Instantly one of my favorite traditional Paraguayan foods, chipa is like a cheesy corn bun or bagel depending on the shape. It seems to me that each region of the country has their signature chipa shape, although that’s a loose statement. Here in Yuty, our signature is a rectangular block. When I showed my host mom from Ypane the chipa we had made, she giggled at the shape of it like it was something she’d never seen before. Popular shapes include a bagel-like ring or a twisted log.
Here in Paraguay you will see chipa being sold from large baskets on the street, at bus terminals and on buses, at road-side stands along the main routes and at any town festival or celebration. It is the most delicious when it’s warm. In fact, unless you’re really starved on a long bus ride, it’s hardly worth it if it’s cold. That’s why making our own chipa was such a treat as we were able to sample it directly from the oven. Crispy on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside. We had ourselves a winner!
You may remember we invited our friend, Alba, over to teach us the art of making this traditional Paraguayan bread. Since Shalissa and Braden were visiting us we knew it was the perfect opportunity to try our hand at the mixing, kneading and baking. Alba taught us that the very most important step to good chipa making is the kneading. It cannot be overlooked nor skimped on.
Our dough started out kinda crumbly but as Alba worked it beneath her experienced hands, it slowly got softer and blandito, as they say here. Keep kneading until you hear little squeaks of air in your dough and then knead it some more. We formed long logs, pressed the flat edge of a knife down the center of the log for a fancy indent, and then cut equal-sized rectangles for even baking. If you notice the rectangle splitting in two horizontally (like the top is disconnected from the base) roll it back into a lump and knead, knead some more.
Traditional Paraguayan Chipa
Yields: 60 chipas (around 2″x3.5″ rectangles)
2 kilos tapioca flour/starch (around 16 cups)
1 kilo corn flour/meal (around 6 cups)
1 kilo queso paraguayo (around 2 pounds) (or sub queso fresco, mozzarella, or a salty softish white cheese)
1/2 kilo pig fat (around 1 pound, or 4 sticks butter) (or lard, butter, oil)
1/2+ cup milk
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons anise, or to taste
1. Mix flours, eggs, cheese, fat, salt, and anise in large bowl.
2. Add enough milk to create a not-too-sticky dough.
3. Knead sections of the dough until very light, fluffy, smooth and makes squeaky air noise.
4. Form long log.
5. Press flat side of knife down center of log.
6. Cut into equal size rectangles.
7. Bake on cookie sheet at 400F until golden brown, around 25 minutes.
Note that my conversions and substitutes were often found at this website but they’re just estimations. Experiment a little and enjoy!