Saisi – A Bolivian Dish

Since winter is creeping in crisp and fresh here in Cochabamba I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes made to warm the insides. Most Northern hemisphere readers might just want to tuck this away for when the cold winds blow in your part of the world.

This hearty stew like dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser due to the simplicity of the ingredients and the attractive display of colors. As in any typical Bolivian dish many flavorful spices will leave your taste buds satisfied long after the meal. The original preparation requires a half cup of chopped spicy peppers. When preparing it for my children I substitute this fiery goodness with a tablespoon of paprika to make it a mild mix. Use your favorite fresh spicy peppers if you prefer the hot stuff.


Serves: 8

Preparation time: 30 minutes prep., 1 hour cook


8 potatoes peeled and boiled (use chuño when available to maintain authenticity)

White rice, prepared (1 cup dry)

Ingredients and preparation for topping; to be made while the main part cooks:

½ cup white onion chopped

½ cup tomato, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon fresh parsley chopped

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

(opt.) a few drops of olive oil

(opt.) 1 small hot pepper chopped (use locoto when available – when made with locoto the Bolivian name for this spicy topping is Llajua and is a main staple on the table in most Bolivian homes and restaurants at all lunches and suppers.)

To prepare topping mix all the ingredients.

Ingredients for main part:

1 pound ground beef

½ cup oil

1 cup fresh uncooked green peas

2 cups chopped white onion

1 cup peeled and chopped tomato

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon fresh parsley finely chopped

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups broth or cold water

(opt.) ½ cup chopped spicy pepper (sub. 1 Tablespoon paprika for a milder dish)


  1. Begin the rice and potatoes. Allow them to cook while preparing the main stew.
  2. Place all the ingredients for the main part in a stew pot or large skillet with a lid. Stir.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and cook over low heat for about one hour. Everything should be very well cooked. The mixture should be very juicy. If it dries while cooking add more broth or hot water.
  4. Prepare topping while it cooks.
click image to enlarge

How to serve:

In a soup or pasta plate place one cooked potato. Beside place about 1/3 cup cooked white rice. Pour a large ladle full of the stew next to the potato and rice. Spoon liquid from the stew pot over the stew on the plate. Between the potato and rice place 2 teaspoons of topping. If the spicy peppers are used for the topping as a variation it can be served as an option in a dish on the table.



10 thoughts on “Saisi – A Bolivian Dish

  1. That sounds delicious! So much like the food we used to eat in Ecuador. Our hot sauce/salsa served at every meal was called “Aji” and when my sister was just about 1 or so, I remember her eating it with a spoon off the communal dish at a restaurant!

    I think I will have to make this for my family sometime in the next week or so!

    1. “Aji” is a common name for the salsa here too. “Llajua” is used more in the Cochabamba region but the preparation is the same. Usually it is crushed together on a stone with another large rounded stone that rocks back and forth.

      I can’t even imagine the reaction that a little toddler would have from a spoonful of aji in their mouth! ¡Ay chihuahua!

      Let me know how it turns out if you do try it out. :)

  2. This is such a perfect meal for the winter, and looks lovely @ngie!

    The combination of potato and rice is something new for me, and I really like it! I had never thought to prepare these together until a meal with a friend who served both as part of a traditional Greek dish, and it was really nice! Great to find another recipe with both, set off by this wonderful looking stew! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Oh I am glad you are pleased, Birgit! Double carbs is a staple on the Bolivian plate. Usually you will find two of the following with every lunch or dinner: noddles, rice, potatoes and bread. That is interesting to know that this is common in Greek food as well. Thanks for the comment!

  3. making this tonight with roasted potatoes and onions as the starch. If we’d had your recipe to start we’d have done it correctly, with 2 starches!

    The kitchen smells delish, which is a hallmark of a good meal.

  4. eh buscado la receta pensando encontrarla en español o que algun boliviano lo subiera pero creo que hay personas extranjeras que se toman mas el tiempo en ponerla y que digustan con la comina boliviana me encanto tu pagina y pos aver si subes mas platicos jeje un saludo desde madrrid españa

  5. Hi…my mom has made Saisi since I was a kid…now I make it for my family and they love it :). What does Saisi mean ?

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