After several years of conducting lectures and yoga courses on the island of Madeira, many students were following our practices. Eventually, we started scheduling meditation and yoga retreats every quarterly to strengthen their practices and way of life. In one of those many retreats, a couple of Venezuelans were attending for the first time. And as always, after many retreats, we became friends and kept in touch.
When I asked them about their favorite of all staple Venezuelan food, and she said Cachapa. She described how it’s prepared with fresh corn blended with butter, salt, and mozzarella cheese and baked for 30 minutes. “Is that all?” I asked. “I will show you how to do it,” she replied. A couple of days later, we were having lunch after collective mediation together, and she made a Cachapa, loved it instantly. The next time I made it was when I was in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2005.
Corn is a staple in plenty of countries, but especially in South America. It is typically added in plenty of dishes or eaten straight from the cob. It can also be ground to make corn flour, also known as maize flour, or make corn batter for cakes. It is a rich source of carbs and fiber but also has a decent amount of protein.
I wanted to add a little fun to one of my versions of the Cachapa, so I made a Cachapa Tower (because pancake towers have been done over and over again!) To make the Cachapa, you blend the raw corn, add some coconut oil, salt, coconut cream, and bake it. For my non-Vegan yet friends who love cheese at times, you can even use butter and mozzarella cheese to add a creamy, cheesy element to it. And for this recipe, grilled a few slices of sweet potato to build the Cachapa tower.
The Cachapa on its own already tastes spectacular with the natural sweetness coming from the corn. What makes this tower special is that it goes really well with some generous amounts of pesto. In addition, you can try stacking vegetables in it; in my case, I added some sliced grilled potatoes in between to add a crispy, delicious element to the dish. Perfect with a few fried dulse algae, this dish is sure to please the palate. Read further below so you can learn how to make it too!
Cachapa Venezuelan Baked corn tower
- 4 fresh corn, kernels removed from the cob
- 8.8 oz./ 250 grams potato, sliced
- 1 cup canned coconut milk (but if available, freshly squeezed is best)
- 1/2 cup dulse algae (Rhodymenia palmata)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons coconut butter
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven at 180º C / 356º F.
Place the corn kernels in a blender with coconut butter, salt, and coconut cream. You can add fresh mozzarella cheese at this point if you are using it in the dish. Pulse until it becomes a smooth, thick batter or paste.
Spread some coconut oil on the baking pan or tray and pour the Cachapa batter into the tray.
Place the tray/pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Once cooked, let the Cachapa cool at room temperature.
On a skillet, heat a little bit of oil and cook the sliced potatoes until golden brown on each side.
In a separate skillet still, add the remaining coconut oil and fry the dulse algae until crispy. Set aside.
Cut the Cachapa into square pieces.
Now you can arrange the tower on a plate. The bottom layer will be a slice of grilled potato, followed by a Cachapa square. Place the slices of potato and Cachapa square in an alternating pattern until you form a tower.
Neatly pour some pesto it on top of each stack and serve it with a side of fried dulse algae and the salad of your choice.
Coconut milk from Thailand (Aroy-D is one of the best brands for its concentration) You can make corn pancakes with the same batter as well.