Traditional Food

A Cuzco Tradition: Tarwi with Mormontoy

Mormontoy or  are small, dark colored balls that grow in lakes and ponds around the city. They are also brought to Cuzco from Lake Titicaca (Puno).

Used in the popular friday soup they also find place in the typical dish tarwi with mormontoy, also called llullucha. Mormontoy is a kind of edible bacteria that grows in Cuzco’s waters and those of nearby regions.

This is not a dish commonly found in Cuzco’s restaurants; it is something people who know how to cook it prepare at home. In the city–on its streets and markets–you will find dishes of tarwi–such as tarwi accompanied by a stew or steak, but mormontoy is much rarer. It almost seems as if it is slowly passing onto oblivion.

Nevertheless, you can find mormontoy in the San Pedro and Cascaparo markets. The people who collect it from the lakes bring it most commonly to these two markets.

It is sold in small mounds, from two soles and up. If you ask, the caseras, vendors, will give you advice into how to prepare it once you buy.

Cheese and Tarwi Seeds for Sale in the Market (Photo: Walter Coraza)
Cheese and Tarwi Seeds for Sale in the Market (Photo: Walter Coraza)

Tarwi with Mormontoy

  • Onion
    Mariba potatoes
    Whole tarwi
    Sibarita (A peruvian herb and spice mixture, available at Peruvian markets).

Mince the garlic and dice the onion into small squares. Cook in oil until softened and slightly colored. You first cook the garlic and when it is golden then you add the onion. Let it cook until lightly golden and then add water. Boil it for five minutes. Now add the whole peeled potatoes.

Once the potatoes are almost done add the whole, peeled tarwi (previously prepared as you buy it in the market). Cook for five more minutes. Then add the cheese cut into cubes and let cook for three minutes. Season the dish with sibarita.

It is now ready to serve with a white rice. Before serving, the fresh and cleaned mormontoy is stirred into the dish and then it is served either ov er or to the side of the rice.

To decorate the dish you can use green onions diced and lightly sautéed.

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