This vegan recipe is inspired in the traditional Mapuche dish called “papas con mote”, which is a creamy potato stew, considered a winter recipe, very common in rural zones of Chile and Argentina, where the natives live.
But, what is “mote”? Basically mote is boiled whole wheat grains, it is a important ingredient in the Mapuche Cuisine, and also is the principal ingredient of one of the most popular desserts in Chilean culture, the “mote con huesillos”. But, let’s focus on our recipe.
“Papas con mote” is made out of potatoes, pumpkin, whole wheat grains, between other American native ingredients. It has a creamy, rich consistency, similar to a “risotto”, it is very filling and warm for those cold days of winter.
It is considered a “country recipe” that as the time passes on, less people cook it in the city. Its origin come from colonial times, when the limits of our culture still were not clear, and the fight between Mapuches and Spanish conquerors was on going. This dish has its roots in the Mapuche cuisine and over time was adopted by Chilean peasant who brought it to the city with the migration from rural zones to work.
The Mapuche cuisine has many recipes with this procedure: first make a “sofrito” (a sort of stir-fry, where the ingredients are reduced and release its flavors), then add the potatoes in cubes, and after few minutes mixing, add water to cover the potatoes and let them cook in a relatively slow heat.
To name more Mapuche recipes which share this method I could say: Charquican (potato and pumpkin stew with pieces of meat), papas con chuchoca (potatoes with chuchoca which is similar to cornmeal) and caldillo de harina tostada (toasted flour soup). All these recipes are in the kitchen’s heart of the rural zones in Chile and Argentina, where are still daily prepared and served, preserving the heritage alive.
I’ve grown eating this dishes, my mom and my grandma used to make them all the time, and I think they both could say the same about themselves. I would like in a future teach my sons/daughters to cook this amazing dish.
Creamy Potatoes and wheat
3 big potatoes
1.5 cup butternut squash in cubes
1 cup whole wheat
1/2 Cup frozen sweet peas
4 Garlic cloves
1 celery stick in cubes
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup red or green bell pepper
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp black pepper
2 Tsp cumin
2 Tsp paprika
1 cup soaked cashew nuts
1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup water
- First rinse the Whole wheat grains thoroughly, and cook them in 2.5 cups of water, at medium high heat for about 10 minutes. You’ll know that the wheat is cooked when the grains get bigger in size and you’ll be able to squish them between your fingers. Strain the grain and give it a fast rinse.
- While the wheat is cooking, in a blender mix the cashews, 1 cup of water, lemon juice and vinegar. Blend until you get a smooth cream. Reserve to add it later.
- In a big pot, put the olive oil to warm at medium heat.
- Stir-fry the onions and minced garlic for about 1 minute and add: the celery, carrots, red bell pepper, and sweet peas. Mixing until the onion gets tender. This could take about 2 minutes.
- Add the spices: black pepper, paprika and cumin. I recommend to reserve the salt until the end, since this will be boiling for about 1/2 hour, most of the saltiness will disappear. Adding the salt at the end will prevent you to adjust the taste with more salt.
- Add the potatoes and butternut squash in cubes, keep stir frying to incorporate the vegetables together.
- Get the wheat grains in the pot, and keep mixing for about 1 minute.
- Add vegetable broth or water, and the cashew cream. Mix very well, the liquid in the pot should be covering your potatoes, not more. You can add water to adjust the level if the liquid is lower.
- Cover the pot and let it cook at medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes. The meal will be done when the potatoes are soft, and the wheat absorbed the liquid. The texture should be creamy and smooth. Now you should add the salt.
As any traditional recipe, there are as many variations as cooks exists: some chefs calls to do not add milk or cream at the end, claiming that change its flavor. I would say: follow your instincts!
Since I built this vegan recipe to taste as similar is possible to the original non vegan recipe, I choose to add cashew nut cream because it will not interfere with the main flavor and also add creaminess and a rich texture.
But, if you are not familiar with the dish or want a faster way or a low fat version of it, leave the cashew nut cream outside the first time. But once you tried the recipe for first time, you’ll want to use that cream. Trust me.
I highly encourage you to try this recipe, it is easy, inexpensive and will make your heart and tummy so happy that you will want to make it again.