Latin America Magazine.

by Ton van den Born

Charquekan is typical in the Bolivian kitchen. As typical as the bowler hat in clothing, or the tarka, a musical instrument. Charquekan contains basics as white corn and potatoes. It is served with accompaniments such as boiled egg and cheese. The combination with cheese is just great. It is a warm dish, which you could eat at lunchtime.

Bolivian cuisine combines Spanish and indigenous ingredients. Besides corn and potatoes you’ll find in the daily diet the famous quinoa, very healthy and nutritious, and lots of beans. The food differs in the various regions, like the climate in the Altiplano and the lowlands does. In those lowlands you’ll find more fish and fruit.

Charquekan is a typical recipe from the Oruro region, on the higher grounds of Bolivia. It is a Quechua recipe, in other words originating from the indigenous Quechua people living in the Andean region of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Charque is Quechua for dehydrated or dried, salted meat. Try it wherever you are and it’ll take you back to the Altiplano.



half a kilo of charque (meat from llama or res – beef)
8 potatoes per person
1 lb. of peeled and cooked corn (corn mote or hominy, large white corn kernels)
4 eggs
a few pieces of cheese
hot oil



1. One day before preparing the charquekan, put the meat into a bowl of water. Let it soak to reduce saltiness. The next day, drain the water.

2. Put the meat with water in a saucepan and let it cook for 15 minutes.

3. Once cooked, fry the meat in hot oil until it becomes dark and toasted and smooth. Separate the meat into thin strips.

4. Cook the potatoes and the corn in separate pans. Boil the eggs.

5. Serve the charquekan with the potatoes, corn, boiled eggs and some slices of cheese. Accompanied with a rich llajwa.