Causa is a beloved specialty that originated in the cosmopolitan, urbane cuisine of Lima, Peru’s capital. Over the decades, it has spread throughout the country, picking up local ingredients and seasonings along the way. At its most basic, causa is a cold, savory potato layer cake; here, it has an inner layer of chicken salad, and is topped with the typical Peruvian fixings of hardboiled eggs, avocado, and olives. It is a summertime essential that can serve as an appetizer, entrée, snack, or hors d’oeuvre.
This dish requires ají amarillo paste, which is an essential part of Peruvian cuisine. The flavor is irreplaceable. It can be found jarred in most Latino markets, as well as online, fairly economically. If you cannot get your hands on it, puree any fresh chiles and add to your taste.
The chicken in the filling can be replaced with canned tuna, crabmeat, poached shrimp, hearts of palm, or anything else you desire.
The assembly instructions below serve as a guideline. Feel free to arrange and decorate the causa according to your personal aesthetic. You can make individual servings using ring molds or ramekins lined with plastic wrap. You can also make bite-sized causa balls and spoon the chicken salad on top.
This causa is delicious on its own, but it is so much better with salsa golf (recipe below). You can drizzle the entire causa with the sauce or add it to individual servings. —Carlos C. Olaechea