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Typical Colombian sauces: a journey through amazing flavors

Typical Colombian Sauces
Valeria Garbin

Valeria Garbin

I was born in Venezuela, but I've also lived in Mexico, Colombia, and Belgium. One of my passions is politics and Human Rights, so I studied International Relations and specialized in Human Rights and Development. My other passion is traveling and food, and writing about it makes my days. Bogotá is a city that I love! and I hope you can love it too through my articles, and of course, when you come and see it with your own eyes!

Not only is colombian food awesome, but you also have amazing sauces to put on your food! Find out which sauces you can`t miss when you visit Bogotá and Colombia in this article.

Sauces can make everything better, bring out flavours and complement a meal in the perfect way. In Colombia, you will confirm this when you try all the amazing sauces you can find.  Fun fact: you should know that the word for sauce in Spanish (salsa)  is the same as that used for the type of music, so you can expect some sauces with a lot of Latin flavor.

Guacamole

Typical Colombian Sauces
© Photograph by Pixabay

We already know avocados are one of the best fruits of all time (Read Colombian fruits you have to try), so you will be happy to know that in Colombia and Bogotá, you will be able to find guacamole in many places. Colombian guacamole is made with avocado, onion, lemon, coriander, salt and pepper, and sometimes tomato and a little chili for a light spiciness.

This cream of the gods is normally used for patacones, in barbeques, for arepas, for empanadas, and to top pretty much anything you want, because everything tastes better with avocado!

Hogao

Typical Colombian Sauces
© Photograph by Nicole Tarazona

“Hogao” is a very traditional Colombian sauce, which is used as a base for several typical stews or to put on top of patacones, arepas, yucca, etc. It’s a simple sauce, but full of flavor and goes well with so many things! You can find it in restaurants and also in street food (Bogota’s vending carts).

Its main ingredients are onion and tomato, which together with garlic, salt, pepper and many times cumin, creates a delicious tomato paste when cooked.

Ají

Ok, so who doesn’t like some spice in their food? Colombians are also good at making hot sauces and the best known is called “ají”, which is also the name of the chile used to make it. The chili is used to give a spicy touch to many foods, empanadas especially, but also patacones, arepas, and even meats and potatoes.

This celestial liquid is made of hot red chili pepper, white vinegar, water, salt, sugar, lemon juice, vegetable oil, coriander, parsley, long onion and tomato.

Typical Colombian Sauces
© Photograph by Nicole Tarazona

Ají de maní

There is another kind of ají typical of southern Colombia made with peanuts. It isn’t as strong as “ají” thanks to the peanuts, but the more traditional ones are usually spicy too. It is used especially for empanadas, pipian tamales and other dishes of the Cauca and Nariño region.

It is made with long onions, oil, roasted peanuts, fresh coriander, garlic, achiote, cumin, salt, pepper and hot pepper. Unlike the traditional “chili”, this sauce is thicker, more homogeneous and of a light brown color like that of peanut butter.

Do it yourself

If you are in Bogotá and you want to try to make these sauces yourself, you will be happy to know that they are cheap and you can find the ingredients easily. You can find the fruits and vegetables in supermarkets or in little fruits and vegetables shops you will find in every neighborhood,

As I said, these sauces are cheap, for example an avocado can cost between 1.000 and 4.000 colombian pesos ($ 0.35 – 1,3 USD) depending on the size. You can buy one pound of  tomatoes for 1.000 – 2.000 colombian pesos ($ 0.35 -0.66 USD), one pound of onions for 1.000 colombian pesos ($ 0.35 USD), garlic for less than 1.000 colombian pesos ($0.1 USD), cumin for 1,800 – 2,500 Colombian pesos ($ 0.60 -0.80 USD) and a pound of lemons for 2,500 colombian pesos ($0.80 USD). You see? Easy to make, cheap and delicious!

“Salsa” for everything

Whenever you go to a place to eat traditional food in Bogotá or Colombia, you will be able to find a lot of these sauces, and you will realize they are the perfect complement for the perfect food. You for sure can’t leave this country without trying a patacon with hogao, or an empanada dripping with ajì, or a salty potato covered by guacamole. Believe me!

There are a lot of places in Bogotá where you can try these amazing sauces. For example, if you want to try good empanadas and top them with these different sauces you can go to “Típicas”, or Empanaditas & Co or “Empanaditas de Pipian”, and here you will find the “ají de maní”. For patacones, I recommend “Patacones” (yeah, the name is that obvious), or any of “Andrés Express”. These are only some recommendations, but you will find countless places in any corner of Bogotá, so don’t worry.

Do you know any other sauces that you like? Share your comments with us! And go to our website to learn more about traditional Colombian cuisine and all the wonderful dishes you have to try when you are in Colombia. If the sauces sound so good, don´t you want to know more about the food you will try them with?

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