Mbeju

PARAGUAY

The idea of gluten-free bread gets redefined in this cheesy dish from Paraguay

SUBMITTED BY

Giulianna

The first dish I had the honor of sharing in my “5 Cheese Dishes from 5 Countries” series was a Paraguayan comfort dish called mbeju. Made from yucca starch, cheese, butter or lard, and salt, this ingredient list is simple yet effective. However, I’m sure you could add even more flavor with extra sauces or seasoning if desired.

This recipe comes from Giulianna, who is from Asuncion Paraguay and now resides in Panama City, Panama. In Paraguay’s mother tongue, Guarani, “mbeju” roughly translates to “flat cake.” As the name suggests, this recipe is simple, but delicious. Traditionally, mbeju is made with Paraguayan cheese, which is made from cow’s milk and tastes both acidic and fresh. A good replacement would be fresh mozzarella, but if you can access Paraguayan cheese, I highly recommend it. Mbeju is usually served during the winter, as it’s a hot, fatty dish perfect for keeping you warm and cozy during those colder months. However, Giulianna enjoys mbeju all year round, and I agree that it’s delicious no matter the time of year.

Since Giulianna moved out of Paraguay recently due to work, this dish serves as a beautiful little piece of home. However, although mbeju only consists of a few ingredients, don’t be fooled! This cooking process was somewhat difficult. The dough wasn’t cooperating with me, so the texture may not have been ideal. Though I may have made a mediocre batch, this salty, cheesy flatbread was still delicious. But I do think it could use a hint more flavor; perhaps some seasoning infused into the cheese or bread may help! 

Ultimately, this little piece of Paraguay was delightfully yummy and comforting. It may require some elbow grease, but I hope you try this unique Paraguayan dish and expand your palate!

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Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups Cassava Flour
  • 1.5 cups Shredded Mozzarella Xheese 
  • 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 5 tbsp Milk of your choice

Instructions
 

  • Using a big bowl, add cassava flour, cheese, butter and salt. 
    Mix with the tip of your finger until it resembles crumbs. 
  • Add 2 tablespoons of milk, mix until it resembles small pebbles. Adding more milk if needed. 
  • Heat a small frying pan on low to medium-low heat. Add ¾ cup of mbejú mixture, and with the help of a spatula, bring the little pieces around the pan together, pressing them with the rest of the mbejú mixture. 
  • Cover the pan and let it cook for a minute, until lightly golden in spots and easy to flip. Flip the mbejú and cook for an additional minute and a half without the lid.
  • Eat alone or with avocado, tomato, lettuce, use your imagination!

Notes

Recipe inspired by Heidiland Cocina
Course: Lunch, Snack
Region: Latin America
Diet: Gluten Free

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