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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Hearts of Palm and Lupin beans Vegan Ecuadorian Ceviche

On the left this is picture of  Anita, The Chef at Scalesia lodge at Isabella Island at Galapagos, Ecuador.  As promised earlier, I am going to post my very first video recipe of Ceviche, which is very popular in Ecuador. We just came back from our wonderful trip to Ecuador, Galapagos island and Amazon Rain forest.  In Galapagos we stayed at this wonderful lodge Scalesia on Isabella Island.  The chef of Scalesia Lodge Anita  and our  Gate1 Tour guide Paul, Aguilar (who is very knowledgeable and made this trip so much fun for all of us) together  they did a live presentation of how to make Ceviche with shrimp and for vegetarian version with palm of heart and Lupin beans.  Anita did not speak English so Paul is translating as she is doing the  demonstration on how to put the Ceviche togethe. Ceviche  (Spanish pronunciation:  is a Latin American dish typically made from fresh raw fish cured in fresh citrus juices, most commonly lime  or lemon. It is also spiced with aji, chili peppers  or other seasonings, and julienned red onions, salt, and cilantro are also added.

Because the dish is eaten raw and not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh and consumed immediately to minimize the risk of food poisoning Ceviche is often eaten as an appetizer; if eaten as a main dish, it is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, maize, avocado or cooking banana.

The dish is popular in the Pacific coastal regions of western South  America The origin of ceviche is from the ancient Moche culture and Vicus culture,  which today corresponds to the modern day countries of Peru and Ecuador The technique of macerating raw fish and meat in vinegar, citrus, and spices escabeche was brought to the Americas from Spain and is linked to the Muslim heritage in Spanish cuisine. However, archeological records suggest that something resembling ceviche may have been indigenous to western South America as early as 2,000 years ago. 

First I am going to talk about these Lupin beans.  These are very rich in protein (40% of protein) and very nutritious.  We had these beans there and they are pretty good and I was impressed with the amount of protein that handful of beans can provide you.  Needless to say we had these beans in Ecuador in soups, salads and of course vegetarian version of Civeche.

Lupinus mutabilis is a species of  lupin grown in the Andes  mainly for its edible bean. Vernacular names include tarwi (in Quechaa II  pronounced tarhui), chocho, altramuz, Andean lupin, South American lupin, Peruvian field lupin, and pearl lupin. Its nutrient-rich seeds are high in protein, as well as a good source for cooking oil. However, their bitter taste has made L. mutabilis relatively unknown outside the Andes, though modern technology makes it easier to remove the bitter alkaloids Like other species of lupin beans, it is expanding in use as a plant-based protein source. 

The origin of L. mutabilis has been identified in the Andean region of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. In this area, the greatest genetic variability in the world was found. The plant has been domesticated for more than 1500 years, mostly because of its high protein content.

The bone-white seed contains more than 40% protein and 20% fat and has been used as a food by Andean people since ancient times, especially in soups, stews, salads and by itself mixed with boiled maize.  Like other legumes, its protein is rich in the essential amino acid lysine. The distribution of essential fatty acids is about 28% linoleic acid (omega-6) and 2% linolenic acid (omega-3). It has a soft seed coat that makes for easy cooking. It may not have been more widely used because of its bitter taste, due to the alkaloid content. It contains unusually high amounts of sparteine, which make up nearly half of its alkaloid content. However, the alkaloids are water-soluble and can be removed by soaking the seeds for some days in water.  QAs are heat-stable toxins; cooking alone does not remove the alkaloids. Like other species of lupin beans,  chocho beans are expanding in use as a plant-based protein source in the world marketplace.

L. mutabilis contains 42% of protein and 18% fat in average. The high fat content has allowed commercial oil pressing. The protein digestibility and nutritional value are reportedly similar to those in soybeans. 

There are two kinds of Lupin beans:

  • There’s a bitter variety that takes longer to prepare as it needs to be soaked for several days in water, and water needs to be changed every few hours or at least every day. Then the beans need to be cooked, and if they’re still bitter then they need to be soaked again in water.
  • The other kind of lupin beans is sweet, these beans are not literally sweet but they’re not bitter either (the variety is just called sweet). They can be prepared quickly, by just soaking them in water for a few hours, then they’re cooked for 30 minutes or until they’re sort of soft and yellow in color.









So here is the recipe on the link below on google photos, I hope you can open it, as I as not able to post the videos on this post, I hope you have fun watching it.  Please let me know, and if you have any questions..

Enjoy !

My Sincere Thanks to  Anita  at Scalesia lodge at Isabella Island at Galapagos, Ecuador. and our  Gate1 Tour guide Paul, Aguilar for above video demonstration of recipe. 

If you have hard time opening this here is a similar recipe I found on line you can follow it with following adaptation with as-trick signs in front of it.  Following recipe is courtesy of Vegetarian ceviche de chochos

Vegetarian ceviche de chochos

Ceviche de chochos is a vegetarian ceviche made with chocho beans (lupini beans), onions, tomatoes, cilantro, limes, oranges and tomato sauce. It is served with maiz tostado, chifles or plantain chips, avocados and hot sauce.


  • 2 cups of cooked and cured chochos or lupini beans 
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced (julienned)
  • 2-3 tomatoes thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 oranges 
  • * One can of heart of palm sliced with its brine*
  • * 2  cups of  Sliced mushrooms of your choice, slightly sauteed but not overcooked*
  • Juice of one or two large limes
  • *Chopped Jalapenos to taste*
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro finely chopped (wild cilantro as per Anita and Paul's video)
  • * Peanut sauce * to taste
  • * Hot sauce * to tastes
  • 1 tbs of light olive oil you can use regular olive oil  
  • ¼ – ½ cup of tomato sauce or ketchup adjust according to your preference
  • Salt to taste
  • * Black Pepper *  to taset


  • Roasted corn or   corn nuts
  • Chifles or plantain chips
  • Avocado
  • Aji or hot sauce
  • * You can add chopped raw or ripe mango as toppings too*


  • Place the sliced red onions in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt (about 1 tablespoon) and cover with warm water. Let them soak for about 10 minutes, then drain the water and rinse well with cold water. This will help remove the bitterness from the onions.
  • Combine the washed red onions, tomato slices, chochos, Heart of palm, Mushrooms,  tomato sauce or ketchup, chopped cilantro, Jalapeno peppers,  lime juice, orange juice, peanut sauce olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
  • Let the chocho ceviche marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Serve cold with  corn nuts, green plantain chips, avocado /Mango and hot sauce.
    Hint: Lupin beans are available in Jars in Italian or middle eastern store. If  you buy dry Lupin beans,  there are tons of instructions on line how to cook them safely, basically you need to soak them overnight and then pressure cook them like any another beans. 


Again My Sincere Thanks to  Anita  at Scalesia lodge at Isabella Island at Galapagos, Ecuador. and our  Gate1 Tour guide Paul, Aguilar for above video demonstration of recipe.

Above recipe adapted from Vegetarian ceviche de chochos

Picture of Ceviche courtsey of 

Picture of soaked Lupin beans courtesy of

Information source of Lupin beans:

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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Ecuadorian Indigenous Potato Vegetable Soup made with Uchu Jacu

Today is my father's birthday,  he would have been 90 today.  He passed away in 2016.  Miss him dearly !! I always dedicate my posts here on my blog to this, as he always inspired me.  He used to travel all over India for business and whenever he came back from his business trip, he would bring a new recipe to try, the food that he had tried in that particular region and would inspire me and my mom to replicate the recipe.   We just came back from an Amazing trip to Ecuador, Galapagos and Amazon Rain forest  Coca and Sacha Lodge.  Since we are vegetarian we could only try some of the recipes, amongst them were popular Ecuadorian potato soup of different region and they were very big on Ceviche, and they made vegetarian version for us. As matter of fact when we were staying at this beautiful Scalesia Lodge in Isabela island of Galapagos, the kitchen staff and our wonderful tour guide did a live demo class on how to make both non-veg and veg Ceviche, which I am going to post later.  That is going to be my first video post. So stay tuned :)  Lets get back to this recipe. First of all my heart goes out to all of those families who suffered loss of lives in the earthquake that just hit Ecuador yesterday, 2 wks ago we were there in the same region.  So so sad... I hope they are doing ok, will be praying for them. When we visited Cayambe region in the northern part of the Ecuadorian  province of Pichincha, one of our tour destination was to visit a Hacienda and have lunch at this place.  They had made this soup, when I asked the lady to share the recipe she showed me this packaged flour mix that they use for this soup, and I bought one pack. It had the recipe in the back in Spanish, and one of our fellow traveler used google translate lens to translate the recipe in English for everyone.  (I did not want to boast that I know that much Spanish to follow the recipe.)  Any way I have posted the picture with English translation here.  As it says in the recipe you can use this as a base and make any soup and with any vegetables.  I only had baby carrots in my fridge, so I used that but you could use spinach or any greens, corn, heart of palm, tomatoes or any thing your palate desires.  I basically followed the same recipe.

Let me first tell you little bit about Uchu Jacu (or Uchujacu; Quichua for hot flour) is a traditional flour produced from six different grains, originating from the Cayambe region in the northern part of the Ecuadorina province of Pichincha.  After the recipe had almost been forgotten during some time, the flour is being produced again today in the mills of the organization UNOPAC. Though the flour is relatively little known, it is still very popular with the members of the various indigenous communities in the area.

The production of Uchu Jacu marks an elaborate process; wheat, barley, corn, pea, lentil and field bean are being used as ingredients. In order to assure a high level of pureness, the grains are sorted by hand and toasted. Subsequently, garlic, annatto and cumin are added to the assorted grains and eventually the mixture is ground. Eventually, the flour is sieved another time and packed. According to tradition, Uchu Jacu is exclusively being used to make a very nutritive soup. Although the full traditional recipe requires adding potatoes, onion, hominy, eggs, cream cheese and guinea pig, this version can be altered at will. Uchu Jacu resembles potato soup in appearance as well as in consistency, but develops a quite distinct flavor. They serve the soup with toasted corn, hot sauce and top it with Avocado slices and cheese.  I must admit though the roasted corn were very hard to chew and I was afraid I was going to break my tooth, but here you can get better quality of crunchy roasted corn , in future I will definitely will be using it, as we just came back from our vacation I only had limited things in my fridge and pantry and I was very anxious to post this recipe.
The hot sauce that they served us was amazing, I will ask one of my friend from Ecuador for the recipe and will post it later. Also found out that what really makes these soup different is the seasoning.  The Ecuadorian soups are seasoned with a spice called annatto, which gives it a subtle flavor and a unique color. Annatto is a spice and coloring that comes from the seeds of the anchiote tree. It has a flavor that is earthy and slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg sweetness. The anchiote tree is commonly found in Latin America and South America, where the seeds were traditionally used as a dye for paints and for medicinal uses. It has been used for hundreds of years as both a dye and seasoning in Latin America and the Caribbean. Annatto is sometimes known as “poor man’s saffron” because it gives dishes a similar color to the hue saffron would impart. It was used in many Spanish dishes that found their way to the New World, where saffron was not easily available. Annatto is widely used as a natural coloring agent in many food products.  (If your butter or cheese is yellow, chances are pretty good it has been dyed with annatto.)

If you don’t have annatto, substitute ¼ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp sweet paprika, and a pinch of nutmeg. While this is not an exact substitution for the flavor, it will get you close to the flavor and color that the annatto provides. However in this package as you can see the annatto is included.  So I did not have to worry about it. 

So here is how I made it with my limited supply of ingredients: 
  • 1/2 cup of Uchu Jacu flour
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 3-4 baby carrots
  • 3 sprigs of green onions
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • Water to cook potatoes and carrots
  • 1 table spoon of butter
  • Salt to tasteF
 For the Topping
  1. ½ cup of Queso fresco, crumbled, or shredded mozzarella
  2. Chopped fresh cilantro
  3.  1 avocado, cubed or sliced
  4.  Hoe sauce to taste 


  • Peel and chop potatoes and carrot.
  • Add water and salt and cook on stove top, or micro wave or pressure cooker until soft.  I just cooked in microwave for 20 min.
  • While these are cooking, chop onion and green onion.
  • Add butter to frying pan on medium lower heat and saute onions until light brown.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Uchu Jacu flour to cold water and mix well until lumps are gone, set aside.
  • Add cooked potatoes and carrots to sauteed onions and  add the water that you cooked them  in.
  • Then add flour and water mix to it.
  • Let is simmer for 5-6 min on medium low heat stirring in between. 
  • Blend the entire content with hand blender.
  • Add water if too thick. 
  • Add salt if needed.
  • Server hot topped with cheese, avocado and  roasted corn if desired .

Yummmmmy !!! 


As mentioned earlier you can use any other vegetable to accompany potatoes: like spinach or any other greens,  Heart of palm, edamame, peas, tomatoes or any of your favorite veggies and for my non veg readers you an add any  meat items that you like.  

You can even substitute sweet potato for potatoes.

Enjoy !! 





Information on Uchu Jacu flour souce: Wikipedia: /wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_Creative_Commons_Attribution-ShareAlike_3.0_Unported_License

Recipe adapted from recipe on the package of Uchu Jacu flour purchased from the Hacienda and all he photographs by Surekha.

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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Loaded Pistachio Homemade Dark Chocolate Bars with salt (Inspired by Our trip to Turkey in May 2022)

I still have not taken Turkey tour out of my system. I  often think about all that wonderful delicious food, along with so many sweet treats with abundance of Pistachios !!  When we used to make the rest and lunch stop on our Gate1 Tour bus.  We found this delicious Nestle chocolate made with dark and milk chocolate and pistachios. One 2.82 oz was like 35-50 cents and was enough to satisfy our sweet tooth after the meal.  Didn't even think about bringing these with us back from Turkey... Thought, it is made by Nestle,  so we can find it here.  NOT !! First of all there are not a single company Swiss, American or any other countries that have many choice of  chocolates with pistachio nuts.   We looked and looked and finally found these "Damak"  Nestle bars with pistachios in a local middle eastern store and each bar was $5.00 which was like 10 x of the price in Turkey.. I said heck with it I am going to make my own dark chocolate bars with pistachios.  Thanks to Costco,  they sell ~1 lbs bag of roasted shelled, salted pistachios, which I always have  in my pantry.

Now only thing I did not have is the chocolate discs.  However I had lot of chocolate bars in the house from Christmas gifts and also 2 bags of chocolate chips morsels, regular and dark chocolate. So I decided to make this in bulk and  make good use of all the chocolates in my house. I had 8 oz bag of Dove assorted dark, milk and caramel chocolate square and 2 bars of my favorite Chocere dark chocolate bars (49% cocoa), one small bar of Hershey milk chocolate and  cocoa powder.  So I decided to experiment this recipe with all the ingredients that I had handy. 

However you can just use chocolate chips morsels or discs. You may need to add vanilla and may be sugar or condensed milk to make it little sweet as I did not have to add any sweetener due to all the chocolate bars already having sugar in it. I was very pleased with the final product and I got so excited with the results that I did not have patience to press it into thin bark but just made the chunks like the Damak Chocolate bars ~ 1/2 inch.   Also, I made in large quantity as we will be going to see our son soon, so thought will make extra to take some for him.  You can adjust the recipe according to your need.

You will need following to make this recipe:

  • A double boiler or steamer or large saucepan with something to rest the glass bowl
  • A deep glass bowl and a wooden spatula
  • Microwave
  • A large baking tray lined with parchment paper
  • Something to crush the pistachios
  • Something to press the bars to make them smooth
  • Cooking spray


  • 1 bag of three flavor assortment Dove chocolate squares. (Dark, Milk and caramel milk chocolate)
  • 1 10oz bag of semi sweet milk chocolate chips morsels and 1 10 oz bag of dark chocolate chips morsels.
  • 1 small Hershey milk chocolate bar (1.5 oz)
  • 2 Choceur dark chocolate bars (5.28 oz each)
  • 6 heaped tablespoon of Cocoa powder or more if you want it to be more dark
  • One 14 oz bag of roasted  salted pistachios (if you use unsalted raw pistachio you can roast them and add sea salt to the recipe.


  • Unwrap all the chocolate and empty the chocolate morsels in the glass bowl.
  • Break the chocolate bars in to small pieces put them in the bowl.
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large baking tray.
  • Spray with cooking spray and set aside
  • Fill a large sauce pan with water so the bowl will be covered with water on the side without spillage.
  • Heat the water in sauce pan with something to rest the bowl on.
  • In the mean time place the bowl with all the chocolate and cocoa powder in the microwave at high setting
  • Heat it for 3-5 min mixing in between so the all  chocolate starts to melt. 
  • Carefully remove the bowl from microwave and place it in the boiling water on stove in sauce pan.
  • Now comes the patience.
  • Continue to stir the chocolate with spatula as they continue to melt.
  • In between you can crush the pistachios in the bag  with a mallet.
  • Continue to stir the chocolate in the bowl with spatula in the boiling water  in sauce pan.
  • You are looking for smooth, creamy pour-able chocolate. The amount of time will depend on the quantity of chocolate.
  • Once such texture is achieved, carefully pour it on the tray lined with parchment papers sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Spread the chocolate goo on the baking tray and sprinkle pistachios.
  • To make thin bars you can spread it in to 1/4 " thickness, but since I put lots of crushed pistachios and was very keen to achieve the thickness of the "Damak" bars. I spread it so it was about 1/2 inch in thickness.  
  • Now sprinkle more crushed pistachio on top and press it with something with greased  smooth bottom.
  • Place the tray in fridge for about 30-40 min (Until chocolate is semi set) then take it out and cut desired size squares and place it back in the fridge. 
  • Once chocolate  hardens then you can break in to squares and store in the fridge.
  • I like my chocolate to be at room temp, so I set if outside for an hour before eating.

Enjoy !!


Recipe and Photographs by Surekha.
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