Empanada: Perfec snack, or if you just want a light meal on the go.
Empanada: A perfect snack, or if you just want a light meal on the go. Image Credit: Gulf News / Irish Eden Belleza

Dubai: It must be said that the Philippines' food culture is not complete without the empanada, a popular snack made out of baked (or fried) turnover with a savoury filling. It's an any-day winner at home, between friends, and workmates. And it works for most occasions (or even when there's no occasion).

That is, if you just want a light meal on the go. In the office, we call it the Filipino "samosa", the beloved South Asian triangular (or cone-shaped) snack. But what's the secret sauce behind this Filipino kitchen delight shaped sort of like a half-moon?

The name gives away the clue: it comes from the Spanish verb "empanar", which means "enbreaded" — that is, wrapped or "coated in bread". So, more than 100 years after Diego de los Rios, the last Spanish governor-general, ended his colonial rule over the islands, this living relic from Iberia has never really left the Filipino kitchen.

Besides Europe, it's also popular in Latin America, Indonesia. In general, empanada has two parts: the pastry and the filling. Today, empanada itself has taken on a life, or twist, of its own. In this article (and video), Odessa Esquilona Ramirez, a Dubai-based mum-to-be, takes us to her chicken and shares her empanada-making skills.

While some prefer it baked, some like it fried and fresh. It's crunchier that way. You too, can make it in your kitchen. No fancy kitchen gear needed.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 4 cups Flour
  • 100 grams Butter
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1-1/4 cup Cold water

Filling:

  • 2 cups Chicken breast (boiled and shredded); or mushrooms for vegetarians
  • 1 cup Potato diced
  • 1 cup Carrots diced
  • 1/2 cup Raisins
  • 1 medium size Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 1/8 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Oyster sauce