RecipesTraditional Food

A Recipe for Cuzco’s Traditional Carnival Puchero (Thimpu)

During Cuzco’s Carnival it often rains and people have fun spraying foam and tossing buckets of water at each other. They also dance around a tree laden with gifts while chopping it down. This is a time rich with symbolism called in Quechua puqllay, or play. The tensions and oppositions of the world and society come into play and are resolved during this time while potatoes and tubers grow beneath the earth. People also eat this traditional boiled dinner shaped like a mountain, covered in green. Inside it one finds the potatoes and tubers, as well as meat, people hope to have once harvest comes. It is a wonderful metaphor for this rich time of play and abundance.

A Mountain of Food, Cuzco's Thimpu or Puchero
A Mountain of Food, Cuzco’s Thimpu or Puchero

Puchero also known as Thimpu


( 5 servings)

5 compis potatoes peeled

1/2 k yuca (sweet manioc)

5 ears of corn

2 carrots cut in rounds

5 sweet potatoes

1/4 k de garbanzo beans

1/2 k beef round

1/2 k mutton or lamb (ribs)

1/4 k salted meat,

1/4 k white chuño (moraya or tunta)

1 leaves of a cabbage head

1/4 k rice

3 pears or 3 peaches

50 g of leeks

50 g of celery

2 cloves garlic

salt to taste.

a stem of oregano

Potatoes in the Market
Potatoes in the Market


In a large pot bring 3 liters of water to a boil. Once boiling add a celery stem, the leeks, and the carrots. We also add now the pears or peaches (this is optional, they add flavor but are not essential), as well as the diced garlic and the oregano. Finally we put in the salt (in Cuzco we put in 20 g. of salt. You might wish to put ore or less depending on the saltiness of your salt and your tastes). We leave it and let the vegetables cook.

After a pause we continue by adding to the broth 1/2 k of bees cut into five pieces and then the 1/2 k of lamb also cut into five pieces. We also add the jerky (salted meat) cut into pieces. We then allow the meet to cook for an hour.

During this time we granear (toast) the rice in a dry pan with the dried garbanzo beans. This takes abut 10 minutes. Then in another pot we cook the 5 fresh ears of corn for some 15 to 20 minutes. (It may take more or less time to cook your corn depending on where you are and the nature of the corn)

Once the meat is cooked we add to the stew 1/2 k of yuca peeled and cut in pieces, the five whole potatoes, the five sweet potatoes and we cook them for ten minutes. We then add the cabbage leaves and another stem of oregano which we leave boil for just a short few minutes.

Once everything is cooked and ready, we drain the broth into a big bowl, separating the vegetables and meat. Then we remove the pears or peaches.

We serve the dish in the following way. On a plate we first add a potato, some white chuño, yuca, sweet potatoes and pieces of the three meats. We also add an ear of corn. On top we arrange cabbage leaves giving the dish the shape of a mountain. We adorn the outside with carrots, garbanzos, and rice. Finally we put a bit of the dish’s faithful companion, uchukuta, hot sauce.

Please note that this dish is really large. We Cuscqueños eat like this for our festivals. This is our gastronomic culture.

Enjoy the Carnival feast with this traditional Cuzco boiled dinner.

Fresh White Corn for Sale
Fresh White Corn for Sale

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