A Bolivian inspired dinner

Long weekends sometimes give me a hankering for tackling a project.  This really wasn’t one of those weekends.  Although I did for a brief moment have the urge to re-organize my pantry closet.  I took a quick peek inside and thought maybe I’d save that for a rainy day.  But one of my cookbooks in my pantry caught my eye and was one of the reasons behind the inspiration for this post.  The book that caught my eye was a Bolivian cookbook that was once my mothers, and before that, it belonged to her mother.  Its pages are brittle and brown.  There are even old splatter marks in it.  Gosh it’s great.  A few years ago for Christmas my mother surprised me with a newer edition of this very same Bolivian cookbook.  One of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  It’s called “Nuestras Comidas” by Nelly De Jordan.  It has a ton of traditional Bolivian recipes and many specific to Cochabamba.  One particular Cochabambino recipe that makes me think of my mom is called Sillp’anchu.  Sillp’anchu is a Quechua word.  I’m not sure what it means, I probably should have asked my mom that when we skyped this weekend.  Anyway, my mom makes this for us every time she comes to visit.    It’s basically a thinly pounded piece of beef with rice, potatoes, an egg, and covered with a fresh salsa.  It’s such a simple recipe but so delicious.  I put my own little spin on it by using the purple potatoes (native to Bolivia) instead of white potatoes and avocado salsa instead of a pico de gallo.  Of course my mother is the other part of inspiration behind the dish, especially since it was Mother’s Day in Bolivia on Sunday :)

My local grocer carries these baby purple potatoes:

Here, the most recent edition of Nuestras Comidas sits atop my mom’s older one.  The cover came loose so she wrapped it in plastic:

Sillp’anchu Recipe

(serves 2 large portions or 4 small portions)

  • 4 – 6 slices of top round, thin cut for milanesa
  • 1 – 2 cups dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 – 4 cups cooked white rice
  • 15 – 20 baby purple potatoes
  • 1 small avocado
  • half pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 2-4 eggs
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar

First prepare the rice to your liking.  Meanwhile, put the whole baby potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 – 20 minutes until fork tender.  While the potatoes and rice cook, prepare the avocado salsa.  Combine halved tomatoes, cubed avocado, chopped green onion, and one table-spoon of finely chopped parsley in a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.  You might also want to add just a small squeeze of lemon to keep the avocado from browning.  Mix to combine and set aside in the refrigerator.  Lightly salt and pepper each slice of meat and cover both sides with breadcrumbs.  Place a slice of meat into a large ziplock bag (or between plastic wrap) and lightly pound breadcrumbs into the meat with a mallet (or use the bottom of a heavy pan.)  Repeat for each piece of meat.  Drizzle a table-spoon of olive oil and add a teaspoon of butter into a large skillet.  Bring to a medium high temp and add two slices of meat (or one at a time depending on the size of your pan.)  Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Cook for one minute, turn and cook for another minute.  Use a spatula to keep the meat flat while cooking if necessary.  Plate the rice and potatoes with a piece (or two) of the meat on top.  Set aside for a moment while you fry the eggs.  Place one egg on top of the slice of meat.  Spoon avocado salsa over the top, add a sprinkle of parsley and enjoy!  PS just a note on the curly parsley.  I am slightly partial to it because this is the kind that my Bolivian grandmother grew in her garden.  The second I begin chopping it takes me right back to being a kid playing in her garden.  Love that scent.

Until next Monday!


13 thoughts on “A Bolivian inspired dinner

  1. I want to know where to get this cookbook. I will be joining my husband in Bolivia and want to learn how to make his favorite dishes before I go.

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  4. It looks delicious and low fat with not too many calories. It would make a wondeful buffet type presentation for several guests. great job Jen.

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