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Caihua Rellena // Stuffed Caigua

One thing I love about living here in Peru is seeing all the incredible foods that are available – especially the ones I have never seen nor eaten before! Caigua is one such vegetable!






Caigua (pronounced kai-wa) is a vine in which a gourd like vegetable grows. It is known as caihua, slipper’s gourd and stuffing cucumber, among other names. According to Wikipedia, it was likely domesticated in the Andes but now grows in parts of South and Central America. Some of the nutritional benefits include cholesterol control, weight reduction, and metabolism regulation.



Here in Peru, a common meal is Stuffed Caigua. And boy is it delicious! If you cannot find caigua, I imagine you could stuff bell peppers in a similar fashion. But then they would not be “Caihua Rellena” but “Pimenton Relleno!” Mind you, most have their personal preference for the stuffing of caigua, and this is mine. I don’t include raisins or olives but do include aji panca, cinnamon and a touch of peanut butter.



Caihua Rellena // Stuffed Caigua

Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of minced onion
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh green peas
  • 1/2 cup of diced carrot
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of aji panca
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 large caiguas, veins and seeds removed


  1. In a deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add minced onion. Saute until browned then add ground beef and garlic. Cook mixture until beef turns brown (don’t overcook). Add peas and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Add aji panca, wine and beef broth. Lower heat to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes, adding water if necessary. Add cinnamon and peanut butter; stirring to combine. Then, add chopped egg, stir and check seasoning once more. Note: Mixture should not dry out, nor be watery. If it is dry, add a bit of water. If it is watery, add breadcrumbs by the tablespoon.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Boil caiguas in a large pot of water for 5 minutes. Remove and drain the caiguas, discarding the water. Fill the caiguas with ground beef mixture. Add them to a square baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Fill the gaps with any remaining beef mixture. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, until warmed through. Serve with rice.

This is my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging, created by Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen, this week hosted by Simona from Briciole. Visit Briciole to see the round up of Weekend Herb Blogging for this week. Visit Kalyn’s Kitchen to see who’s hosting next week!


12 Responses to “Caihua Rellena // Stuffed Caigua”

  1. How interesting! I had never heard of this vegetable, so I am glad you wrote about this tasty recipe. I wonder if it is sold in the US.

    Posted by Simona | December 9, 2007, 11:10 am
  2. Gretchen, that looks and sounds so unique. One of the things I love about blogging is learning about food from other countries, so thanks for teaching me about caigua. :-)Norap/s: your beetroot cake sounds delicious – how did you manage to keep it golden?

    Posted by Nora B. | December 9, 2007, 2:49 pm
  3. Gretchen Noelle,I’ve posted the maracuya recipe, as I promised! This is the first time I’ve visited your blog, and it’s wonderful!

    Posted by Madam Chow | December 9, 2007, 3:21 pm
  4. Simona – I have never seen this in the US, but wikipedia lists several names by which its known…maybe with one of those names it would be easier to find?Nora – You are welcome! I will be posting about the beetroot cake in the next week so check back soon for the recipe!Madam Chow – Thank you! I love maracuya and would love to try it as a curd.

    Posted by Gretchen Noelle | December 9, 2007, 4:42 pm
  5. Haven’t come across this veggie yet. It certainly looks yummy with all that stuffing!

    Posted by Gay Carrillo | December 11, 2007, 7:02 am
  6. I’ve never seen or heard of this vegetable, and love reading about it. I’m wondering though, just what is aji panca? Haven’t heard of that either. Wish I could taste this, it sounds quite intriguing.

    Posted by Kalyn | December 11, 2007, 8:51 pm
  7. BTW, just checked Wikipedia and I’ve never heard of any of the other names either, so I don’t think we have this in Utah.

    Posted by Kalyn | December 11, 2007, 8:53 pm
  8. Wow, this looks fantastic! Is it really hollow like that? It reminds me of the inside of a calla lily stem.

    Posted by swirlingnotions | December 12, 2007, 6:16 pm
  9. Gay – These are delicious and may even be tasty in a bell pepper if those are available where you are.Kayln – Too bad these are not available where you are, I had never seen them before moving here. But I do think they are exported now. Aji Panca…I am working on a post all about it. Essentially it is a paste made from a dried spicy pepper and is a crucial part of Peruvian food. Swirling notions – It is in fact hollow inside and I was rather surprised when I first saw one and now ever so thankful when I prepare them since they are so easy to clean out!

    Posted by Gretchen Noelle | December 12, 2007, 8:48 pm
  10. This week’s WHB has been amazing — a whole collection of plants i’ve never used or never heard of, including this one. Fascinating post, and I’m so glad you introduced us to cuigua!

    Posted by Laurie Constantino | December 13, 2007, 2:45 am
  11. Laurie, you are very welcome and i hope to get out a couple more recipes with caihua as it is a very delicate and delicious vegetable!

    Posted by Gretchen Noelle | December 15, 2007, 7:24 am


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