I took my staff to do a great team-building exercise a little while back where Tamia, one of our artisans (read more about her cool story here), taught us how to make some traditional Kichwa recipes. They were a bit time-consuming, but overall pretty straight forward. So much so, that I was able to recreate the flavor experience for my family the last time I was home in the States, so i’m pretty sure that anyone with basic cooking skills should be able to follow these recipes. Shoot me an email if you have any questions and i’m happy to help.
Also, Tamia’s family offers traditional cooking classes to individuals and small groups, so if youre ever in the Otavalo area I would highly recommend it as something not to miss! Its a really cool way to be able to spend some time with a Kichwa family in their home and experience their culture. You can get more info about their classes from their website.
Here’s a few pictures of our dishes and the steps to make two types of empanadas, aji (Ecuadorian hot sauce) and colada morada (a sort of hot, sweet-berry drink). All around, a great merienda (dinner snack)!
Lets start off with any easy one. Only three steps! Aji is a staple of every ecuadorian table, right there next to the salt and mayo…..For my Ecua-readers, this is very simple version, it doesnt use the tomate de arbol like you’ll see in a lot of Quito restaurants, but still quite tasty.
Also, sorry none of these have very exact measurements – everything was pretty much done ‘a ojo’ (by eye – sort of to taste), but i’ll do my best to guestimate how much we used.
Ají de Piedra
- Salt (add to taste-maybe 1/2 teaspoon)
- Ají (hot peppers) to taste
- 1-2 stalks green onion
- 1 medium sprig cilantro
- 1-2 cups water
- Grind aji with salt in with a stone mortar and pestle (if not available, grate finely)
- Chop onion and cilantro
- Add onion and cilantro to aji mix and add water to reach desired consistency.
- That’s it! serve with everything!
How did that come out? ok, next lets try the very traditional Colada Morada. Coladas are basically any sort of hot drink – they make a lot of different versions, with pumpkin and other fruits, but this is the most ‘tipical’ version you’ll find. Generally, Ecuadorians associate it only with Dia de los Muertos available around November 1, but in Otavalo its made all year around in the Plaza de Ponchos. Also, for the Ecua-readers specifically, this is the Tamia’s family Kichwa recipe, which only has moras and mortinos – there are lots of other versions out there which use lots of other fruits and purple corn, but this one is nice a simple. A good place to start if this is your first time!
- 1-2 pounds of blueberries (if small, wild blueberries are available, all the better-Ecuadorian “mortinos”)
- 1-2 pounds of blackberries/raspberries (Ecuadorian “moras”) – in the US in the winter, I just used a bag of frozen mixed berries and it turned out fine
- 1-2 cups of corn meal
- 1 brick of Panela – or in the US i just used several cups of brown sugar to taste
- 2-3 Cinnamon sticks
- 1 Andean cinnamon (Ishspinku) or just more cinnamon
- 4-5 Whole cloves
- 4-5 Allspice, whole pods
- 1 sprig fresh lemon Verbena
- 1 small bunch fresh lemon Grass
- Add berries to hot water, heat until boiling, cook for 5-10 minutes, strain and put aside.
- In a separate pot, boil seasonings 10 minutes
- Over a low flame, mix flavorings and berries, adding 1-2 cups of corn meal. Sir constantly.
- Add panela / brown sugar to taste and dissolve.
- Boil another minute or two and serve hot.
This is a great drink for a cold night! Enjoy!
I’ll follow up later this week with the empanda recipes!