Tujuré (pronounced “too-hoo-RAY”) is a thick Bolivian drink native to the Northeastern state of Beni, Bolivia’s second largest agricultural and cattle ranching area. However, it is also often eaten as a breakfast porridge or as a dessert, depending on how thick you make it. It does actually contain ash (typically plantain peel ash, but any ash will do) so this recipe does require some planning.
There are enormous banana and plantain plantations in this region of Bolivia. I think that’s one reason why plantains are so prevalent in “la comida beniana” (food from Beni). The use of actual ashes in tujuré may sound a little gross, but continue reading through the recipe and instructions. You'll find it’s actually sweet and very tasty! Bolivia really is one of those countries where you can try things you never imagined.
This recipe calls for something called plantain peel ash. Plantains are large, hard, green cooking or frying bananas, not the sweet yellow bananas that we normally eat. Click here to learn more about the difference between bananas and plantains. To make green plantain peel ash, green plantain peels are grilled on an outdoor fire and burned into an ash. Also check out my recipe for
(a drink that is also made from green plantains, but NOT ashes).
Ingredients (Serves 6)
6-8 cups of water
1/2 pound (about 2-3 cups) of dried white hominy corn, broken into tiny pieces
1/2 cup green plantain peel ash
3-4 cups of milk
Sugar to taste
Instructions (Day Prior to Cooking)
Soak the hominy corn overnight in a bowl with sufficient water to completely cover it. In the morning, drain and wash the kernels. (If you do not soak your hominy overnight, don't worry. You can still cook this, but your cooking time will increase from 1-2 hours to 3-4 hours.)
To prepare the plantain ash, grill your plantain peels the day before as well. To do this, cut the peeling off your plantains. Set the plantains aside and place only the peelings onto some aluminum foil. Grill until the peels have turned to ash. Keep the ash for the next steps. On the following day we will cook our tujuré.
In the meantime, I found a video that shows how tujuré is made. It's in Spanish but you can watch it prior to following the English instructions below so that you can see the actual steps that are taken. The person who made this video doesn't use plantain peels to make ashes, as is typical to Beni. She uses just regular carbon ashes, and apparently it works just as well because her resulting tujuré looks delicious. So it's up to you to decide how much effort you want to make to ensure the traditional authenticity of this drink.
Instructions (Actual Cooking Day)
Cook the corn in a large pot with 4-5 cups of water. Cook at a boil for 1-2 hours until corn begins to soften, then cook on low heat (simmer) until the corn is completely soft. Each time your mixture thickens too much (to a point where it may stick to your pan) add another cup of water. The corn should always be cooking in water.
While your corn is simmering, place the plantain ash into a small bowl and add about 1 cup of water to it. Stir to mix it, then set it aside and allow it to sit until all of the ash has settled to the bottom of your bowl. Once the ash has settled you will have 2 distinct layers: one layer of ash at the bottom, and a layer of water at the top. Carefully pour the water through a strainer into another bowl. We want to keep the water, not the ash.
Pour the ash water into the corn that is still simmering on the stove and stir. You will notice that the water may turn a bit yellow-ish in the pot after you add the ash water. This is normal. Continue cooking until the corn is completely soft, continuing to add small amounts of water as needed.
Once the corn is soft, take off the stove. At this point you will decide if you want to eat your tujuré as a porridge, or as a beverage. If you plan to keep it as a porridge, simply serve it hot with or without a bit of milk and sugar. You can also pour it into molds (small cups or containers) and cool to eat later. Once it cools completely it will be sort of gelatinous and will have the consistency (sort of) like a tapioca pudding.
Our recipe is for tujuré as a drink, so we will continue:
Remove the cooked corn from the stove and allow to cool completely. Add cold milk, stir, and sweeten to taste with sugar. The amount of milk you add will be determined by how thick you enjoy your drinks. You may want to drink this thick almost like a milkshake or thin it out with more milk until it is your desired consistency.
It is normal to drink this with the corn kernels. However, if that bothers you, you can blend your corn and milk in a blender for a smoother drink. Either way it is delicious and nutritious!
Alternative to Plantain Peel Ash
If the idea of drinking "ash water" is just too much for you, skip the banana peel ash and do this instead: buy 2 or 3 green plantains and slice off the peel with a knife. On the inside of the peel there is a thick, sort of stringy substance. Scrape it off with a fork or spoon into a bowl – all of it, as much as you can get of the white substance without actually adding the green portion of the peeling. Add this to your pot of corn instead of the ash water.