Fry bread, called hojaldres, are a classic breakfast food in Panama. They remind me of plain funnel cake or savory donuts. You will usually see them sold at fondas (locally owned roadside restaurants) with a saucy meat like pollo guisado (chicken in herb sauce). Or sometimes by a guy pushing a cart. Hojaldres are also commonly sold at Bingo parties or sporting events for between 10-15 cents each.
Street vendor in Panama City sells coffee and hojaldres. Photo from Cooking in Panama
The key to good hojaldres is to strech the dough as far as possible without ripping it as you drop it into the oil.
1/2 pound flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon oil
Oil for frying
- Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Then add the egg and water. Mix well. The dough should be a little sticky.
- Flour a flat surface. Drop the dough on the surface. Knead until it forms a smooth ball.
- Place a tablespoon of oil in a clean bowl. Put the dough in the bowl. Roll the dough to cover it with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let stand for 1 hour.
- Heat the oil in the frying pan. Pull off 2-inch pieces of dough. Stretch each piece as you drop it into the oil. Deep fry until lightly golden. Drain on a paper towel.
I am working on writing up how to cook some of the classic Panamanian dishes. Food is very much a part of culture. If you want your own little slice of Panama try some of the recipes here Recipes from Panama.