As most of you know, my husband is from Bolivia and we have known each other for over 16 years. While I don’t consider myself an expert in Bolivian cuisine, I love cooking Bolivian inspired food for my family. You know how Mediterranean people will add feta cheese & olive oil to almost any food, well I’ve learned that if you want to serve a Bolivian meal, you have to have llajua (llajwa) – Bolivian tomato salsa on the table.Jump to Recipe
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What is Llajua?
Well, you are going to ask What is Llajua? Llajua or Llajwa is the best tomato salsa I have ever tried and it is served with almost any food. Llajua is served on top of grilled meats, soups, stews or appetizers. There are different variations of this salsa and sometimes different ingredients used. Llajua is very simple to make and it adds a spicy kick to your meal.
One of the reasons I love llajua is that I can cook any meal without spices so the kids can eat it too, but my husband and I will add llajua on top to make it spicy. That way I don’t cook two separate meals, a non-spicy one for the kids and a spicy one for us.
What Ingredients Do You Use to Make Llajua?
Bolivians use quilquiña instead of cilantro and locoto peppers instead of habanero to make llajua. However, since these ingredients are not available in most US markets, I looked for replacement ingredients. Today for example, I couldn’t even find habanero peppers so I ended up using jalapeno pepper to make the recipe. I have also read that different Bolivian regions use ajis instead of locotos to make llajua spicy.
If you can’t find any spicy peppers to use for llajua, look for this spicy paste in the Latin section in your local grocery stores. Add about half a tea spoon for every 2 tomatoes to achieve a very spicy salsa. See below 2 examples:
Bolivian Llajua Recipe
This tomato salsa is very simple to make and allows for freedom with the ingredients and their quantities. If the tomatoes are too ripe, try not to use the seeds part because it will make the salsa too watery. On the other hand, when picking tomatoes for this salsa, try to pick them red and ready to be eaten, otherwise the taste of the salsa won’t be the same. I have used cherry tomatoes in the past when didn’t have any roma tomatoes on hand and those work great too.
We make this version of llajua anytime we grill or cook Bolivian food at home and I hope you will try this recipe too.
Best Tomato Salsa Inspired By the Bolivian Llajua
- 2 tomatoes roma or plum tomatoes
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- 1 habanero pepper
- salt to taste
- Clean the tomatoes and chop the cilantro.
- Clean the habanero pepper, remove the seeds if you don’t like overly spicy salsa. Believe me, it will still be spicy even without the seeds.
- Use a small blender to blend all 3 ingredients together. Serve fresh.
- Salsa can handle being refrigerated for few days if you haven’t put any salt on it. So you can choose to add salt only to the portion you are putting on the table and the rest you can refrigerate few days unsalted.
- Calories per serving are estimated using MyFitnessPal and assuming you are using Plum Tomatoes.
- Please note that for the video recipe I used tomatoes from my garden that are small and have quite a few seeds, so I removed the seeds and blended them. It took quite a few more tomatoes than if I had regular plum tomatoes.
- I use the rocoto paste when I want to make the llajua very spicy and any kind of habanero or jalapeno pepper when I like it less spicy.
Blender for Llajua
Traditionally in Bolivia, people used a stone batan to make this tomato salsa (see more about batan here). However, nowadays we all look for the fastest way to get things done. I have several blenders and choppers at home, but for this salsa I prefer a very simple food chopper. See below few examples (mine is similar to the 1st one but probably a much older model), they’re inexpensive and last a long time. It might be maybe my most used kitchen appliance. (i’m not affiliated with any of the below brands).
Other Bolivian Recipes
Some of my Bolivian inspired recipes are listed below and they all go perfectly with llajua:). Enjoy!!
- Bolivian Silpancho
- Bolivian Sopa de Mani (peanut soup)
- Papas a la Huancaina (potatoes in peanut sauce)
Even though I haven’t been able to find quilquiña anywhere in Miami, I recently noticed that its seeds are being sold online. I know several people who plant it in their garden to make llajua and to use of its medicinal uses. I’m considering planting it myself. I’ll definitely post and update if I ever do decide to plant it. I still haven’t bought my seeds, see below an example but shop around, there are different sellers with different price packages. I still don’t know which one is the best buy.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save below image to Pinterest. Thank you:).