Peruvian cuisine is rich in flavor, from zesty seafood ceviche to spicy Rocoto Relleno to sweet and juicy prickly pears and sharp and acidic Pisco Sours. Here’s our list of the most popular Peruvian foods and drinks to try.
Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish that must-try during a vacation to Peru. This meal, which translates as ‘jumped loin,’ consists of strips of beef loin, onion, and tomatoes that have been flash-fried with garlic and cumin and served with a mound of chips or rice. Chinese immigrants created this delectable combination of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine, becoming a beloved national dish across Peru.
Ceviche is a tangy seafood dish with raw fish marinated in fresh citrus juices, chili peppers, onions, and cilantro. Lima is a gastronomic hotspot, ideal for sampling this traditional Peruvian meal.
While we consider these fluffy critters adorable pets in the West, Guinea Pig, also known as Cuy in Peru, is a traditional Andes delicacy. The Sacred Valley of Incas is the best place to enjoy and to observe how the guinea pig is grilled on a spit over hot coals, then served with a side of potatoes, fries, or sweet potato.
Tuna Fruit (Prickly Pear)
San Pedro Market in Cusco is a sensory overload. On our Peru Encompassed Tour, stroll through market booths stacked high with a rainbow of fresh vegetables. Plantains dangle from the trees above ripe mangoes, and the abundance of Tuna fruit (also known as the Prickly Pear) is impossible to ignore. The prickly form of this cactus plant, which is abundant in southern Peru, is unpleasant at first glance. However, its luscious flesh is delectably sweet, and it is known in the area for its therapeutic powers.
If you prefer spicy food, try the Rocoto Relleno, a nutritious meal made with fiery Peruvian peppers filled with minced pork, onions, herbs, olives, and egg, topped with gooey melted cheese and served with potato gratin.
Ají de Gallina
Aji de gallina, Peru’s ultimate comfort meal, is a beautiful creamy chicken stew cooked in milk with fiery Peruvian yellow chilis, red onion, garlic, and bread. Although the exact roots of this meal are unknown, some speculate that it is a variation of the French dish chicken fricassee, which dates back to the French Revolution. Others believe it was a medieval Spanish recipe, while historians believe it dates back to the Inca Empire. Whatever it is a source of inspiration, it’s safe to say it’s a mainstay of Peruvian cuisine today.
Hiking at altitude along the Inca Trail in Peru’s sky-high Andes mountains may be challenging, and altitude sickness is prevalent. Fortunately, coca tea from Peru can help with nausea and headaches. Watch how natives steep dried coca leaves in hot water to make a greenish-yellow herbal tea, then drink the mild, bitter brew to relieve pain.
This one-of-a-kind drink has a harsh tang and a sweet aftertaste, made with Pisco liquor, lime juice, sugar, and egg whites forcefully shaken into a frothy concoction. Before pausing to try this renowned Peruvian drink, take a stroll through steep winding alleyways of whitewashed houses with pink tiled roofs and colorful balconies in Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire.
A drink of handcrafted chicha morada will quench your thirst when traveling in Peru. Chicha morada is a non-alcoholic beverage that originated in the Peruvian Andes and is now extensively drunk throughout Peru. The recipe is flavored with cinnamon, sweetened with sugar, and served cold over ice to make a delicious, refreshing, and easy-to-drink beverage made from enormous quantities of purple maize gathered in the highlands.