Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Puerto Rican Christmas Food: Pasteles

Christmas in Puerto Rico: Plantains!

I'm not sure if the bananas in this truck are plantains but they look about the right size. Plantains are called platanos in Spanish but when I lived in San Diego, California, I often saw them on the shelves at the now defunct Alpha Beta grocery store under the name of "macho bananas". ( I wonder what that referred too?)

During the holiday season in Puerto Rico, which starts just before Thanksgiving Day, these large green bananas are in high demand principally because the favorite holiday dish features a mashed banana paste (masa). I usually order mine from Dona Christina because she makes them without meat upon request. If I ever motivate myself enough, I will adapt a version of the following recipe(please follow the link for exact directions).

Puerto Rican savory cakes in banana leaves:
"Pasteles are Puerto Rican special occasion food. The whole family usually gets together assembly-line-style to make large numbers of these starchy parcels and get them ready for the boiling pot. No Boricuan Christmas is complete without pasteles."
If you prefer, you can watch this YouTube video on how to make pasteles. It shows an adapted recipe that is made by a Puerto Rican woman in the United States.  
Feliz Navidad to all!


  1. Nice. I was born in P.R., raised in N.Y. I now live in New Mexico where platanos are easy to get but not any of the other ingredients. Still, we travel to get them and las week we finished making our first batch. They're delicious.

  2. Love it! I bet you are an experienced traditional cook. Imagine making the time to prepare pasteles! Yum!

    Thanks for stopping by, Myrna.

  3. I love how every culture adopts a holiday and makes it theirs. Bananas for Christmas sounds fun!

    BTW, I got rid of word verification on my blog but you have to sign into google or open id to comment.

  4. So true, Sarah. It's a surprise that the bananas are not sweet! My brother-in-law from TX is a chef and he added brown sugar and syrup to his fried bananas. Everyone here thought it was strange.

    I removed the comment verification. I hope I don't get spammed.
    Great to hear from you!

  5. We make a soup out of green mashed bananas with coconut juice ...delicious! It's a Tanzanian/Chagga dish. Interesting variations across cultures. In Uganda they have "matoke" made from mashed sweet bananas. Also scrumptious. I want to try pastales!! Happy New Year!!!

  6. Interesting! It is quite a long process grating whipping air drying wrapping freezing then boiling them. Wow. A fun part of preparing for the festivities!! Happy New Year!!


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