I have heard a lot about arepas from my Venezuelan friend Indira – she has promised for years to make them for me. She finally made them recently and they have fascinated me ever since.
Arepas originated in Venezuela, and are used prominently in modern day cuisine of Venezuela, Colombia, and in other Latin American countries. They look somewhat like pita bread, but are typically made of precooked corn flour and fried on a skillet instead of baked in the oven. They are served very hot and you can fill them with a little butter and grated cheese, which is the simple and traditional way of serving them. Arepas are also great if you are on a gluten free/heart healthy diet. If you are on a low sodium diet then don’t add the salt to the dough and of course adjust your stuffing to your diet.
Arepas should be easy to make, as they consist only of 4 simple ingredients. However, the truth is that to make truly great arepas, you need to know a few tricks that you probably won’t pick up from a YouTube video. I was able to finally learn how to make them when Indira’s mother recently visited from Venezuela and I invited myself over.
Arepas are actually incredibly easy to make, once you understand how to deal with the dough. Please note that the corn flour dough does not respond in the same way as regular white flour dough. The best corn flours to make arepas are labeled P.A.N., and are available in most supermarkets in New York and elsewhere. It is important that the dough is not too dry or it will crack around the edges when you shape the arepas. It is also important to know that corn meal absorbs water slower than regular wheat flour.
Arepas are pretty filling depending on your stuffing, so 2 arepas per person should be enough.