Puka Picante Vegetariano

Puka Picante Vegetariano

David Loftus

Spicy Olluco, Oca & Beetroot. On my first trip to the beautiful city of Ayacucho, in the region of the same name, this dish left a big impression on me. Big on colour and flavour, it’s popular during Easter in the Andes, as well as for special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. It’s also much-loved at Casita Andina, where we think every day is a special occasion.


Quantity Ingredient
200g purple potatoes or regular floury potatoes, skin on and cut into thick slices
200g olluco potatoes or parsnips, unpeeled and cut into thick slices
200g oca potatoes or carrots, unpeeled and cut into thick slices
1 cooked golden baby beetroot, finely sliced, to serve
a few nasturtium, watercress or basil leaves, to decorate
1 teaspoon beetroot powder or paprika, to decorate (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

For the puka picante sauce

Quantity Ingredient
150g cooked beetroot, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Picante de Huevos, amarillo chilli paste
2 teaspoons Picante de Huevos, panca chilli paste
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
50ml single cream or evaporated milk

For the cream cheese sauce

Quantity Ingredient
120g smoked cream cheese or goat’s milk cream cheese
120ml double cream


  1. Put all the potatoes (or alternatives) into a steamer and cook for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside to keep warm.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, make the puka picante sauce. Put the beetroot with 150ml of either beetroot cooking water or fresh water in a food processor or blender and blitz to a purée. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the onion. Sauté for about 10 minutes until the onion turns soft and translucent, then add the garlic, chilli pastes and peanut butter. Stir to combine and cook for a further 2–3 minutes until the garlic is soft but hasn’t taken on any colour. Add the puréed beetroot to the frying pan, along with the cumin and the single cream or evaporated milk. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer until everything is well combined and heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Make the cream cheese sauce. Put the cream cheese and double cream in a bain marie or a bowl suspended over simmering water. Whisk continuously for about 4–5 minutes until the mixture is silky smooth and thick.
  4. To assemble the dish, divide the puka picante sauce between 4 bowls, then layer on the cream cheese sauce, and then the cooked, drained potatoes (or alternatives). Decorate with the golden beetroot slices and the leaves. Finally, sprinkle over the beetroot powder or paprika, if using.
Martin Morales
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