Empanada Facts For Kids: Learn All About This Spanish Cuisine

Nidhi Sahai
Mar 01, 2024 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Mar 14, 2022
Edited by Naomi Carr
Fact-checked by Sonali Rawat
Empanada Facts For Kids: Learn All About This Spanish Cuisine
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

Empanadas are made with a wide variety of doughs, stuffing, and cooking methods throughout Latin America.

Despite this, the majority of varieties have their origins in Galicia, Spain. During the Moorish conquests of Medieval Iberia, they made their initial appearance.

An empanada is mentioned by name in a Catalan cookbook from 1520 that describes regional Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian cuisine. Bakers would make the savory pastries in round pies or rectangular plates at the time. They'd cut them into single servings after that and served with cabbage or salsa topping. Spanish colonists brought the delicacy to Latin America and the Philippines, and empanadas quickly became associated with the culture of those countries.

Empanada is a stuffed pastry or bread, baked or fried later, according to the choice of different people of different countries, like Latin America, South Europe, and some parts of Southeast Asia. The name empanada came from the verb 'empanar’, which means to coat or wrap in bread. This verb comes from Portuguese, Spanish, and Galician languages.

Latin American empanadas are thought to have originated in Galicia, Spain, where they are cooked like a pie and split into pieces, making them a portable and nourishing supper for working people.

The most common fillings for Galician empanadas are codfish or chicken.

April 8 is National Empanada Day.

There is an annual national Empanada festival called 'Empanda Creole'.

Empanadas are formed by wrapping dough or bread over a filling, which can be any combination of shredded beef or minced beef, egg yolk, goya cheese, veggies, peanut butter, or sweet foods like fruits.

Empanadas are eaten by Cubans at any mealtime, but they are most commonly eaten at lunch or as a snack.

In Indonesia, empanadas are called panada or pastel. The panada is loaded with hot tuna and chili peppers and has a crunchy exterior made of fried bread, giving it a bread texture.

History Associated With Empanadas

Empanadas, which have a Portuguese heritage, are thought to have been influenced by Indian dishes such as Gujia and Samosa (served with tomato sauce). Around the time that the Portuguese established a colony in India at the state of Goa, they carried this dish to Portugal. In the recipes for French, Catalan, Italian, and Arabian food in Ruperto de Nola's Libre del Coch, published in Catalan in 1520, empanadas packed with seafood are mentioned. In some countries, mini empanadas are also very popular as a snack. Philippine fried empanadas are loaded with potatoes, ground beef, Cuban picadillo, carrots, resins, and cheese.

Empanadas are called panada in Indonesia. They are particularly popular in North Sulawesi cuisine, where the panada has a thick crust made of fried bread and is stuffed with spicy cakalang fish (skipjack tuna) with chilli, potatoes, curry, or quail eggs. The panada in North Sulawesi is a result of the region's Portuguese influence. This meal is similar to karipap and pastel, except that karipap and pastel have a thinner crust than panada.

In Brazil, empanadas typically contain meat, poultry, cheese, veggies, or fruits filled inside a fried wheat flour bread coating. The Americans call them meat pies. Empanadas in Argentina are cooked with wheat flour and meat or chicken drippings as fillings, which are flavored with hot pepper and cumin. Onions, raisins, cooked eggs, or olives are some more stuffing options. Creole empanada even has the status of Cultural Heritage of Food and Gastronomy by the Argentine Ministry of Culture.

Panades are the Belizean name for empanadas. They're frequently loaded with chicken, seafood, or beans and fashioned with corn dough, and have a thick crust. They're deep-fried and then served with salsa or lettuce on the side. Panades are a popular street snack in Belize.

There are several various types of Empanadas in India, and the majority of them have a delicious filling of fruits and condensed milk. Gujiya, Gughra, Karanjis, and Kajjikaya are some of the names used in different states.

Empanadas in Venezuela are traditionally made with crushed corn dough, while current versions use precooked corn. Due to the use of annatto, the dough may turn yellow when toasted. Cheese, chicken, shredded beef, cazón (school shark) in the Margarita Island region, black beans, ham, and cheese (often known as 'dominó'), and even mixtures of molluscs are among the most prevalent fillings. Empanadas are fried in oil and feature a half-moon shape.

Filipino empanadas are typically filled with ground beef, pork, or chicken,  chopped onions, potatoes, and raisins (similar to Cuban picadillo), but in a sweeter wheat flour baguette. The baked variety and the flaky fried variety are both available. Potatoes are frequently used as a cost-cutting extender, while kutsay is another filler option (garlic chives).

Green papaya, mung beans, and occasionally chopped Ilocano sausage (chorizo) or longaniza, as well as egg yolk, are common fillings in empanadas in the northern section of the Ilocos. This version is fried, with a crunchier shell made from rice flour. People have also made poqui poqui empanadas, which are empanadas stuffed with scrambled eggs, mashed eggplant, and cabbage.

Halfmoon-shaped panzarotti containing a mixture of walnuts, sugar, almonds, chocolate, cloves, cinnamon, and minced beef make up the Mpanatigghi. These are typical of Modica, Sicily's Ragusa province. Impanatiglie or dolce di carne are other names for them (pasty of meat). They were most likely introduced by the Spaniards during their sixteenth-century rule in Sicily, as evidenced by the etymology of the name, which emerges from the Spanish 'empanadas or empanadillas', as well as the unusual combination of meat and chocolate, which appears several times in Spanish cuisine.

Main Ingredients Of Empanada Dish

Empanadas are a versatile dish that may be made with a wide range of fillings, from delectable sweet fillings to classic savory fillings. Traditional fillings, known as Condumios or Rellenos in Spanish, differ from region to region. Fillings can include cheese, fruits, pork, cumin, ham, paprika, salmon, spinach, sweetcorn, and beans.

Although contemporary kitchen appliances make cooking empanadas at home easier than ever, this has not always been the case. Even though they are now common nightly meals in many households, they were once difficult and time-consuming to prepare. Many civilizations still practice and preserve these culinary methods today.

Empanadas were traditionally prepared as large pies in Galicia and Portugal. The pies were originally intended to feed the local laborers, but they were chopped into huge pieces so that the employees could carry them more conveniently. This meal quickly became a favorite because it was both filling and portable.

Empanadas stuffed with chorizo, tuna, or sardines are common in this region, but they can also contain codfish or pork loin. Adding a delicious touch to the meat by adding the tomato sauce and garlic and binding it together.

In order to prepare empanada dough, you need to have a pinch of salt, three cups of AP flour, half a cup of shortening or lard, two tbsp sugar, a tbsp baking soda, and an egg.

To prepare the Argentinian beef filling, you will need 2 lbs (907 g) of ground beef, two hard-boiled egg whites, 2 tbs oil, 1.5 cups chicken broth, 2 tbsp sweet paprika, 3 tbsp ground cumin, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp oregano, two medium onions (diced), half cup raisins, 12 medium green olives, and two small bell peppers.

Empanadas have a half-moon shape and thick crust

Health Benefits Of Empanada Dish

The empanada dish is a baked or fried dough turnover filled with savory or sweet ingredients. Empanadas are famous in many countries within Latin America, along with Portugal and Spain. They can be made with a variety of fillings, including meat, cheese, vegetables, and fruit.

Empanadas are a healthy option for a quick snack or meal. They are high in fiber and protein, and they provide essential vitamins and minerals. The dough can also be gluten-free, making them an ideal choice for people with gluten sensitivities.

Empanadas are best enjoyed warm from the oven or deep-fried. However, they can also be frozen and reheated later on. So the next time you want to make something fast and tasty, you can give one of these empanada recipes a try! You won’t be disappointed.

April 8 is National Empanada Day in the United States. There's a reason this cuisine has lasted the passage of time, grown, and evolved into more than just a quick snack for tired employees. To that end, why not incorporate them as part of your family's meals as much as possible?

You may make morning empanadas and dessert empanadas in addition to the typical lunch or dinner variants! The majority of early-bird variants include eggs and cheese, as well as some type of breakfast meat (sausage, ham, bacon). Apples with chocolate, deep-fried bananas, cinnamon, caramel, and other dessert ingredients are popular.

Nutrition Facts About Empanada Dish

We know that this dish is deep-fried, hence it is rich in fats and calories.

There are three calories per gram of empanada, and the fat is around one-fourth of the daily fat needed. They are an excellent source of iron and vitamin B12. Apart from that, they are a good source of protein if they have a fish or meat filling. Due to the calories and fat content, these dishes are best enjoyed from time to time and not every day!

Based on where you are from and who you talk with, empanadas will be referred to by a variety of names as you move around the world.

Americans refer to them as meat pies, whereas Jamaicans refer to them as beef patties. At the same time, Indians refer to them as samosas, while Latin Americans and Spaniards refer to them as pastelillos or pastelitos.

The beauty of this meal is that there are no incorrect or right ways to prepare it. Rather, you'll find that it's prepared differently in different locations and civilizations.

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Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Nidhi Sahai picture

Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

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