Hayacas de Pollo

Chicken Hayacas


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Forty

    3- by 1½ inch hayacas

Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

Hayacas vary throughout different regions in Colombia, from the coast, to the Santanderes, the plaíns of Arauca, and the Llanos Orientales. They are eaten especially on festive occasions like Christmas, New Year and Carnival. Some hayacas are prepared with pork and others with chicken; some have peas and potatoes and other don’t. Here’s a great hayaca recipe for you to enjoy.



  • 2 whole chicken breasts, skins removed
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • 5 tablespoons diced green pepper
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • ¼ cup minced green onion
  • ¼ cup minced red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoon minced celery
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ cup minced scallion
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro


  • 3 cups yellow cornmeal
  • cups chicken stock (use the broth from cooking the chicken for the filling and top up with commercial broth)
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Assembly or Wrapping

  • 12 bijao* or plantain leaves


  1. Place the chicken breasts and ¼ cup of the diced onion, 1 tablespoon of the green pepper, the mustard, and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic in a bowl. Mix well and let sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a medium pot; add 6 cups of water and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the breasts and set aside to cool; cut into small dice. Pass the liquid through a strainer and set aside for the masa.
  3. In a large sauté pan place butter and carrots, cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup diced onion, green onion, red pepper, remaining ¼ cup green pepper, celery, remaining garlic, bouillon cube, salt, pepper, and curry powder, and continue to cook for 15 minutes more. Add the scallion and cilantro and cook 3 minutes more.
  4. Add the diced chicken and set aside to cool.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, MAKE THE MASA: mix cornmeal, chicken stock, oil, bouillon cube and salt with your hands for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside until ready to use.
  6. Wash the leaves well on both sides, dry, and cut into forty 8-inch squares.
  7. Place one 8-inch square piece of bijao leaf on the work surface. In the center of the leaf add ¼ cup of masa; spread it into a 2- by 4-inch rectangle and flatten it with a fork. Place 1 tablespoon of filling on the masa. Wrap the leaf around the “pie” or tamal in the form of an envelope. Repeat until all the masa and filling are used.
  8. Stack the filled leaves in the basket of a 9-quart pasta pot. In another pot bring to a boil enough water to cover the tamales. Pour the hot water over the tamales. Place a pan with weight on top of them so the water does not penetrate the leaves (these are not tied with string).
  9. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.
  10. Remove from the pot, drain, and discard the liquid in the pot. Let the hayacas sit 5 minutes before unwrapping.
  11. Serve.