Hallacas Caraqueñas: a Venezuelan Christmas tradition

Hallacas Caraqueñas: a Venezuelan Christmas tradition

Hallacas originated in Venezuela during colonial times. It is a dish that has evolved into several regional versions in the country, and apparently owes its making to the church, who’s catholic priests requested gratitude towards the indigenous people and slaves from the Spanish colonisers during Christmas more than 500 years ago. In response to the demand of the clergy, plantation owners handed out Christmas food scraps and hence, Hallacas have olives, nuts, raisins and capers, ingredients autochthonous to Europe. Hallacas are in essence an aromatic sweet and spicy stew encased in a corn dough wrapped in banana leaves. An invention made from scraps, on an ingenious plate, and love of for food.

There are many recipes for Hallacas that can easily be found on a search. As a ground recipe, I follow Armando Scannone’s, from -Mi Cocina-, a fabulous book that documents traditional Venezuelan cuisine. The main variations that I have worked into my Hallacas are: Olive oil replaces lard in all instances and I add cumin to the stew. I also up the spice and flavour accents, for instance with the vinegar, chillies and mustard. As it is difficult to find raw sugar cane outside of the Americas, when in need, I use brown unrefined sugar.

In the photographs: Hallacas Caraqueñas made in Berlin!

About Bubu

When I visualise the world I see a pan, in it are the earth, air and water, they symbolise literature, science and maths, the languages are the medium, culture and civilisation are the art, and the people are the recipe. Bubu is my given nickname, just as María Isabel Alvarez Kirkham, is my birth name. I am a graphic designer and artist focused on spacial and sensory communication, with work ranging from visual communication design to installation art.


  1. Maria Alvarez Rojas

    Hallacas, el plato esperado de todas las navidades por los venezolanos, muy rica!! jamas dejo una navidad sin comerlas, es un pecado…

  2. Very beautiful preparation as well as very laborious. Awesome that you could document all the process. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  3. Hola! Soy venezolano y necesito como loco las hojas de plátano!!! Donde las conseguiste ayúdame por favor! Vivo en Berlín y no se a donde ir a comprarlas.

    • Bubu

      Fácil, en los mercados Chinos o de productos Orientales, en la sección congelada. Vienen en paquetes de 500 gm a 400 gm. No son ahumadas, pero funcionan bien. No se en que parte de Berlin estás, pero en Neukölln, en Karl-Marx.Straße diagonal a la salida de la estación U7 que está ubicada más a sur de la avenida, hay un mercado chino. En Mitte, detrás de la estación S-Hackescher Markt, del lado de Herriette-Herz-Platz hay otro mercado. En los dos venden Onoto (Annatto en Deutsch).
      Avisa si tienes éxito!
      Feliz Navidad

      • Que bien!!! gracias por responder! Espero hacer unas hallacas tremendas este año con mi esposa, si todo va bien pondré te enviaré unas fotos, si quieres intercambiamos también, pero bueno ya te avisaré 🙂

      • Bubu

        Si que bueno, manden fotos. Intercambio me parece super también. Avisen por aquí. Por ahora Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo! Tschüss!

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