I am going to introduce you to a typical chilean and peruvian dish that is very popular over there. I used to eat this often in Chile, and it has been eaten ever since the Araucanians, Mapuches, Aymaras and Inca Indians once conquered the country. It is made of fresh ground corn (choclo) and basil. Commonly mixed with meat, but since I am vegetarian, I make it with vegetarian mince, and that taste even better. Traditionally the pastel was baked in a “paila” made of clay. But you can use anything that is oven-proof. When the surface of the cake has browned to a deep golden color, it is ready and should go directly from the oven to the table, because the hotter – the more delicious.
This dish is best served with “Esalada Chilena” which is ripe tomatoes and onions cut in thin slices and seasoned with oil, lemon juice, salt and cilantro.
The kitchenware on the picture are very special to me. They are very characteristic for the chilean creole cuisine and cooking vessels. This unique pottery is made in a small village in Chile called Pomaire. The village was established in 1771 and pottery making started shortly thereafter. The technology used in Pomaire goes way back to the indigenous Mapuche Indians. No division of labour, no machinery, not even a potter’s wheel, none of the aids to industry which I had conceived almost indispensable to the trade of making earthenware. The shapes are all formed by hand and the prices are ridiculously low. They are not only beautiful, but food cooked in clay retain more flavor than traditional cookware.
My kitchen is full of pottery from Pomaire. I sat on the plane with huge pitchers, jars and pots on my lap years ago, when this was allowed on the planes. I want to go back to Chile and buy more. They are so authentic – I love them!
Ingredients (12 servings) :
6 cups of fresh grated corn kernels
8 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 kilo vegetarian mince (Vegetarisk färs från Hälsans Kök)
3-4 onions, chopped
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 tsp. cumin
1 cup raisins
1 cup black olives
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup milk or as needed
3 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. powdered sugar (florsocker)
1 tbsp. paprika (bell pepper)
1 tbsp. oregano
Preheat oven to 200° C (400 F)
• Heat the grated corn, chopped basil, salt and butter in a large pot. Add the milk little by little, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Leave to one side while you prepare the veggie-mince filling • Fry the onions in oil until transparent, add the vegetarian mince and stir. Season with salt, pepper and ground cumin.
• Oil the clay bakers, Spread the onion-vegetarian mince over the bottom of the dish. Arrange the boiled sliced egg, olives and raisins. (I skipped the black olives). Cover the filling with the corn mixture. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top. Bake in hot oven at 200° C for about 30-40 minutes until crust is bubbly and golden brown.
• In Chile more sugar is served to sprinkle over the pastel as it is eaten. It can be either granulated sugar or powdered sugar.