Chicha de Jora is a symbolic Peruvian drink. While it is produced in the same way as beer, there is one very big difference between the two beverages; chicha de jora is made from corn, rather than hops. In each region of Peru, you will notice that the recipe differs slightly, this is because each region adds its own flavour; for example, in the Andes quinoa, pink peppercorns or potato starch are added, while in the Amazon jungle yucca (a plant in the Agavoideae family) is added to the chicha.
Legend has it that chicha de jora was discovered by accident after a heavy rain spoiled the silos where the corn was stored. This fermented the grains creating a malt that was then thrown away. A starving local then found the malt in the street and decided to drink it. After being created in such a humble way chicha de jora became the main beverage for Inca nobility and was used in religious ceremonies to honour the huacas (sacred places) and apus (Inca gods).
When the Spanish arrived in Peru, the Inca ruler Atahualpa offered priest Vicente de Valverde a kero (a ceremonial glass) of chicha de jora which the priest then poured away, thinking the drink was poisoned. This act created a tradition for each chicha de jora drinker and the ceremonies it is involved in. As a gesture to Pachamama, the foam that forms at the top of the glass is poured out. During the Inca empire women were taught how to brew chicha de jora in ‘Aqlla Wasi‘ – feminine schools. Chicha de jora is still used during ceremonies like Inti Raymi (the festival of the sun).
If you would like to make your own chicha de jora you will need:
1 kg of jora corn (malted corn)
500g of brown sugar
½ cake of chancaca (unrefined brown cane sugar)
3 litres of water
You need to begin by soaking the jora in warm water for half an hour, then change the water and leave soaking for a further half an hour. Then strain the jora corn and let it boil in three litres of water over a low heat for eight hours stirring constantly, ensuring the jora corn does not reduce by adding warm water, staying at three litres. After eight hours add the sugar and chancaca until they dissolve and then let the drink cool, by pouring it into clay pots and cover it with tamis that will allow air to flow through.
The chicha then needs to be left for eight days, and then the foam on top skimmed and strained to remove sediments. You can then sweeten it to your preferred taste!
At Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba you visit our chicha house and take part in the preparation of your own chicha de jora, which is made using ingredients from the lodge’s ecofarm. At the end of the process you will be able to try your delicious homemade drink.
To find out more about homebrews around the world read this Forbes article, you will see Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba’s chicha de jora on the list.