Huatia is an original and traditional way of cooking potatoes (sometimes other tubers and ingredients) in the soil. Yes, on earth! It is this that gives this particular flavor to the ingredients. I will save you the history of this dish but, as you can imagine, huatia is not new! It is a culinary tradition that is found mainly in Cusco and in the high Andean regions of Peru, at the time of harvest, from mid-May to the end of July.
For a huatia to succeed, it takes a lot of love (from the land and from one’s own), good humor and a little knowledge. Here are 6 steps to follow.
1. Choose the right ingredients
There are many varieties of potatoes in Peru. There are no less than 5,000! In all shapes and colors (or almost!). Then, depending on tastes and crops, the pleasures of taste may vary. It is also possible to accompany the dish with other tubers, such as the Peruvian goose (a small vegetable with yellow roots, sometimes orange or purple).
2. Build a 100% natural oven
First you have to find a field, which is not very complicated because Cusco is a large region. Then dig a shallow hole in it. Later, we take k’urpas (lumps of dry earth, in Quechua) that we place next to each other, creating an arch over the hole to make a dome. We leave a hole large enough on one side to make a door. The hardest part of building this furnace is to make sure that the lumps of the earth remain united and do not fall.
3. Make a fire
The oven is then heated with eucalyptus wood, dried branches or herbs until the lumps reach the bright red color inside the oven, indicating that the temperature is correct and that it is time to present all the ingredients. Warm-up time: allow about 30 minutes.
4. Cook the ingredients
The burning firewood is removed from the inside of the oven and the door is closed with large lumps of earth. Then, a hole is made in the upper part (the roof) and the potatoes are introduced (as well as the occasion and other ingredients). The oven crumbles and sinks, covering all the food.
5. The burial (extraction of food)
After a few minutes (around 15 or 20), we dismantle the huatia, using a beak or a shovel, removing the earth, then digging to extract the potatoes and other ingredients covered by embers, without damaging them. And trying not to burn!
6. Serve and try
The huatia is served hot on a blanket placed on the floor. Simply in the world, we sit on the blanket and eat with our hands. The dish is, in general, accompanied by Andean cheese, chili pepper (very hot pepper), butter. And sometimes a barbecue.