...), about making arepas putting parmesan cheese in the dough -which works! lproven had asked me whether I made my own. Yes, of course. Making them with scratch with white maize is horrendously labour-intensive but these days you can get a pre-cooked, pre-husked white maize flour, Harina Pan. This, incidentally, because of the current situation there, seems to be easier to get here in London than in Caracas which is bizarre..

What I have found is that to avoid a lumpy dough, I put the (warm) water first in a bowl, a little salt in it and then the flour -a tiny less flour than I feel I should put, so it is not watery but not hard either. I leave it for some five minutes so the flour absorbs the water, then shape them and put them on a griddle on full flame for some four minutes or so on each side, so you get a golden (ok, more often black, in my case) crust. Then I leave them on low flame for some seven or eight minutes more. That's it. You don't really need to put oil (although I've seen this done) or butter in them, although a little butter will give them a little more flavour.

The parmesan bit: I didn't make this up, a Venezuelan-Scottish friend used to make them as very small balls with parmesan, which she fried -perfect party snacks.

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2 comments or Leave a comment
lproven From: lproven Date: April 3rd, 2014 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
OK, so you make the dough, then - what? Flatten them in your hands, like a pizza-maker? Roll them out like pastry?

How thin?

I've tried twice now - with PAN flour. Once hand-flattening and then rolling (quite labour-intensive, but worked). Also, once making them like pancakes - runny batter, ladled into the pan. Disaster: like fried snot. And I make /good/ pancakes!

The pancake technique works *really well* with gram flour, but the result is not even slightly like chapatti, roti, paratha or anything else. The texture is like Ethiopian injera bread, the flavour like cardboard unless you add loads of spices to the batter - but if you do, they're great with curry.

But with maize flour, you get big blackened lumps of bogey. ++ungood.
flavius_m From: flavius_m Date: April 3rd, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can see I'll have to make a video :D Not too thin, they're not tortillas. You do kind of (but not exactly) knead the dough, take arepa-sized balls, sort of clap or pat with them in your hands, shape them into a disc which shouldn't be very thin -think patty, not pancake. If the dough is ready the edges should not be broken or crumbly. The initial full flame is only to make the crust, then lower flame to cook them. It should not at all be like Ethiopian bread (although, that opens possibilities..)

Arepas don't have a lot of flavour to them by themselves, it is the combination of the maize with whatever filling you put in. I'm quite conservative with those fillings as for me arepas are comfort food, something that reminds me of the better bits of childhood, but nothing, of course, stops you from experimenting.

Edited at 2014-04-03 02:21 pm (UTC)
2 comments or Leave a comment