To my great fortune, the wonderful employees of Casa Elena offered a cooking class for us. I had an awesome time learning how to cook two of the most delicious traditional Peruvian dishes. Being a huge fan of cooking and food in general, the culinary aspect of Peru was one of the things I was most looking forward to in coming here. Simply put, I was not disappointed.
First, we worked as a team to prepare the appetizer, papas rellenas. This is a Peruvian delicacy that can be compared to a dumpling or eggroll, but is of course much better (especially when I make it). We started by filling a large bowl with mashed potatoes, and took turns basically massaging the potatoes in order to improve the texture. In classic D-Rose fashion, Daniel actually began drooling while kneading the potatoes, but luckily caught his saliva just before it ruined a very promising meal. After the brief scare, I took over potato duties until it was ready for use.
We took turns crafting the potatoes into small bowls with our hands, and filled them with some ground beef, olives and hard boiled eggs. Next, we gathered a bit more of the potatoes to enclose the papa rellena. Just like that, they were ready to be fried and eaten. They were exquisite to say the least.
Afterwards, it was time to prepare the main course. I could not have asked for a better dish to learn to make than the lomo saltado, which has been my go-to meal at the local restaurants in Cusco. The lomo saltado is essentially a concoction of all of my favorite ingredients into one glorious dish. It consists of beef, onions, tomatoes, potato slices, parsley and all kinds of delicious spices and sauces, accompanied by rice. Being from a home in which the Persian rice cooker is highly utilized, it was cool to make the rice the Peruvian way, stirring it in a pan. We learned all the tricks of the trade, like cooking the onions first and throwing in the tomatoes at the very end. The final product was absolutely delightful, and accompanied by chicha morada made for the perfect meal.The cooking class has undoubtedly been one of the highlights of my trip. Now that I’m a seasoned Peruvian chef, I am very excited to take my talents back home and impress the ladies (my mom and sister) with my masterful preparation of such exotic cuisine.