I just love this dish, which I grew up eating in my home country of Colombia. Known locally as ajiaco, it's a celebration food that my English husband has grown rather fond of. In fact, this is technically his recipe, but I'm sure he won't mind me sharing it with you!
Being a dish typical of the chilly Colombian highlands, its flavours and comforting nature seem quite at home here in the UK, but there are two non-native ingredients that you can't do without if you want to replicate the authentic flavour. These are a herb known as guascas and papa criolla, a type of potato that dissolves into the broth, giving the dish its characteristic colour and texture. If you live in London these are pretty easy to get hold of: Seven Sisters and Elephant and Castle are home to many Colombian and Latin American stores which will stock both ingredients. If you can't get hold of them however, try substituting the herb for coriander and using a mixture of British potato types.
- Prep: 30 minutes
- Cook: 50 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Recipe serves: 4
- Chicken breast
- 4 chicken thighs
- Several pounds of as many different types of potatoes as you can get, including papa criolla
- 2 ears of corn, cut in half
- 2 handfuls of guascas
- Chicken stock or water
- Cooked white rice
- Double cream or crème fraîche
- 4 bananas
- Slices of avocado if you are so inclined
- Heat some cooking oil over a medium heat. Add the chicken thighs and crisp up the skin, then pop in the oven to finish cooking. Keep warm.
- Bring a saucepan of water or stock up to a simmer. Add the chicken breast and a handful of the guascas. Simmer till the breast is cooked.
- Remove chicken breast and set aside. Once cooled, shred.
- Add the potatoes and corn to the pot. Bring back down to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the corn and potatoes are cooked through.
- Remove some of the potatoes and mash with a fork. Add back to the pot to thicken. Add the rest of the guascas.
- Add the shredded chicken breast back to the pot to warm through. Season.
- Place one chicken thigh, ½ an ear of corn, and several good ladles of the soup into bowls. Serve the rice, banana, capers and cream separately – you can then add or not add as you wish to your soup. Don’t ask me why the banana with a soup. I don’t know. But it does work. I prefer to eat mine separately, but some people mix it in with the soup. Slices of avocado are generally eaten with most Colombian meals, not only soups, but I prefer this dish without them.