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Ahhhh Hallacas. The smell and taste of Navidad. Taking the excuse to eat all the seasonal foods, sharing and celebrating the few days off with family and friends. Hallacas are very close to my heart, vivid reminders of me my childhood. My recipe is very different than the customary Venezuelan one.

Memories of skating on the square in Caracas called Los Proceres, filled with little colorful lights, or signing in the school Christmas plays, and the Hallacas. Oh, what a nostalgia!

This recipe yields 12 to 14

Ingredients for the dough:

1 pack of corn flour

5 cups of chicken stock (homemade or store-bought)

1 stick of butter (for frying Annatto/Achiote)

2 tablespoons of Annatto/ Achiote

Special Ingredient:

14 banana leaves (cut into 30x30 cm square and cleaned)

Ingredients for the filling:

500 gr. of chicken breast

2 big yellow onions

8 tomatoes (peeled and chopped)

1 red sweet pepper (peeled and chopped)

1 green sweet pepper (peeled and chopped)

1 yellow sweet pepper (peeled and chopped)

3 stacks of celery (peeled and chopped)

2 leeks (minced)

6 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 cup green olives (pitted)

1/2 cup of capers

1/2 raisins

1 cup of parsley (chopped)

1 cup of fresh coriander (chopped)

1 Stick of butter

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

14 pitted prunes.

Directions for the filling:

1. Boil the chicken breast with salt and black pepper, pull it apart and set aside. Save the stock for the dough.

2. Heat the butter and the oil, add onions, tomatoes, peppers, celery, leeks, garlic; in that particular order and with and interval of 5 minutes between each. This is the best sofrito ever!

3. Add the pulled chicken to the sofrito, olives, capers, raisnins, parsley and coriander. Cook for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.

Directions for the dough:

1. In a sauce-pot melt the butter and fry the annatto/achiote for 10 minutes, let it cool for 30 minutes. Sift through a colander and keep the now colored butter aside.

2. In a bowl add the corn-flour, chicken stock and anato-butter mix well until you have an homogenous dough. Make 14 equal balls of dough.

Directions for the assembling:

1. Place on a board the banana leaves, place a ball of dough and pread it thinly with your fingers.

2. Place two tablespoons of the filling on the dough and garnish with one prune.

3. Fold together the corners of the banana leaves into a square, tighten it with cooking-thread.

4. Put the Hallaca into boiling water and let it cook for at least 45 minutes. Remove from the water and drain. Place vertically in a colander so any residual water is drained. Serve warm.


1. Prep a day ahead the banana leaves (usually they are not cleaned or cut, even if bought in the market) and the filling. Assemble on the next day.

2. Hallacas age well, make ahead, cool and freeze. They will keep for ever in the freezer. My favorite part is when one Hallaca slips away and I find it mid-year... Oh that's a sneaky-nostalgia-moment-of- happiness.


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