Peruvian cuisine

Peruvian cuisine reflects local cooking practices and ingredients—and, through immigration, influences from Spain, China, Italy, West Africa, and Japan. Due to a lack of ingredients from their home countries, immigrants to Peru modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients available in Peru. The three traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes, and beans. These ingredients have been combined with a number of staples brought by the Spanish, such as rice, wheat and meat (such as beef, pork and chicken). Many traditional foods—such as quinoa, kiwicha, chili peppers, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent decades, reflecting a revival of interest in native Peruvian foods and culinary techniques.


Diverse crops

Peru is considered an important center for the genetic diversity of the world's crops:

Grains of Quinoa.
Peruvian potatoes
  • Maize (corn), 35 varieties
  • Tomatoes, 15 species
  • Potatoes, 8000 species of potato are native to the Andes region.[1][not in citation given] Over 99% of all cultivated potatoes worldwide are descendants of a subspecies, namely Solanum tuberosum.[2][3] This subspecies has developed into thousands of varieties that vary by size, shape, color, and other sensory characteristics.[4]
  • Peanuts — These are native to Peru, and were taken by Spanish and Portuguese merchants to Africa.
  • Fruits — Peru has about 20 native fruits that are used in cooking.

Note, however, that only a small number of these varieties are commercially available. Only two varieties of maize are commonly available. The most common type has very large kernels and is not sweet. The second common variety is a type of fibrous purple corn that is not eaten but is used to make chicha morada and mazamorra morada. The third variety is a type of sweet corn popular in the United States that is mainly purchased by foreigners due to its high price. Occasionally one finds dried kernels of four varieties of multi-colored corn, which are used in stews or soups. Only two varieties of red tomatoes are commercially available, one is called Italian, while the other is known as American.

The Sweet potato is native to Central America and was domesticated there at least 5,000 years ago.[5] The much lower molecular diversity found in Peru and Ecuador suggests that the sweet potato was introduced there from Central America. Only two varieties of sweet potato are commonly available for sale in Peru. One has dry orange flesh and light tan skin and tastes sweet. The other has purple skin, is white and brown inside, and is only moderately sweet. Occasionally another variety, characterized by small tubers and dark skin, is available. Potatoes are available in more variety. The two most common potatoes are a white flesh type and a more expensive yellow flesh type. The only commercially available native fruits (native to the Andes region in general—Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia) are lucuma, camu camu, prickly pear, cape gooseberry, cocona, pacay (technically a legume but used as a fruit), guanabana, dragon fruit, pepino, papaya, ciruela, mammee apple, banana passionfruit, cherimoya, granadilla, moriche palm fruit, and tamarillo. Yacon, although an underground tuber, is also used as a fruit. None of the other native fruits are commercially available.

From Peru, the Spanish brought back to Europe a few foods that would become staples for many peoples around the world.

  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes were introduced to Europe from Latin America.
  • Beans: Several varieties of the Common bean are native to America.
  • Peanuts: The Peanut is native to South America.

The varieties of chili peppers, potatoes and maize that the Spanish brought back to Europe, however, were not native to Peru:

  • Peppers: Chili peppers are native to America. The varieties most commonly used around the world, however, derive from Mexico and Central America. Sweet Peppers are native to Mexico and Central America. Peruvian Ají peppers are virtually unknown outside of the Andean region of South America.
  • Potatoes: Potatoes were considered livestock feed in Europe until French chemist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier began serving dishes made from the tubers at his lavish banquets. His guests were immediately convinced that potatoes were fit for human consumption. Parmentier's introduction of the potato is still discussed in Europe today. The varieties used in Europe and most of the world, however, derive from a subspecies indigenous to south-central Chile, namely Solanum tuberosum.
  • Maize: Maize is native to all of Central and South America. The varieties used in Europe and most of the world, however, are from Central America. The corn native to Peru is not sweet and has very large grains and is not popular outside of Latin America. (For an example of this Peruvian corn, please examine the photo entitled Pachamanca serving below).

Many foods from Spain are now considered Peruvian staples, including rice, wheat, barley, oats, rice, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, celery, lettuce, eggplant, wine, vinegar, olives, beef, pork, chicken, numerous spices (including coriander, cumin, parsley, cilantro, laurel, mint, thyme, marjoram, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, black pepper and oregano), bananas, quince, apples, oranges, limes, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, melons, figs, pomegranates, honey, white sugar, almonds, walnuts, cheese, hen eggs, cow's milk, etc. etc. Many food plants popular in Spain, however, were not imported to Peru or failed to grow due to climatic conditions. These include lemons, turnips, kale, and chestnuts.

Cultivation of ancient plants

Peruvian corn

During the colonial period, and continuing up until the time of the Second World War, Peruvian cuisine focused on Spanish models and virtually ignored anything that could be regarded as native or Indian. Traditional food plants, which the indigenous people continued to eat, were regarded as "peasant food" to be avoided. These colonial attitudes took a long time to fade. Since the 1970s, there has been an effort to bring these native food plants out of obscurity.

Some plants cultivated by ancient societies of Peru have been rediscovered by modern Peruvians, and are carefully studied by scientists. Due to the characteristics of its land and climate and the nutritional quality of its products, some Peruvian plants may play a vital role in future nutrition. Examples include quinoa (an excellent source of essential amino acids) and kañiwa, which look and cook like cereals but are pseudocereals. Nutritionists are also studying root vegetables, such as maca and, cereals like kiwicha.

For many of Peru's inhabitants, these food stocks allow for adequate nutrition, even though living standards are poor. Abandoning many of these staples during the Spanish domination and republican eras lowered nutritional levels. Since 1985, NASA has uses some of these foods—quinoa, kiwicha and maca—for astronaut meals.

Peruvian cuisine is often made spicy with ají pepper, a basic ingredient. Some Peruvian chili peppers are not spicy but serve to give taste and color to dishes. Rice often accompanies dishes in Peruvian cuisine, and the regional sources of foods and traditions give rise to countless varieties of preparation and dishes.

The following dishes are generally popular with Peruvians. Some of tese originated in other parts of Peru, but most are well known and can be found in Lima.

Regional differences

Peru is a country that holds not just a variety of ethnic mixes since times ranging from the Inca Empire, the Viceroyalty and the Republic, but also a climatic variety of 28[6] individual climates. The mixing of cultures and the variety of climates differ from city to city so geography, climate, culture and ethnic mix determine the variety of local cuisine.


The cuisine of the coast can be said to have five influences. The strongest influence is that of Colonial Spain. Elements of Japanese, African, and the Chinese cuisine have also been incorporated along with and the original local cuisine of the native people of Peru.

The Pacific Ocean is the principal source of aquatic resources for Peru. Peru is one of the world's top two producers and exporters of unusually high-protein fishmeal for use in livestock/aquaculture feed. Its richness in fish and other aquatic life is enormous, and many oceanic plant and animal species can only be found in Peru. As important as the Pacific is to Peru's biodiversity, freshwater biomes such as the Amazon River and Lake Titicaca also play a large role in the ecological make-up of the country.

Every coastal region, being distinct in flora and fauna populations, adapts its cuisine in accordance to the resources available in its waters.

Ceviche, with many variations (pure, combination, or mixed with fish and shellfish) provides a good example of regional adaptation. Ceviche is found in almost all Peruvian restaurants, typically served with camote, or sweet potato. Tiradito is a related dish that shows the influence of Japanese immigrants and sashimi techniques.[7] Ceviche is a South American dish of marinated raw fish or seafood, typically garnished with herbs and served as an appetizer.

The chupe de camarones (shrimp cioppino) is one of the most popular dishes of Peruvian coastal cuisine. It is made from a thick freshwater shrimp (crayfish) stock soup, potatoes, milk and chili pepper. Regarded as typical from Arequipa, Chupe de Camarones is regularly found in Peruvian restaurants specialized in Arequipan cuisine.

Lima and the central coast

Peruvian empanadas

A center of immigration and centers of the Spanish Viceroyalty, Lima and Trujillo have incorporated unique dishes brought from the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors and the receiving of many waves of immigrants: African, European, Chinese, and Japanese. Besides international immigration—a large portion of which happened in Lima—there has been, since the second half of the 20th century, a strong internal flow from rural areas to cities, in particular to Lima. This has strongly influenced Lima's cuisine with the incorporation of the immigrant's ingredients and techniques (for example, the Chinese extensive use of rice or the Japanese approach to preparing raw fish).

Creole cuisine is the most widespread in this cosmopolitan city. The only major international cuisines with a large presence are Chinese (known locally as chifa) and Italian. These, however, have been heavily modified due to a shortage or lack of authentic ingredients.

The city's bakeries are quite popular with Peruvians. One may find Peruvians standing in line in almost every bakery waiting for freshly baked white bread from 6 to 9 am and from 4 to 6 pm. The majority of Peruvians tend to eat bread for breakfast along with coffee or tea. Almost all bread in Peru, with the exception of baguettes, is fortified with added fats, such as lard. Whole wheat bread is extremely hard to find. Many bakeries sell white bread sprinkled with bran for health conscious customers as whole wheat flour is extremely hard to find. However, even this bread is often heavily fortified with lard, shortening or butter. Authentic whole wheat bread is imported from Europe and sold at upscale grocery stores. A few coastal cities bakeries produce "bollos," which are loaves of bread baked in stone and wood-ovens from the Andes.

Anticuchos are brochettes made from a beef heart marinated in a various Peruvian spices and grilled, often sided with boiled potatoes and corn. They are commonly sold by street vendors and served shish kabob-style, but one may find them in creole food restaurants.

Also frequently sold by street vendors are tamales: boiled corn with meat or cheese and wrapped in a banana leaf. They are similar to humitas, which consist of corn mixed with spices, sugar, onions, filled with pork and olives and finally wrapped in the leaves of corn husks. Tamales are a common breakfast food, often served with lima and/or "Salsa Criolla."

Another favorite food found in many restaurants is Papas a la huancaína (Huancayo-style potatoes), a dish consisting of sliced boiled potatoes, served on a bed of lettuce with a slightly spicy cheese sauce with olives. Even if the name says that it is from Huancayo, it is actually from Chosica, in Lima, made by a "Huancaina" (a person from huancayo)

Ceviche, often spelled "cebiche" in Peru, is the flagship dish of coastal cuisine, and one of the most popular dish among Peruvians. It consists of Andean chili peppers, onions and acidic aromatic lime, a variety brought by the Spaniards. A spicy dish, it consists generally of bite-size pieces of white fish (such as corvina or white sea bass), marinated raw in lime juice mixed with chilis. Ceviche is served with raw onions, boiled sweet potatoes (camote), toasted corn (cancha), and sometimes a local green seaweed yuyo.

Leche de tigre (tiger's milk), is the Peruvian colloquial name for the juice produced from the ingredients of ceviche. It has a light spicy flavor. Many Peruvians believe that ceviche is a hangover cure and an aphrodisiac. Unlike ceviche from Mexico and Ecuador, it does not have tomatoes, and unlike that of Tahiti it does not use coconut milk, though both are abundant in Peru. A variation available in Callao replaces mango for fish.

Tacu-tacu: Mixture of beans and rice, fried, and topped with breaded and pan-fried steak and an onion salsa.

Papa rellena (stuffed potato): mashed potatoes stuffed with ground (minced) meat, eggs, olives and various spices and then deep fried.

Arroz tapado (covered rice): uses the same stuffing of papa rellena, but rather than used as a stuffing, it is accompanied by rice.

Pollo a la Brasa (grilled chicken or roaster chicken): is one of the most consumed foods in this country. It's basically a gutted chicken marinated in a marinade that includes various peruvian ingredients, baked in hot ashes. The origins of the recipe for this dish have origin in Lima the capital of Peru during the 1950s, it is a certainty that two Swiss citizens residents in Peru, Roger Shuler and Franz Ulrich, invented and registered the patent (1950) for the machine to cook the chicken on the grill, a mechanical system of planetary rotation in that the chickens rotating on its axis and over a central axis, simultaneously. The dish comes with French fried potatoes, salad and various creams (peruvian mayonnaise, ketchup, olive sauce, chimichurri and aji (chili) sauces of all kinds)

Sancochado is a hearty beef and vegetable broth that includes yuca (cassava) and potatoes.

A local staple found in many cheaper, as well as more up-market, restaurants is lomo saltado, sliced beef (if made from the tenderloin it is "lomo fino") stir fried with onion, tomato, soy sauce, vinegar, chili (aji) and served or mixed with French fried potatoes (aka "chips"), and accompanied with rice.

Lima has an abundance of Peruvian-style Chinese restaurants or "chifas" as they are known locally; indeed, arroz chaufa or Chinese style rice is one of the frequently sampled dishes that has found its way into Peruvian cuisine.

Arroz con pollo, or rice with chicken, is enjoyed for its rich-flavored rice combined with chicken.

Chupe de pescado or fish cioppino is popular in Lima and along the coast.

Lima butter bean (pallares) salad is a salad made with Lima butter beans (called pallares in Perú), cooked (but still whole) and mixed (when cooled) with a mixture of onions, slices of tomatoes, and green ají (chili), marinated in green Peruvian lime juice, oil, salt, and vinegar. Lima butter beans (pallares) have been part of the Peruvian cuisine for at least 6,000 years.

Butifarras also known as Jamon del Pais is a sandwich with "Peruvian ham", sliced onions, sliced chili peppers, lime, salt, pepper, oil, in a type of white bread roll .

Causa, in its basic form, is a mashed yellow potato dumpling mixed with key lime, onion, chili and oil. Varieties can have avocado, chicken, tuna (typically canned) or even shellfish added to the mixture. Also, causa is popular in Lima, where it is distinguished by the name Causa Limeña. Causa is usually served cold with hard boiled eggs and olives.

Carapulca is an appetizing stewed dish of pork and chicken, dried potatoes, red chilis, peanuts and cumin. The version from the Afro-Peruvian Ica region uses fresh potatoes.

Empanadas (meat turnovers) were introduced by the Spanish during the colonial period, and later modified, possibly due to lack of Spanish ingredients (olive oil, codfish, smoked paprika, etc.). In Peru, they are filled either with chicken, beef, or cheese. Olives, and sometimes hard boiled eggs and raisins gives them a unique taste.

Ají de gallina (chili chicken) consists of thin strips of chicken served with a creamy yellow and spicy sauce, made with ají amarillo (yellow chilis), cheese, milk, bread. Occasionally walnuts are added on special occasions or at upscale restaurants due to its prohibitive cost in Peru. Traditionally the meat is from non-laying hens, but today almost exclusively made from more tender chickens.

Escabeche criollo (pickled fish): "Escabeche" when the word is used alone normally refers to fish escabeche. Other varieties can use duck or chicken. The escabeche dishes rely in the cooking on the heavy use of vinegar and onions together with other spices and chili.

Cau cau is a meal consisting of mondongo or tripe stew and accompanied by rice. There are a number of versions of Cau-Cau. In general cau-cau is a style of cooking being there seafood cau-cau, shellfish cau-cau, etc. Two noteworthy styles are the creole style simply called Tripe Cau-Cau, and the Italo-Peruvian style. The creole is made with strips of previously cooked tripe, seasoned by a mixture of sauteed onions, garlic, yellow aji, a pinch of turmeric, salt and pepper and chunks of boiled potatoes. The mixed is allowed to cook together to blend the tastes and acquire consistency. It is then sprinkled with spearmint or mint. The other common version is the "Italian" style. It consists of strips of precooked tripe sauteed with a mixture of red onions, peeled tomatoes, tomato paste and dried mushrooms (Porcini). After the flavors blend it is seasoned with parsley and mixed with fried potato strips just prior to serving. Some chefs add a few tablespoons of wine or pisco following the sautee step. These recipes may have African and Chinese influence as well as Italian.

Chicharrones is salted pork deep-fried in its own fat. There are at least two kinds of chicharrones: pork skins, and country style ribs that are first boiled, then rendered in their own fat until they brown into chicharrones. Other types of chicharrones including deep fried squid, and other seafoods. They can be served at breakfast, or any time of day.

Northern coast

The cuisine of the northern coast offers a difference in style from the central and southern varieties. This is not only due to the coastal native Indian influence (less Andean), the Spanish influence, the African; but also to the warmer coastal seas, hotter climate and immense geographical latitude variety.

The widely different climates between Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Cajamarca and San Martin contributes to the variety of dishes in these areas.

Northern Style Dishes:

Shambar is a soup made with wheat, pork rinds, "Jamon Serrano" (smoked ham), assorted beans, and green onions. It is served with toasted corn (cancha) and is made only on Mondays.

Seco de Cabrito (goat stew, but goat is often substituted by lamb, chicken, or beef) is made in a pot after marinating with chicha de jora or beer and other spices including fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) and garlic. This is most popular in the northern coast especially in Cajamarca and Lambayeque.

Seco de Chavelo (typically from Catacaos - Piura is a type of seco that is made of cecina stewed and dried meat that has been clotted and dried along with bananas, yuca, aji panca and the addition of Clarito (from Chicha de Jora the Piurano style).

Cebiche de Conchas Negras (ceviche with black shells) is a dish of Piura and Tumbes is also popular along the southern coast of Ecuador due to Peruvian influence. In this version of ceviche, the seafood used in the dish should be black clams accompanied by toasted corn.

The Andes

Alpaca with aguaymanto sauce

In the valleys and plains of the Andes, the locals' diet is still based on corn (maíz), potatoes, and an assortment of tubers as it has been for hundreds of years. Meat comes from indigenous animals like alpacas and guinea pigs, but also from imported livestock like sheep and swine.

As with many rural cultures, most of the more elaborate dishes were reserved for festivities, while daily meals were simple affairs. Nowadays, festive dishes are consumed every day, though they tend to be on the heavy side and demand a large appetite.

The pachamanca is a very special banquet in and of itself. Cooked all over the Andean region of Peru, is made from a variety of meats (including pork and beef), herbs and a variety of vegetables that are slowly cooked underground on a bed of heated stones. It demands skillful cooks to create and a large number of guests to consume. Because of its tedious preparation it is normally only done for celebrations or festivals in the Andes, though recent years have seen the appearance of many "campestre" restaurants outside Lima where urban families can escape to spend an afternoon in the fresh air eating pachamanca. Such as in Cieneguilla.[8]

Andean cooking's main freshwater fish is the trout, raised in fisheries in the region.

Currently, ostrich meat is being raised from farms in Arequipa, although its consumption is not widespread and limited to urban areas.

Cuy chactado: A dish more popular in the highlands is this meal of fried guinea pig. Often the indigenous women of the Peruvian Andes will raise the guinea pigs in their huts where they run around loose on the floors of the dwellings. Prior to consumption they can reach a surprisingly large size. Besides the use of guinea pigs as separate meals, they are often cooked in a Pachamanca with other meats and vegetables.

Olluquito con charqui is another traditional Andean dish. Olluco is a yellowish tuber (Ullucus tuberosus) domesticated by pre-Inca populations, and is visually similar to colorful small Andean potatoes, but with a distinct crunchy texture when cooked. Charqui is the technique employed in the Andean highlands to cure meat by salting, then dehydration. Incidentally the word "jerky" in English is derived from this Andean (Qechuan) word. The dish is a stew of finely diced ollucos with charqui pieces (traditionally alpaca, or less frequently llama meat, though today it is also very commonly made from sheep), served with white rice.

Rocoto relleno: Arequipa dish made from stuffed rocoto chilis. Rocotos are one of the very hot (spicy) chilis of Peru. In this dish they are stuffed with spiced beef or pork, onions, olives, egg white and then cooked in the oven with potatoes covered with cheese and milk.

Tocosh or Togosh is a traditional Quechua food prepared from fermented potato pulp.

Puka Pikanti: Ayacucho dish made from white potatoes, beets, yellow chili pepper, mint, and peanuts.

The Jungle

Naturally, jungle cuisine is made using the products local to the area. Although many animal species are hunted for food in the biologically diverse jungle, standouts are the paiche (one of the world's largest freshwater fish), prepared in variety of dishes; many other types of fish like gamitana, sabalo, tucunare, boquichico, palometa[disambiguation needed ], bagre, and many others including the piranha, that are prepared in variety of dishes such as "timbuche" (soup) or "patarashca" (grilled in vegetables); many types of turtles like the motelo (land turtle), and the charapa and taricaya (river turtles). Hunting turtles is prohibited in Peru, therefore turtle-based dishes are scarce and expensive and not sold à la carte in restaurants. Other animals include the majas, the sajino, the agouti and jungle mammals, which are called collectively "carne de monte".[9] The Black Caiman is also considered a delicacy; but its hunt is forbidden under Peruvian law.

Among the fruits of Peru's jungle is the camu camu, which contains 40 times more vitamin C than the kiwifruit. Non-native fruits such as mango and pineapple and star apple are also in abundance, as well as other jungle fruits like, mammee apple, cherimoya, guanabana, taperiva, copoazu, dry fruits like the aguaje and the hungurahui.

Juane is rice seasoned with turmeric, and chicken wrapped in banana leaves.

Other regional dishes


Chalona is a cured dried meat originally obtained from alpaca. It is also eaten in Bolivia, and was presumbably eaten by the Indians in Southern Peru and Bolivia before the arrival of the Spanish. Today lamb is often substituted for alpaca meat. It is used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes of the Puno region, Cusco, and Arequipa. It is prepared using recently-cured lamb, in which furrows are made with a knife so the salt can penetrate. Salt penetration is important, because it determines how long the cured meat lasts. The meat is left to dry in the sun and cold nights for almost one month.

Chairo: A traditional soup of the Puno and Arequipa regions. It origins have been traced to the Collan Indians who live in the Andes of Bolivia and southern Peru. The soup consists of black chuño, aji panca (red chili pepper), sweet potatoes, meat and chalona. Ocopa: A dish with some similarities to Papas a la Huancaina. It consists of boiled and sliced yellow potatoes covered with a sauce of made of aji (chili pepper), the Peruvian herb tagetes minuta, (called huatacay in Lima; the herb gives it a vivid green color), and fresh or white cheese, sided with lettuce, boiled eggs and olives. At expensive restaurants walnuts are often added, but this is seldom done in Peruvian homes due to the prohibitive cost of walnuts in Peru.[10][11]

Copús is one of the best known dishes of Piura. Its ingredients are ripe fried bananas, camotes (sweet potatoes), and seasoned hen, turkey, goat, and mutton. The meat is cooked in a furnace under the ground; this method is different from using a pachamanca since the furnace is covered with blankets and clay.

Yuca chupe or cassava soup is one of the variations in which the Peruvians enjoy cassava.

Crema de tarwi (tarwi soup): Tarwi is a vegetable native to the mountains of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. In addition to its use in soup, tarwi is used in much of Peruvian cuisine, including sancochado. Fresh tarwi can be used in stews, purees, sauces, desserts and in a variation of cebiche. In some areas, locals call it chocho. Its cultivation has recently expanded to all the countries of the Andean region. In Peru, it is principally grown in the areas of Cajamarca, Ancash, the Mantaro Valley, Ayacucho, Cusco, and Puno.

Tarwi can also be found in beverages (such as papaya juice with tarwi flour). Tarwi has been shown to have a higher vegetable protein content than soy. In pre-Incan and Incan times, it was an important part of the mostly vegetarian diet of the region. It was consumed with small quantities of meat and dried fish, providing an abundant source of protein for the population. Tarwi seeds have been found in Nazca tombs and in representations of Tiahuanaco ceramics.


Chifa (from the Mandarin words 吃飯 "chi1 fan4", meaning "to eat rice") is the Peruvian term for Chinese food (or for a Chinese restaurant). Because many Chinese ingredients are hard to find in Peru, the Chinese modified their cuisine and incorporated many Peruvian elements (mainly Spanish, native and African) into their cuisine. Even today, it is difficult to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Peru. This is mainly due to popularity of the hybridization of Chinese food, which is commonly called "Chifa," and a lack of many Chinese ingredients.

In downtown Lima, on Capón Street, is the barrio chino (Chinatown). This is the main area in Peru where one can find a limited selection of authentic Chinese ingredients imported from China. Even in this area, however, it is very difficult to find a restaurant that serves authentic Chinese dishes such as Mapo doufu.

Some creole dishes such as lomo saltado and arroz chaufa were influenced by the Chinese and are commonly served at Chifa restaurants.

Sweet dishes and desserts

Small alfajores
Suspiro a la limeña
Maná for Christmas

Alfajores: a dessert found in virtually all of Spain's former colonies. It is derived from the versions popular in Spain during the colonial period. The original Spanish recipes, however, have been modified because the original ingredients are expensive in Peru (almonds, honey) or even unobtainable (hazlenuts, lemon rind, coriander seed, etc.). The basic recipe uses a base mix of flour, key lime rind, margarine, and powdered sugar, which is oven-baked. Alfajores consist of two or more layers of this baked pastry, and is usually filled with either manjar blanco (a caramel-colored, sweet, creamy filling made with milk and sugar) or molasses.

Turrones (or nougat) is another originally Spanish dessert. The original Spanish recipe, which contained ingredients that were rare or expensive in Peru (such as almonds, rose water, orange blossom water, honey) were modified in a variety of ways. One common variety found in Lima is Turrón de Doña Pepa, an anise and honey nougat that is traditionally prepared for the Señor de los Milagros (or Lord of Miracles) religious procession, during October.

Almost exclusive to the Andes region is the fruit known as lúcuma. Lúcuma juice, ice cream, and corresponding lúcuma shakes are very popular throughout Peru. Lúcuma ice cream can normally only be found in large US cities (typically in Peruvian restaurants). One popular brand of ice cream in Peru is D'Onofrio, which is owned by Nestlé.

Arroz con leche (rice-pudding): Another dessert originally from Spain that can be found in various varieties throughout Latin America. Arroz con leche is one of the more common desserts found in homes and restaurants of modern-day Peru. It consists primarily of cooked rice, cinnamon/nutmeg, raisins, and milk. Because lemons are not available in Peru, rice pudding never has lemon rind as is traditional in the Spanish version.

Helados (ice cream): The most common ice cream flavors found in Peru are lucuma, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Some more exotic flavors such as camu camu, guaraná and Prickly Pear can occasisonally be found. For other commonly available flavors, however, one needs to purchase imported ice-cream as many of the ingredients are not available in Peru. Peru is one of few countries in the world where the third most popular ice-cream (after vanilla and chocolate) is not strawberry, it is in fact the "nutty" flavored, orange colored lúcuma, which is an exotic fruit grown in quantity only in Peru, and only in recent years being exported in very limited quantities as an exotic flavor (for ice cream and savory sauces) to the USA, and available in Europe essentially in food shows.

Mazamorra morada is a jelly-like clove-flavored dessert. It takes on the color of one of its main ingredients: purple maize. A variety of purple corn (maíz morado) that only grows in Peru adds color to the water it's boiled in, along with cinnamon cloves. When the water cools, chopped fruit, key lime and sugar are added. The mixture is served as a beverage called "chicha morada.".

Picarones: a sweet, ring-shaped fritter with a pumpkin base; often served with a molasses syrup. Picarones were created during the colonial period to replace the Spanish dessert Buñuelos as buñuelos were too expensive to make (They had an egg custard filling) and some ingredients were unavailable (lemon rinds). Peruvian Picarones are made of squash or pumpkin dough and sweetened with chancaca, raw cane sugar melted into a syrup.

Tejas: another modified Spanish dessert. The original Spanish version contained ingredients that were prohibatively expensive in Peru, such as almonds. The Peruvian version of this candy is filled with manjar blanco and coated with a fondant-like shell. Some are also made with a chocolate shell (chocoteja).

Suspiro a la Limeña is another Spanish-influenced dessert that uses Dulce de leche, which derives from the Spanish Blancmange. The bottom layer is made of dulce de leche enriched with egg yolks. The top layer consists of meringue made with port wine. This classic criollo dessert is said to have been named by the famous Peruvian poet and author José Gálvez whose wife doña Amparo Ayarez was famous for her cooking. When asked what inspired the name, he reportedly replied, "Because it is soft and sweet, like the sigh of a woman." In this case, it would be a woman from Lima, a Limeña.


Inca Kola
Welcome platter with Pisco Sour

Soft drinks

The most commonly encountered soft drinks in Peru are:

  • Chicha Morada: a clove flavored beverage prepared from a base of boiled purple maize (which merely acts as a coloring agent) and a generous amount of powdered cloves, to which sugar, cinnamon and ice are added as it cools. Occasionally chunks of pineapple are added. The taste is reminiscent of old fashioned clove flavored candy. Not to be confused with the fermented beverage chicha (chicha de jora)
  • Inca Kola: a lemon verbena flavored soda (gaseosa), which is a cultural icon, served literally on the most humble to the most exclusive tables nationwide, alone or with any type of food. Yellow in color, it is very sweet (with a candy like taste). Inca Kola is the only national beverage in the world that beat worldwide Coca-Cola in sales, mainly due to nationalism prevalent among Peruvians, and an advertising campaign that capitalized on the fact that Inca Kola is a Peruvian product. In 1997, however, Coca-Cola acquired 49 percent of the Inca Kola company. Although exported to various countries, Inca Kola has not enjoyed major success elsewhere.
  • Kola Inglesa: a cherry flavored red soda introduced in 1912, named after its English creator, Erin Stone.

Less common are:

  • Refresco de camu camu: Refrescos are juices of various flavours mixed with water and sugar and often served with the set menu of the day at smaller restaurants. Besides camu camu, there are more common flavours such as orange. Pure juices, such as orange juice or grape juice are seldom encountered in Peru due to their expense.
  • Té de uña de gato[disambiguation needed ]: a tea made from a plant from the Amazon, cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), which is consumed for its supposed healing or medicinal properties.

Alcoholic Drinks

Pisco, a kind of brandy, is the national drink of Peru. It originated during the colonial period as a cheaper substitute for the Spanish liquor known as Orujo, which is made in virtually the same manner. This distilled beverage made from grapes is produced in various regions of the country. Pisco Sour is a cocktail made from pisco combined with key lime juice, the white of an egg and sugar.

Wines come from many different regions of the country, most notably from the Ica Region.

Beer, as in many countries, is popular at all levels of society. Local brands include Pilsen and Cristal. A couple of regional beers are Arequipeña and Cuzqueña (Cusqueña), from Arequipa and Cuzco, respectively; though Cuzqueña is popular nationwide and is exported worldwide. A common beer drinking ritual among many Peruvian men involves a group sharing one glass. The party holding the bottle waits for the prior person to drink from the glass before receiving that glass, filling it and passing the bottle on to the next in line. While this custom is more common among men of lower echelons of society, people of higher social status, particularly youth and occasionally women, take part in this custom.

Chicha or Chicha de Jora is another well-known drink, based on different varieties of fermented maíz and different aromatic herbs, depending on the region of the country. Its consumption is mostly limited to the Andes area.

See also


External links

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