12 Traditional Bolivian Foods You’ll Want To Try
Explore the mouth-watering variety of delicious Bolivian foods in this irresistible list of their most popular dishes!
As in most of Latin America, Bolivian dishes are a fusion of prehispanic ingredients mixed with Arab flavors from Spanish recipes and a unique local touch.
If you are interested in learning about a different country, note that food is one of the most important windows to culture. This curated list contains popular Bolivian foods you don’t want to miss on your next trip to the Andean region.
From llama meat to piranha soup, be inspired by this one-of-a-kind menu of traditional Bolivian foods.
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1. Caldo de Carachi – Carachi Soup
Also known as karachi, wallake, wallaqi, or timpu de carachi, this Bolivian dish includes the emblematic carachi fish from the Titicaca lake.
Other ingredients include garlic, onion, oregano, pepper, yellow chili, potatoes, chives, chuña (dehydrated tubers), and local plants and spices like koa and muña.
Bolivian people normally eat this delicacy after a night out partying. They say it “Raises the dead.” This makes sense because it is a dish rich in minerals, proteins, lipids, carbs, and phosphorus.
Since the Titicaca lake is on the border between Bolivia and Peru, this dish is served in both countries. It is customary to eat the fish first and use your hands to eat it.
Follow this link for the recipe in Spanish.
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If you are not a soup fan, you can try the stuffed Carachi as a main course, with a side of vegetables and potatoes. Just look at this beauty!
2. Pacumutu or Anticuchos
Of all the Bolivia traditional food, this one is the easiest to do at home.
It is, quite simply, a pincho.
The mixed version consists of skewers of many types of meat like beef, chicken, chorizo, bacon, and a variety of vegetables like peppers and onions.
Condiment them using mustard, oregano, soy sauce, and wine. If you are not in a hurry, it is best to let it sit for a whole night before roasting it.
This dish will be complete with a side of salad or rice with cheese. The perfect sauce for this kind of Bolivian food is the Ilahua, prepared using regional chili.
Here’s the recipe for anticuchos in English.
3. Ají de Papalisa – Papalisa chili
The Ají de Papalisa or sajta de lisa is one of the traditional foods in Bolivia that goes well with most palates.
Papalisa is a local tuber, with a different kind of potato and dry meat “drowned” in beef broth. The salt, oregano, cilantro, parsley, onion, yellow chili, garlic, and cumin can’t be missed!
Are you drooling too? Then check out the recipe here and travel back in time without leaving your kitchen!
4. Fritanga Picante Chuquisaqueña – Spicy Fritanga
Chuquisaca, the folkloric southern state of Bolivia that houses the Tarabuco carnival, is also the home to the best pork-based Bolivian dish.
Ground chili and potatoes, pepper, garlic, chuño, and cumin all come together in the patasca broth. Patasca means “busted”. It got its name because of the mote, which is corn that gets busted after boiling for an hour.
The key to this Bolivian food is to cook it until the meat is very soft and tender. As a reference, the patasca broth is very similar to the Mexican pozole.
Have we convinced you to try it? Check out the recipe, then, here. Just remember, as the name implies, it’s a bit spicy.
5. Condori Orureño
Condori is one of the most popular Bolivian foods, and it is easy to make as long as you are in Bolivia.
For it, you will need 3 kilos (6 pounds) of llama back cut into pieces and soaked in salty water until it’s tender.
In the Oruro province, llama meat is most likely to be served at celebrations or other social events. It is delicious, nutritious, and has over ten times less cholesterol and fat compared to the meat of other animals.
But if the meat is too dry for you, we recommend trying the Condori soup, available in the Oruro region! Oruro is famous for its original ways of cooking meat in general, but more specifically, coe, llama, and lamb.
If you find yourself in Bolivia and want to try making this dish, here’s the recipe.
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6. El Intendente
This one-of-a-kind dish is for true carnivores. Roast loin, lamb ribs, kidney, veal heart, pork chops, chicken pieces, chorizo, and tripe served with a side of rice, salad, and potatoes.
A dream, huh?
Some pieces are roasted, while others are fried or grilled. If you are lucky, you can score a piece of corn with it, yum!
This Bolivian dish, el intendente—which means “the mayor”—gets its name from a government official who checked restaurants to make sure they met standards.
Want to try to make this leader of all Bolivian foods at home? Here’s the recipe.
7. Sopa de Pirañas – Piranha Soup
Yes, you heard that right! Piranha soup! You normally eat traditional foods in Bolivia, but this one sounds like it’s going to eat you!
If you want to catch one, don’t use a worm as bait. Instead, pinch a chunk of beef meat, and you will get one in no time. Remember, they can weigh up to 2 kilos or 4 and a half pounds.
For this dish, you need an expert to separate the piranha from the bait; otherwise, you might lose a finger and your appetite. People who live near these rivers eat this fish a lot, especially when they don’t have enough of other kinds.
People cook the fibrous flesh of the piranha with onions, peppers, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Check out the recipe here.
If you like exotic foods, this is the kind of Bolivian dish you want to try, just don’t let it bite you!
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8. Pique Macho
Out of all the traditional Bolivian foods, Pique Macho is considered one of the most representative dishes.
This irresistible mix of potatoes, beef, boiled eggs, sausage, peppers, and onions, served in large portions, will leave you wondering if you are macho enough to finish it.
According to popular belief, a restaurant owner had run out of food after a long day. She was closing down when some workers showed up begging for food.
There was nothing in the kitchen but scraps. So she took all of them and condimented them with lots of spicy chilies. She said, “Piquen si son machos,” which translates to “Eat if you’re man enough.”
So, get ready for an incredibly hot experience!
Follow this link to find the recipe in English.
Most Bolivian food is a mix of cultures, but this one truly has it all.
According to oral tradition, Mondongo started as a corn-based indigenous stew, and then Spanish conquistadors added pork meat. But the secret is the sauce made by Africans who arrived as enslaved people with the Spanish.
Cumin, red and yellow chilly, pork, potatoes, garlic, corn, onions, and parsley are some of the ingredients of this Bolivian delicacy.
If you miss it during your trip to Bolivia, you can always make it at home.
Some say the word comes from the Arabic word bandullo, which means belly or guts. Others think it comes from the African Kikongo language, and for them, mondongo means “entrails.”
You can find mondongo soup—which is a variation of this dish—throughout Latin America. For example, in Mexico you might find it as menudo, tripa, or pancita. In Chile and Ecuardo, people call it guatitas. And in Argentina and Peru it’s called patasca.
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Silpancho is one of the most common Bolivian foods, and it comes from the Quechua Sillp’anchu, which means thin and flattened.
It’s made of a fried egg, a milanesa—Bolivian milanesa, however, does not use flour or egg—on top of rice and fried, boiled, or cooked potatoes.
The finely chopped onions, yellow and green peppers, and tomato give it a unique taste. Also, don’t forget the salt, lime juice, and oil when you make it at home.
This dish was born over 100 years ago, in a restaurant on Lanza Street, in Cochabamba, Ecuador. And people say that they have the best silpancho. There, you can meet the daughter of Celia La Fuente Peredo, the original owner and the creator of this beloved dish.
11. Empanada Salteña
The empanada is a savory-filled baked pastry you can find in almost all of Latin America, each country with its own variants.
The empanada salteña, or simply la salteña, is a popular Bolivian empanada made of juicy, spicy meat, boiled egg, potato, chili, peas, and olives, and prepared in a mouth-watering beef leg broth.
People believe it to be the most emblematic dish of all Bolivian foods, which has brought families together since the 1700s. Some historians think its popularity comes from the fact that it’s easy to bake, transport, and handle.
Give it a try! Here’s the recipe in English.
If you go to Bolivia but don’t have much time, you can buy some empanadas salteñas as snacks to eat while walking around town.
12. Chambergos potosinos
While you are in Potosí, tasting the empanadas salteñas, indulge your sweet tooth with the chambergos potosinos as well.
For the dough, people use eggs and flour, softened with alcohol and lard, and then sweetened with honey from sugar games. The shape of these pastries makes them unique, and they’re memorable for their crunchiness.
Here’s a tip, don’t forget to bring some back home! You’ll thank us later.
Or, try making them at home. Here’s the recipe in Spanish.
Bolivian Foods Are One of a Kind
As you can see, Bolivian food is incredibly varied and perfect for any kind of palate.
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