Silpancho – The Best Bolivian Silpancho Recipe!


Every Friday after sunset, a house on my block would bring a bare lightbuld to hang outside of their door and a sign that said silpancho made out of a flattened lard can.  When I was very little in Cochabamba, my street was a dead end and this silpancho light was the only illumination on the street. My mom would send us out with a plate to buy a silpancho from the lady selling them and we’d take it home to share among the five of us. People would sell silpancho in this way to earn a little extra money and it was so delicious.
I moved to Maine in 2009 and the first thing that I missed was Bolivian food. The first Bolivian recipe that I made for my in-laws was Silpancho and they loved it. So now, silpancho is the favorite dish of both of my families from Maine and Bolivia.
serves 4
cooking time: 1 hr
1 c. white rice
3 yukon gold potatoes
1 small green pepper, med. diced
1/2 small red onion, med. diced
1 tomato, medium diced
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef (with the least fat content possible, ideally 90% or more lean, buffalo meat is also delicious)
3/4 c. breadcrumbs
handful of Quillquiña leaves  (or cilantro)
canola oil
First, get 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water heating on the stove. Also put 3 whole potatoes on to boil for about 10 minutes. Once cool enough to touch, you’ll slice them like this (notice the insides are still raw). You’re going to finish cooking them in a frying pan.

Massage salt and pepper into the ground beef with your hands. Then you divide the ground beef into balls the size of limes.  Sprinkle ground pepper onto a of a pile of breadcrumbs and then roll the beef in the bread crumbs to give it a light coating.
Coat each side the meat with breadcrumbs and roll flat with a rolling pin on top of the breadcrumbs, flipping the meat over whenever it starts to stick.
The final thickness should be like a crepe. Roll each meatball out into a sheet and stack the rolled meat sheets on a plate.  Pan sear each on medium high, flipping them when you could see raw pink start to turn brown.
 Stack each finished meat sheet on a plate, and then fry eggs individually and brown the potato rounds.

Top the dish with the salad of tomato, red onion, and green pepper. Bright, fresh, and crunchy, it breaks up the richness of the meat, eggs and potatoes. The dressing is equal parts vinegar and oil, plus generous salt.

To put the plate together, put potatoes at the bottom, then rice, the beef, egg and then the salad.
Prepare a nice llajwa (spicy sauce) to go with it!

Puchero de Carnaval

Puchero de Carnaval


“Estos carnavales quien inventaría…”

One of my favorite holidays in Bolivia is Carnaval and Martes de Ch’alla. Each part of Bolivia celebrates it differently but we all agree on the part of being thankful for all the good things we have and we are thankful to our mother earth (Pachamama) for them. And what a better way to celebrate than having fun and harken back to our childhood playing with water ballons or buckets of water. This is the only time that I saw my parents being tricky and hiding and making alinces to try to soak as many people in the family as possible. After so much fun and being all so wet and cold a good abundant hot and spicy dish hits the spot (te cae como del cielo!) The nice crispy meat mixed with the warm rice and the crunchiness of the cabbage all topped with a nice hot yellow sauce, warms any belly and body. Some Puchero recipes call for chuño or peramota (pear) even peach, you can be very creative with it. I miss the Carnaval season but at least with this recipe I can warm my belly and bring memories back with each bite of Puchero!

 Serves 6

Cooking time 2 hours

Tips: While the meat is cooking you can get ready the potatoes, cabbage, yellow sauce. Usually, I do the rice last since once that starts cooling down it gets thicker. Fry the meat before serving or fry ahead and keep it warm. I like the crispness of the meat so I usually fry right before serving.

Instructions by key ingredient:



I/2 cup dry chick peas (you can substitute for one can of chickpeas if running out of time)

2 cups warm water plus 1 cup for cooking.

And hour before cooking soak the chickpeas in warm water

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Once the skin is starting to get loose, peel the chickepeas. This take some time so I recommend  doing it a day ahead.

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After they are all peeled, put them in a pot with a cup of water and cook for about 20 min. Don’t over cook since you will add this to the rice and you want it crisp. (The best way to tell is when the midlle part of chickpea has a light color)


Briscket, potaoes and cabbage

2 1/2 to 3 pounds Briscket (buy from a farmer because it tastes better and cooks faster)

2 carrots

1 white onion

2 celery sticks

8 cups water or any broth

1 1/2 tsp salt

8 red potatoes

1  cabbage

1/2 tbs cummin

1 tsp salt

Peel and cut onion, carrots and celery. Put them all together in a large pot with salt and water and let it cook for about an hour.


Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and peel the leaves off the cabbage and set aside

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After meat is tender, remove the meat and vegetables from the broth. Let the meat cool down


Add to the broth: the potatoes, cabbage, cummin and correct to the desired salt level. Cook until potatoes are cooked. Drained the broth into a container and save.

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While potaoes are cooking prepare the rice and yellow sauce.

Aji Amarillo (Yellow Spicy Sauce)

1 mediun red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

2 cup yellow spice sauce (see recipe for picante de pollo)

1 cup of briscket broth

2 tbs canola oil

Dice the onion very small, mince the garlic. Cook the onion and garlic with canola oil.


After onions are cooked add the yellow sauce, cumin and salt. Add broth and cook until the sauce thickens and don’t let it get sticky. Add more broth if necessary.

Rice and chickpeas

2 cups rice

4 cups water

2-3 cups briscket broth

2 tbs canola oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

Boil 4 cups of water in a large pot, add salt. Wash 2 cups of  rice in cold water. Add the rice to boiling water. Stir the rice avoiding getting stuck on the bottom. Cook for about 10 min or until start its starts drying and add the vegetables oil and 2 cups of broth. You want there to be with some broth and don’t let the water go away entirely.

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Cook for another 5 min and add the Chickpeas. If needed it you can add more broth to keep the runny consistency of the rice. It has to be less tick than rissoto. Cook for 10 min.


While the rice is cooking

Slice the briscket into 16 thin slices, 2 per person. Slice the against the grain


Salt each piece and fry with 1 tbs of oil until golden on both sides.


Putting the plate together

First add potatoes and cabbage topped with the rice


Add the meat and Yellow sauce


You can also switch the way you present this dish. In Bolivia this was my favorite way my mom would put the rice and the sauce  on top and hide the meat, cabbage and potaoes under it. I must confess I used to hate boiled cabbage when I was a child. So this was her way to make us finish the entire plate.


Feliz Martes de Ch’alla, feliz Carnaval!


Pastel de Queso

Pastel de Queso

Every day early in the morning around 5 am, the air in the streets at the market fills with the smell of dough being fried and red corn flour being boiled. This is the way some Bolivians start their day with a warm cup of red boiled corn and a delicious melted cheese inside the Pastel de Queso.

8 oz   Queso Fresco or Monterrey Jack
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp Crisco
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp sugar
⅛ cup boiling water.
1 Tbsp confectioner sugar
Sift the flour in a large bowl, heat the crisco to boiling point. Add the hot crisco to the flour and mix with a wooden spoon.

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Add the egg salt and sugar and mix. Slowly add the hot water until you had a soft dough easy to roll.Divide the dough in half and each half in half until we have 16 little ball.

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Rolled with a pan rooled each of them and once flat add cheese in the middle and folded in half press carfully the edges to close, Do the same with the others.

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Do the same with the others. Heat 1 cup of vegetable oil and when is ready cooked each of them until golden.

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Cool them  in a paper towel and once cooled sprinkled with some confectioner sugar.

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Enjoy it with a good cup of coffee or if you can with a good API morado!

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Rollo de Queso

Rolllo de Queso

rollo queso 1 I grew up with a lot of cousins around me. My mom had 8 siblings. Feeding all these kids was hard work, so my mom and aunts used get together during the weekends to bake bread for the week for the big family. Some weekends they would do this magnificent rollo de queso. They used to make them the size of our hands to have them as a snack straight from the oven. They would also make them big enough to feed the adults, cutting the rollo de queso in nice slices. I love this bread for the amount of cheese inside and for the soft and crumbly pastry exterior. As kids we all sat next to each other to enjoy our rollo de queso. We usually ate them for breakfast or tea time. Here in Maine in the winter I eat them all the time!

Rollo de Queso

Serves 2 large rollo de queso


2 cups flour

2 Tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp crisco

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 cup warm milk

2 cups of grated Monterrey Jack cheese, (in Bolivia we use Menonita, San Javier or Queso Fresco)

2 egg whites

3 egg yolks

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F

Mix the flour with the baking powder and set aside

In a large bowl mix together sugar, salt, 2 egg yolks and crisco, until it is well mixed. Add the warm milk slowly, combining with the flour until you have a nice soft dough. Divide the dough in two and let the cool for 20 min.

Meanwhile beat egg whites until hard (punto nieve). Add the cheese, mix, and set aside.

Roll the dough on top of parchment paper, until it’s thin

Add half of the egg whites and cheese in the center of the dough.

Fold one of the ends to the middle and the fold the other end on top.

Repeat the same with the other half of the dough and egg cheese mix.

Brush both of them with the remaining egg yolk and bake it at 350 for 45 min.

I love them when they just come out of the oven! You can freeze them and re-heat them before eating. Enjoy!

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Arroz Con Leche

Arroz Con Leche

Happy Easter! Felices Pascuas!

My favorite part of this holiday has always been the dessert. I grew up in a large family surrounded by  a lot of my cousins. On this holiday, all our moms would get together to cook 12 dishes including Arroz con Leche and Biscocho (sweet bread) and cook all morning to part of the afternoon. My cousin and I used eat the other dishes so fast just to get to dessert. They would give us a pieces of a good Biscocho and a cup of Arroz con Leche. We sat together in a circle looking at each other with big smiles to finally have the most delicious dish of the day. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Disfrutenlo!

Serves 8


1 ½ cup of rice

5 cups of water

½ cup of sugar

4 cups of milk

4 0z evaporated milk

½ tsp cloves

¼ stick cinnamon

Powdered cinammon

Get the ingredients ready.

Put the water in a large pot and add the cloves and cinnamon. Let it boil for 5 min and add the rice. Stir to make sure that it doesn’t stick in the bottom. It needs to be cooked in water first for about 10 min.

You will see that the rice has absorbed most of the water. Add the milk and sugar and let it cook for another 15 min.

Add the evaporated milk and let it boil for 5 min and it’s ready.

Serve in cups and sprinkle ground cinnamon on each of them. If you like. you can add ground coconut on top. This dish goes really well with a piece of biscocho. Enjoy it!


This Delicious pastry is made with 3 simple ingredients and is really easy to make. I modified the final presentation a little, it would usually be finished on a grill, but I cooked it an oven. Usually in Bolivia, we enjoy Sonzo in the afternoon  with a cup of black coffee. I love having it Sonzo the cold days in Maine as a side dish.


Serves 6


3 Large Yuca roots ( Yuca is a long root that has hard skin and cooks like a potato)

1 1/2 Cup of grated Monterrey Jack cheese, (in Bolivia we use Menonita, San Javier or Queso Fresco)

2  tbsp of unsalted butter and little bit more to butter the baking dish.

Cooking Instruction

Butter a 9″ round pie dish or a 8×8″ square dish

Peel the yuca roots. Cut the roots in 3 pieces and cut each piece in half. Put them in a pot and boil for about 20 min.

Once the yuca roots are cooked, take the middle parts out of the yuca and mash them as if they were potatos.

Add the butter and keep mixing. Add half of the cheese to form a a nice soft dough. Heat the oven to 350 F

Put half of the dough in the baking dish and sprinkle half of the cheese on. Pour the other half of the cheese on and sprinkle the rest on the dish. Bake for 30 min and broil for 5 min or until the cheese is golden at the top. Serve warm.

Chan’ka de Pollo

Chan’ka de Pollo



This is one of my favorites soups, my mom will make it when I was  feeling  a little bit sick, usually has Chuño and Fava beans instead of peas, but it works great with green peas. Enjoy ! Disfrutenlo!




Serves 4

4 Free range chicken legs
4 Large potato peeled
½ Cup fresh or frozen peas
1 Large Green onion  we will use the white and green part.
4 Cups of water or Chicken broth.

Cooking Instructions:

Get ready the ingredientes:

Put the 4 cups of water to boiled add the chicken salt some pepper and the white part of the green onion chopped. Let it cooked for about 15 min and add the peeled potatos and cook until they are soft.

Meanwhile Chopped the green part of the green onion:

Add the chopped green onions and the frozen peas to the soup and turn off the stove. Let it cool for about 10 min serve warm with one chicken leg one potato and some green onions and peas on the top. This delicious soups goes really well with a spicy Lllajua.


Falso Conejo “Fake Rabbit”

Falso Conejo (Is it really a Fake Rabbit?)

Why is this dish called Falso Conejo or Fake Rabbit? I do not have the answer but I can tell you that is very delicious! The dish really doesn’t look or taste like rabbit meat. You can use any type of ground meat but my favorite is ground meat from a local farmer that is low in fat or even bison meat which is very lean and healthy.

See the ingredients, recipe and photos here! Continue reading