Food and Drink

6 degrees of Empanada

Working online has its perks. You are given a wonderful opportunity to travel around the world and learn about different cultures without leaving your seat; you are given an opportunity to discuss things with other people who can provide you insight just as you could give them some as well. It was during the course of researching for a seemingly simple article that I had a huge epiphany – We, as a human race, have achieved and done so much.  We have connected with each other several times over and have managed to even share knowledge with each other. One proof of this is the humble Empanada.

Who does not love empanadas? I personally think that they are a stroke of culinary genius. It is almost a complete meal in itself – meat, vegetables and carbohydrates in the form of the bread. It is also very convenient to take with you during trips.

In the Philippines, there are 3 kinds of empanadas, four if you add the “commercial” kind. The first is the Ilocos empanada – a deep fried empanada filled with green papaya, langgonisa, togue and an egg. Sometimes, they also add goat’s cheese to it. The Vigan empanada, uses its local vigan langgonisa and colors the shell/crust with annatto. The third kind is the “empanada de kaliskis” from Bulacan, named that due to the flaky texture of the crust that resembles fish scales.

Ilocos empanadabulacan empanada de kaliskisvigan empanada

Online accounts state that the origin of empanadas in the Philippines, at least, comes from the Spaniards during the colonization era. However, empanadas can be traced back to the Portuguese. The Portuguese attribute the origin of their empanada from Arabs who in turn got it from the Indians as inspired by their samosas.

It is interesting to note that with each country, region or town that has a version of empanada, the type of filling and the flour used drastically changes – adapting of course to what is readily available within their area as ingredients.

What I find interesting is that empanadas have samosas as its ancestor. Samosas are very popular in the Indian Subcontinent for centuries but also recognize itself as a permutation of the samsa in Central Asia. I surmise that the recipe has been shared to different people (and has subsequently created variations of it) during the trading routes. It could well possibly be that we have had samosas before we’ve had empanadas. Looking at the information found online, it was a 14th century traveler, historian and explorer that wrote about the samushak or sambusak, a small pie stuffed with minced meat, almonds, pistachio, walnuts and spices…[8][9]

Ibn Battuta  is considered one of the greatest travelers of all time.[2]  But what’s even more interesting is that Ibn Battuta has been in the Philippines before. He wrote about Princess Urduja, the ruler of Kaylukari in the land of Tawalisi. Tawalisi is thought to be the province of Pangasinan where the legend and story of Urduja originates.

But going back to empanadas, there are several places in Manila that sells these types of empanadas. You don’t have to travel that far just to have a taste of authentic empanadas.

If you’re craving for Vigan Empanada, you can have your craving fix at Mac’s Deli over at Tiendesitas.

Mac’s Deli
Food Village, Tiendesitas
Ortigas Ave cor. E. Rodriguez Ave (C5)
(02) 6353152

If it’s Ilocos (or Batac) empanada you’re after, you can get some from Ilocos Empanada along Katipunan.

Empanada Nation
#26 Sgt. Esguerra Ave. Just in between JTs Manukan and N20 Bar and in front of Chocolat.
8101 Pearl Plaza, Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center,Pasig City
09209215385/ 09178938665/ 09235564567

Adarna Food and Culture sells the empanada de kaliskis. Drop by the restaurant to satisfy your kaliskis cravings.

Adarna Food and Culture
119 Kalayaan Avenue
Diliman District, Philippines
0917 961 8113



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