Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors - it's how you combine them that sets you apart.

- Wolfgang Puck

Yes, it's finally food time.

The most delicious recipes from around the world vary from simple to complex. To every single one, there is a process and a technique with their own strictness and flexibility. From thousands of ingredients, there are millions of possibilities to give you the perfect culinary experience. The art of cooking lies in the right combination of all these elements and as a start, I'll share with you today a distinctive but little-known example of that: a simple and exquisite dish from home, a Honduran masterpiece.


La Baleada

A dish whose origins have traveled seas and oceans

Related image

It was 1492 when America got discovered and 1502 when Christopher Columbus touched Honduran territory for the first time. Fast forward four-and-a-half centuries and you find a country with a blend of different cultures. Honduran gastronomy has constantly evolved since then, where globalization has played a big role in the development of our local dishes.

What you see in the image above may be only a tortilla filled with beans, meat, and other vegetables, but what I see is a beautiful infusion of cultures and a representation of hard work, efficiency, coexistence, and creativity.

IMAGE SOURCE / Click here for recipe - Chapatti

Before the Baleada had a chance to exist, its wheat-flour tortilla-base was first introduced after the arrival of cookers brought from India and Pakistan to serve the executives of the then-newly-established banana companies. Through the attempts of these cookers of reminding themselves of home through food and sharing that with their local co-workers, naans and chapattis got popularized among locals and adopted as the more practical version of corn tortillas.

When creativity and initiative took charge

The Baleada may have some Indian-Pakistani influences, but the idea and integration of its ingredients are inspired from local gastronomy and adapted to the Honduran palate.

IMAGE SOURCE

The Baleada sounds for all Spanish speakers a bit confusing since it means the [one who got] shot. The real origin of the name itself is not officially stated. However, two theories have survived throughout the years: The first one tells the story of a woman who had a food-stand and got shot during a shooting near her stand. Word got around and after her recovery, locals began referring to her and her stand as "the one who got shot," hence la baleada. This is a popular but rather false theory, which probably only proves the Honduran dark humor.

The second and most accepted one is based on the stories of the self-claimed creator of the dish and name itself, who is still referred to today as "doña Tere" and found at the same spot where everything started: in La Ceiba. The Baleada was born from the efforts of a mother trying to sustain her family. Aware of the hungry workers from a banana fruit company and late-night hungry party-goers, she targeted them as the perfect bait to grow and popularize her small business. Mission accomplished, but where does the name come from? Nothing less than an interesting metaphor. The Baleada is like a gun: "the beans are the bullet, the cheese is the gunpowder, and the tortilla is the cartridge."


A street-and-fast-food favorite

The Baleada has become one of the best Honduran street-and-fast-foods. You can find hundreds of Baleada stands in and around the cities with eager clients lining up during breakfast, lunch, and dinner time. Besides it being a super cheap dish, it's very easy and quick to make, it's packed with a lot of flavors and has a very satisfying texture. You will hardly find a Honduran who doesn't love a Baleada, maybe because you can adapt this beautiful tortilla with beans into having the flavor you are looking for.

We say in Spanish, "for every taste, there's a color." I prefer my Baleada with 'carne asada' (grilled meat) or chorizo, sweet plantains, avocado, and 'chismol' [chij'mol] (pickled onion, tomato, and bell pepper salad) or spicy 'encurtido' (pickled onions and jalapeños) - or even both, why not!

The best baleadas I've had in my entire life come from the late-night food-stands near my neighborhood. Somehow food tastes even better after midnight! After moving to Germany, I've constantly been trying to mimic that flavor, bring back that memory, get that feeling and that smile I had every time I ate there. That's the version I always try to introduce my friends and they to end up loving it.

I care to always explain how Baleadas are usually consumed, which is the classic version and which is the popular one. The classic is composed of four ingredients: wheat-flour tortilla, refried beans, Honduran sour cream, and Honduran dry cheese. Already amazing. However, we Hondurans love to add more and more flavor to anything possible, so we came up with the "Baleada con todo," which means baleada with everything: a classic baleada plus scrambled eggs, red or white meat (beef, pork, chorizo or chicken), avocados, 'chismol' or 'encurtido'.

With time I've improved my Baleada-making skills. I've come from preparing a Baleada twice a year to preparing it at least once a month. So after constant practice and pretty satisfied clients (a.k.a. friends), I've brought you my recipe for preparing the Baleada at your Kitchen Abroad!

The recipe might look extensive but it's only being specific. For anyone cooking something different for the first time, details are essential, I know from experience. This recipe should make it very easy for you to prepare a Baleada (it is, afterall, really easy), but most importantly, this recipe should lead you a bite away from Honduras, a bite away from a tiny part of history, a bite away from an integration of different cultures, and a bite away from the love of a hard-working mother.

Food is not only essential for survival, it's essential to honor and enjoy life itself. 

¡Buen provecho!


Honduran Baleada

 

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time1 hrCook Time45 minsTotal Time1 hr 45 mins

The Essentials
 8 wheat flour tortillas (a.k.a. wrap tortillas, naan, chapatti, etc.)
 400 g refried beans - OR 2 cans of whole kidney beans, washed and blended.
 150 g sour cream, salted to taste
 1 medium-sized yellor or red onion, diced into small pieces (optional)
 150 g salty shredded cheese (e.g. crumbled feta cheese)
 1 garlic clove, grated (optional, for refried beans)
 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for a better creamy exture
The Extras (Optional)
 12 avocados, sliced
 4 eggs, fried, boiled or scrambled
 500 g beef, pork, chicken or chorizo cut into bite-sized pieces
 you favorite meat marinade (e.g. barbecue, chimichurri, etc.)
 1 clove garlic, grated (optional, for grilled meat)
 2 mature plantains (preferrably yellow with black spots), cut into long thin slices
 salt to taste
 ground black pepper to taste
 vegetable oil
The Extra Kick: Chismol
 1 medium-sized yellor or red onion, diced into small pieces
 1 tomato, diced into small pieces
 2 green pepper, diced into small pieces
 1 chili or jalapeño, diced into smal pieces (optional)
 1 small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
 1 juicy lime
 100 ml white or any other preferred vinegar
 11 tsp salt
 2 tsp ground black pepper
 2 tsp cumin powder

CHISMOL
1

- Mix all ingredients together in a small or medium bowl, add salt, pepper, and cumin little by little until reached your desired intensity. Make sure everything is at least half covered by the lime juice and vinegar, that way they cook themselves with it and absorb the flavor uniformly. Rest for at least 1 hour.

THE EXTRAS
2

FOR PORK OR BEEF
- You can use any meat you desire. Use your favorite marinade or do one yourself with just adding the juice of one lime, salt, pepper, oregano & grated garlic. Leave meat in the marinade for at least 30 minutes for a penetrating flavor. Cook it on a grill or normal pan until golden crispy on the edges.

FOR CHORIZO
- Pan the chorizo slices until crispy on the edges.

FOR CHICKEN:
- Pulled chicken is the perfect fit for a baleada. I'd recommend a barbecue-tomato sauce but you can use any other sauce you'd like, or just not use one at all! You can get creative here. Just cook the chicken in salted boiling water, shred it and do whatever you want with it! My recommendation: always go golden crispy.

FOR PLANTAINS:
- Cover pan in oil and fry plantain slices on medium-high heat until cook inside for at least 2 minutes until golden brown. Put the fried plantains on a dish covered with towel paper to absorb excess oil.

REFRIED BEANS
3

REFRIED BEANS
*Note: Refried beans should have a creamy texture. If you bought a can of whole kidney beans, just wash them and blend them with a bit of water until reached your desired creamy texture. If you bought a bag or can of already mashed refried beans, I'd still recommend refrying them with caramelized onion for a better flavor:

- Heat oil over medium-high and fry onions until golden crispy. Lower heat to medium-low, add garlic and let it cook until aromatic. Add mashed beans and mix thoroughly until bean mixture starts bubbling, add salt to taste. If the refried beans are drying up and sticking to the pan, add a bit of oil and water to recover the creamy texture.

THE BALEADA
4

CLASSIC BALEADA
The base of every baleada is a beautiful warmed wheat-flour tortilla, you can either buy it at your local supermarket. For a better texture and quality, go to an Asian or Indian market and get a package of classic naan (thin, if available) or chapatti.

- For a classic baleada, warm both sides of a tortilla on a dry normal or grill pan for a few seconds over medium-high heat until soft (for an extra crunch, leave it a bit longer). Place tortilla on a plate and add 2-4 tablespoons of refried beans, shredded/crumbled cheese and salted sour cream to taste. Fold the tortilla in half and it's ready to eat. It's that easy!

BALEADA "CON TODO"
- Which means "with everything." Add your desired amount of all the extra ingredients to the tortilla, sprinkle with chismol, fold in half, and enjoy.

At any baleada stand in Honduras, that usually means a classic baleada with scrambled eggs, avocado, and meat plus a little bit of chismol or encurtido (pickled onion and jalapeno). Some add plantain to it (if available), but usually after asking specifically for it.

My recommendation and my all time favorite is a classic baleada with avocado, grilled meat, fried plantains and a good amount of spicy chismol.

But the great thing about a baleada is that you have complete control on how it's going to taste. You can add whatever you want to each portion, you can try different combinations, and you can eat it at any time of the day! You can hardly go wrong. Just be creative.


This is my first self-written recipe, so don't be surprised if you find any confusion along the way (my apologies in advance)! If you have any questions about this recipe, if tried the recipe yourself, or have any other comments, please share! Feel free to contact me here or follow me through my Facebook or Instagram account, where you can reach me faster! I look forward to your comments 🙂

 

Ingredients

The Essentials
 8 wheat flour tortillas (a.k.a. wrap tortillas, naan, chapatti, etc.)
 400 g refried beans - OR 2 cans of whole kidney beans, washed and blended.
 150 g sour cream, salted to taste
 1 medium-sized yellor or red onion, diced into small pieces (optional)
 150 g salty shredded cheese (e.g. crumbled feta cheese)
 1 garlic clove, grated (optional, for refried beans)
 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for a better creamy exture
The Extras (Optional)
 12 avocados, sliced
 4 eggs, fried, boiled or scrambled
 500 g beef, pork, chicken or chorizo cut into bite-sized pieces
 you favorite meat marinade (e.g. barbecue, chimichurri, etc.)
 1 clove garlic, grated (optional, for grilled meat)
 2 mature plantains (preferrably yellow with black spots), cut into long thin slices
 salt to taste
 ground black pepper to taste
 vegetable oil
The Extra Kick: Chismol
 1 medium-sized yellor or red onion, diced into small pieces
 1 tomato, diced into small pieces
 2 green pepper, diced into small pieces
 1 chili or jalapeño, diced into smal pieces (optional)
 1 small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
 1 juicy lime
 100 ml white or any other preferred vinegar
 11 tsp salt
 2 tsp ground black pepper
 2 tsp cumin powder

Directions

CHISMOL
1

- Mix all ingredients together in a small or medium bowl, add salt, pepper, and cumin little by little until reached your desired intensity. Make sure everything is at least half covered by the lime juice and vinegar, that way they cook themselves with it and absorb the flavor uniformly. Rest for at least 1 hour.

THE EXTRAS
2

FOR PORK OR BEEF
- You can use any meat you desire. Use your favorite marinade or do one yourself with just adding the juice of one lime, salt, pepper, oregano & grated garlic. Leave meat in the marinade for at least 30 minutes for a penetrating flavor. Cook it on a grill or normal pan until golden crispy on the edges.

FOR CHORIZO
- Pan the chorizo slices until crispy on the edges.

FOR CHICKEN:
- Pulled chicken is the perfect fit for a baleada. I'd recommend a barbecue-tomato sauce but you can use any other sauce you'd like, or just not use one at all! You can get creative here. Just cook the chicken in salted boiling water, shred it and do whatever you want with it! My recommendation: always go golden crispy.

FOR PLANTAINS:
- Cover pan in oil and fry plantain slices on medium-high heat until cook inside for at least 2 minutes until golden brown. Put the fried plantains on a dish covered with towel paper to absorb excess oil.

REFRIED BEANS
3

REFRIED BEANS
*Note: Refried beans should have a creamy texture. If you bought a can of whole kidney beans, just wash them and blend them with a bit of water until reached your desired creamy texture. If you bought a bag or can of already mashed refried beans, I'd still recommend refrying them with caramelized onion for a better flavor:

- Heat oil over medium-high and fry onions until golden crispy. Lower heat to medium-low, add garlic and let it cook until aromatic. Add mashed beans and mix thoroughly until bean mixture starts bubbling, add salt to taste. If the refried beans are drying up and sticking to the pan, add a bit of oil and water to recover the creamy texture.

THE BALEADA
4

CLASSIC BALEADA
The base of every baleada is a beautiful warmed wheat-flour tortilla, you can either buy it at your local supermarket. For a better texture and quality, go to an Asian or Indian market and get a package of classic naan (thin, if available) or chapatti.

- For a classic baleada, warm both sides of a tortilla on a dry normal or grill pan for a few seconds over medium-high heat until soft (for an extra crunch, leave it a bit longer). Place tortilla on a plate and add 2-4 tablespoons of refried beans, shredded/crumbled cheese and salted sour cream to taste. Fold the tortilla in half and it's ready to eat. It's that easy!

BALEADA "CON TODO"
- Which means "with everything." Add your desired amount of all the extra ingredients to the tortilla, sprinkle with chismol, fold in half, and enjoy.

At any baleada stand in Honduras, that usually means a classic baleada with scrambled eggs, avocado, and meat plus a little bit of chismol or encurtido (pickled onion and jalapeno). Some add plantain to it (if available), but usually after asking specifically for it.

My recommendation and my all time favorite is a classic baleada with avocado, grilled meat, fried plantains and a good amount of spicy chismol.

But the great thing about a baleada is that you have complete control on how it's going to taste. You can add whatever you want to each portion, you can try different combinations, and you can eat it at any time of the day! You can hardly go wrong. Just be creative.

La Baleada: A Honduran Street-Food Masterpiece

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