Hallacas, a tradition with a Venezuelan flavor!

One of the most recognized dishes that we can find in the Venezuelan tradition is the hallaca. A typical dish from Venezuela, although over time it has been adopted in the gastronomic culture of other countries, where it has received the name of tamal.

Hallaca essentially consists of a mass of corn pigmented with onoto and flavored with chicken broth, which is generally filled with a stew of beef and pork, although depending on the region it can also be chicken, seafood and even fish.

This dough is filled with meat and other additional flavors are added, such as: raisins, olives, potatoes and boiled eggs, although in some regions they include: paprika, onion and sancochada carrots.

This preparation is wrapped in a banana leaf, at least in Venezuela, since, in other countries, corn cob leaves, maguey, avocado, among others, can be used. Finally, this preparation is tied with wick thread and taken to the fire in abundant salt water.

Ingredients for Venezuelan halls

For the stew:

  • 4 kg of beef cut into squares.
  • 2 kg of pig pernil.
  • 1 kg of onion cut into small cubes.
  • 1⁄4 kg of sweet chili pepper.
  • ½ of chopped paprika.
  • ½ cup of olives.
  • 100 grs. chopped chives.
  • 3 cups of chicken or chicken broth.
  • Salt and pepper necessary quantity.

For the mass:

  • 3 kg of corn flour.
  • Chicken or chicken broth amount needed.
  • Come to taste.
  • Oil with onotus necessary quantity.

For the leaves:

  • 4 kg of banana leaf.
  • 2 rolls of wick.

For decorations:

  • ½ kg of raisins.
  • 400 grs. of stuffed olives.
  • ½ kg of sancochada potatoes
  • ½ egg cardboard.

Preparation of Venezuelan halls

For the stew:

  1. We place the different meats in a large and tall pot.
  2. We chop the onion, chili, paprika and chives in small squares and add it to the meat.
  3. We add the olives, the chicken stock and a little salt.
  4. We put the pot on the fire and let it cook for 5 hours. We should be on the slope and add more water or chicken stock from time to time.

For the mass:

  1. In a large bowl we place the chicken broth with the salt, oil, flour and knead until we obtain a homogeneous dough.
  2. We form small balls of dough about 5 to 7 cm in circumference.

For the leaves:

  1. The first thing we should do is remove the vein that the leaves bring.
  2. Then, with the help of a cloth and water, we clean the leaves on both sides.
  3. We cut the leaves into 30 x 40 cm rectangles and reserve.

For the filling:

  1. We wash and cut the potatoes in half. We place them in a saucepan with plenty of salt water until they are cooked.
  2. Then we let them cool, remove the skin and cut them into thin sheets. We reserve until the assembly.
  3. We boiled the eggs in plenty of salted water for about 8 minutes or so.
  4. We let cool, and then cut them into thin sheets. We reserve until the assembly.


  • We put a sheet on the table, then add a little onoto oil over the entire surface so that the dough does not stick.
  • We put a ball of dough on the sheet and stretch it with our hands until it is very fine.
  • We fill with meat, raisins, olives, potatoes and egg.

  • Once all ‘the decorations’ have been added, we proceed to close the hall.
  • We take one end and take the sheet to the center of the preparation. We detach the leaf mass and repeat this step on the rest of the sides, making sure that the filling is completely covered by the dough.

  • We wrap the dough with the leaf, performing the same procedure as with the filling, ensuring that it covers the entire dough.
  • We cut strips of approximately one and a half meters from the wick thread and tied the halls. To do this: first, we place the hall in the middle of the thread and tie a knot, turn and perform the previous step until achieving a good mooring. This mooring is very similar to that of a gift.

Finally, we put a pot with plenty of water and salt on the fire until it boils. Add the halls and let them cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until they float.

Additional tips:

  • For the onoto paint, in a cauldron we put a cup of oil and add the grain onotus. Let it boil until it has a caramel or dark reddish color and then turn off and remove from the heat. We strain this reddish oil to remove the onotus grains, and let it cool.
  • At the time of putting the hall together we must moisten the leaves with enough oil so that when they are going to close the dough takes off easily.
  • We should not leave the meat with much broth, so that the dough does not break.
  • It is important to tie the jacket correctly, since if it does not, it may open at the time of cooking.
  • These Venezuelan halls are usually accompanied by a delicious chicken salad, smoked ham, chicken or baked meat, and ham bread.

Nutritional information of the Venezuelan foyer

A hallaca contains:

  • Calories 589 kcal
  • Protein 23.6 g
  • Carbohydrates 32.84 g
  • Sugar 6.36 g
  • Fat 41.1 g


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