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October 28, 2022 7 min read

Peru can be described as the culinary capital that is a culinary gem of South America. With its abundance of raw ingredients, the dizzying range of altitudes, and savvy home cooks and chefs who honor their past as they continue to invent a Peruvian food that's as diverse as the country, it's a food that everyone must try. If you cannot travel or don't have Peruvian restaurants in the area, You can (and should) incorporate Peruvian cuisine into your kitchen.

The well-known Chef Virgilio Martinez from Central in Lima, Peru, who you might have seen appearing on " Chef's Table" (he also was featured in the World's 50 Greatest Restaurants list of 2019) and has built all of his menus around huge elevational variations that are present in his nation.

The cuisine of the rich Amazon as well as the towering Andes Mountains, and the flowing coastline all have an appearance at Central. However, the elevation is the primary reason the Peruvian food options are so large and diverse.

Another reason that Peru has so many diverse recipes can be attributed to its seemingly endless varieties of ingredients. The culinary tradition is likely plentiful in a country that boasts many food items like potatoes, chiles and tomatoes, legumes, and spices.

The way Peruvians are open to their diversity is another reason their food is abundant. Many immigrants have found refuge in Peru and brought their culinary practices.


Instead of keeping recipes in separate places, Peruvian home and restaurant cooks have been experimenting with new and innovative ways of blending ingredients and cooking methods into an entirely Peruvian fusion style.

Here are some distinctive features of Peruvian cooking, along with recipes to prepare some of Peru's most famous recipes at home. Visit Peru delights or Food from Peru for more recipes and tales of Peruvian culinary traditions.

While the origins of tamales can’t be exactly traced back to a certain moment or place, it’s no secret that they are the most representative dish from many Latin American countries, including Peru.

One exquisite way to make them is theTamales Criollos recipe, a spin of this food that includes the typical Peruvian sauce that mixes different types of ajíes. Keep reading to learn this recipe that takes 3 hours to make and serves 30 tamales! 

Essential Peruvian Ingredients

  • Chicken: The chicken is a staple of Peruvian cuisine. It is a staple in slow-simmering stews , such as aji de gallina, and then on to the grill, which is then smothered in a hot marinade with citrusy flavor.

  • Pork: Pork is a very popular highland staple that is made into crisp chicharron (fried pork skin) as well as the chorizo (spicy sausage) and the cecina (cured meat).

  • Guinea Pig: Cuy (guinea pig) is a staple food item for indigenous peoples in the Andes.

  • Other animal proteins: Duck, beef, lamb and goat are all important Peruvian protein sources for meat.

  • Fish and Shellfish: Fish and shellfish are essential ingredients in the areas of the coasts of Peru in which it is estimated that there are more than 2000 species. Ceviche creates the shorelines of the nation tick. Steam-cooked fish, stews of shellfish and fish like Italian Cioppino are some other dishes that are popular.

  • Potatoes: It is estimated that there are four thousand types of potatoes in Peru and the country's cuisine is not possible without these potatoes. Potatoes are prepared by boiling them, or by frying and then transforming into sauces, soups and even purees.

  • Other root vegetables: Root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yuca and carrots are served boiling or fried for vegetable side dishes and are often incorporated into soups, stews, sauces and other dishes.

  • Corn Like the potato there are a variety of corn species are found across Peru. The Andean mountains, there is a huge-kernelled variety is known as "choclo" is served simply in a meal dubbed "choclo con queso" that includes an ear of the choclo with a chunk of salty Andean cheese. 

  • "Cancha salada" is a popular fried corn snack that is that is similar in taste to corn nuts (but more delicious) and made from a different type of kernel. Chicha morada" is a non-alcoholic drink made from violet Peruvian corn , which is just as tasty as it is beautiful.


  • Tomatoes: The tomatoes are the base of numerous Peruvian sauces soups, salads, and sauces.

  • The Red Onion: Red onions are more well-known within Peru than their white or yellow counterparts. They add sweetness to dishes and also add a slight crunch and a pleasing bite when used as raw garnish.

  • Chile Peppers: Like its inclination to raising potatoes Peru has also earned a reputation for chile peppers that improve the taste of numerous recipes, from ceviche to stir-fries. The Aji the amarillo is a yellow-orange chile pepper that has mild taste is a must in the Peruvian culinary dictionary and is called the chile-pepper the king of Peru.

  • Plantains: There are a variety varieties of varieties of plantains are found in Peru. Sweet bananas are a popular dessert choices, while starchier plants can be mashed or cooked to be used in dishes that are savoury.

  • Herbs Cilantro is a well-loved herb in Peru that enhances salads and adds flavor to seafood as well as shellfish-based dishes. An herb that is not as well-known and important to numerous Peruvian cuisines is the huacatay or Peruvian Black Mint. The herb's intense flavor is often transformed into a hot yellow sauce, which includes aji chilli.

  • Legumes: Beans are a popular ingredient in soups, stews salads, sauces and stews in Peru. They are a good protein source in the event that more costly products such as beef or chicken aren't easily available.

  • Quinoa Today, it is widely acclaimed, the quinoa is an Andean grain that is essential to the diets of a variety of indigenous tribes throughout the region. It comes in a myriad colours and an excellent source of protein and flavor.

  • Rice: Rice was introduced to Peru during the sixteenth century. Although it's not native to Peru however, it is a very popular accompaniment to numerous meals.

  • Milk evaporated: The evaporation of milk is vital to numerous Peruvian dessert recipes, such as "arroz con leche" or rice pudding, but it is also a key ingredient in dishes that are savoury like "aji de gallina," an shredded chicken dish topped featuring a smooth cheese-based sauce and walnuts.

  • Queso fresco: It is a simple recipe to make farmer's cheese can be used an ingredient in salads and garnishes, as well as into salads, sauces and dressings.

  • Cacao Peruvian: cacao is highly sought-after throughout the world. The variety is found in all regions of Peru and are sought-after in desserts as well as beverages as well as savory recipes across Peru. It is also utilized for medicinal purposes in certain regions of the country.


Ingredients for Tamales Criollos 

  • 2 kg of mote corn or hominy (This type of giant Peruvian corn is soaked and cooked with calcium oxide) (4.4 lb)
  • 2 lt of olive oil (½ gallon) 
  • 1 cup of garlic paste (you can buygarlic paste here)
  • 1 cup of ají panca paste (you can getají panca paste here)
  • 1 cup of ají amarillo paste (purchaseají amarillo paste here)
  • 4 large plantain leaves
  • 1 medium bar of achiote (pressed powder with a bitter and peppery taste)
  • 1 kg of pork pulp (2.2 lb)
  • 1 jar of black olives
  • 8 medium sized ajíes panca
  • 4 large sized eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder (5 gr)
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper (5 gr)
  • 1 cup of plain peanuts
  • Salt to taste


  • First off, if for some reason you  can’t get your hands on garlic paste and the ají paste, you can make it yourself the night before. For the garlic paste peel some garlic cloves, mince them thoroughly and grind them with olive oil.
  • For the ají paste (either panca or amarillo), you have to remove the veins and seeds and soak in warm water for a few hours, take out most of the water and grind the ají until the paste is formed. 
  • In a large pot with water put the pork on high temp, let it cook until the meat is soft.
  • Take the mote corn (which should be already pre-cooked) and serve some on the blender. Slowly grind it and add all of the kernels with a bit of water.
  • Take a small pot with water and boil the eggs until they’re hard.
  • All of the achiote bar should be dissolved in a bit of water and then put on a skillet with olive oil and fry it, this will make the achiote release its flavor. 
  • Take a large pot or casserole and put it on high temp, once it’s hot enough add one cup of olive oil and then two tablespoons of garlic paste, let it fry. 
  • Add 4 tablespoons of ají amarillo paste to the casserole, stir until it mixes with the garlic paste, which should be fried by now.


  • Add the ají panca paste to the casserole along with a bit of salt, stir well.

  • Let the pastes combine well and release their flavors, after 5 minutes add the mashed mote corn slowly. 
  • Lastly, add the achiote paste. Keep cooking for 10 more minutes until, when picking some dough with your fingers, it doesn’t stick. If you notice the dough is too dry just add a bit of broth from the pork meat. This step gets thetamales criollos dough ready. 
  • For the stuffing, shred the pork meat and set aside. 
  • In another medium casserole pour a big amount of oil and add some garlic paste, once it’s fried add aji panca paste and let it fry along with the garlic. 
  • Add the cumin powder and pepper. Mix well and lastly add the shredded pork meat with a bit of broth. Let the mix cook, check the flavor and set aside. 
  • Take the plantain leaves and clean them well, cut them into 4x4” squares and put them on a skillet for a few minutes until they change color. 
  • To “build” thetamales criollos, take a big spoonful of dough and serve it on the less green side of the leaf, then add a portion of the pork meat, a small piece of hard egg, some olives and peanuts. 
  • Fold the plantain leaf until the ends meet and then roll it, the side ends should be folded to opposite sides and then tie the tamale with a string.
  • Take a large steamer, fill it with water and carefully place the tamales with enough space for the vapor to go around them. Cover the top of the steamer with the remaining leaves, a clean cloth and a plastic bag to stop the vapour from going out, this only in case the steamer doesn’t have a lid. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the tamales. 

Once your tamales are ready you can serve them on their leaf to keep the flavor strong and even pour some more Salsa Criolla on top of it for extra spice. now you know hoy to make Tamales Criollos, enjoy!