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Cancacho: A Delicious Taste of Puno

Peruvian cuisine is continuously regarded as one of the top cuisines in the world. The culinary art from the highlands shows a variety of typical dishes, made with simple and natural ingredients. The Peruvian and European gastronomic fusion has grown richer over the years, empowering Puno’s regional food.

Cancacho is a traditional dish from the town of Ayaviri, the livestock capital of Puno. The name of this dish is translated to “roasted lamb”, as it is cooked in a wood-fired brick oven. Its main ingredients are male lamb meat, native potatoes, chili, and malt beer.

The history and origin of the Puno’s typical dish Cancacho

Cancacho’s main ingredient is lamb, but not just any lamb. The secret to this dish is that the lamb must be raised in a specific environment– the environment of Ayaviri. Ayaviri lambs are born and raised at 13,000 feet above sea level and are fed only ichu (Peruvian feather grass). These combined attributes give the Cancacho lambs a particularly unique and delicious taste.

Luckily for Peruvians and travelers alike, Puno is not the only place where you can try this dish. You can also taste Cancacho at the picanterías de Doña Julia (a chain of restaurants specializing in spicy food) all across Cusco and Arequipa, using the original recipe which includes lamb directly from the town of Ayaviri. Preparation of this delicacy is passed on from generation to generation and Ms. Julia Luna (Doña Julia) is well aware of it, keeping the preparation of this native dish alive.

Have you somehow got your hands on Ayaviri lamb and want to try out the Peruvian dish for yourself? See below for ingredients and instructions!


  • Male lamb from Ayaviri
  • Malt beer
  • Lemons
  • Dried red chili
  • Oregano
  • Salt, cumin and pepper to taste


Marinate the lamb the night before, soaking the meat in a bowl filled with a marinade of dried red chili, malt beer, cumin, and garlic; and leave to stand until all the seasoning mixes up with the meat. The next day, after having let the meat stand, oregano is added and the Cancacho is put into the oven. The lamb meat is cooked for approximately two hours to brown it out. Add boiled native potatoes and ají (chili sauce) to complete the mouthwatering Peruvian meal.

Buen Provecho!

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