Recipe: Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)

I’m sure there are a million locro recipes out there because it’s fair to say this is an everyday staple in almost every Peruvian household. The way I make it is not the way my mum makes it, nor the way my aunties make it, nor the way my mother-in-law makes it. This is one of the few dishes Alvaro insists on keeping meat-free, with a fried egg (or three) on top. Works for me.

Locro (Peruvian pumpkin stew)
Yield: 4 servings



  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 500-600g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 – 1.25 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 0.5 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 0.5 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 200g goat feta cheeese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

To serve

  • white rice
  • 4 olives
  • 4 fried eggs
  • coriander leaves


  1. Peel and cube pumpkin and potatoes.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan at medium-low temperature.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Add pumpkin and potatoes. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, then add stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until pumpkin and potatoes are falling apart. Feel free to mash them up as much as you want.
  6. Add corn and peas, cook for another couple of minutes.
  7. Turn off heat, add cheese, season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with white rice, topped by a fried egg and garnish with an olive and coriander leaves.

Recipe: Chapana (Peruvian cassava dessert)

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 :)

Frozen grated cassava

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


  1. Thaw cassava in the fridge overnight.
  2. Wipe the banana leaves clean.
  3. In a bowl, mix cassava, coconut sugar and aniseed.
  4. 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.
  5. Tie the parcels with kitchen twine.
  6. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the parcels and bring to a boil.
  7. Pop the parcels in the pot and boil for 30 minutes.
  8. Fish the parcels out of the water and let cool down enough to unwrap and enjoy.
  9. Chapana is usually eaten warm, although some people enjoy it cold or at room temperature.

Recipe: Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)

Full disclaimer: this in not an authentic Peruvian recipe. The traditional dish is called rocoto relleno, rocoto being a special type of Peruvian really really REALLY hot chilli that I haven’t been able to find fresh in Australia. You can find them jarred but IMO it’s not the same. They jarred version is wet and soggy, characteristics that are particularly unappealing when talking about vegetables you’re about to stuff.

*Real* Peruvians (i.e. not my husband) like their food spicy, so they don’t mind their rocoto relleno to have a bit of a kick. Wimps and kids might prefer to have their rocoto boiled multiple times in water, vinegar and sugar to minimise the heat or have pimiento (capsicum) instead of rocoto.

Rocoto relleno is a dish typical to Arequipa, the white city. The filling is the almighty Peruvian filling based on beef mince, onion, garlic and chilli. The cheese in traditional recipes is paria, a salty fresh cheese. The closest substitution I’ve found here in Australia is sheep and/or goat haloumi. Rocoto relleno is commonly served with a side of pastel de papa, basically a potato bake. I recommend serving it with a leafy green salad instead.

Pimiento relleno (Peruvian-style stuffed capsicum)
Yield: 4 servings

Pimiento relleno


  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 tbsp ají panca (Peruvian red chilli paste – you can sub any chilli paste)
  • 4 large capsicums
  • 4 olives, pitted
  • 2 boiled eggs, halved
  • 8 slices (about 240g) sheep and/or goat haloumi cheese


  1. Preheat oven to a moderate-high temperature (180-200°C)
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan. Add meat and brown.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ají panca. Cook until meat is fully cooked and onions are soft.
  4. Cut the top off each capsicum and carefully remove the internal membranes and seeds.
  5. Fill each capsicum halfway with meat, add 1 olive, 1/2 boiled egg and cover with more meat.
  6. Top filling with 2 slices of cheese and cover with the capsicum “lid”.
  7. Pop in the oven until the capsicum is soft but not soggy and the cheese has started melting. Serve with a green salad.
Estofado de pollo

Recipe: Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)

This is one of those dishes that I used to hate as a kid and now I crave when homesickness kicks in. I think the main reason I dreaded it was that my mum or aunties cooked it too often.

I think mum has forgotten my aversion to estofado because she didn’t tease me when I asked for her recipe last time I spoke to her. Turns out that her recipe is simpler than what I imagined, and I managed to make it taste virtually the same. Except that now I like it :)

Estofado de pollo (Peruvian chicken stew)
Yield: 6-7 servings

Estofado de pollo


  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1.85kg chicken drumsticks
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.25 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 0.5 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a pot. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper and brown. Reserve.
  2. Lower the heat, add more ghee or oil if needed and cook the onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes until very soft and translucent.
  3. Add the tomato paste, chicken, chicken broth, carrot and potatoes. Stir, cover and cook until the chicken is done, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add the peas and check the seasoning.
  5. Serve with white rice and/or vegetables.

Recipe: Jugo surtido (“assorted” juice)

The funny thing about this juice is that the name tells you nothing, however everyone in Lima (possibly in Perú) knows exactly what to expect. The taste of a classic jugo surtido is, I’m sure, ingrained in the memories of millions of limeños who have ever set foot in a juguería (juice bars). When I was growing up, the best juguerías could be found in mercados (markets). Popular flavours were papaya, lúcuma con leche (lúcuma and milk), fresa con leche (strawberries and milk), plátano con leche (banana and milk), surtido and especial (surtido plus algarrobina and egg). I hated lúcuma until my mid-20s, the other single-fruit ones were common at home and especial was too intense for me. Therefore, surtido was my go-to choice.

Jugo surtido
Yield: 2-3 servings

Jugo surtido


  • 1/4 papaya
  • 2 slices cooked beetroot
  • 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 6-8 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2-2.5 cups water


  1. Blend all ingredients, pretend you are in a Peruvian mercado and enjoy.

Recipe: Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo (smashed plantains, mussels and chorizo)

Last time I went to Tienda Latina to buy food for my birthday I noticed they had sliced and pre-cooked ripe plantains in the freezer. I grabbed a bag without even asking for the price and started thinking what to do with them.

Frozen sliced ripe plantain

It didn’t take me too long to decide: I wanted to make a version of majarisco, a dish from the North of Perú that features plátano majado (smashed plantains) and seafood. To keep things simple, I used frozen mussels and chorizo (also bought at Tienda Latina) for this version.

Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo
Yield: 5-6 servings

Majado de plátano con choros y chorizo


  • 500g frozen pre-cooked plantains (or 500g fresh plantains, sliced and cooked in fat)
  • 500g chorizo
  • 1-2 Tb fat of choice (I used ghee)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tb chilli paste (I use Peruvian ají panca but any kind will do)
  • 1kg frozen mussels
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup fish (or vegetable) stock
  • 2 Tb apple cider vinegar

To serve:


  1. Smash plantains with a pestle or similar heavy object.
  2. Slice chorizo.
  3. Chop onion and garlic, cook in fat on medium heat until soft. Add chilli paste.
  4. Add chorizo, stir until completely cooked.
  5. Add plantains, stir.
  6. Add mussels, wine, fish stock and vinegar, reduce until a thick sauce is formed.
  7. Serve with greens and salsa criolla, garnish with coriander.

Recipe: Vegan causa

Yes, vegan. Before you think I’m crazy for bastardising one of my national dishes, let me explain. I made this version for an assignment for which I had to modify a recipe for social (i.e. religious, ethical, etc.) reasons. I thought of causa because I know people make vegetarian versions all the time (not me, I love it with seafood) but I have never seen a vegan version out there. Not only I had to ditch the main protein, but also the eggs used as garnish and in the mayo. I combined a few vegan soy-free mayonnaise recipes I found online and the result was awesome! Also so much easier to make than regular mayo. I served this vegan causa to a bunch of friends and everyone (including Alvaro) liked it.

Vegan causa
Yield: 8 servings

Vegan causa


  • 8 (1500g) floury potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) macadamia oil
  • 1/2 cup (80g) finely chopped red onion
  • 500g white mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) olive oil
  • vegan mayonnaise (see below)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 4g salt
  • 8 (20g) black (preferably botija) olives
  • 1 (65g) heart of palm

Vegan mayonnaise

  • 3/8 cup (50g) raw cashews
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) avocado oil
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) water
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp (4ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) mustard powder

To serve

  • cherry tomatoes
  • lettuce


  1. Blend the mayonnaise ingredients.
  2. Place the chopped onion in a small bowl with the juice of 1 lime and season lightly with salt. Set aside to marinate while the potatoes cook.
  3. Cook and mash the potatoes, let cool down. Mix with chilli paste, juice of 3 limes, macadamia oil and salt.
  4. Slice mushrooms and sautée in olive oil. Let cool down, mix with mayonnaise (method below).
  5. Oil a ring mold. Press half of the mashed potato mixture into the bottom of the pan. Cover with the mushroom mixture in a smooth layer. Top with slices of avocado. Layer the other half of the potato mixture on top and smooth the potatoes with the back of a spoon. Top with slices of hard-boiled eggs and olives.
  6. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Holidays in Perú (July 24 2015)

Last day in Lima. Four weeks went in a breeze but we were kind of ready to get back to work and study (and away from traffic and chaos!). We spent the first half of the day with my family, having lunch at my aunties’. If you don’t know much about me you probably know I’m obsessed with food and wear mostly black, but I bet you don’t know my sisters and I were raised, to a large extent, by my aunties (and uncle, who died in 2008). Mum had a full-time work, so we had breakfast and lunch next door at my aunties’ and did our homework there most of the time, until dinner time. I even moved for a period of time perhaps looking for a bit more independence and/or breakfast in bed on weekends.

Pollo al maní

Pollo al maní



Now that a few decades have passed, things have changed a bit. Now my aunty who had me using her bed while she slept in an uncomfortable foldable one is in charge of cooking. She made her now famous pollo al maní (chicken in peanut sauce) with cassava and rice, which was delicious. And as if we didn’t need more food, mum also made carapulcra (dried potato, chicken and pork stew), equally tasty. Given the humongous amount of food (and carbs!) I did the sensible thing and did not eat a grain of rice.


Dessert was one of my mum’s favourites: agar-agar jelly with chancaca (panela-type cane sugar) syrup.

Agar agar jelly

Agar agar jelly

After packing, we spent time with Alvaro’s family, which is way bigger and younger than mine. We had a Peruvian-style BBQ with chicken, chorizo, anticuchos (marinated beef heart), potatoes, corn, avocado, salad, etc. Good times.




Holidays in Perú (July 23 2015)

On our second last day in Lima we got to hang out with my brother-in-law again. My sister was still in the US, so it was only the three of us. Alvaro had been nagging me with his arroz con pato cravings long before we arrived to Perú so I did a bit of research and Don Fernando seemed to be a good place to get it. We were received with complimentary leche de tigre (the juice from cebiche), cancha (toasted corn kernels) and chifles (plantain chips).

Leche de tigre, chifles, cancha, rocoto

Complimentary leche de tigre, cancha and chifles

This is a Northern restaurant, and besides seafood and the aforementioned arroz con pato, this region is well-known for its chicha de jora (a fermented corn beverage). It looks like cloudy apple juice and tastes a bit like kombucha. I’m not sure about its alcohol content but it’s not that high, I think.

Chicha de jora

Chicha de jora (S/. 10, 4.21)

We started with a mixed platter called ronda Don Fernando, which contained tiradito (sliced raw fish marinated in lemon juice, with rocoto), cebiche, chinguirito (dried fish cebiche), and pulpo al estilo muchame (octopus with olive oil, garlic and oregano). The four dishes are divided by mashed cassava. Yum.

Ronda Don Fernando

Ronda Don Fernando (S/. 58, $24.42)

We thought the arroz con pato (rice with duck, cooked with coriander, pumpkin, chicha de jora, etc.) was okay but not outstanding. We chose breast over maryland because we were told it had more meat, but thought the meat portion was on the skinny side.

Arroz con pato

Arroz con pato (S/. 35.80, $15.07)

At this point we were satisfied but not full. We ordered a piqueo with another two staples from the North: tamalitos verdes (made with corn and coriander) and seco de cabrito (baby goat stew with coriander). Very tasty, I’d say better than the arroz con pato.

Piqueo de tamalitos verdes y seco de cabrito

Piqueo de tamalitos verdes y seco de cabrito (S/. 29.80, $12.55)

That night we went to the Buddhist centre for the last time. There weren’t many people around because a bunch had gone to Europe for a summer course, but we got to hang out with some of our friends, with some nibbles and wine. One of Alvaro’s friends from high school met us there and then we went for a late dinner to one of those cheap sandwich shops that are so popular among party animals. Its name is Koko Lucho and, believe it or not, it was my first time there.

Koko Lucho

Alvaro had his last jugo de lúcuma of the trip, and we shared a salchipapa. This one was called “la combi” (public transport van), that came with smoked frankfurter, BBQ chorizo, Huacho sausage, scrambled egg on top, potato chips and salad. Now you know why people come here after a night of drinking.

Jugo de lúcuma

Jugo de lúcuma

Salchipapa "la combi"

Salchipapa “la combi” (S/. 20, $8.42)

Don Fernando
General Garzón 1788, Jesus María
+51 1 2610361 / +51 1 4632656
Lima, Perú

Koko Lucho
Av. Aviación 3790, Surquillo
Lima, Perú

Holidays in Perú (July 22 2015)

One day we were brave enough to go to Barranco. Not because it’s a bad neighbourhood, but because it would take forever to get there, given the crazy traffic conditions in Lima. Anyway, we made it on time to Las Vecinas Eco Bar, a healthy cafe that had good reviews. Once there we weren’t very excited with the menu, so it was only drinks for us while we waited for our friend Julio. Alvaro’s limonada de granadilla (granadilla limeade) was great, especially because it didn’t have any sugar. There was panela on the table for those who like their beverages sweet.

Limonada de granadilla, café americano

Limonada de granadilla, americano

Once Julio arrived we went across the corner to Isolina a Peruvian restaurant that a friend had recommended. The vibe alone was better than in the other cafe, and the menu was short but promising.


We started with a jug of chicha morada, which tasted exactly like the one my mum made on my birthday when I was a kid.

Chicha morada

Chicha morada (S/. 20, $8.42)

Plates were expensive for a reason: they were gigantic, designed to share. We ordered pepián de choclo con chicharrón de costillar de cerdo (corn stew with fried pork ribs), which was awesome. I liked the texture of this pepián better than the one at La Picantería, and the dish had great taste.

Pepián con chicharrón

Pepián de choclo con chicharrón de costillar de cerdo (S/. 65, $27.37)

To round up lunch, we ordered ensalada mixta (mixed salad) that was also generously served and well dressed.

Ensalada mixta

Ensalada mixta (S/. 15, $6.32)

We skipped dessert and moved to an organic cafe that Julio recommended: La Bodega Verde.

La Bodega Verde

This cafe again had better vibe than the first one, and, most importantly, wifi. It was social media catch-up along with another americano for me, a jugo de lúcuma y plátano (lúcuma and banana juice) for Alvaro and carrot cake and coffee for Julio.

Jugo de lúcuma y plátano

Jugo de lúcuma y plátano (S/. 11, $4.63)

Café americano

Café americano (S/. 7, $2.95)

Carrot cake

Carrot cake (S/. 11, $4.63)

As we all needed to go to Miraflores later, we walked alongside the coast line for a bit of fresh(er) air and to prep our guts for our next eating appointments. Being away from the chaos of the city for a few hours was one of the highlights of this trip for me.

That night we met friends from uni for dinner at Edo Sushi Bar.

Edo Sushi Bar

Chris, Alvaro and I had some drinks while waiting for Kathy and her husband Giancarlo. The walk from Barranco had stimulated our appetite, so we also ordered tuna nigiri and usuzukuri estilo nikkei (seared tuna slices with “acevichado” sauce).

Sake, té verde

Sake, green tea

Nigiri de atún

Tuna nigiri

Usuzukuri estilo nikkei

Usuzukuri estilo nikkei(S/. 35, $14.74)

For our “main” course, Alvaro and I shared sashimi moriawase (12 fish cuts and 9 seafood cuts) and the good old seaweed salad.

Sashimi moriawase

Sashimi moriawase (S/. 53, $22.31)

Seaweed salad

Seaweed salad (S/. 19, $8.00)

The others shared two paquetes (packages), the first with 8 sashimi cuts, 10 sushi pieces and 20 maki pieces (S/. 109, $45.89), and the second one with 6 sashimi cuts, 8 sushi pieces, 10 maki pieces, and 1 hot dish (S/. 109, $45.89). In both you can mix and match. The hot dish they chose, panceta con puré de wasabi (pork belly with wasabi mash) was a winner.




Sushi y sashimi



Panceta con puré de wasabi

Panceta con puré de wasabi

The sweet end of the meal was tempura de plátano (banana tempura), served with vanilla ice cream.

Tempura de plátano

Tempura de plátano

Las Vecinas Eco Bar
Domeyer 219, Barranco
+51 1 4773253
Lima, Perú

Av San Martin 101, Barranco
Lima, Perú
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La Bodega Verde
Jiron Mariscal Jose Antonio de Sucre 335A, Barranco
Lima, Perú
+51 1 2478804

Edo Sushi Bar
Calle Berlin 601, Miraflores
Lima, Perú
+51 1 2432448