Many moons and the solstice have passed. Now the earth of our fields can give us again the best of its produce, thanks to the bounteous rains and the hands of farmers here in the Andes.
Caigua is one of the vegetables that we enjoy during this season. Our popular markets are tinted green with long and fat pods we call caiguas. Scientifically they are Cyclanthera pedata. Thanks to ayni–reciprocity–and the efforts of our traditional women who bring them to market and sell them, we can enjoy this wonderful product.
My Mantay, my grandmother with her bright smile and quick wit expresses her delight when we get home from the market with fresh caiguas. “Añañau, sumaq”. This means “Wow, great”. With them we can make wonderful salads and a healthy and deliciosu stuffed caigua.
Those of us from Cuzco always say that the best food is always found at home. It is always best when enjoyed in family. There is nothing better. It is true. That is why this dish is only prepared at home. You rarely find it in restaurants, nevertheless here is the recipe in case you wish to make it for yourself.
Caigua Rellena (Stuffed Caigua)
250 g finely diced carrots
250 g green peas
1 ogarlic cloves
50 g peanuts
50 g pecans
1 teaspoon of oregano
1/4 cup oil
two table spoons of salt (Note the salt in Cuzco is less salty than that in the US and so requires more than you would use in the north).
Ingredients for the batter
1 tsp sodium bicarbonate
Pinch of salt
1/2 C water
In a bowl beat the flour with the eggs and the half cup of water. Add the salt and the bicarbonate of soda.
Open the ciaguas and remove the seeds. Then add them to a pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook for ten minutes and drain.
In the meantime prepare your dressing (aderezo–somewhat like a sofrito) by sauteeing finely minced onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Once it is cooked add the previously cooked vegetables. Stir well and add the ground peanuts and the pecans minced into small pieces. Finally you add the oregano as the magic touch.
Now that the ingredients for the filling are ready, stuff the caiguas. Then cover half of them with the batter. Heat your fry pan with oil and fry the stuffed caiguas on a medium temperature.
When the caigua is ready, it is served in the company of potatoes and corn on the cob, or white rice. There is always
Translator’s note. Increasingly you can find seeds for caigua in fine North American catalogues for home gardening.