Many of Cuzco’s traditional foods are slowly disappearing, as people make them less and less frequently and tastes change with the incursion of foreign food. Only a few stand out as symbols to be maintained.
This is due to the bad side of globalization and enculturation. Every day new products arrive in Cuzco and people want to try them, leading to them forgetting our Andean traditions and foods.
One dish that was very popular in the fifties was soltero de chiñi challwa. This dish contains a great variety of foods from our city, such as carrots, green faba beans, onion, tomatoes, potatoes, cheese, rocoto peppers, and—of course—chiñi challwa. These last are small fish from our rivers.
By today, the traditional chiñi challwa (cheén-yee cháll-wah) is only found in the memories of older people. Only a few people still make the dish, using recipes they inherited from their ancestors.
All the ingredients for this dish can be found in the various markets of Cuzco.
- _ Compis potatoes
- _ Onion
- _ Tomato
- _ Carrots
- _ Green broad beans
- _ Cheese (similar to a farmer cheese)
- _ Rocoto
- _ Chiñi challwa
Since the chiñi challwa come dried you first soak them in water for a day before you are plannignt o cook the dish. On the day you plan to serve this Cuzco tradition, peel the broad beans, the carrots, and the onions. Then cut the carrots and the rocoto into strips, the onions into what are called plumes (strips), and julienne the tomatoes. Wash the potatoes and boil them whole. Afterwards cook everything separately, except the hot pepper and the tomatoes. When done drain and reserve. Then mix everything in a bowl and let cool.
Meanwhile, clean the chiñi challwa fish, by cutting their bellies and removing their intestines. Then boil them. Once cooked, drain and add to the bowl with the other ingredients.
Season with oils and salt to taste. Serve with the peeled, boiled potato and decorate with the julienned tomato, strips of hot pepper, and diced cheese.
The chronicler, Alonso Ramos Gavilán mentions chiñi challwa at the beginning of his History of Copacabana as one of the fish in Lake Titicaca. Today those fish are called Ispi in the Spanish of the Lake as well as in Aymara.