Bolivian Papas a la Huancaina (potatoes with a spicy fairtrade nut sauce)

Papas a la Huancaina is a hugely popular dish in Peru and in Bolivia. The original dish is from Peru, but it’s quite different from this recipe, which is closer to the Bolivian version. The Huancaina is basically of a spicy warm sauce that is seasoned with Aji Amarrillo (a sort of yellow chilli powder that seasons most of the food from the region of the Andes), but the Peruvian version has fresh cheese and milk mixed into the sauce, whereas in Bolivia the key ingredient is roasted peanuts, making it more like a spicy version of the Thai Satay sauce.

Papas a la HuancainaThe Bolivian Huancaina is often served as a sharing aperitif where the baby potatoes (and sometimes quails eggs)  are simply dipped into the sauce, but it is also common to serve the potatoes on a bed of salad and add tomatoes, olives and fresh cheese – making it a perfect starter or light meal. It’s one of a very few Bolivian vegetarian dishes and I think it’s fantastic, not only because it’s a light, yet filling salad (perfect for the onset of autumn), but also because of the many nutritional benefits associated with eating nuts, that depending on which health publication you pick up, range from preventing cancer and depression to aiding in weight management and even preventing hair loss!

Bottom-line we love nuts and since my friends at Liberation Foods are promoting this year’s National Nut Day (22 of October 2014), we thought we’d share this slightly unusual savoury nut recipe with you. The recipe we have developed has a couple of twists… first, since not everyone has access to Aji Amarrillo we have simply substituted it for paprika and chilli flakes, which changes its usual colour (from bright yellow to orange) but not the taste! We have also used Liberation’s peanut and cashew nut mix, which has resulted in a slightly sweeter tasting Hauncaina, which is divine.

Liberation nuts and habbas Liberation nutsNow, I have written about Liberation before and I’m constantly making noise about this fantastic company, because I hold it so close to my heart… so I will just say this… you need to all go out there and buy all their fantastic products! Get yourself an excuse to buy a big bottle of Fairtrade wine and try their amazing new baked Fairtrade peppercorn peanuts with cashews and habas fritas (Available at Traidcraft, Essential Trading and Greencity Wholefoods)…and join me in raising a glass in celebration of not only World Nut Day, but in celebration of all those amazing individuals that are working so very hard to develop the fair trade nut supply chain all over the world!

Bolivian Huancaina sauce
Recipe Type: Easy
Cuisine: Bolivian Food
Author: Fair Trade Living
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-4
A Bolivian spicy nut sauce served warm with boiled potatoes and salad.
  • Huancaina Sauce
  • 100 grs of Fairtrade roasted peanuts or a combination of peanuts and cashews
  • 300 ml of water
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 pinch of chilli flakes, adjust to taste
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • To use the Huancaina as a dip:
  • 12-15 baby new potatoes
  • 10-12 olives
  • Cubed fresh cheese, like a feta
  • Fresh parsley to decorate
  • To serve the Huancaina as a starter dish
  • 6 medium size potatoes
  • 8-12 olives
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 eggs
  • salad leaves
  • salad dressing or splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  1. For the Huancaina sauce
  2. Grind the nuts in a food processor until they become a fine dust
  3. Boil the water and dissolve the stock cube in it
  4. Place the powdered nuts and stock in a pan and place on the hob on a medium heat
  5. As soon as it boils, add the dry spices
  6. Let it boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring often
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning and chilli heat to taste…it should have a bit of a kick!
  8. If serving as a dip:
  9. Boil the new potatoes until cooked but still hold firm, season with a bit of salt and pepper
  10. Place the potatoes in a large dish with the Huancaina in the middle as a dip
  11. Decorate with some fresh parsley, olives and cubed feta cheese
  12. If serving as a starter or light dish for 2:
  13. Boil the potatoes until cooked but still firm
  14. Boil the eggs until hard
  15. Prepare a bed of salad leaves on your plates
  16. Place 3 potatoes in the middle
  17. Peel the eggs and cut into quarters, add to the plate
  18. Decorate with fresh parsley, olives and cubed fresh cheese
  19. When ready to serve, add the warm Huancaina sauce over the potatoes and a salad dressing to taste

2 thoughts on “Bolivian Papas a la Huancaina (potatoes with a spicy fairtrade nut sauce)”

  1. Kate Gaskell says:

    I would never have thought to team a rich, tasty, super more-ish nicely spicy peanut sauce with potatoes, feta, tomatoes, olives and salad leaves but I know to trust Ximena, especially on Bolivian cuisine, so try it we did. For our National Nut Day team lunch at Liberation Foods the Fair Trade nut company. And what a hit! We kept coming back for more…just one more potato, oh and now I need a bit MORE sauce…we had to drag ourselves away in the end. Deeeeeelicious Ximena, thank you!