Caiguas rellenas -Caiguas filled with beef, raisins and olives

They have a long story in our country, so long that in pre-columbian ceramics there are many evidences of their existence and consumption. You can spell their name as caigua, caihua, or cayhua, although in other countries they are known by different names, like pepino and slipper gourd. The first time I heard about this crunchy, watery, and neutral-tasting vegetable, people around me swore by its medicinal powers, especially for lowering high cholesterol levels, regulating high blood pressure, and as an aid for losing weight. The trick was to have half a glass of its juice first thing in the morning, and it worked like magic. The actual juice, they said, was extremely bitter, even though the flesh of this veggie is nothing like that; and the best way to counteract this effect was to add a slice of fresh pineapple to the juice, or half a lime. Then one day I was invited to a lunch where caiguas had been filled with a mixture of beef, black olives, raisins, and chopped hard-boiled egg, (yes, the same filling as the one used for papa rellena or arroz tapado), and cooked in a light tomato broth. As a side, they served a steaming bowl of trigo atamalado, or wheat stew with chili peppers. This meal was a revelation to me. I found the flavors and textures so delicious that I was in love! I later learned that caiguas can be filled with fish, seafood, chicken… even quinoa, and the result is always extremely tasty. Serve them with white fluffy rice, and you will be begging for more.

Caiguas rellenas - Caiguas filled with beef, raisins and olives
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Peruvian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste or ají panca paste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup black olives, sliced
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 12 caiguas
  • Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth or water
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over high heat, and sauté the onion and garlic, stirring a couple of times. When the onion is soft and translucent, add tomato paste or ají panca, stir for a few minutes and add the ground beef. Cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring every now and then. If the mixture looks dry, add some water to make it moist (about ½ cup).
  2. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 5 minutes. When ready, add raisins, black olives, hard-boiled eggs, and parsley. Turn off the heat and reserve.
  3. Wash the caiguas under cool water. Cut the tip of each one reserving them.
  4. Using a spoon take out the black seeds and veins of each caigua.
  5. Fill them with the beef mixture, place the reserved tips and place in a plate.
  6. To make the sauce: in a saucepan heat the oil, add garlic and onion and sauté until tender. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until very soft. Add the beef broth, salt, and pepper. Place the filled caiguas one next to the other in one layer, cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. *If you want to thicken the sauce, at this point you may add 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in water, and cook until the sauce looks slightly thick and shiny.
  8. Serve the caiguas immediately, with white fluffy rice, and some sauce.
  9. Note: These reheat beautifully, so leftovers are very welcome.


  1. Que ricuraaa! Faciles de hacer, apuntando la receta 😉

  2. I live in Canada and am not sure where I might be able to find the caiguas used in the recipe. Is there anything I can use as a substitute?

  3. sabe donde puedo conseguir caiguas aca en estados unidos? es lo que mas extrano del Peru!

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