May 20, 2021 4 min read
It is one of the most famous drinks in Peru without a doubt and currently has great international recognition. Chicha Morada is a very versatile drink that can be taken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it goes with everything! It is made with purple corn, a kind of corn that is grown in the Andean region.
The characteristic flavor of chicha Morada is because, in addition to boiled corn, it contains ripe pineapple and lemon, which gives another dimension to the flavor. It is sweet and has an acid touch, it is usually also infused with cinnamon and cloves —sometimes strawberries and apples are used— It is common that in Peruvian restaurants the first thing they offer you to drink is this traditional chicha Morada.
Its color can vary between a strong purple and black that looks like blood, it is served fresh in street markets, in fine restaurants, and at home kitchens throughout Peru. It is a mix of a local gastronomy classic - basic or with some modern adornments - and a relic that has survived centuries of colonial invasion.
Purple corn is a food with a powerful antioxidant effect, thanks to anthocyanins. They help tissue regeneration, promote blood circulation, and lower cholesterol. On the other hand, purple corn promotes the formation of collagen, reduces the risks of arthritis, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. It is a superfood that provides great health benefits.
So while the purple corn doesn't add a specific flavor to the drink, it adds color and health as a base for savoring the fruits and spices. A crystallized sugar with Chancaca honey is generally added to sweeten the drink (particularly chicha Morada bottled for supermarkets).
As we immerse ourselves in the daily life of pre-Hispanic civilizations, we discover that among the peoples of America and especially Peru, there was a certain predilection for the development of beverages, which were made from the different native plants of the continent.
To make Peruvian chicha, the corn kernels were split and soaked in water. Then, the woman in charge of preparing the chicha, took a little of that soaked corn, chewed it, and put it back together with the rest, but already with the ferments of her own saliva. This preparation was boiled for several hours and then strained. The liquid obtained was fermented in clay pots until the desired fermentation was obtained.
In general, Peruvian chicha was fermented at low alcohol levels, to be consumed daily as a food drink. But those that were left to ferment for longer, achieved a high alcohol content and were destined for celebrations and rituals, where consumers generally ended up drunk.
When the conquerors arrived in Inca lands, the story goes that Atahualpa received them with gifts, among them glasses with Peruvian chicha. The conquerors were amazed by this drink - and perhaps drunk, too - and adopted it as their own to replace the wine that had not yet arrived from Mexico or Spain.
It was the arrival of the Jesuits, which put a limit on the consumption of Peruvian chicha, arguing that it was contrary to the liturgical traditions of drinking wine and that these drinks from the Peruvian valleys induced constant drunkenness. Thus, Peruvian chicha was relegated for consumption to the natives of these lands.
Although the process of chewing corn and then fermenting it has been gradually replaced by the use of yeast as a ferment, the tradition of girl consumption extends to almost all Latin American countries. This is a consequence of the place occupied by corn in pre-Hispanic crops.
Of the drinks of the Peruvian valleys, chicha is the one that has managed to stay throughout history. Despite the prohibitions, the religious attacks it suffered, the native peoples have managed to maintain this tradition throughout the centuries.
Here in Kosmos Peru, we have wanted to rescue the value of Peruvian chicha, as a cultural element of our oldest traditions. It is not only to pay tribute to it, since Peruvian chicha is so present today, as in the past, but we have wanted to rescue its importance because even in gastronomy, our present is built by rescuing everything that was part of the conformation of the nations that we have today.
If you like to have a refreshing and nutritious drink, do not hesitate to prepare this delicious chicha Morada from Peru. Everyone at home will ask you to prepare it frequently.
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