Since ancient times the basis of Paraguayan food has been corn and cassava, which have allowed the character of Paraguayan gastronomy to be forged. Those key staples of the Paraguayan cuisine have given rise to the creation many unique dishes enjoyed throughout the country and other parts of Latin America.
Most Popular Paraguayan Dishes
Paraguayan food is characterized by a mixture of Hispanic culinary techniques and the use of native, as well as foreign, products introduced by the Spanish. In addition, typical Paraguayan dishes clearly bear the influences of the Guarani people.
You may be familiar with some famous Paraguayan dishes, but there is so much culinary diversity throughout Paraguay to be explored. Here are some of the absolute must-try dishes of Paraguay, along with our favorite recipes to try for yourself.
Paraguayan Soup (Sopa Paraguaya)
Being one of the most popular, our selection of typical Paraguayan food should start with the Paraguayan soup. Curiously, it does not resemble soup as we traditionally know it, but is instead an exquisite salty cake. Perhaps that is why the Paraguayan soup is so popular, because right from the start, it represents something that we do not expect.
For the traditional recipe, onion, water, coarse salt, pork fat, eggs, fresh cheese, cornmeal, milk and cream are used. However, there are variants that depend on each region of the country.
Bori Bori is a chicken soup which provides many nutritional benefits and tastes exquisite. The dish consists of a broth in which cornmeal and cheese balls are submerged.
Bori Bori is typically made using corn flour, fresh cheese, fat broth and water. It should be mentioned that there are variants that are known as “white bori bori”. There is also the “bori bori gallina” variation where pieces of chicken are added to the thistle.
Chipa Guazú is more or less a modification of the traditional chipá. In fact, it is one of the 70 varieties of chipá that are popular across the globe.
The dish is a type of baked corn cake with a fairly simple preparation, made using fresh corn or canned grains. Chipa Guazú is consumed on special dates and in the company of loved ones. In Paraguayan cuisine, it is quite often a side dish.
Chipá is a bun made with Brazilian arrowroot (also known as yuca), eggs and cheese. According to records, the creation of Chipá dates back to the 18th century by the native Guarani people.
Chipá can be prepared in various ways. Among them is the chipá mandubí , which is made with corn flour and peanuts, or the chipá guazú, which is made with milk, corn and cheese. It is generally sold by women on street food stalls, known as “chiperas”.
The mbeyú, which roughly translates to “crushed cake”, is one of the typical desserts of Paraguay that is made with Brazilian arrowroot flour, milk, cheese, pork fat and eggs. These ingredients are mixed into a dough and fried in hot oil. It is usually consumed with tea or coffee.
Mbeyú is one of the oldest known dishes of Paraguay, alongside chipá and Paraguayan soup. The dish was heavily consumed by Paraguayan natives after the War of the Triple Alliance.
The payaguá mascada, also known locally as lampreado, is a meat cake that is prepared with cassava and minced meat covered with scallions. The outside of this dish is cool while the inside is soft.
Lampreado has a peculiar crushed meatball shape, which is made with a cassava puree mixed with shredded meat (previously boiled), minced bell pepper and minced onion.
Tereré is an iced herbal tea prepared using the dried leaves and twigs of the ilex paraguariensis tree. It is often considered as the national drink of Paraguay.
Tereré has a distinct preparation in that it uses cold water right from the beginning. It can be enjoyed on its own or with citrus fruits and other herbs.
Manioc Empanada (Mandio Cake)
Manioc Empanada is a cassava dough pastry stuffed with beef, typically eaten with hot sauce or salsa. The origins of Manioc Empanada date back to ancient times, purportedly originating in the Middle East and brought to Paraguay through Spanish colonization.
Asado is the name given to barbeques in South America, which are traditional social gatherings in Paraguay as well as in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. They tend to be held at weekends and can last for hours, with guests enjoying the social aspect as much as the food.
The head chef doing all the barbecuing is called the Parilla and typically they will cook up ribs, steak, chicken, pork and lamb in a massive meat feast. A variety of meat, including typical beef cuts such as bife de lomo (tenderloin), bife de chorizo (sirloin), ham and sausages make it to the grill.
Chipa Argolla is an anise and cheese bread made from a combination of cornmeal and cassava flour. The dough is rolled out into small logs then the ends are pressed together creating its signature circular appearance. It is the baked until it is golden brown.
Traditionally the cheese used to make chipa argolla is queso Paraguay, a soft bland tasting cheese. When unavailable, mozzarella, cheddar or a combination of both is a good substitute.