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Peruvian cuisine The next big thing

Peruvian cuisine is only just being discovered and appreciated by the rest of the world. With influences from Spanish, British and Asian cuisines the food of Peru is studded with gastronomical delights. Here are 8 must-tries from this wonderful cuisine.

Ceviche ( Pronounced se-vi-shay)

If Peru had a national dish it would be this. Thin slices of raw fish or other seafood marinated in citrus juice mainly lime and lemon, where the acid from the juice breaks down the fish.
Served cold, mixed along with aji peppers, sliced onions, cilantro and several other condiments, ceviche suits the hot summers in Peru perfectly!

Aji peppers

Aji peppers have a very important role in Peruvian food. This local favourite lends its bright colour and mild spicy kick to several recipes in all courses, except dessert, in a Peruvian meal.
With more than 300 varieties with different spice, colour and antioxidant content, they hold imperial status in Peruvian cuisine.

Cancha

These are roasted corn kernels of a type that not many other than Peruvians are familiar with. These replace peanuts in bars and restaurants across Peru. Sometimes tossed in a spice mix these are great to munch on between meals too.
It tastes like un-popped popcorn, only much softer and better.

Cuy / Alpaca

If you are the type who will jump at an opportunity to sample different meats – Peru is paradise for you. Cuy more commonly known as guinea pigs in the rest of the world are a favourite - often served roasted whole. Llamas and Alpaca (which are very similar to sheep) are other easily available hence preferred meat.
Chicken beef and lamb are also eaten amongst a variety of seafood. Pollo Ala Brasa (spicy roasted chicken) is one of the few classic Peruvian recipes found globally.

Quinoa

A couple of years ago what was an obscure Peruvian grain, is now recognized worldwide as a super food. In Peru, this grain like seed has been the main staple for centuries. Quinoa is used to make recipes right from a risotto to soups to desserts. It comes in a bevy of colours including black, red and white – all loaded with protiens, anti-oxidants and minerals.

Colourful corn and plenty of potatoes

If you like corn then Peru is like Disneyland for you, you not only get ample varieties of corn, you get them in an array different colours too, the more popular ones being purple and pink!
As for potatoes they are a staple in Peruvian food for centuries, probably because you can find almost 4000 varieties of them in Peru alone!

Lomo Saltado

This recipe is testimony to the Asian influence on Peruvian food. A stir fry that is essentially made with alpaca or beef and aji peppers, onions, tomatoes and potatoes mixed with a variety of sauces – this dish is spicy and packed with a punch. Served with steamed rice or quinoa!

Locuma

This fruit which is a native to the South American fruit looks much like the cross between a mango and an avocado, but tastes like butterscotch. With a pale green skin and bright yellow sticky pulp with a hazelnut sized seed in the center this fruits is a favourite with Peruvians.
They make puddings, sauces, pies and ice creams out of locuma. It is also available in neatly sealed packets on supermarket shelves, but doesn’t come close to the real thing.

While it is difficult to find these Peruvian classics in our country, you can easily replicate the dishes with similar ingredients. Here are a few options.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.