This is not a super well-know Peruvian dessert but is as authentic as it can get. In fact, apparently it’s been around for way longer than the popular desserts that appeared when we were a Spanish colony.
I’m usually biased toward chocolate when it comes to sweets, but this is an exception. I think this is in part because there are childhood memories attached to chapana. I recently learned this is one of my father-in-law’s favourite desserts, too. I guess we have more in common that what I thought :)
Chapana is made with grated yuca (cassava), chancaca (basically cane sugar that has been boiled and solidified in a block) and aniseed. It’s wrapped in banana leaves and after cooking it acquires a chewy consistency. Grating cassava is a pain in the ass, so when I found frozen cassava in an ethnic shop (can’t remember which) I bought it immediately with cassava in mind. I used coconut sugar instead of chancaca for a hipster version (and also because I don’t know where to buy chancaca in Sydney!), adjusted the ratio (usually 1:1) to make it less sweet and did my best in wrapping the parcels (I’m very sloppy with that kind of things).
Yield: 4 servings
- 450g frozen grated cassava
- 200-225g coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp aniseed
- banana leaves
- kitchen twine
- Thaw cassava in the fridge overnight.
- Wipe the banana leaves clean.
- In a bowl, mix cassava, coconut sugar and aniseed.
- Divide mix in 4 parts and wrap each in banana leaves in a rectangular pillow-like parcels, wrapping the leaf over itself in 2-3 layers without breaking it if possible.
- Tie the parcels with kitchen twine.
- Fill a pot with enough water to cover the parcels and bring to a boil.
- Pop the parcels in the pot and boil for 30 minutes.
- Fish the parcels out of the water and let cool down enough to unwrap and enjoy.
- Chapana is usually eaten warm, although some people enjoy it cold or at room temperature.