The Paraguayan cuisine has its origins in the Guarani ancestors. After the Spanish conquest, local cooking styles and ingredients merged with European ones, which contributed to the development of the diversity of dishes representative of today's rich culinary culture in Paraguay.
Pira Caldo, which translated from Guarani means fish broth, originated during the time of the Triple Alliance war, which took place between 1864 and 1870. It is a soup made of vegetables, river fish (known as surubí or catfish), white cheese and milk. In order to prepare it, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, leeks, tomatoes and parsley are fried first. Afterwards, boiled water is added together with the fish and a touch of salt. Milk and cheese are added to thicken the soup.
Vorí vorí is a traditional Paraguayan which consists of a thick broth containing small balls made of flour, corn and cheese. There is also a variant called Vorí vorí blanco which contains pumpkin, milk, rice, oil, garlic and onion.
To prepare the balls, the cheese must be crumbled and placed together with the flour in a container, then it is moistened with broth until a dough is formed with which the balls are formed. The dimensions of each ball should be similar to that of a large grape. Later they are thrown in boiling broth.
The vorí vorí de gallina is also a very popular variant among Paraguayans. To prepare them, some pieces of hen must be browned in their own fat. They have to become golden brown, without burning. This is one of the Paraguayan dishes which is enjoyed by everyone, regardless of social class. You can find this dish in the country's fine restaurants as well as in the most humble homes.
Paraguayan soup is not a soup, it is a cake. A mistake that became one of the most popular and requested dishes by tourists. The story of its origin has several versions, one of them says that the cook of Carlos Antonio Lopez, president of Paraguay from 1841 to 1862, tried to prepare a liquid soup, but it came out too thick.
Without time to prepare something else, the cook decided to apologize to the president to whom he explained what had happened. The president decided to try the preparation, liked it and even gave it the name of Sopa paraguaya (Paraguayan Soup). From then on, the soup made by the president's cook became popular throughout Paraguay.
The ingredients of the Paraguayan soup are quite simple, most of them are within the reach of anyone who wants to prepare it. Among them are onion, fresh cheese, pork fat, coarse salt, eggs, water and corn flour.
This dish can be eaten hot or cold. When eaten cold it is an excellent snack, it is cut into small squares. In its hot version it can be a proper lunch.
Chipá is a small roll that is prepared with yucca, cheese and eggs. There are three ways to prepare this famous snack. Chipá mandubí which contains peanuts and corn flour or Chipa guazú which consists of corn flour, milk and cheese. According to historians, it is an invention of the Guarani natives of the 18th century.
Chipá, considered as Paraguay's culinary heritage, is traditionally consumed during Holy Week. During these days, as a gesture of friendship and generosity, this delicacy is usually given as a gift among family and friends. Another traditional date is the Day of the Dead, when these rolls are given to children in the cemetery, as a sort of ritual to commemorate their ancestors.
Since 2015, every August 9, Paraguayans celebrate the National Day of the Chipá. It is a festivity in which this delicious dish is commemorated, particularly in Coronel Bogado.
Another fact is that in the gastronomy of Paraguay there are at least 70 varieties that could be considered as family of the Chipás.
The Paraguayan stew is a dish of Spanish origin that spread throughout most of Latin America, since the time of the conquest. To prepare it, often ossobuco meat, rice, or some noodles are used; as an accompaniment they usually prepare Paraguayan tortillas or manioc. Some people eat the meat with lettuce and tomato salad, after drinking the broth.
This stew, which owes its name to the clay pot in which it used to be prepared, is quite simple to make. First you have to cook the carrots, meat and potatoes in abundant water. Afterwards, rice, sweet potatoes and noodles are added, as well as corn as a complement to the dish.
This dish, which generally serves as an energizer after a weekend, differs from the Spanish cocido because it does not have colorings or chickpeas, but is prepared with typical Paraguayan ingredients, according to the region.
The consumption of this dish intensifies during the cold months of autumn and winter. Puchero is quite common in restaurants and in the various lower and middle class Paraguayan homes. You won't however find it in expensive restaurants.
Bife koygua is a Paraguayan stew prepared with beef, tomato, onion and spices. It is a simple dish, it takes about 30 minutes to prepare this delicious stew. The onions should be chopped and sautéed, then the veal steak is added and seasoned with pepper, oregano and salt.
Afterwards, add the tomatoes previously cut in slices, and cover it. After about 15 minutes of preparation, eggs are added to the broth, it is important to avoid stirring the stew. About three minutes later you can serve this dish.
Koygua could be translated as hidden or shy, in this dish it refers to the fact that the steak is hidden behind the eggs. You could call it a shy steak. Many people combine this stew with manioc pie or empanadas. It is also served with tortilla paraguaya, which is made with scallions.
The Paraguayan tortilla is kind of a cheese omelet, not to be confused with the Mexican tortilla. Despite their resemblance, they differ greatly in preparation, especially because of the nixtamalized corn flour used to make the Mexican version.
The versatility of this tortilla allows it to be prepared in the traditional way, with corn flour and cheese, or it is possible to let your imagination and creativity run wild and add ingredients, according to taste. For example, it is possible to add more cheese, parsley and finely chopped onion to increase the flavor. Parsley, grated carrots and some cilantro are valid in experimentation.
The origin of this dish dates back to the 19th century when Paraguayans were forced to consume high-protein and high-calorie foods, thanks to the food shortages caused by the War of the Tripe Alianza. They had to do the best they could with the few resources available.
This is a food that is frequently found in Paraguayan homes. It is ideal to eat them at any time of the day, at breakfast, with salads or as a snack, they are also very good with beans.
Marinera de carne is one of the typical dishes of Paraguay. It is similar to milanesa, but in this version the meat is covered with flour and egg. Then the pieces of meat are put into a hot frying pan with abundant oil, until they are browned on both sides.
For the meat to be spectacular, it must be very well mashed together with the seasonings. It should be beaten heavily with the kitchen mallet to make it soft before cooking. This way the meat cooks more evenly.
Paraguayans usually serve this dish with a salad made of tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables according to taste. Some diners love to add a squeeze of lemon juice or mustard.
Soyo is one of the most emblematic and representative dishes of Paraguay. Previously this soup was eaten by the poor, but that perception has changed and it can literally be found anywhere, regardless of social status.
Soyo an abbreviation of a word in Guarani language that means crushed meat. It contains some vegetables such as garlic, aromatic herbs, onion and the main ingredient: ground beef. To prepare it you only have to soak it in ground beef, make a dressing with the herbs and vegetables and then add the meat to boil it but avoid overcooking it.
Soyo, which is usually accompanied with Chipá Guazú or Paraguayan tortillas, is considered a revitalizer which can be found in most Paraguayan homes and restaurants.
Chicharrón trenzado is another culinary delicacy of Paraguay. To prepare it, the meat cut into strips must be braided and cooked at high temperature in a frying pan. The remaining fat is separated, lemon juice and salt are added and it is fried again until it is charred, but with a golden color.
This dish, which is traditionally consumed during the festivities of San Juan, is part of the Spanish gastronomic influence from the colonial era.
It is customary to accompany it with manioc. It can be preserved for many days if it is protected with pre-cooked corn flour.
For an exquisite result, it is advisable to marinate the meat strips, only with salt, the night before. To obtain a crispier braided chicharrón, it is better to fry it in a frying pan instead of a grill.
Thanks to the influence of the ancestral culture of the Guarani Indians, mixed with European food habits after the arrival of the Spaniards, the Paraguayan cuisine has become a unique melting pot of ingredients and spices.
Necessity and ingenuity led Paraguayans to use the basic nutrients to survive, with the available resources after the war. From there, they made dishes that are still in use today and that are part of the gastronomy that identifies Paraguay in any part of the world.