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Home/Stories and articles/Recovery
April 2005

Chile's native food:
Mapuche, Aymara and Rapanui gastronomy

Here's a brief review of what's most characteristic about our native people’s recipes.

By Rosario Mena


The Mapuches bases their cooking in a combination of cereals and grains. That's why you find food such as "beans and mote", "beans and corn", "peas and locro", "chickpeas and chuchoca", "broad beans salads", etc. Their main meats are those of the horse, the sheep, pork and hen. Potatos, medical herbs and edible forest mushrooms are also part of their regular meals, along with the "piñón", the sacred fruit of the aracaucaria.

"Cazuelas" and all kinds of meals with legumes can be found regularly in the Mapuche menu, always with the "rescoldo tortilla" (a kind of bread). For spices, the merken; which is a very red chili combined with coriander seeds, all mashed. The merken is now getting more and more interest from international chefs. The Mapuche way of cooking has changed little with time, despite the massive introduction of new products, such as rice and pasta.

"Cacho de cabra" chili
(recipe by Cecilia Letelier)

-2 cups of toasted flour,
-2 onions,
-2 tablespoons of merken,
-"color" (smashed red pepper lightly fried)

Fry the onion in the butter and add the rest of the ingredients. Then sprinkle the toasted flour over it, stirring until you get a soft purée.

Potato is the main food for the aymaras (and all Andean poeple). Its importance is such, that if you translate its native name (ch’uqui), you get a synonym of "food". Some of the native varieties of the Titicaca potato are the ch'iyar imilla, chikiña, janq'u, chupik imilla(, qhumpi, luk'i ch'uqi, ch'uqi pitu, allqatarma, waka laxra, axawiri, phiñu, khunurana, suwa p'itiqalla, quyllu, pawla, chuwalla, llujt'a para and allpaqnasa.

The simplest way to eat the potato is the ghati, which you usally eat with cheese. Another one is the waja (hot potato). When making the ch’uñu ("chuño"), Aymaras are nothing but adapting themselves to the hostile climate they get at with high-altitude, using the cold temperatures at night and the daylight sun for the potato’s dehydration.

The quinoa, the corn flour, the charqui (dried horse meat) and the llamas or vicuñas meat are also part of their high-protein diet. Cooking is an activity for women (the warmi), and you’ll rarely find a married or an old man cooking.

(Source: www.serindigena.cl)

-1/2 kilo of chopped olluko,
-1/2 kilo of chopped potatos,
-2 cups of "chicha de jora"
-2 tbspoons., of dried smashed chili
-1 tbspoon. of sugar,
-2 tbspoons. of shortening,
-sliced cheese.

In a clay pot cook the dried chili with the shortening, salt, sugar and "chicha" for ten minutes. Add the olluko and the potatos. Let it cook for half an hour, and serve hot with cheese sprinkled on top.

*The "chicha de jora" is a typical drink that is offered every year to the Inti Sun God during the Aymara New Year’s Day. You can prepare it yourself by soaking 1 kilo of corn for 24 hours and then letting it rest over wet cloth. Then smash it and put everything in a large pot with 8 liters of water. Boil it for three hours. Then add 1 cup of "chancaca" or brown sugar. You’ll get a dark liquid which you must serve on clay cups, but not until the next day.

Main crops in Easter Island were brought from the Marquee Islands, about fourteen centuries ago. They are the "camote", the "taro", the "ñame", the banana and the sugar cane. Rapa Nui’s traditional gastronomy is based on fish and seafood, besides agricultural products. Among their most precious products there is the lobster, the sawfish and the Easter tuna, as well as the "koreha" (Anguila), "heke" (octopus), "titeve"" (globefish), "pipi" (sea snails).

At the island you also find a wide variety of fruits, among them 15 types of bananas, papaya, pineapples and guayabas. The "curanto" is the island’s traditional recipe, combining pork and chicken meats with fish, seafood, sweet potato and other ingredients. These you cook inside a hole in the ground, covered with volcano stones.

(Recipe by Yanet Teao Beri)

-6.5 pounds of bananas,
-6.5 pounds of pumpkin,
-6.5 pounds of flour,
-33 ounces of oil,
-2.2 pounds of grated coconut,
-1 pound of sugar.

Smash the bananas with your own hand and then shred the pumpkin. Put the bananas at the botton of a serving dish and add the pumpkins and the sifted flour. Then add the oil and the rest of the flour with the grated coconut. There you have the custard. Cook the "poe" in a medium-temperature oven, in a greased pan. You’ll need about one hour of heat. Serve it cold with the rest of the coconut on top.

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