Enjoy a bowl of nourishing maca soup
Lepidium meyenii or maca is a herbaceous biennial or annual (some sources say a perennial plant) native to the High Andes of Bolivia and Peru. It is a root vegetable and a herb. Its Spanish and Quechua names are maca-maca, maino, ayak chichira, and ayak willku. The size and proportions of maca are roughly similar to those of the radish and the turnip, to which it is related. The green, fragrant tops are short and lie along the ground. The thin, frilly leaves are born in a rosette on the soil surface, and are continuously renewed from the centre as the outer leaves die. Cream-coloured roots are widely grown favoured in Peru for their enhanced sweetness and size.
Maca is prepared and consumed in several ways, although traditionally it is always cooked. The root can be mashed and boiled to produce a sweet, thick liquid, dried and mixed with milk to form porridge or combined with other vegetables or grains to produce flour that can be used in baking. If fermented, a weak beer called chicha de maca can be produced. The leaves can also be prepared raw in salads or cooked much like Lepidium sativum and Lepidium campestre to which it is genetically closely related. The prominent product is maca flour, which is ground from the hard, dried roots and is used in baking as a base and flavouring.
Maca is an energiser with anti-stress elements. It is recommended for treatment of infertility. It acts as a nutrient, restorative and stamina enhancer and helps one cope with mental and physical tiredness.
Now, for a recipe.
Spicy Maca Soup
Organic maca powder: 2 tsp
Fresh tomato juice: 150 ml
Fresh cucumber: half
Celery: 1-2 stalks
Yellow pepper, diced: 1
Cayenne pepper: 1 tsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Method: Blend all the ingredients, except pepper, until smooth. Stir in pepper and enjoy refreshing soup.
Bholanath Jha, Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara.