Peru is a country that is rich in culture and history. It is a place where locals take pride in their traditions, especially when it comes to food. So, if you are a food lover planning to travel to Peru, you will be in for a treat.
Peru offers a wide range of traditional dishes that will leave you asking for more. Here are the top traditional Peruvian dishes you must try when you visit Peru.
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Ceviche is popular not only in Peru but also in other Latin American countries. It is made with raw fish, lime juice, onions, chili peppers, and salt.
Don’t be intimidated by the raw fish – the citrusy marinade “cooks” the seafood, leaving it melt-in-your-mouth tender. The dish is served cold and is a perfect appetizer on a hot day. You can find ceviche in most seafood restaurants in Peru.
Ají de Gallina
Ají de gallina is a Peruvian classic that’s a must-try. Tender chicken is shredded and smothered in a creamy, golden sauce made with ají amarillo peppers, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and evaporated milk.
The result is a dish that’s both comforting and complex, with a subtle sweetness that perfectly balances the heat of the aji peppers. Because of the creamy texture, it is usually served with boiled potatoes and rice. Ají de Gallina is a comfort food perfect for a chilly evening.
Causa Rellena is made with mashed potatoes, onions, lime juice, chili peppers, and avocado. The mashed potatoes are layered with fillings such as chicken, tuna, or shrimp. The dish is usually served cold and is a perfect appetizer or light meal. Causa Rellena is a dish that is unique to Peru.
Lomo Saltado seamlessly combines Chinese stir-fry techniques with Peruvian flair. Juicy strips of beef are tossed in a fiery wok with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and aji peppers, creating quite a combination of textures and tastes.
The dish is finished with a generous dollop of crispy french fries, soaking up the flavorful sauce and adding a delightful textural contrast. Lomo saltado is a must-try for any meat lover, and its vibrant colors and intoxicating aromas will make your mouth water.
Rocoto Relleno is a dish that is made with stuffed rocoto peppers. The peppers are filled with ground beef, onions, and cheese. It is served with boiled potatoes and is perfect for a cold evening. Rocoto Relleno is a spicy dish, so if you are not a fan of spicy food, you might want to try something else.
Anticuchos de Corazón
Looking for a street food sensation? Then anticuchos are the perfect dish to go for. Not just because they are inexpensive and quite popular but also because of the flavorful experience.
Anticuchos are skewers of marinated and grilled meat—traditionally beef heart—but you’ll find variations with chicken, beef, or even fish. The marinade, a blend of vinegar, cumin, and aji pepper, infuses the meat with a smoky, tangy essence.
It is usually served with boiled potatoes and is a popular street food in Peru. Anticuchos are a perfect snack if you are exploring the streets of Peru.
Cuy (Pepián de Cuy)
Cuy, or guinea pig, might not be for the faint of heart, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for adventurous foodies. While guinea pigs are beloved pet members to many families in various countries, here, they are a delicacy.
This Andean delicacy is roasted crispy on the outside, with tender, juicy meat on the inside. The flavor is similar to dark chicken or rabbit, with a slightly gamey taste. Cuy is usually served with traditional sides like papas and Huancaína sauce, making it a truly unique and unforgettable meal.
Pachamanca is more than just a meal; it’s an experience, a celebration of the earth and its bounty.
This traditional Andean technique involves cooking meats (often lamb, pork, or chicken) and an array of vegetables marinated in herbs using hot stones buried underground. The slow-cooking process infuses the ingredients with smoky flavors, resulting in tender, succulent meats and vegetables bursting with earthy goodness.
Often considered ceviche’s cousin, Tiradito offers a similar punch of flavor with a touch of elegance. Imagine thin fish slices glistening like jewels on a plate, soaked in a citrusy marinade.
The fish, often tuna or sea bass, is lightly cured in leche de tigre, the citrusy marinade used in ceviche. But Tiradito takes things a step further, incorporating delicate flavors like ginger, garlic, and rocoto peppers.
Papa a la Huancaína
Peru is a potato paradise, and papas a la huancaína is a testament to this love affair. The dish is made with boiled potatoes and a sauce. The sauce is creamy and spicy, courtesy of ingredients like aji amarillo, milk, cheese, and crackers. Papas a la huancaína is usually served cold and is a perfect appetizer on a hot day.
Peruvian cuisine isn’t just about the food—it’s a celebration of history, culture, and innovation. Whether you’re savoring the tang of ceviche by the Pacific Ocean or relishing the comforting warmth of Aji de Gallina in the Andean highlands, each dish tells a story of Peru’s rich heritage and diverse influences.
So, fellow foodies and adventurous spirits, prepare your taste buds for an expedition through Peru’s culinary wonders. Dive into the colorful world of Peruvian cuisine and let each bite transport you to the heart of this culinary paradise! Remember, the true essence of travel lies beyond the places you visit. It is also in the flavors you savor and the stories behind each dish.
Is street food in Peru safe to eat?
Generally, yes! Street food is a vital part of Peruvian culture and can be a delicious and affordable way to experience local cuisine. However, stick to well-maintained stalls with high turnover and prioritize cooked dishes over raw options.
Do I need to worry about spicy food?
Peruvian cuisine incorporates various levels of spice, from mild to fiery. Aji peppers are a common ingredient, and dishes like ceviche have minimal heat. However, be cautious with dishes like Rocoto Relleno, known for their intense heat. Ask your server for recommendations or request dishes “sin picante” (without spice) if needed.
What are some popular desserts in Peru?
Peru boasts a delightful array of desserts. Some popular sweet treats include Alfajores (shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche), Picarones (sweet potato and pumpkin doughnuts), and Mazamorra Morada (purple corn pudding). These desserts offer a perfectly sweet conclusion to a Peruvian meal.