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Pabellon – A Tasty Venezuelan Dish You’re Sure to Love! [with Recipe]

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In Venezuela, one dish reigns supreme when it comes to comfort food, and that dish is Pabellon. This delicious meal contains many traditional Venezuelan foods, including rice and beans, plantains, beef, pork and vegetables like carrots and cabbage.

Venezuela is rich in flavor-filled cuisine, and the Pabellon is no different. There are many variants of this dish. It can be prepared with fried eggs, known locally as Pabellon a Caballo. In this case, a Caballo means horseback riding, and the dish is symbolic of a person riding the horse like the egg rides the mound of rice and meat.

You’ll be shocked to discover that some variants of this dish have the meat of baby sharks as a significant ingredient. So, you can say that this meal is to die for. However, you can’t find the Pabellon Criollo just anywhere in Venezuela. Most five-star hotels don’t serve this meal, but you can definitely find it in local restaurants with the “menu del dia”.

This humble yet tasty dish will take your taste buds on an unforgettable trip. In this blog post, I will discuss what exactly Pabellon consists of, its origins and its popularity around the world today.




Venezuelan Pabellon Origin

It’s not every time you get to enjoy a meal that is filled with history in every bite. But that’s precisely what you get with the Pabellon. In Venezuela, this is known as the Pabellon Criollo or simply creole.

At first glance, what you’ll be staring at in the plate set before you is a mixture of white rice, black beans, plantains, and shredded beef. However, it’s a huge symbol of the history and culture of Venezuela. So, what exactly is the origin of the Pabellon?

Based on stories passed down over the years and a rich mix of speculations based on faint historical evidence, we can trace the origin of Pabellon Criollo to the 16th century. This was the colonial era when we had Spanish colonizers in Venezuela.

They made the indigenous people enslaved, forcing them to farm livestock and mine gold for them. These were only a few of the numerous laborious tasks the enslaved people were subjected to.

About a century later, the Spanish merchants decided to take advantage of the physical superiority of Africans and imported them as enslaved people into Venezuela. Most times, the indigenous people and enslaved Africans were deprived of food.

On some days, they were lucky enough to get leftovers which symbolized their struggle. Fortunately, Venezuela became independent by the 19th century. Still, many Spanish families chose to settle down in the country as they had successfully mixed with the locals.

Eventually, Pabellon Criollo became the go-to dish in Venezuela. This national dish is a reflection of the cultural mix in the country. Where you see a delicious plate of food, native Venezuelans see a sumptuous meal that mirrors the national flag and all the different races you can find in this culturally rich country.




Pabellon Empanada Vs Pabellon Criollo

Although the Pabellon Empanada and Pabellon Criollo are famous Venezuelan dishes that share part of their names, they are obviously not the same. The most significant difference lies in the primary ingredient used to prepare each meal.

While the Pabellon Criollo combines rice, beans, and shredded beef, the Pabellon Empanada is prepared entirely differently. The fillings in an empanada are plantains, sauteed onions, tomatoes, and beans, all wrapped up with crispy corn dough.

Usually, they are wrapped up in a half-moon shape and can be eaten solely as a snack without extras. And of course, they are absolutely delicious. You can choose to stuff the Pabellon Empanada with cheese, meat, cazon (shark), or chicken.

When this is deep-fried, the results are excellent. Thanks to the texture of the corn dough, the friend empanadas don’t soak up as much grease as they would with flour dough.

There are various empanada versions, and apart from the one we already explained, there is another filled with cheese. One of the best elements in Pabellon Empanadas is the sauce.

This is the perfect time to include some condiments, especially Guasacaca, a traditional Venezuelan avocado sauce.




Pabellon Recipe



  • 2 pounds of steak
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • Olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tomatoes

Black Beans

  • 2 pounds of black beans
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • A sprinkle of bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • Water

White Rice

  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 chopped garlic
  • Water


  • 2 ripe plantains
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil



For the meat

  1. Mix a tablespoon each of salt, black pepper, turmeric, and cumin into a large bow
  2. Make it into a liquid marinade by sprinkling some olive oil
  3. Cover the beef up with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 12 hours
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Set the heat at medium-high
  5. Remove the beef as soon as it turns golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes for each side.
  6. Saute one sliced onion in the Dutch oven using olive oil until the onion becomes translucent
  7. Cook this for five more minutes with one sliced red bell pepper and chopped garlic cloves
  8. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste
  9. Return the beef to the Dutch oven and submerge with broth
  10. Leave this to simmer for about two hours and then shred the beef

For the black beans

  1. Soak the black beans in water for about 12 hours to get them soft enough before cooking
  2. Add some chili powder, chopped onions, cumin, and bay leaves to add some flavor, but this is optional
  3. Garnish with salt
  4. Add more water as necessary to keep the beans simmering
  5. Remove the beans from heat as soon as it is soft enough to squish down with a spoon

For the rice

  1. Wash the grain of rice properly
  2. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil
  3. Saute the chopped garlic and pour the rice in
  4. Pour in about four cups of water and leave the rice to cook until it absorbs all the water
  5. Remove from heat as soon as it is soft enough

For the plantains

  1. Peel the plantains and cut them into 1-inch-thick slices
  2. Heat five tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan
  3. Fry each side of the plantain slices in the pan over high heat
  4. Lower the heat to medium-high as soon as the bottom edge of the plantain turns golden brown
  5. Move them into a plate with paper towels as soon as the slices are evenly fried
  6. Drain the excess oil and place it on a dry plate

A tip for the plantains is to buy the blackish-yellow ones since they are just the right level of ripeness for this meal. Now that all parts of the Pabellon Criollo are complete, you can arrange them in whichever order you like.

You should have the rice, beef, plantains, and black beans on your plate, all carefully prepared. All that’s left is to enjoy this Venezuelan Pabellon Criollo with its authentic flavor.

You can also choose to boil, fry, grill, or bake an unleavened cornmeal patty to eat alongside the Pabellon. The beauty of this Venezuelan Pabellon is that there are ways to customize it to your taste without doing too much.

Most Venezuelans love Pabellon with some grated white cheese on the black beans. If you’re lucky, this will also come with a slice of avocado. It would be a crime to visit Venezuela without getting a taste of this national dish.




Pabellon Calories and Nutrition

This meal is more than an explosion of various flavors in your mouth. For every serving of Pabellon Criollo, you get a heavy dose of nutritional value. This traditional Venezuelan dish contains protein, carbs, and fat, alongside more than 300g of calories.

Therefore, it comes with several health benefits, thanks to its high nutrient content. The carbohydrates in Pabellon Criollo help keep you full after a great meal. This is perfect for preventing you from overeating or getting hungry just a short time after your meal.

Apart from keeping those hunger pangs at bay, the carbs help your digestive system work better. Many Venezuelans eat this meal daily because it gives them the strength to function daily. Definitely an affordable and filling meal worth trying out.

So, if you need a huge burst of energy from a great meal, you can get your daily calorie content from a serving of Pabellon Criollo.



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