We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an Hallaca?

By Karize Uy
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Hallaca is a Venezuelan dish made of cornmeal dough or maize, with a mixture of different types of meat as filling. It is then wrapped in plantain or banana leaves in individual pieces. This dish is very similar to the “tamales” and “empanada,” both of which are Hispanic dishes that also have fillings inside pieces of dough. Hallaca can be alternatively spelled “hayaca” and is also considered a part of Mexican cuisine.

There are many explanations as to how the hallaca came to be. One story says that the hallaca originated as a slave’s food during Venezuela’s colonial times. During Christmas celebrations, the landlords and plantation owners would give to their slaves and workers leftover foods from their holiday meals. In turn, the slaves would resourcefully mix the leftovers and make them as a filling inside cornmeal dough, ultimately creating the hayaca.

Other sources even mentioned how the foreign slaves would repeatedly say “alla” and “aca,” translated as “there” and “here,” while pointing to their master’s plate and to their own corn cakes, suggesting that the master give them some food to make their corn cakes more appetizing. The combination of the two words became the name of the dish: hallaca. Other accounts say that the hayaca indeed originated from the tamales, a dish whose roots go as far back as the Mayan and Aztec civilizations.

Preparing and cooking hallacas usually take a long time, so they are typically made in huge batches that can last for several days of holiday feasts. The cornmeal dough is usually prepared by initially heating annatto seeds in some olive oil until the oil turns red. In a separate pan, spices such as pepper, coriander seeds, garlic and onions are fried and boiled to make a vegetable stock. The annatto seeds and vegetable stock are then combined and strained to avoid clumpy dough. The cornmeal is then added and stirred in gradually until the dough is soft but firm enough to retain its shape.

The meat used for the filling usually includes beef, chicken, and pork, all of which are stewed together along with other ingredients like olives, capers, and raisins. Bell peppers, garbanzos, and nuts can also be added to create a chunky consistency. The dough is then spread onto pieces of banana or plantain leaves, and a spoonful of meat filling is placed at the center. The finished hallaca is then rolled and wrapped inside the leaf, secured by tying a string around it. The hallacas are either boiled or steamed before being eaten and served.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.