Causa Rellena (Causa Peruana) (2024)

by Vera Abitbol 5 Comments

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Causa rellena is a very popular Peruvian recipe.

What is causa rellena?

Causa rellena is an iconic recipe from Peru that combines lemony and spiced mashed potatoes with tuna (causa peruana de atún) or chicken (causa peruana de pollo) or seafood and avocado.

Hard to avoid the many potato-based recipes when you know that Peru offers no less than 7 potato species and more than 5,000 varieties of all shapes and colors.

It is called causa rellena, causa limeña (from Lima) or even causa peruana. Rellena means “stuffed” as explained in the papas rellenas recipe. But what about causa?

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What is the origin of causa rellena?

History tells us that this dish was born during the Pacific War in 1879 when Chile fought against Peru and Bolivia. The Peruvian army had so much trouble getting food that women were collecting potatoes and other foods in all cities.

So they created the meal they offered to soldiers “for the cause” (of defending their territory), hence “causa”.

However, the origins of this preparation appear to be older, and there are three of them:

  • Pre-Columbian version
    According to Peruvian food historian Rodolfo Tafur, the word causa comes from the quechua word kausay, which means “life” or “sustenance for life.” In their most essential Columbian origin, potatoes were simply boiled and eaten with ají amarillo.
  • Colonial version
    It was limeña causa! To pre-Hispanic dish kausay, people incorporated other ingredients to mashed potato depending on what was available: fish, seafood, meat, black olives, avocado, etc.
  • Republican version
    One story says that causa was invented by a woman from Lima who had to feed a battalion of soldiers celebrating Independence Day. All she had on hand were potatoes that she cooked, mashed and seasoned with some sliced ​​hard-boiled eggs, and a few black olives.

How to make causa peruana

Causa rellena peruana is prepared with basic yellow potatoes and lime. There are different variants for the filling though. It can be prepared with tuna, chicken, seafood or other varieties of white meat.

Whatever the chosen filling, mayonnaise is always added, but also often, avocados, black olives, lettuce or vegetables such as peas, or carrots.

The key to this causa rellena recipe is the quality of the potato. In Peru, causa is usually prepared with the queen of Peruvian potatoes, papa amarilla, which may be hard to find outside of Peru.

As a substitute, any potato with a yellow flesh but also delicious and delicate flavors can be used, as long as it is good for mashed potatoes.

This recipe is validated by our Peruvian culinary expert Morena Cuadra, author of culinary blog Peru Delights.

Causa Rellena (Causa Peruana) (10)

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5 from 2 votes

Causa Rellena

Causa rellena is an iconic recipe from Peru that combines lemony and spiced mashed potatoes with tuna or chicken or seafood and avocado.

Prep Time1 hour hr

Cook Time30 minutes mins

Total Time1 hour hr 30 minutes mins

Course: Appetizer

Cuisine: Latin American, Peruvian

Servings: 6 people

Calories: 441kcal

Author: Vera Abitbol

Ingredients

For the mashed potatoes

  • 3 lb potatoes (yellow flesh)
  • 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste (or alternatively, 1 large orange or yellow hot pepper)
  • 3 limes , squeezed
  • 1 clove garlic , crushed
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the filling

  • 10 oz. canned tuna
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or more to taste)
  • 1 scallion , finely chopped
  • 10 cilantro leaves , chopped
  • 2 avocados (ripe), peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons cooked peas
  • 1 cooked carrot , diced

For the decoration

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • A few black olives
  • 1 small red hot pepper

Equipment

  • Food processor

US Customary - Metric

Instructions

  • If you do not have aji amarillo paste, you must first seed the fresh pepper, blanch it for 2 minutes in boiling water and drain before pureeing it in the blender.

  • Peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water for 20 minutes. They should be cooked but still remain firm.

  • Mash the potatoes with a potato ricer, then mash them by hand for about 10 minutes while gradually incorporating the lime juice, oil, aji pepper paste, garlic and mayonnaise.

  • Add salt and pepper. Let cool.

  • Mash the tuna with a fork and mix by incorporating olive oil, scallion, mayonnaise and chopped cilantro leaves.

  • Use a cookie cutter circle and add the first layer of mashed potatoes. Place a layer of tuna filling, then another layer of mashed potatoes, then the thinly sliced avocados or mixing of peas and carrots, and end with a last layer of the potato mixture. (Or vice versa, starting first by the avocado or the peas / carrots and then tuna)

  • Decorate the top with boiled eggs and black olives or little red pepper.

  • Serve cold.

Nutrition Facts

Causa Rellena

Amount Per Serving

Calories 441Calories from Fat 180

% Daily Value*

Fat 20g31%

Saturated Fat 3g19%

Cholesterol 82mg27%

Sodium 204mg9%

Potassium 1479mg42%

Carbohydrates 52g17%

Fiber 11g46%

Sugar 4g4%

Protein 18g36%

Vitamin A 484IU10%

Vitamin C 63mg76%

Calcium 65mg7%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Causa Rellena (Causa Peruana) (11)

Vera Abitbol

Vera is the “expert” of the 196 flavors’ duo. With over 30 years of experience in the kitchen, she is now sharing her skills as a private chef and cooking instructor.

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Causa Rellena (Causa Peruana) (2024)

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