If you've been spending a lot of time on social media recently, then the chances are that you've come across many llama-filled selfies and mountainous treks in one of South America's most popular tourist hotspots - Peru!
Rich in both history and culture, Peru is not only one of the most vibrant and diverse countries in terms of its overall landscape and geography, but it's also one of the leading culinary destinations in the world!
From fresh seafood to hearty mountain stews, sweet treats to exotic Amazonian fruits; Peru boasts an array of incredible dishes that are loved by both locals and tourists alike!
In this blog, we delve into what makes up Peruvian food and why it's rapidly becoming one of the most popular cuisines around the world.
What exactly is Peruvian Cuisine?
With thousands of different dishes in its repertoire, Peruvian Food has both its history of immigration and geographical diversity to thank for its vast cuisine.
From coast to mountains, desert to rainforest; Peru's diverse geography has meant that the country can grow pretty much anything. Whether its their purple-coloured potatoes or spicy native chillies, Peru has a wide variety of ingredients at its disposal which has led to the creation of many amazing and creative dishes.
Combined with the extensive ingredients are the different food influences that the country has seen over the years. Immigration from Europe, Africa and Asia has seen Peru adopt techniques from all over the world, before working creatively with their local ingredients to prepare new and innovative dishes.
Today, Peru's vast buffet of dishes is best described as a fusion between indigenous ingredients and traditions, combined with foreign cooking influences.
What are the most popular Peruvian Dishes?
When it comes to Peruvian food, we are all well and truly spoilt for choice! There are, however, a number of widely consumed dishes which you'll find in almost any Peruvian's diet that can be considered the 'most-popular', including:
It's almost impossible to start a Peruvian food list without including Ceviche at the helm!
For those of you unaware, Ceviche is made up of diced raw fish that is 'cooked' in lime juice, and mixed with onions, chilli peppers and coriander. With a sharp and acidic flavour from the lime juice and heat from the chilli peppers, Peruvians usually consume their Ceviche with starchy sweet potato and corn to create a fine balance of flavours.
With over 3000 km (2000 miles) of Pacific Ocean coastline, Ceviche is Peru's golden jewel of the seafood world and makes up a big part of most Peruvians diet, with each individual having their own unique way of preparing it or personal favourite Cevicheria!
If you're interested in learning how to prepare Peruvian Ceviche, then make sure to check out our step-by-step YouTube video which shares the secret behind Peru's most beloved dish.
2. Aji de Gallina
Next up is Peru's answer to a classic Chicken Korma - the famous 'Aji de Gallina'. Made up of shredded chicken in a spicy, creamy yellow pepper sauce, this is a classic homemade dish that is eaten up and down the country, and is the favourite of many hungry tourists!
Don't let its bright yellow colour scare you off - that's just the 'Aji Amarillo', or Peruvian yellow chilli pepper - a native chilli used in many of Peru's most popular dishes.
This dish is the ultimate Peruvian comfort food, and as with many dishes in Peru, they like to overload on carbohydrates and almost always serve the Aji de Gallina with rice and boiled potatoes.
Check out our awesome Aji de Gallina recipe here.
3. Lomo Saltado
Translating as 'Jumping Beef', this dish doesn't sound as exciting in English, but it's very much something that you don't want to miss!
Tender strips of beef steak are marinaded in soy sauce along with other herbs and spices, before being fried in a Wok with onions, tomatoes and french fries for a delicious, smoky finish.
This beef stir-fry gets its influence from the Chinese immigrants that moved to Peru in the 19th century, and who utilised the local ingredients to create their own style of fusion cooking named 'Chifa'. Lomo Saltado is one of the most popular Chifa dishes and can be found in any Peruvian restaurant across the world, and we'll teach you everything you need to know to prepare this amazing dish.
If you're looking to sample some of Peru's famous street food then look no further than the famous 'Anticuchos'.
With roots tracing back to pre-Columbian times, Anticuchos are grilled skewers of marinated meat, usually beef heart, that are served with boiled potatoes and a spicy sauce.
It's a dish that you'll normally only find during the evening when big cities such as Lima really come to life. Whilst the idea of beef heart may put off a few people, it's loved by many and still holds a special place in the heart (no pun intended!) for many Peruvians!
Check out how to prepare Anticuchos in your own kitchen here.
5. Papa a la Huancaína
Originally hailing from the highland city of Huancayo, Papa a la Huancaína is a dish comprising of sliced potatoes covered in a smooth, velvety creamy cheese sauce called 'Salsa Huancaína' before being topped off with a boiled egg.
As with Aji de Gallina, this is another recipe that utilises the highly popular, Aji Amarillo chilli pepper, which gives this dish a little bit of heat.
Served cold, this is a very popular starter option in Peru that is eaten throughout Peru and we teach you how to make Papa a la Huancaina here.
6. Arroz con Pollo
Translating as 'Rice and Chicken', this dish is another classic of Peruvian cuisine. Blending together coriander, garlic, aji amarillo, chicken stock and other herbs and spices, rice and chicken drumsticks are slowly cooked in all these delicious juices until soft and tender.
This dish may sound simple but it's packed with flavour and is another firm favourite!
Check out how to prepare Peruvian Arroz con Pollo.
What other Peruvian recipes are there?
As previously mentioned, Peru is home to thousands of different recipes and therefore it's impossible to name them all here. You can find many classics such as Causa to Picarones on the Cecilia Tupac Peruvian recipe channel.
Looking for a specific Peruvian recipe? Simply go to YouTube and search for your favourite Peruvian dish and the chances are that we've already done it!
Why is Peruvian Food becoming so popular?
Up until a few years ago, you'd be forgiven for never having heard anything about Ceviche or any Peruvian dishes for that matter. As visitor numbers to Peru continue to grow each year, many people are falling in love with the unique flavours that Peruvian cuisine has to offer.
With many of the best restaurants in the world now located in Peru, the country is notoriously becoming known as one of the top food tourist destinations, and this trend is likely to grow more over time.
Bringing Peruvian Food to your doorstep
If you're based in the UK and are looking to sample the authentic flavours of Peru, without the hassle of cooking, then you're in luck!
We prepare and deliver Peruvian delights such as Tamales, Alfajores and Turrones and deliver them to anywhere in the UK. You can order these from the Cecilia Tupac shop.
Alternatively, if you're a big fan of Empanadas then you'll love our new website 'Empanada Express' - a UK nationwide Empanada deliver service offering 12 delicious Empanada flavours.
In 2023, we also hosted 3 Peruvian Events where we offered traditional homemade Peruvian food that people could sample. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram so that you don't miss the next event!
Find a Peruvian Restaurant Near You
If you've on the hunt for a local Peruvian restaurant, then make sure to head to Google maps and search for 'Peruvian Restaurants Near Me' and see what shows up.
If you've ever in the UK, make sure to send us a message and we'll be happy to point out some of the best Peruvian restaurants in this country.