Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Puya Chilensis "Chagual"- A Native Food Of Chile And Peru

A Plant that grows between the IV and VII regions, endemic to Chile. "Species limited in geographical distribution and often confined to a small area," according to Encyclopedia of Chilean flora, where they add that is used in folk medicine as an emollient and astringent. In its other uses, their stalks are used to extract and manufacture fiber cords. I had no idea that this plant could be used both as ornamentals and food!

Whole Puya Chilensis and Ready to serve

I had not encountered Chaguales , also known as "Chaguar", though I knew the inside of the IV region for years. Around Cogotí there is a hill whose name comes from the name"Chaguareche", and is full of these plants.

What you eat is the tender part of leaves, which chop fine just like cabbage. You can find Chagual chopped and ready to go at street vendors, then dress at home and enjoy.

Chagual Salad

The most common way to eat it is in salads seasoned with salt, oil and lemon. Because its flavor is mild, you can combine it with other ingredients. I've heard of Chagual mixed with pieces of stalk of Cilantro, which adds a distinct flavor. I also found a recipe that adds onion, cilantro, and finely chopped Pimento. One innovative method combined it with pieces of raw papaya, with interesting results. The photo is with crushed hard boiled egg and some green olives.

In the most novel method I had heard of , Miguel Marchigue commented that people inside the VI region had also used Chagual as a filling in pies. As I could not resist "copucha" I asked directions on how they did. They told me the following: prepare the pie filling with chopped onion, chopped or ground meat and season as usual, and finally Chagual was added with finely chopped pine nuts and mixed. Then all the pies are filled, sealed and baked.

A family recipe I had heard of near Santa Cruz, made a fresh salad of Chagual, weeds and watercress.

In my search for exotic foods, I have found another recipe for Chagual pie online. Another way to prepare it is as a sweet jam or Chagual candy, someimes found at street vendors.

Article by Anabella ( )

translated by Google Translate. Edited by Alan Rogers

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