Monday, March 4, 2019

Recipes for Breakfast in Bolivia

Buñuelos and Api for Breakfast
One of the most popular Bolivian drinks is api morado, usually referred to as just “api”. Made from purple maize, cinnamon, water and sugar, the beverage is colorful, heavy and delicious. And it makes for a hearty breakfast, especially when accompanied with fritters (buñuelos).

Api is an altiplano drink, popular mainly in the Andean highlands of the country. It makes sense; on cold mountain mornings, there’s nothing better than a steaming hot cup of rich, liquid corn sugar. We tried it a number of times, both in restaurants and from street-side stands. With all the sugar, it might be too sweet for some palettes, and probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but a serving certainly provides plenty of energy for the day.

Purple Corn

Almost 20 years ago, our mission started Christmas trips to remote villages high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia where we are missionaries. My husband and Juan, a Quechua young man who was born in the Andes Mountains, began going to villages high above the tree line. These trips had to be made on quads because the roads ended before arriving to these villages. Then by foot, they reached the final destination––small communities where life is hard, and the people are precious. Twenty years later, we still continue doing this ministry each Christmas, but now with our Bolivian church.

Bread is a delicacy in the mountains. The highest regions don’t have firewood, but a little further down the mountain where there is firewood, flour is scarce. When the kids see bread their eyes light up––just like they do when they see toys. But, just as they readily accept the bread, they also accept the Bread of Life. They are hungry for both––bread to satisfy their tummies, and Bread to satisfy their souls. Every year we share the Christmas story in places where many hear it for the first time. Many now know the Lord.

In the valley and cities below the mountains live the more fortunate––although many still wait to hear of the Savior. But, bread is available and other delicacies as well. Here in the valley where I live, many wake up on Christmas morning to the aroma of Buñuelos frying in hot oil.

What’s a buñuelo, you ask? The sweet aroma in your kitchen of the finished product of this recipe will transport your thoughts to Christmas in the Andes Mountains. Can you imagine presenting a Bolivian donut (buñuelo) to a mountain child deprived of even bread? But, better yet, presenting the gospel to that child for the first time.


Buñelos are a popular snack throughout Latin America. While they can be eaten at

anytime, Bolivian tradition sees them eaten on Christmas morning with syrup and hot chocolate.

Buñuelos are a soft doughy sweetbread that is deep-fried in the same way doughnuts are made, with a similar flavor but a slightly more chewy texture, traditionally served drizzled with a syrup or honey. The buñuelos are often puffy with a crispy crust and air pockets on the inside.


2 tablespoons fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon anise
2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 cups oil for frying
Molasses to taste
1/2 cup sunflower oil to moisten hands


In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in water, add the fresh yeast, let it stand for about 7 minutes, then add the salt, anise, eggs and flour, mixing it slowly with your hand until you obtain a watery dough. Let the dough stand and rise twice before you start frying in hot oil.

To fry, first spread oil over your hands, take a handful of dough with the fingertips and stretch it into a 4-inch round; rotating the dough occasionally to form a circle. When about to fry, poke a hole in the middle, and put it in the frying pan with a stick (when in the mountains) or the back of a wooden spoon through the hole. Let it acquire a golden brown color on both sides before retiring and leave in a colander to drain away excess oil.

Serve with a jug of hot sugar cane syrup, molasses or honey (or maple syrup) for each person to add the desired amount on the buñuelo. Note: Some Bolivians prefer to eat their buñuelos covered in sifted powdered sugar. Enjoy!

*This is a typical breakfast on our mountain trips. Christmas 2019, the children will receive books as gifts from Worthy Words Press along with buñuelos and api.

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