Last week I prepared this dish for dinner with friends, along with the solterito salad. This dish is typical from Lima and its name causa means “cause”, the story says it was invented during the war against Chile with the produce available at that time (mashed potatoes, limes and chillies), and given to the soldiers por la causa (“for the cause”).
Generally speaking, a causa is a cold dish made with a layer of the aforementioned potato mash, a layer of filling, and another layer of mash. The original version is called causa limeña and it’s filled with pulled chicken, mayo and avocado. These days you can find thousands of versions available, with different meats (or veggies) in the filling and different tubers in the mash. There’s a restaurant in Lima called Mi Causa which serves a lot of versions, including one with German sausages. Some cooks also roll their causas sushi-style for a more interesting presentation.
My favourite fillings involve some kind of seafood, like tuna, crab, prawns, smoked salmon, and pulpo al olivo (octopus in olive mayo). The most common one is tuna (atún in Spanish), perhaps because it’s the cheapest and easiest to prepare.
One tip about the potatoes: try to use a variety that is good for mashing and has good flavour. I used nectas this time, following the recommendation of the potato people in the market. I think pink eyes would work well, too, or any floury variety.
Yield: 8 servings
1 1/2 kg potatoes
1 small red onion
1 450 gr can of tuna in oil
3 teaspoons powdered yellow chilli or any chilli blended with a bit of oil into a paste, to taste
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 – 3/4 cup mayonnaise
black olives (optional)
chopped coriander or parsley (optional)
Boil the potatoes with the skin on in salted water until tender. Peel them and mash them while still hot. Let the mash cool down.
In the meantime, chop the onion and place it in a bowl with water.
Boil the eggs and slice them.
Mix the mash with the juice of 3 limes, the chilli and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Drain the onion, drain the tuna, and mix both with the juice of 2 limes.
Lightly oil a baking dish or baking tray with a mousse ring on top. Using a spoon or spatula, spread half of the mash and even it out.
Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on top of the mash.
Slice the avocadoes and arrange them on top.
Spread the tuna mix on top.
Spread the rest of the mash and even it out.
Spread another thin layer of mayonnaise and arrange the boiled egg slices. If using olives, scatter them around the egg slices.
If using herbs, sprinkle them on top.