Unless you’ve traveled to Peru, chances are you have never tasted chicha morada. I have Erik Burmeister to thank for introducing me to this delicious Peruvian speciality. Chicha morada is a non-alcoholic Peruvian beverage made from purple corn called “maiz morado“. “Chicha” is common in South and Central American–it is a fermented (alcoholic) or non-fermented (non-alcoholic) beverage made from grains, maize or fruits. Traditional Peruvian chicha morada is made by boiling “maiz morado” (purple corn) with water, “pina” (pineapple rinds), “canela” (cinnamon), “clavos” (cloves), and sugar. Sometimes citrus juice such as “lima” (lime) is added as well, as with my recipe. This fruity beverage can be traced all the way back to the pre-colonial era in Peru. Considered a staple of the Peruvian cuisine, I am told you can find chicha morada in restaurants and local markets.
Chicha morada has a lovely, not-super sweet flavor, almost a cross between mulled wine and a melted grape popsicle. The vibrant purple color comes from anthocyanin pigment of the purple corn, and is believed to have lots of natural anti-inflammatory properties (more so than blueberries even) adding a possible health benefit to this refreshing fruity beverage. Maiz morado is mostly grown in the Northern Peru region but companies such as Goya make it available in the states. Sold dry, you can find this Peruvian food item online at speciality stores such as Kosmos Peru or at times, even on Amazon.
Chicha morada is also sold pre-made and in powdered forms. But don’t be fooled, those are not nearly as good as the easy-to-make homemade version. Although made with dried corn, there is no actual corn flavor to this drink. The spices and fruit are what come forward, along with the sweet-and-tart combination of the sugar and lime. Served on ice with some diced pineapple and green apple, you have one heck of a refreshing and flavorful beverage that is perfect for summertime.
- 1 15-ounce bag of Goya dried purple corn, kernels only
- 12 cups of water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 whole pineapple, core removed, small dice for garnish (peel reserved)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 limes, juiced
- 1 green apple, small dice for garnish
- Step 1 Using a large stockpot add the purple corn kernels, water, cinnamon sticks, cloves and 1/2 of the pineapple peel and sugar. Place over high heat and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 50 minutes, till fragrant.
- Step 2 Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Step 3 Carefully strain through a fine strainer and discard the solids. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to cool.
- Step 4 To serve, add the fresh lime juice to the chilled chicha morada and mix well. Place a good amount of ice to the desired serving glass. Fill with a generous pour of the chicha morada. Garnish with a healthy amount of diced pineapple and apple.