Travelling as a vegetarian can be challenging, especially when you don’t have a house and you’re moving around a lot. “Good luck finding vegetarian food in a restaurant in South America” they told me. “You’re gonna have to start eating meat again” they warned. And they had a point. It was tough, the first few weeks. I pretty much lived off cheese empanadas (a kind of Chilean pastry which is AMAZING but definitely not good for your waistline). I even broke vegetarianism one time at an “asado” (BBQ) because the only options were meat, sausage, meat empanadas, bread with meat, or alcohol.
But now I’m settled into an apartment, ready to start up my daily routine and get cooking! I’m on a quest to find all the traditional Chilean meatless dishes out there, try them, make them, and share them with you here.
First up, I’m going to write about Porotos Granados. This was actually the first meal I had in Chile, home made by my boyfriend’s mum. This dish is popular in summer, because you can get all the ingredients fresh and cheap at “La Feria”. Ferias are a type of regular street market where you can buy local fruit and veg, fish, eggs, spices and dried goods. They happen all over Chile, from the smallest towns, were the producers themselves come to sell their goods, to the capital. Shopping at the market is a great way to support small, local producers, avoid buying from huge supermarket conglomerates, and best of all, finding top quality food at a great price.
I love this dish because it is nutritious and delicious, made with the freshest seasonal goodies summer can offer! However, there is quite a bit of prep work, so does need to be planned ahead of time.
- 2kg porotos granados in pods (known as cranberry beans in English)
- 2 cobs of fresh corn, grated
- 200g ish of pumpkin cut into small cubes
- 1 tomato, chopped (optional)
- Medium sized brown onion, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped finely
- 1 green chilli, chopped finely
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded
- Vegetable stock cube
- Olive oil
Remove porotos from pods. In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, chilli and oregano in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add pumpkin and porotos, stir through and then add boiling water until mixture is just covered. Stir through stock and leave covered to simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.
Add tomato. (This step is optional because the dish is not always made with tomato but I personally like the slight acidity it brings to the overall flavour.) After 10 minutes add corn and basil. Stir continuously for 5 minutes to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pot. The consistency should be something between thick soup and mashed potato. Serve hot!