Beagle Channel in the Patagonia

Beagle Channel in the Patagonia

April 07, 2013

THE HUMITA, A DELICIOUS DISH FROM SPANISH AMERICA



EVERYBODY LIKES HUMITAS!


LOVELY CORN!





Source: US dept.agric. Pixabay, Public Domain


The HUMITA is a dish that has been prepared in Spanish America since pre-Columbian times. 

It is a traditional food in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, that is based on a soft paste made from corn.  The humita is made into a packet filled with this corn paste by using the outer husks of the ears of corn. This packet is then boiled in salted water for about an hour.

The humita is common all over Latin America, although the name varies from place to place, as do the ingredients added to the basic corn paste.

The name “humita” derives from the word humint’a in Quechua, the most widely spoken indigenous language of the Andes. It is spoken in Ecuador, southern Colombia, the highlands of Peru and Bolivia, northwestern Argentina and northern Chile.


AT CUSCO, PERU. SO SWEET!    A YOUNG GIRL AND HER ALPACA





Source: Donkeet, CC BY SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons



 
PREPARATION.


A CORN FIELD




Source: Pixabay, Public Domain


To make humitas, you need wholesome ears of corn with kernels that are still relatively milky. The leaves or husks are carefully slit and then pulled off so as to keep them as intact as possible, because they are needed to make the packets.

You must separate the kernels (the grains) of corn from the cob.  This can be done by rubbing the cleaned and de-husked ear of corn against the grater, which is rather slow.

You can also cut off the kernels with a sharp knife and then grind them with a food processor.

In both cases it is important not to scrape too low down into the cob, so as to work only with the more tender part of the kernels.

Usually the kernels are ground with basil leaves, which are an indispensable ingredient that help provide the traditional taste of the humitas.

Fried onions, finely sliced, are also added to the mix. It’s possible to fry in virgin olive oil or sunflower oil or butter or lard. Families from Chile’s rural areas generally use lard, but this is a question of taste.

The mix can also include finely chopped green chili peppers. I personally prefer to eat the humita accompanied by a fresh tomato salad, and to chop the green peppers into the salad.  This will all depend on how “hot” you like your food!


GREEN PEPPERS OR BANANA PEPPERS




Source: Chris Breeze, CC BY 2.0. Wikimedia Commons
 

Okay, so let’s look for a recipe and watch a video!



A RECIPE FOR HUMITAS.


There doesn't seem to be a fixed recipe. The quantity of ears of corn will depend on how many bundles you want to make, and you just need to keep on grinding until you have a full bowl. 30 ears will make a good quantity, but you can also use less!

The onions could be 1, or 2 or 3, also depending on how much paste you are making.

Salt is added to taste.

Milk is added to keep the paste smooth and pliable. The quantity will depend on how dry the kernels are. You will probably need 1 cup or as much as 2 cups.

Basil leaves are added for taste. Too many makes the taste too strong. The video shows some basil leaves being added in at the grinding stage.

Condiments are added according to taste.  This is where you can make the humita really “hot” or mild.

You really would need to try the humitas out and then improve on them the second time, as you will have more experience on what you like and don’t like. I personally prefer to sprinkle sugar on them, but also to combine (not mix!) them at the same time with vegetable salads that aren’t necessarily sweet, like tomatoes or lettuce. 

In some places the humita has fresh cheese included in the mix. You can also add chopped tomatoes. I personally prefer my humita as simple as possible; just the basic mix is fine!

I think the only rule is that you don’t use meat at all! This dish is strictly vegetarian!

Finally the humitas are boiled in a large pot for about an hour. They take less time in a pressure cooker, about half an hour, but the problem here could be the size of the pot that is needed for a large quantity.

A PLATE OF DELICIOUS HUMITAS!





Source: Marcos Katz, CC BY 3.0. Wikimedia Commons


AN INTERESTING VIDEO.

 
This one shows the process of collecting the husks and of separating the kernels. The performers use an old-fashioned meat-grinder to grind the corn, but finally the cook doesn’t like the result and uses a processor. 

The video also shows the cook making the packets.

In my home we use a more modern processor, and the humitas are delicious!







FINAL WORDS.



Corn was very much of a basic food in pre-Columbian Spanish America, and is still providing lovely, tasty, nutritious meals. 

The best news of all is that the humita is made of products that are entirely natural!

Summer will soon arrive to the Northern Hemisphere, so try your hand at this banquet!

We of the Southern Hemisphere unfortunately have to wait until the next season to enjoy this delicious product of Spanish America.

See you on the next post!




SPANISH VERSION.


 (This Blog is bilingual)



Las humitas han sido consumidas en la América Hispana desde los tiempos precolombinos.

Constituyen un alimento tradicional en Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador y Perú y su base es una pasta blande que se hace con los granos de una mazorca de maíz. 

Es importante observar que la “mazorca de maíz” se denomina “choclo” en Chile y en otras regiones de la América Hispana.

La pasta de las humitas se envuelve en las hojas exteriores del choclo (mazorca) y estos paquetes se hierven en agua con sal durante más o menos una hora.

El nombre de humita se deriva del idioma Quechua.



PREPARACION.



Los granos de maíz se procesan con hojas de albahaca hasta formar una pasta a la que se le agrega cebolla finamente picada y rehogada hasta quedar transparente. También se le agrega sal y los aliños que se deseen, al gusto personal.

Muchas personas agregan ají verde picado a la mezcla. ¡Esto depende del agrado que se sienta por la comida más bien picante!



RECETAS PARA HUMITAS.


No parece haber una receta formal, sino más bien diversas instrucciones y recomendaciones. 

La cantidad de choclos (mazorcas) a usar depende de la cantidad de pasta que se necesite.

Las cebollas pueden ser una, dos o tres, según la cantidad de pasta.

La albahaca debe ser tratada con cuidado, ya que su sabor resulta demasiado fuerte si se utiliza en demasía.

Se agrega leche a la mezcla para mejorar su consistencia. Esto dependerá de cuan secos estaban los granos de maíz, y será necesario utilizar entre una y dos tazas de leche.

Los condimentos pueden ser aliño completo, orégano, ají color, etc. según el gusto.

En algunos lugares se le agrega queso fresco a la mezcla, y también se puede agregar tomate picado. Personalmente prefiero que la humita contenga sólo la pasta básica, ya que se puede acompañar con ensaladas tanto de tomate como de otras verduras y también queso, pero aparte, sin incluir en la mezcla.

Me parece que la única regla consiste en que este plato no lleva carne de ninguna especie, ¡es totalmente vegetariano y hecho con productos muy naturales!

Después de hacer los paquetes y amarrarlos, éstos se hierven en agua salada durante alrededor de una hora. El tiempo en olla se reduce a la mitad, pero en este caso el tamaño de la olla puede constituir un problema.



EL INTERESANTE VIDEO.



Este video está en español, los partícipes son de Chile y por tanto hablan de los “choclos”. Se muestra todo el proceso inicial para preparar las mazorcas, y se observa como se muelen los granos.

El video también muestra la confección de los paquetes para armar la humita.



PALABRAS FINALES.



El maíz constituyó un alimento fundamental durante la época anterior a la llegada de los españoles al continente americano. Lo notable es que a la fecha ¡sigue proporcionando platos deliciosos y nutritivos!

El uso de productos totalmente naturales constituye el principal valor de la humita, además de su rico sabor.

La época del verano está por comenzar en el hemisferio norte, así es que ¡a aprovechar de comer humitas!


EL MAIZ, UN PRODUCTO ESTRELLA




Source: Mangrove Mike, CC BY 2.0. Flickr


More about similar topics in a future post.     Más sobre temas similares en un próximo post.



LANGUAGE TIPS FOR ENGLISH


Words that go together!  * Make time for   - * Get wet  - * Come to an end   - *  Annual turnover   – * Next few days 



LANGUAGE TIPS FOR SPANISH.


Expresiones de uso frecuente: * Llevar los pantalones - * Pedirle peras al olmo  - * Romper el hielo 



How is your level of comprehension?     ¿Cómo está su nivel de comprensión?




© 2013  joanveronica  (Joan Robertson)



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