A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 2 Charquican con Huevo

An age old piece of Chilean advice for women who want fuller hips is “comer zapallo detrás de la puerta”  meaning “eat pumpkin behind the door”. Although this probably works, the method is a little introverted, so in an effort to include more pumpkin in one’s diet and still eat at the table, Charquican, serves this purpose equally well.

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Charquican is a type of Chilean pumpkin and potato stew which is also popular in other Andean regions such as in Bolivia and Argentina. Although traditionally made with llama meat or beef, it’s not uncommon to find a vego version of this classic dish served with a fried egg on top.

You can find Charquican in restaurants all year round, but the ingredients vary depending on the season. Pumpkin, potato, onion and carrot are the basis of the dish because they store well throughout the year. At la feria this week we picked up some gorgeous fresh green peas in their pods (arvejas) and some cheap sweet corn. These ingredients are usually found in a summer Charquican due to their availability.

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So without further ado, here is a recipe for vegetarian Charquican con Huevo

Ingredients

The weights given here are just a guide to give you an idea of the proportion of each ingredient in a Charquican. Add too much of one ingredient and it will take over the flavour of the dish. Having said that, there’s no need to be totally accurate with the weights, just make sure that potato makes up the majority, and don’t add too much pumpkin because of its strong flavour.

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  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed/ chopped (Fun Fact: In Spanish they’re called “dientes” meaning teeth!)
  • 60g carrot, chopped
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and diced into smallish cubes
  • 60g pumpkin, diced into smallish cubes
  • 40g red capsicum, chopped
  • 100g peas, podded
  • 80g corn kernels (you want about the same size portion of corn as peas)
  • Water, boiled
  • 1 stock cube
  • Tsp cumin
  • Heaped tsp dried oregano
  • Olive oil
  • Merquén (Chilean spice blend) and salt to taste
  • Fried eggs

Method

Sautee onion, garlic and spices in olive oil until onion is translucent. Stir through pumpkin, potato and carrot. Add stock and water until veggies are just covered. It’s important not to add too much water here or the end result will be too runny.* Bring to the boil and then simmer on low heat, covered, until pumpkin is dissolved.

Add green peas and corn and continue to simmer until these are just cooked. Stir vigorously to mash pumpkin and some of the potato through the Charquican. Season with salt to taste.

Serve with a fried egg on top and sprinkle with merquén. This recipe serves 4 (or 3 hungry people).

*NOTE: You can add more or less water in this step depending on your personal preference. I like mine a little runnier, but José likes his the consistency of thick mashed potato. Each to their own.

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