How It Was Started: Churros

Who doesn’t love churro? Formed like a shooting star as described in children storybook; churro is shaped long (and bigger, abroad), crispy on the outer, a bit chewy inside that will make you instantly remember donut, and all those majestic sauces that complement this Spanish doughnut really nicely.

The churros fever probably started like a few years ago in Indonesia, thanks to a local chain restaurant that brought it, however, despite the on and off popularity in Indonesia, the seemingly simple snack has its way written in history although never clear with its origin.

Some say that the Spanish shepherds from the mountainous Andalusia invented it, but I’d like to think that many European during the High Medieval era were pretty much absorbing any kind of information and technology from their neighboring Muslim countries or as far away as the Chinese Empire through their ever-wandering sailors and traders.

Churros from Bengawan, Keraton at The Plaza - Jakarta
Churros from Bengawan, Keraton at The Plaza – Jakarta

First we have to see the possible explanation about the origin of the famous cakwe or youtiao here in Indonesia. We’d think right away that the Chinese immigrants brought these lovely snack to our archipelago many many years ago. And by many many years ago, I mean during the height of exploration age of the Ming Empire. Although it is also never unclear here about when and how these cakwes ever get here, but let us see the Ming Empire policy also in those days.

Portuguese sailors arrived at this massive Far East empire during roughly the same age. They discovered an interesting dish called youtiao but never really knew how it was made and the knowledge was limited only to the basic ingredient of this dish – flour. On how they manually stretch the dough and reached the characteristics as we all know from cakwe / youtiao, they never really knew.

Some say that during those days, capital punishment was harshly regulated for those who gave any information about the empire, including this ridiculously simple recipe. The Portuguese sailors returned to Iberia and began the craze about how to make this stuff, in their own interpretation.

However, it was actually the conquistadors who ultimately popularized the dish upon their bloody, savage conquests in America. Safe to say, sometimes I found churros become more popular in Latin America countries than in Spain itself.

Also, regarding the technique itself that differentiates clearly from the Chinese way, is the use of this device where the dough is inserted into it and squeezed all the way through a tube until it became stretched. All before making its way to the deep-fry hot pool.

It is an interesting take of youtiao, but if you compare it with how it is actually less dense and airy texture when it comes to the original recipe, churro becomes the clear opposite to that. Sometimes the outer part may be equally crispy or even crispier, but the use of star tube to shape the churro is also what makes it intriguing and good looking.

The sauces become the vital part for churro as well. Some inserted liquid chocolate inside the dough, but many use dipping sauce of many kinds. From white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and dulce de leche; or even the fruity and savory version by using guava or melted cheese; you name it. Each country has specifically their own style on how to serve this delicacy and some even turn it into breakfast dish also!

Churros from Churreria, Jakarta
Churros from Churreria, Jakarta

So, how about you? It’s always cakwe at the end of the day for me but a little bit of sweet now and then from the chocolate and caramel for churros wouldn’t hurt, right?

Enjoy your snacking time!

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