In the Chilean Kitchen with Mamá Nora: Pastel de Papas

Mary Johnson is a student at Southern Illinois University and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with a high school sociology class in Illinois. Mary is currently studying in Valparaiso, Chile on an ISA Spring 2 program.

My mamá chilena, Nora, is a spicy lady. She brings life and character to everything she touches. When situations are harsh or uncomfortable, she can crack a joke and make just about anyone laugh (even when you don’t understand the language).

Mamá Nora in the kitchen
Mamá Nora in the kitchen

I have to admit, although I love Chile, I was almost immediately disappointed with Chilean food—lots of bread, fried food, and heaps of salt. I’m sure this is delightful for plenty of other foreigners, but I felt like I needed something more. There is almost nothing with spice. Of course, Mamá Nora changed that.

With her bottle of imported sriracha sauce in hand (her past students love her enough to keep sending a steady supply), she began to teach me the way around a yummy and spicy Chilean kitchen.

Our first endeavor: Pastel de Papas, my favorite Chilean dish (so far).


  • 2 chopped onions
  • 150 grams Carne de Soya—you can probably use any type of ground vegetarian meat in place of this
  • 6 cups mashed potatoes (slightly more liquid than average)
  • Cooking oil
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Ground cumin
  • Sugar
  • 2  hard boiled eggs
  • Olives

pastel de papas


  1. Sauté onions in cooking oil. Once the onions are ready, add vegetarian meat, salt, paprika, and cumin to taste and heat until warm.
  2. Place meat mixture in dish with sliced hard boiled eggs and olives on top.
  3. Pour on the mashed potatoes and top with sugar.
  4. Heat oven to 190 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 40 minutes or until brown.
  5. Enjoy!


pastel de papas


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