A Guest Blog: Exploring Peruvian Cuisine

Authentic Peruvian cuisine is at the heart of each Inkaterra property, from the earth to table concept at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, which sees fresh seasonal ingredients harvested from the on-site eco farm, served up in creative interpretations of Peruvian classics, to the bio-orchard in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. In fact, traditional Peruvian cuisine is at the heart of a guest’s experience, cultivating local and organic produce to prepare hearty, high-quality dishes that can be enjoyed by travellers of any culture.

But, what influences Peruvian cuisine? Typical Peruvian dishes are a fusion of cooking styles from a range of cultures, with gastronomical influencers from Africa, Asia, Europe and of course from Peru itself. Techniques inspired by these cultures are combined with a rich history of cooking methods, dating back to Incan times. We caught up with travel writer Ella, who documents her exploration at Trekbible, to find out more about the origins of Peruvian cuisine.

Hi Ella! So, you’ve experienced authentic Peruvian cuisine firsthand. What makes it stand out?

The incredible use of spices! The king of Peruvian spices is the Aji pepper. The most commonly used variants are the Aji Panca (red pepper) or Aji Amarilla (yellow pepper). However, there are more than 300 verions of Peruvian peppers. Ajis are usually mixed in to a guiso, or stew, to give meat and vegetables a little spice. Other types of aji include Aji Mirasol which can be used in a variety of applications. Another aji, the Rocoto, is Peru’s version of a hot sauce and is available in nearly every restaurant, store or home.

What makes Peruvian cuisine so fresh?

As you may well know, Peru is a rich in vegetation, and the cuisine is proof. Over 3,000 types of potatoes grow on Peruvian soil. These include staple items such as the papa amarilla, alluco,  camote and more. Another commonly used root vegetable is the yucca. Dishes such as Papa a La Huancaina, Carapulcra and Causa use potatoes as the main ingredient. In fact, it’s common to have a few slices of potato or yucca on almost every Peruvian dish.

We love potatoes! Which are your favourite Peruvian dishes?

There are two dishes in particular that are frequently associated with Peru, and that stand out to me as favourites. These are Lomo Saltado and Ceviche. Lomo Saltado is a stir-fry style dish that contains beef, onions and tomato served over white rice. It’s truly an Asian-inspired dish that even incorporates soy sauce for flavouring. Lomo Saltado is well loved by Inkaterra guests, especially those at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – the hearty combination is the ideal choice after a day of trekking!

However, some might argue that the true national dish is ceviche. This dish consists of small pieces of raw fish soaked in lime juice. Once the fish is fully cooked (via the acidity of the lime juice) it is mixed with aji, onions, cilantro and tomatoes. The result is a spicy fish serving that is accompanied by yucca and Peruvian corn. Other popular meals include Pollo a la Brasa, Arroz Con Pollo, Jalea and many more.

Can those who don’t live, or visit Peru, enjoy Peruvian cuisine?

Yes! Peruvian restaurants have rocketed the destination to the forefront of the international culinary scene. Several high profile travel magazines and culinary associations have ranked this Andean nation as the top eating destination, and there are plenty of Peruvian-inspired restaurants popping up across the globe. The reason behind all the fanfare is clear; the cuisine is tasty, diverse and unique. Peruvian cuisine has something to offer to everyone.

To find out more about food at Inkaterra, please click here.