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Over the weekend I participated in a cooking workshop put on by one of our Mosqoy students.

The workshop was part of the Kallpa K’oj program, which is a way for the students to give back to their communities while they are studying. “Kallpa K’oj” is a Quechua term that loosely translates to “giving back energy”. Mosqoy students are expected to put in volunteer hours in the communities we work in. These hours may include anything from translating Quechua to Spanish in a weaving meeting or providing manual labour to help build a weaving centre. It’s a great way for the students to contribute to the communities, and also allows them to build relationships with community members and strengthen ties to the Quechua language and culture.

Students also host workshops that relate to their area of study. The weavers may request a workshop in a specific subject, and students then travel to the community to share their knowledge. This may include classes in rural tourism, nutrition or family planning. This weekend’s workshop was held in the community of Huaran, and hosted by Luzmila, who is studying international cuisine. She chose to prepare a dish called “causa”, which is traditional Peruvian fare.

It was fun to participate in the workshop and see what Luzmila is learning in her cooking courses. It was also neat to see her explain each step in Quechua, and watch the women’s enthusiastic reactions. And of course it was great to enjoy the delicious meal once it was all prepared and nicely presented! We had a lovely little feast with all the women, then held our monthly weaving meeting after lunch. I was impressed by Luzmila’s cooking and thought causa was very tasty indeed. Here is a causa recipe, in case you’re feeling inspired:

Causa rellena con pollo:

(courtesy of , with my own modifications from memory)


  • 8 yellow potatoes (about 2-3 pounds)

  • 3 fresh yellow chili peppers

  • 3 limes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 4 celery stalks, diced

  • 1 spicy red pepper (rocoto), finely chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Black olives for decoration

  • Parsley for decoration


  1. Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft. Peel the potatoes and mash them.

2. Boil the yellow chili peppers, then remove the seeds and skin them. Grind them into a fine paste. Mix the chili paste in with the potatoes, and add the juice of the 3 limes, olive oil, and salt/pepper to taste. Knead until smooth.

3. Poach the chicken in water seasoned with salt and pepper. Shred the cooked chicken, and mix with the mayonnaise, diced celery, and chopped red chili. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. On a plate, shape a third of the mashed potato mixture into a square or oval. Place slices of avocado on top. Add another layer of the potato mixture. Cover with the chicken salad in a smooth layer. Layer the rest of the potato mixture on top and smooth with a knife. Decorate the top with parsley leaves, mayonnaise, and olive halves.

5. Serve chilled.

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