Traditional Peruvian Cuisine & Best known dishes
While international recognition of Peruvian cuisine is only recently gaining momentum, Peru has a rich history of food culture. In addition to its own pre- and post-Inca delicacies, Peruvian meal has been influenced by foreign cuisines introduced by immigrants. Primary ingredients of Peruvian cuisine like potato, quinoa, meat, seafood, and spices attained a unique versatility by Chinese, Italian, African, and British cooking style. Even though each part of the country has their own food specialty, there are some “must have” Peruvian food items that are common to the entire country. This article provide a brief description of some of those items that you must try during your next trip to Lima.
Ceviche is a seafood dish, made of lime preserved raw fish. Onion, cilantro, and hot spice named aji or chili pepper are added to make it delicious. This main course dish is usually served cold. Although different types of ceviche is popular in South America, the Peruvian one is authentic. Therefore, many restaurants in Lima, Peru, are famous for their unique ceviche plate. La Casa Del Ceviche, El Buzo, La Mar Cevicheria are the fabulous place in Lima to eat Ceviche. This delicious Peruvian sushi is bursting with citrus and fishy flavor with an intense hot from ‘aji’ or chilli pepper. Noticeable onion and cilantro flavor has made the dish very mouthwatering.
Causa is a unique Peruvian starter. It is made of seasoned mashed potatoes layered with egg, tuna, shrimp, or avocado. It is usually garnished with aji or black olives. This exquisite dish is not only eye catching but also delicious. In Lima, Mi Causa, Moche restaurant, La Rosa Nautica restaurant are known for the best Causa Dishes.
Aji de gallina is a French inspired, traditional Peruvian chicken stew. Shredded chicken is cooked in a creamy, cheesy, nutty flavored spicy sauce. One can get a taste blend of rich creaminess and spicy hot from Aji in a same dish. Peruvians like to eat Aji de gallina in cold days. Miraflores, Aji De Gallina are the best places for having this flavorful dish.
Cancha is the Peruvian counterpart of popcorn. Cancha is a common street food in Lima and probably the most popular snack in Peru. Often times it is also served as something to nibble on while you are waiting in fancy indoor restaurants for your food to arrive. Crispy Cancha, with or without chili based on your taste, also goes along great with Cevice as a side. In addition to street side food-carts, you may try Mezze Restaurant and Café in Lima for Cancha.
Papa a la huancaina literally means huancayo style potatoes. This is one of those authentic food items which make a daily Peruvian meal. While named after the huancaina sauce, reminiscence of the City of Huancayo, this yummy appetizer is locale to Lima. Papa a la huancaina is usually made from Peruvian yellow potato. The potato is served cold, dipped in spicy, creamy sauce along with boiled eggs over lettuce. Papa makes the menu of most of the restaurants in Lima but you may try Huancahuasi if you are looking for something special.
Arroz chaufa (translates to Chinese rice) bears memory of Chinese immigrant influx into South America. Arroz chaufa is a fried rice with a blend of Chinese and Peruvian delicacy. Popular as a main course in a typical Peruvian meal, there are different version of Arroz Chaufa. The rice is cooked at very high temperature which comes along with soy sauce, a choice of meat, seafood, or vegetables. Some chaufero- people graduated in art of making chaufa-could be very creative to replace the rice with quinoa. Don Bosco is a great place to have Arroz Chaufa in Lima.
Lomo saltado you can’t go wrong with lomo saltado. In this one contemporary Peruvian food item, you would have a unique mix of beef steak, French fries, and rice served with tomatoes and onion. The steak is usually marinated in soy sauce, vinegar and spices. This is another dish with Chinese root evolved into Peru’s own. Pollos Hikari, El Hornero, and Panchita are some places that offer best Lomo Saltado in town.
Anticuchos is a popular street food for meat lovers not only in Peru but also in other areas of Andes. It origin can be traced back to Inca empire. Traditional Anticuchos comes as beef on stick as skewer with a side of the Peruvian corn on the cob. Many restaurants also offers a choice of chicken as an alternative to beef. The meat is marinated in vinegar, cumin, Peruvian peeper, and garlic and then cooked in a Kebab style. Anticuchos de la Tia Grimanessa (ATG) is a good place in Lima to taste authentic Peruvian Anticuchos.
Pachamanca is a Peruvian dish prepared by baking meat pieces using hot stone. Traditionally it is made of lamb meat marinated in spices, however other meat, including chicken, guinea pig, goat, or pork is common. The cooking start with a big fire that make the stones heated and then the marinated meat pieces in a container are placed on top of the fire. Then the container is covered in earth and meat pot is opened after 1-2 hours. This smoke-perfumed pachamanca meat goes best with Inca beer. La Casita de Ricardo probably has the best Pachamanca in Lima.
Cuy is a large breed of guinea pig endemic to South America. Grilled Cuy is a Peruvian delicacy with a history of 5000 years back to the Inca civilization. As a Peruvian dish, the animal is usually served as grilled, however can also be fried or roasted. Cuy meat is chewy and tasted somewhat like duck. The best place to try Cuy in Lima is Astrid y Gaston (A&G) restaurant.
Pollo a la brasa is the Peruvian version of rotisserie chicken (USA) or charcoal chicken (Australia). Chicken is marinated in salt and charcoal-baked chicken is served with French fries. A perfectly made Pollo a la brasa has a flavorful and smoky taste of juicy chicken meat. Stop by Don Tilto or Pardos to taste an authentic piece of Pollo a la brasa.
In addition to the aforementioned protégé, there are plenty of Peruvians that hold their own place in Peruvian cuisine. For example, Tiradito, Rocoto Relleno, and Lucuma. Those are up for our next adventure.