The other day I stumbled across some Peruvian purple corn in a local, ethnic market and had to share it with you guys. I nabbed a big stash of it, since it’s dried and will last for a minute in my pantry. Peruvian purple corn is a variety grown in the Andes and is used to make a popular drink called chicha morada and a dessert called mazamorra morada, both of which I had in Peru a few years back.
I’ll start with the fact that there are a bunch of studies that show that purple corn has incredible health benefits. Rich in antioxidants and with anti-inflammatory properties, it’s thought to treat everything from high blood pressure to obesity. Doesn’t it always seem like foods some cultures have been consuming for years for its health properties we are just discovering?
Now, mazamorra morada is a sweet corn pudding, thickened with potato or cornstarch and scented with spices like cinnamon and clove. But my favorite way to use this is chicha morada, which is a great warm or cold weather drink. It’s extremely easy to make, and you really don’t need much of a recipe. You basically want to steep the dried corn in water with a few sticks of cinnamon, some allspice berries, a few cloves, a bit of apple or quince, maybe some dried cherries, and pineapple rind. Let that simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, sweeten with sugar or honey, add a bit of (key) lime juice and that’s it!
It’s served cold, and in many places, chopped fruit is added at the end, much like sangria. A big secret is to let it stand in the fridge for a few days. That fermented taste is signature to a great chicha morada. Enjoy!