My Life in Peru

An Expat Mom Shares Her Experiences with Peruvian Life, Travel and Food

Papa Rellena Peruana

Posted on | January 27, 2011 | 7 Comments

Traditional peruvian plate: Papas Rellenas. Fo...

Image via Wikipedia

A week or so ago, someone sent me a message asking me if I knew what papa rellena was, and if I had a recipe for it.

You betcha!

Papa rellena is Spanish for stuffed potato, and it’s a common appetizer and street food. When the boys were very little, street vendors outside the school would sell papa rellenas in the afternoons. It was our custom to buy one for each boy as an after-school snack, and they would it on the bus on the way home.

The dish itself is Peruvian criollo cuisine and is really nothing much more than a large fried potato croquet stuffed with a ground meat mixture.  The traditional recipe calls for a savory filling, with a somewhat unusual list of ingredients. I have read that the inspiration for the plate comes from the empanada (which was brought over by the Spanish) – instead of using the typical pastry crust to put the filling in, the Peruvians said “Hey, we’ve got all these potatoes.. let’s give it a try!”

The basic recipe lends itself to all sorts of experimentation, like using seafood or poultry in place of the ground beef. Today though, we’re going to stick with the basic recipe. Just a little FYI – a potato ricer will be a huge help for this.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • oil for cooking
  • 1 large finely diced onion
  • 2 aji amarillo, de-seeded, de-veined, finely diced.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground aji panca (you can substitute paprika)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 5 medium-large potatoes, boiled and cooled, peeled, riced or mashed
  • 2-3 hard boiled eggs, cut into quarters
  • pitted black olives (traditional, but optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of oil. Add the onion, aji amarillo, garlic and aji panca (or paprika) and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.
  2. Add the meat and the raisins, mix well, then pour in the broth.
  3. Let this cook down until the broth is absorbed – about 10-12 minutes, then give it a taste test. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Take your potatoes and add a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well by hand, making sure there are no lumps left. It should be a very smooth mixture.
  5. Form small balls from the potatoes, then flatten out into disk shapes.
  6. In the center of each potato circle, place a large spoonful of the meat mixture. Add an olive and a piece of hard boiled egg.
  7. Fold the edges of the potato circle up over the top of the filling and close the edges together. Use your hands to form the mass into a slightly oval shape. (You may want to flour your hands to make this easier)
  8. Heat a large amount of oil in a deep pot, and fry the papa rellenas until they are golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oil, and drain on paper towels.

I know this sounds complicated, but it’s really not! To show you that it’s not as hard as it sounds, I’m going to put this video up here – It’s a bit long – you can watch it all if you like, but if you just want to see how they form the potatoes, jump ahead to 3:45.  It’s a lot easier to show you how to do it than it is to tell.

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7 Responses to “Papa Rellena Peruana”

  1. Ward
    January 27th, 2011 @ 13:55

    Papa rellena, one of my favorites! Can you get the papa rellenas fried nice and pretty like in the restaurants? Mine always try to fall apart in the frying pan :(
    Ward´s last blog post ..Mean Fat Pituca

  2. Kelly
    January 27th, 2011 @ 17:25

    I haven’t had a problem with it – what kind of potato do you use? I use papa amarillo. In the video, they rolled them in flour and then an egg wash before they fried them, maybe that will help hold them together better – give it a try!

  3. Tweets that mention Papa Rellena Peruana | My Life in Peru --
    January 27th, 2011 @ 17:45

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karikuy and José Leandro Xavier, Fnnkybutt. Fnnkybutt said: There's more than one way to fry a potato! Have you tried papa rellena?… […]

  4. Mom
    January 27th, 2011 @ 18:30

    Think I will give it a try this weekend.

  5. Rosie Delacruz
    August 11th, 2011 @ 12:06

    Sooo glad you had this recipe up here.

    Question: What are the American equivalents of “aji verde” and “aji amarillo” so I can make my dish as authentic as possible?


  6. Kelly
    August 11th, 2011 @ 12:42

    Hi Rosie – there really aren’t any authentic tasting equivalents to them, the best option is to see if you can’t find them at a Latin Market or purchase them from online (I know you can get aji amarillo on Aji verde is just the immature form of aji amarillo.

    As a last resort, I know you can sub serrano pepper for aji amarillo, but serranos are a bit spicier, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding how much to put in.

  7. Next Meeting: Peruvian Cuisine, January 28, 2012 | Foodies United!
    December 28th, 2011 @ 10:49

    […] Papa rellena (There’s no need for the beef broth) […]

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    I got tired of life happening while I made other plans, so I quit my job and came to Peru. I live here with my Peruvian husband, two sons, three dogs and various other family members, depending on the weather.

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