For you foodie backpackers out there who are planning on swinging through Peru, we’ve put together a list of some of the most traditional, and delicious, Peruvian foods and desserts to add to your must-try list!
Make sure not to skip the following while eating your way through the coast and the Andes!:
13. Ceviche: Considered Peru’s national dish, ceviche is fish slightly cooked in citrus juice, and spiced with red onion and ají pepper. The leftover marinade is often served alongside as a drink known as leche de tigre, tiger’s milk.
12. Lomo Saltado: This stir-fried dish of beef, tomatoes, peppers and onion flavored with soy sauce and served over fried potatoes and with rice is one of the most famous dishes to come out of Peru.
11. Aji de Gallina: This chicken dish with yellow ají pepper sauce is mildly spicy and deliciously creamy…one of your friendly blog-writer’s favorite meals anywhere!
10. Cuy: In the Andes, guinea pig is a traditional meal. Often baked or broiled, it has a flavor reminiscent of rabbit or wild fowl and is quite boney. For maximum effect, it’s often served with the head still on, causing less intrepid travelers to simply take souvenir photos and leave the meal uneaten, while more intrepid travelers take home a story about one of the more unique meals one can eat in Peru!
Our own restaurant in the main square of Cusco, Plus Restaurant, offers a dish of traditional roasted cuy for those intrepid travelers who are eager to immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy a good meal in the process!
9. Rocoto Relleno: You can find this spicy stuffed pepper throughout Peru, although it originated in its present form in Arequipa. The stuffing is usually spiced ground beef with chopped veggies and hard-boiled egg, and the topping is white cheese. The pepper is boiled to remove some of the bite….but they can still get pretty spicy!
8. Anticuchos: These marinated and grilled meat skewers are served on the street and in high-class restaurants. You can find endless variants, but beef heart is the most traditional. Slathered in some spicy ají sauce, these are a great cheap treat. If you dare to buy one on the street, we’re talking around a dollar for your basic meat-and-potatoes combo! If you’re going to go for it though, go all out and go for the heart….
7. Causa: A cold layered dish of potatoes, avocado, and fillings such as tuna, meat, or hard-boiled egg, Causa has innumerable tasty variations.
6. Alpaca: The alpaca is the smaller camelid cousin of the llama, with a lean meat similar to buffalo. The most common dish is tender grilled medallions of alpaca, although you can even find more modern preparations such as alpaca carpaccio.
5. Pollo a la Brasa: Roast chicken in Peru is unlike any you’ve tried before, with a smoky, salty taste resulting from marinating the meat in red peppers, garlic, and cumin.
Most of the following treats were colonial-era adaptations of Spanish sweets whose original forms were prohibitively expensive in Peru, creating treats so delectable that you’ll still find them all over Peru just by strolling down the streets.
4. Arroz con leche & Mazamorra Morada: This rice pudding seasoned with cinnamon or nutmeg and raisins is a soothing velvety treat served hot, and often with mazamorra morada, the jelly-like treat made of Peruvian purple corn and seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, chopped pineapple, and sweet potato flour. Together, they’re one of the most traditional desserts in Peru.
3. Lúcuma Ice Cream: One of the most popular ice-cream flavors in Peru is the orange-colored lúcuma ice cream. This exotic subtropical fruit is only grown in quantity in the Andean region of Peru. Sometimes called eggfruit in English due to the dry texture of its flesh, its flavor is reminiscent of maple and sweet potato.
1. Tejas: Originating in Peru’s Ica Region, these colonia-era candies are made of candied fruit filled with a caramel-like manjar blanco and covered in a creamy fondant. Variations include tejas de almendras, which is made with almonds rather than candied fruit, or chocotejas, which are covered in chocolate.
Stop by Plus Restaurant in Cusco to enjoy a few traditional dishes and even more which represent a modern, Andean-fusion take on traditional dishes.