Chicha Morada - A Peruvian Favorite!

What started as a childhood aversion metamorphosed into a healthy infatuation with the purple corn drink named chicha morada. The name is straight to the point: chicha is a fermented beverage and morado means purple. The first time I tried this ancient beverage was at a family reunion trip to Peru. We have quite an extended family and at every gathering, the same party favorites appeared: mini cucumber sandwiches and chicha morada. Trying to be respectful—but really not enjoying chicha morada—I accepted the drink when offered. I tried everything to avoid actually drinking it: sipping it really slowly, conveniently misplacing my cup, even watering a houseplant with it. As soon as a family member noticed my cup was empty, there they were with a pitcher to fill it up again. Defeated, chicha morada left a bad taste in my mouth until three years ago when my Aunt Juana came to visit. She cooked us many scrumptious Peruvian dishes, including gallons of chicha morada. I thought: “what the heck...let me give it another try.” My eyes bulged and I thought: refreshing, fruity and flavorful; this stuff is amazing! So no more watering the plants; this family recipe became a favorite to make.
By / Photography By Jenn Duncan | July 21, 2016

Preparation

Get out the largest pot you can find. Add the dried, purple corn to the pot. To do this the Peruvian way, remove the kernels from the cob before throwing both the cobs and the kernels into the pot. This step enables the cob to release all the healthy antioxidants it contains. Add the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, apples and quinces (or pears) to the pot as well. As for the pineapple: Make sure before you start peeling the pineapple, you wash the exterior well. Add the pineapple peels and cores. Fill the pot up to the top with water. Stir all contents well. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to medium- low and let boil for at least an hour. After the initial 30 minutes, you can add more water to the pot to top it off and continue boiling. When finished boiling, turn off the heat and add sugar to taste. Stir well and let cool. Once cooled, strain your chicha and add the juice of 2 limes; stir well. Refrigerate the chicha for at least an hour before serving.

Chicha morada is always served cold, and even with ice. If you like, you can add chopped up fruit to each cup. Enjoy and don’t worry about going for a second round, chicha morada is good for ya.

*Most Houston-area Fiesta Supermarkets will carry Peruvian dried purple corn (also called Maíz Morado). The brand I usually find is called Inca’s Food and it comes in clear bag with a red and yellow design.

Ingredients

  • 2 6-inch cobs of dried Peruvian purple corn*
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 20 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and quartered
  • 1 medium red apple, cored and quartered
  • 2 quinces (or try Asian pears)
  • 1 large ripe pineapple, peel and cores only (eat the rest)
  • About a gallon of water (depending on the size of your pot)
  • ¾ cup sugar, more if you prefer a sweeter beverage
  • 2 limes
  • Optional garnishes: chopped fruits like pineapple, apple, peaches and melon
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