succulent mandocas

i know you are wondering what mandocas are. mando what?!? weird name, succulent snack.

mandocas are originally and typical of maracaibo, venezuela. they are consumed at anytime as a snack, breakfast, dinner and even lunch. like pancakes, i can eat mandocas all day long. give me some butter and cheese, and oh sweet mother of food, i can just eat 20 in a row.

one of the main ingredients to make the mandocas is harina pan, venezuelan cornmeal. easy to find in local hispanic supermarkets or order from amazon. either works. i know there are other cornmeal brands out there but to be honest, i’m loyal to my country’s :) besides, i grew up on harina pan and don’t know any other way to make mandocas with!

so. what are mandocas, you wonder? they are fried cornmeal drop-shaped pure deliciousness part of maracaibo’s culinary scene. the ingredients are simple and somewhat easy to find: ripe plantain, queso blanco {queso fresco or queso cotija} and panela or as known in mexico, piloncillo. in plain english: unrefined whole cane sugar in block form. trust me if i can make them, you can, too. and i live in the midwest. {you can buy panela online at amazon, if you want}.

if you like flavor combinations that explode in your mouth, then mandocas are for you. they have the perfect balance of sweet and salty for sure.

boil and mash ripe plantain.



add harina pan to panela/water mixture and plantain.


shredded cheese going in.



combine all ingredients with your hands.


grab the quantity desired and form a cylinder with your hands.



make a drop shape by pressing both ends together gently.




fry until golden brown.



serve hot with butter and cheese.






succulent mandocas

1 cup harina pan
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 papelon block
1 ripe plantain
1 cup shredded queso blanco (semiduro) 
or queso cotija or queso fresco (mexican cheeses)
canola, vegetable or peanut oil for frying
cheese and margarine for serving

yields 10 to 12 large mandocas


  1. in a pot with boiling water over medium high heat, cook plantain until soft. about 12-15 minutes.
  2. in a large glass bowl, add hot water and papelon. dissolve papelon in water with a fork. if it’s not completely dissolved, pop in the microwave for a few seconds to help melt the papelon.
  3. once dissolved, season with sea salt and mix well.
  4. mash plantain with a fork once soft and add to papelon mixture and mix until incorporated.
  5. add harina pan to bowl followed by cheese. mix well with hands until incorporated. don’t over mix.
  6. if dough it’s too hard and not manageable add a little bit of water to loosing it up.
  7. grab a handful of dough and form a ball. then with your hands shape ball into a cylinder. put cylinder on counter top and roll back and forth with your hands until it has a medium size – not too thick – not too thin. bend one side of the cylinder followed by the other one. press both ends against each other gently. the ends are supposed to meet and hold together.
  8. fry over medium high heat until golden brown.
  9. serve hot with butter/margarine and more cheese! eat immediately since they are not the type of food you can refrigerate and heat the next day.



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