This appetizer, a popular national dish, is from Lima, the capital city of Peru, which has metropolitan and modern ideas. The dictionary does not reveal how the word "causa” came to be applied to a concoction, albeit a delicious one, that features cold mashed potatoes. A causa is considered a light lunch or snack, a most appealing dish that is often served at weddings or other celebrations.
The Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes, peeled
3 teaspoons dried yellow aji
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons corn oil
The Chicken Filling
1 cup cooked, finely chopped light and dark chicken meat
1/4 cup finely chopped celery heart
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Oil for the pan
1 cake pan or Pyrex dish, 8 inches long by 4 inches wide
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
For the Mashed Potatoes:
Cook the whole potatoes in water over moderate heat until soft. Mash until relatively smooth. Process the aji
chili with 2 tablespoons water, the turmeric, salt, and oil until smooth. Stir the spice paste into the potatoes and mix well.
For the Chicken Filling:
In a bowl combine all the filling ingredients until smooth.
For the Causa:
1. Spread half of the mashed potato in the oiled dish.
2. Spread all of the filling over the potatoes. Cover with the balance of the potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until cold.
Serve cold, cut into 2-inch-wide slices.
Note: The filling may also be prepared with cooked shrimp, canned tuna, or sardines. Use the same quantity and seasonings as for the chicken filling.
• This dish dates from Peru’s colonial period. Derived from the Quechua (the indigenous Peruvian language) kausay, which translates as "necessary sustenance," its name is indicative of how satisfying it is. Serve causa as a main course for lunch, or serve slices as a hearty appetizer before dinner.
• Yellow aji pepper powder, also called aji amarillo, is available online at www.myspicer.com.
• Starchy Peruvian yellow potatoes are traditionally used for this dish, but Yukon golds make a fine substitute.