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Pasteles are a traditional dish in several Latin American countries. In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and Panama, it is similar to a tamale. In Central American cuisine, it more closely resembles a British pasty or an Italian calzone.

In Central American pasteles, the filling is placed in the center of disk made of dough. The dough is then folded over and the edges sealed and fried. It is often served with curtido, a type of relish resembling sauerkraut.

In Hawaii, locals say pateles without the first s. This may be related to the absence of consonant clusters in native Hawaiian words, and perhaps also to the frequent. However, the pronunciation of pasteles as "pateles", does occur in other Puerto Rican dialects as well weakening or loss of /s/ at the end of syllables in Caribbean Spanish.


Colombian pasteles are called pasteles de arroz and are more of a tamale then a typical pastel. The masa is made up of rica that is seasoned and left out in the sun, they call this Orear. The masa or orear is filled with many things. Pickled vegetables, chorizo, pork, chick peas, olives and potatoes are the most common stuffing. Colombian pasteles are wrap twice once with cabbage leaf then again with banana leaf.

Dominican Republic

Pasteles de hojas called in the Dominican Republic. Dominican pasteles are prepared with a masa of plantains and two tubers or a masa of three tubers. The masa is filled with ground meat sauteed with annatto powder, garlic, red onions, bell peppers, and tomato paste. Many Dominicans also add grapefruit or sour orange and basil. The masa is then placed in the middle of a banana leaf, folded, tied, and then boiled. Puerto Rican pasteles are also very popular on the island.

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico pasteles are a cherished culinary recipe. Puerto Rican pasteles are much more labor intensive than any other. The masa consists of a combination of grated green banana, green plantain, taro, calabazas (tropical pumpkins), and seasoned with liquid from the meat mixture, milk and annatto oil (annatto seeds infused with olive oil). The meat is prepared as a stew and usually contains pork shoulder, ham, bacon, raisins, potatos, chickpeas, olives, and capers seasoned with bay leaves, recaito, tomato sauce, adobo seco, and annatto oil.

The pork shoulder can also be replaced with boston butt or chicken.

Assembling a typical pastel involves a large sheet of parchment paper, a strip of banana leaf that has been heated over an open flame to make it supple, a little annatto oil on the leaf. The masa (dough) is then placed on banana leaf and then stuffed with meat mixture. The paper is then folded and tied with kitchen string to form packets. It can also be done with aluminum foil, minus the string.

Once made, pasteles can either be cooked in boiling water or frozen for later use. Because they are so labor intensive, large Puerto Rican families often make anywhere from 50-200 or more in one sitting, especially around the Christmas holidays. They are usually served with a ketchup and tabasco sauce mix dip with rice and pigeon peas (arroz con gandules), roasted pork, and other holiday foods on the side.

Pasteles de yucaa is one of many recipes in Puerto Rico that are popular around the island and in Latin America. The masa is mostly yuca (cassava) and may contain potato, malanga and yam. The grated yuca and potatoes are squeezed through a cheesecloth. Some liquid from the stew is added to the masa with milk and annatto oil. The filling is stew of currants, shrimp, crab or lobster cooked in coconut milk and seasoned with basil, sofrito, adobo, and annatto oil. Pasteles de yuca are served with lemon and tabasco sauce.

In cuchifritos pasteles are done traditional. The masa consist of grated green banana (pasteles de guineo) or green plantains (pasteles de platano), liquid from the meat mixture, milk and annatto oil. It is then filled with boston butt and served with a sauce.


Dona Marina Lopez a culinary educator was interviewed for a book named Puerto Rico grand cuisine of the Caribbean by, Jose L. Diaz de Villegas Freyre. She says that a typical pastel takes green banana only, without tuber. "The green banana is from the mountains, the plantains from the coast".

Dona Berta Cabanillas, author of Cocina a gusto, holds that slaves working at sugar mills invented pasteles.

Puerto Rican pasteles do however have their roots in Puerto Rico and are a mix of fufu and tamales.






[*] Dominican Pasteles

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Pasteles

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