TITOTÉ - Coconut Concentrate for Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is an intrinsic accompaniment in Colombian cuisine, particularly in the coastal regions of the country like Cartagena. A whole fried fish, for example, with a side of plantains and coconut rice is incredible. Traditionally though, the recipe requires briefly baking whole coconuts, cracking them open, extracting the juice, scraping, grating, frying.....simply put, it is not something you can just whip up. The part where the juice is extracted and then fried results in little brown bits of coconut that give the rice its color, flavor and a hint of coconut greasiness. It's hands down one of the most beautiful rice dishes on the planet.

Fortunately there is, and has been for a while, a product called Titoté (in writing this post I just realized that my family has been pronouncing this incorrectly for years - see, it has an accent (tilde) on the last "e"). In the little glass jars you will find the result of all the labor regularly put into making the coconut part of coconut rice: coconut concentrate. Once you have this essential part of the dish, making coconut rice is a breeze.

You can find Titoté in most supermarkets in Bogotá, like Carulla. I'm not too sure where else you can find it so I would suggest stocking up if you are here and taking it with you. This recipe was fine tuned by my mother and the result is a perfectly balanced coconut rice with just the perfect amount of sweet and salty. I love getting raisins in almost every bite, so I tend to use a heaping 1/2 cup of raisins.

TITOTÉ Arroz con Coco/Coconut Rice
Serves 5

1 small jar (250 g) TITOTÉ
4 cups water
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups rice
½ cup raisins packed

Place the contents of the jar of TITOTÉ, water, sugar, and salt in a medium to large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally until all the ingredients are dissolved then add the rice and raisins.
Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated and holes form in the rice. Lower heat, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Fluff rice and serve.


Road Trip: Sutamarchán, Boyacá

On a recent road trip my family and I stopped in a little town called Sutamarchán. This town, located in the department or state of Boyacá, is rougly 3.5 hours from Bogotá. It's pretty tiny and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of things to do, so it wasn't our main destination. It was after hearing a few good tips from a famliy friend though, that we planned our itinerary around having lunch there. Sutamarchán, as it turns out, is known for one particular kind of sausage:


I'm not sure where the name comes from but apparently its most obvious characteristics are that it is long and thin - hence the name "long"aniza? Who knows....in any case, it's delicious. The thin, condimented sausage is made with roughly chopped pork meat and has that bright reddish color like other sausages. It's common in many places around the world, like Spain, Chile, Argentina, some countries in the Caribbean and Colombia. In Spain there are about half a dozen kinds, flavored with different spices and often cured. The ones we usually find in Colombia are fresh and require cooking.

We hadn't been given the name of any particular restaurant so we drove around until we saw one that looked popular. It was a little tricky seeing as all the restaurants we drove past had tons of longaniza hanging out in the front and most of the tables were full of locals. Finally we chose "La Fogata" and it turned out to have been quite a good selection.

Of course the longaniza did not come alone. It had a few accompaniments of morcilla (blood sausage with rice and peas), small chunks of grilled beef and pork, cheese filled arepas, papa criolla, plátano maduro (ripe plantain) and yuca. On top of that we ordered an additional serving of longaniza and one of chicharron (fried pork skin/fat). And on top of THAT, ají and guacamole.

Indeed, it isn't the healthiest of meals but it really is satisfying. Most of the items, if not all, leave a nice shimmer of grease on your fingers and on your lips...no need for lip balm! It's the same kind of meal that I shared from "El Chorote" where a whole lot of food is piled onto a platter and everyone picks at it (usually these places are called piqueteaderos...maybe they got their name from the act of "picking"?)

So, if you should ever find your self in Villa de Leyva (the beautiful colonial town that was our destination) or around Boyacá, make sure to swing by Sutamarchán. It's on the way to other sightseeing destinations like Ráquira, Chiquinquira and Villa de Leyva. Well, even if it isn't on the way I would still go out of my way to have lunch there.


UPDATE: Green Mango Granita

Well, I did the first trial of the green mango granita but I'll need to complete one more test before posting the final version. The first one was a hit but I think with a few improvements it could definitely be better.

The first comment was to lower the amount of lemon juice just a bit. It was tasty but it overpowered the flavor of the slightly subtle green mango.

Another comment was to cut the mango into smaller cubes or maybe even grate it. The larger cubes looked like sweet corn at a glance (which looked pretty odd), plus when frozen, the chunks were much more noticable in your mouth. With the pieces a bit smaller I think the mouthfeel will be more balanced...so we'll see what happens.

On a side note, my dad cut up some papaya the morning after I made the granita and since there were no lemons left to squeeze over the papaya, he put some of the granita on top instead. I wasn't fortunate enough to be there to try it but those who were said it was great.

Stay tuned for the final recipe....