Little yuraq tarwi or little white tarwi is an ecotype of the native lupin species (Lupinus mutabilis), grown by the Andean communities in the province of Huaylas, particularly in the districts of Caraz, Puerto Libre and Pamparomas. This hardy plant has adapted to survive difficult weather conditions and is grown on marginal land. The beans are very small, oval and flat, and white with brownish tinges. The annual plant grows 1 to 2 meters tall and has a woody, branching stem. The growing period is long, between 10 and 11 months.
This ecotype is better for cooking and storing than the region’s other ecotypes. Little yuraq tarwi is grown in tiny plots of land at high altitudes in the province of Huaylas. To prepare the soil, the technique known as chuki (no plowing) is used. Instead of plowing furrows, holes are made in the soil in which the seeds are planted, around 3 to 5 centimeters deep. More rarely, the soil is tilled by a plow pulled by oxen. The seeds are sown between October and December, while the harvest takes place in July, August and September. Grown at altitudes over 3,000 meters, the lupin is rotated with potatoes, rye, peas and fava beans.
Farmers in rural communities in the province of Huaylas sow little yuraq tarwi for family consumption because it is better for cooking and storing. The little yuraq tarwi ecotype is also much more resistant to adverse climatic conditions and diseases compared to the bigger tarwi. Commercially, however, it is penalized due to its small size and long ripening period and being trickier to harvest than other ecotypes.
The consumption of yuraq tarwi is linked to convivial occasions with friends and family, so there is a special affection for the food. Preparation involves three phases: rehydration by soaking in water, cooking and washing under running water to remove the bitter flavor. Traditionally the little tarwi is boiled together with barley until all the tarwi is at the bottom and the barley is at the top. The tarwi is then used to make traditional dishes like tarwi pichu, eaten at breakfast or lunch due to its high nutritional value, a good preparation for hard physical work; cebiche serrano salad, eaten during moments of relaxation; or mote de tarwi, eaten during work in the fields, while pasturing animals or during trips.
The traditional production zone comprises the communities of Caraz, Pueblo Libre and Pamparomas in the province of Huaylas. The approximate annual yield is around 144 kilos per farmer.
The little yuraq tarwi ecotype is being lost because only a few farmers who still care about traditional practices are growing it and because it is often replaced by faster-growing varieties. Additionally its smaller size is not appreciated commercially and not many people know how to cook it to ensure a good flavor.