Chicha Morado is a tangy, refreshing glass of awesome. It’s a Peruvian drink made from purple corn, simmered with apple, pineapple, dried fruit and spices and served cold. While researching a series for Food Republic (see Part 1 and Part 2), I ended up playing around with it a lot in the kitchen. Not to be confused with the fermented alcoholic corn drink Chicha, it’s made with dried purple corn from Peru. Chicha refers to corn in Peru, and Morado means purple, so it’s named for the corn from which it’s made. The corn usually comes dried in the States, whole on the cob, so dark purple that it’s almost black, and it’s the source of the gorgeous, deep plum color and slight acidity of the final brew. Perfect with Peruvian food, of course, it’s also great with barbecue, or any other time you might ordinarily have an iced tea. Pair with fried chicken for a hangover-free morning after.
Chicha Morado Recipe
Servings: 1½ quarts (about 6 Servings)
1 pound dried purple Peruvian corn*
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped
3 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
¼ cup palm sugar
¼ cup dried cherries
Water to cover
Sugar to taste
Cut the peel, top and bottom off the pineapple. Set aside the peel and discard the top. Quarter the peeled pineapple lengthwise. Trim the core from the flesh. Chop the flesh and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Put the pineapple peel and core in the bottom of a medium stock pot. Add the corn, 1 of the apples, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, palm sugar and dried cherries. Cover with enough cold water from the tap to just cover the solids. Bring to a boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. The color from the corn will leach into the liquid and stain the apples and pineapple peel. This is normal. The finished liquid will be a beautiful, deep purple, a bit like red wine.
Turn off the heat, uncover the pot and allow the mixture to cool. Strain the mixture, reserving the cinnamon sticks to serve—they unfurl a bit as they cook and serve nicely as a garnish for the finished glasses of Chicha Morado. Thinly slice the lemon. Taste the strained corn liquid and add sugar if desired. This is rather like iced tea—how sweet you like it depends entirely on your palate.
Garnish your serving glasses with a slice of lemon each, and put the rest of the slices in a jug. Add a couple of cubes of ice to each serving glass. Add some ice, half the pineapple, and the remaining apple to the jug, and then pour the strained liquid into the jug. Pour some of the finished Chicha Morado into the glasses. You can fish out some pieces of fruit for each glass, if you like—they’re the best bit!
*For purple corn, try your local Latin American market, or order online from Latin Merchant or La Tienda. If you live in the Washington, DC area, Las Americas International Market in Rockville, MD usually stocks the whole, dried cobs of purple corn, as well as an instant version of Chicha Morado:
Want to try another Peruvian recipe? Click here for a Caramel Sandwich Cookies.