Capchi is simply one of Cuzco’s favorite foods. This is not only a land where people love guinea pig, pork, and chicken, but here they thrill with this meat-free dish, especially when rains fall and young vegetables are fresh.
These days they particularly like wild mushroom capchi. It is similar to the broad bean capchi but with the wild mushrooms that appear in Cuzco’s hills in the rainy season. It is an exquisite dish and very easy to prepare. The ingredients are readily available this time of the year.
Mushrooms grow all over the world. In Cuzco we have our own wild mushrooms, called zetas or also callampas, which grow in humid places such as beneath trees. They especially grow in places where lightning strikes during the rainy season. During November, December, January and February mushrooms are especially abundant.
These wild mushrooms are gathered in the hills and make their way to the wholesale market of Vino Canchón from where they then go to all the markets of the city. Market women sell them in small mounds that cost from S/5 to S/30 ($2.50-$12.00 US). The cost has gone up yearly since there is ever more demand for the mushrooms and for this delicious dish.
The other ingredients are also essential, such as the young, green broad beans. They also appear in the rainy season. They are most consumed in January and February. Since they need peeling, their appearance means the whole family will gather in the kitchen to help prepare meals.
The potato is also important to give body to this wonderful dish. The best potato for the task is one that in Cuzco we call compis. It also appear during this time of the year.
For the dish we should also use the fresh cheese that out huaykeys (brothers) bring down from nearby mountain communities. They sell these cheeses made by their own hands and they make delicious much food in the city.
Finally we need fresh milk, maybe half a liter, although some people use powdered milk. But the milk is necessary to finish up this amazing concoction.
Wild Mushroom Capchi (Five Servings)
2 dried yellow ají or ají panca
2 clvoes garlic.
½ kilo wild mushrooms of other comparable mushrooms
½ kilo young broad beans
5 medium compis potatoes
100 grams fresh cheese
½ cup milk
1 stem huacatay (or bottled huacatay if fresh is unavailable)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sautee the finely diced onion, the ground ají, and the finely minced garlic. Once softened add two cups of water. Add to this the whole, peeled potatoes, the peeled, broad beans and the huacatay.
Once the potatoes and broad beans are almsot cooked, we add the well-washed mushrooms. We let them cook for some five minutes and then add the cheese diced into small squares. Finally we add the milk and heat through.
Once cooked we check the salt and pepper to taste. The wild mushroom capchi can be served with portions of rice.