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Tarwi, Great Food And Medicine

Balls of Llullucha with Squash and Tarwi seeds

Tarwi is a legume that has nutritional properties of great value since it has a large amount of proteins, minerals and vitamins. It was one of the most important foods in Inca times and is still consumed in the Peruvian Andes. Besides being very nutritious, it also has medicinal properties.

This legume is cultivated in fields ranging from 2000 to 3800 meters above sea level in temperate and cold climates. It grows very similar to peas, in pods. It is harvested only once a year when the tarwi is ripe. The pods are picked and extended in flat places to dry for several days. Once dry, a special technique is used to shell the tarwi beans. It involves planting a stick in an open and flat place. Around it is placed the tarwi pods.


A Field of Tarwi (Walter Coraza Morveli)
A Field of Tarwi (Walter Coraza Morveli)

A donkey is tethered to the stick. As it walks in a circle it steps on the tarwi and breaks the shells until all the seeds are released. They are then raked into large piles so that, in the afternoon when the wind is strong, the women can clean them with potos, a kind of gourd ladle. They sit down and lift the grain in these potos and throw it back so that the wind blows the all the dirt away until only the tarwi beans remain.

Once the tarwi is completely clean, it is collected in sacks. Each contains 1 arroba, twenty-five lbs. of tarwi. and it is tied very firmly to prevent the tarwi from escapinh. The bag is then taken and placed in a rive or streams. It is weighted with stones so that The tarwi is kept completely in the water for a period of 15 days in order to remove the bitterness that this grain has.

Tarwi Seeds (Photo: Heber Huamani Jara)
Tarwi Seeds (Photo: Heber Huamani Jara)

After this date they take it out and it is seen that the tarwi is completely soaked. They try it to verify that the tarwi is no longer bitter, then they place it inside plastic containers with a little water for 24 hours. When this time is over, the water has turned white as milk. This water is stored in smaller containers, it is a very special water that is used to purge the stomach, when it is dirty.


After this process, the tarwi is ready to be consumed or taken to sell to the markets.

Tarwi with Fried Fish
Tarwi with Fried Fish

With tarwi you can prepare many delicious dishes such as the ajiaco de tarwi which is a very delicious dish that is accompanied by cheese and is a must-have dish in house building events. Another dish is tarwi with squash cream and for those who opt for vegetarian food, a delicious salad is prepared because it has fewer carbohydrates than other legumes. Others use tarwi flour to prepare cremes and even tarwi pastries.

There are many options to consume the tarwi that is currently considered one of the most outstanding food products because of its great properties.

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