Ajiaco: The Typical Dish of Bogota
We’ve already shown you the typical dish of Medellin: the “bandeja paisa” is a big platter, with tons of ingredients and it is beyond delicious. Now it’s the time for Bogota: its typical dish is called “ajiaco” and it’s, definitely, one of the most interesting dishes in the country. Why? Because it highlights the agriculture and the history of Bogota and Boyaca, two of the most important regions in Colombia.
Sometimes, Bogota can be a cold and rainy place. Thankfully, ajiaco is the cure for it. This typical dish is a heavy soup made of three kinds of potatoes -all of them cultivated in the region between Cundinamarca and Boyaca-, guascas (which give the special flavor), chicken and corn. If you want, you can mix the soup with a side dish of rice, avocado, milk cream and pickled capers.
Ajiaco has a creamy texture and it certainly leaves you with a full stomach. Don’t be fooled by thinking that a soup won’t leave you satisfied. The three kinds of potatoes (red, white and Andean) are used to make a thick and creamy soup and the chicken complements the flavor and the size of it. If you add the corn, the avocado and the rice, it becomes a huge bowl!
What’s The Story Behind It?
As we said, ajiaco is the perfect representation of the culture of Bogota and Boyaca. The ingredients, mainly the potatoes and guascas, are typical, and by that we mean that indigenous cultures have used them for centuries. The dish gathers both the traditional ingredients grown in the Colombian soils and the changes it had to go through after the Spanish colonization. Colombian chefs say that it’s the dish that best defines the mixture of native and European ingredients (potatoes, guasca and corn, with chicken, capers and milk cream).
According to historians, since the 1850s there’s a record of the dish as a meal for special occasions. However, there wasn’t a unique or unified recipe until the first half of the XX century. Some say that the current recipe of ajiaco was established in 1937. Even though there’s also ajiaco in Cuba and Peru, the Colombian version is a unique dish and it is very different from the rest.
Where Can I Get It?
For Colombians, it’s pretty easy to distinguish a great ajiaco from a regular one. You can see it a mile away: the color, the chicken bits, the size and if it comes with the side dish (this is key). Chefs and experts have established the best ajiacos in the country, specifically in Bogota. Here are some of the best restaurants to grab a bowl of ajiaco:
El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo
It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? It literally means “The Best Ajiaco in the World”. How did it get that name? In 2007, the Scottish chef Kendon MacDonald proclaimed that he had tried the “best ajiaco of his life” in a small restaurant in the middle of Bogota’s downtown, located exactly in the 11th Street, next to the Plaza de Bolivar. The restaurant was called “Antigua Santafe” but, since MacDonald’s judgment, the owners decided to make it clear and changed the name to “El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo”.
La Puerta Falsa
As if it was a story of rivalry, the owners of “El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo” used to work at “La Puerta Falsa” before founding their own restaurant. However, if one of them has the honor of being the best, the other has the right to be called the oldest. “La Puerta Falsa”, located just half a block away from “El Mejor Ajiaco…”, is the oldest restaurant in Colombia. So, you have to come here not only because of the humongous bowls of tasty ajiaco they give, but also because of its history.