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Cusco Guide #4: 10 dishes you must try in Cusco

Peruvian cuisine, recognized for its variety, continues conquering the whole world. Gastronomic tourism in Peru is being awarded internationally for owning the most delicious food in the world, and Cusco is not the exception in this culinary variety.

Cusco’s cuisine stands out for the use of local protein-rich ingredients such as potatoes, corn, and quinoa. It also stands out for the different types of chilies and different types of meat such as guinea pig, alpaca, pork cracklings, mutton, among others. Besides, we can’t forget that seasoning is responsible for putting that special flavor to every Cusco’s dish.

Here, we will teach you about 10 of the most traditional dishes of this historical city:

  1. Chiri Uchu: It is the Cusco’s traditional dish and also considered as the main culinary art of Corpus Christi. Chiri Uchu means cold chili or cold spicy in Quechua. This food is a mixture between the coast, highland and jungle cuisine, having its origins in the time of the Incas in the Tahuantinsuyo. The ingredients used to prepare this are: roasted white corn, cheese, guinea pig, chicken, charqui (jerky), cecina, seaweed, fish roes and rocoto.
  2. Trucha Frita (Fried Trout): It is prepared with fish. It can be prepared either with river trout or sea trout. This food was served for the first time in 1927. This typical dish is made with fried fish, rice, cassava, and salsa criolla (onion based condiment) if you like. It is very easy to find in all restaurants in the Imperial city.
  3. Chairo: It is a delicious Andean soup which is a traditional dish in Cusco. Chairo is a name of Quechua and Aymara origins meaning “type of food”. It is a hearty soup that was made originally for farmers, who walked for hours to get to their workplaces; they needed a meal that would not spoil. For that reason, they used ingredients that would make it easy to prepare and would endure, such as potato starch, which is the main ingredient for its preparation, lamb, dried beef, sweet potato, peas, carrots, broad beans, spearmint, oregano, parsley, cumin, and salt.
  4. Quinoa Soup (Sopa de Quinua): There is a great variety of soups in Cusco. Many of them are made from wheat, quinoa, and/or squash. One of the most popular among tourists visiting the city of Cusco is quinoa soup, which is a very light and delicious soup, recommended for cold seasons. Moreover, quinoa is a type of food that has been growing in popularity around the world for its great contribution to nutrition.
  5. Roasted Guinea Pig (Cuy al Horno): It is one of the most emblematic dishes of the Peruvian highlands, especially in Cusco. The guinea pig is a very important ingredient for preparing this dish. First, it must be completely clean to put it into boiling water. Then it is seasoned with all spices and finally put it inside an oven to cook. This typical meal can be served with rice, potatoes, salad and fried cassava. You can also enjoy this dish with chicha morada (sweet beverage of purple corn) or chicha de jora (corn beer).
  6. Kapchi-style Mushrooms: Mushrooms were food highly respected by the Incas and even today they continue conquering the most demanding palates around the world. This dish is eaten during winter time to protect us from the cold of the mountains. It is a nutritious dish, considered a good choice for vegetarians. Its ingredients are mushrooms, broad beans, onions, dried red chili, potatoes, olive oil, milk, cheese and black mint.
  7. Cusco-style Pork Cracklings: It is one of the favorite dishes among tourists visiting Cusco. Pork is cooked in its own fat, which is the reason of its peculiar flavor. The dish is served with mote (hominy) and Salsa Criolla. It should be noted that sale of pork cracklings started in 1927 and 1928.
  8. Corn and Cheese: It is one of the easiest dishes to prepare in the city of Cusco. You can find the best corn in the Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado) located in Urubamba, which has an important historical value. This typical dish is one of the most important in the Peruvian cuisine and it is served as a starter. The flavor is a mixture between sweet (corn) and savory (cheese).
  9. Roast Pork: Unlike the pork cracklings, this dish is smaller. In Cusco, This is a traditional dish that is offered in all restaurants in the city. The preparation consists of seasoning the pork inside and outside with salt, pepper, cumin, crushed garlic, mustard, oregano, chichi de jora, fresh yellow chili (ají amarillo), ground  dried yellow chili (ají mirasol) and ground  sun-dried red chili (ají panca). Then leave it to stand for one night and on the following day put it inside the oven.
  10. Pig’s Feet Sauce (Zarza de patitas): It is an exquisite dish from the navel of the world. It can be easily found in Picanterías (restaurants specialized in spicy food) around Cusco. The main ingredient for its preparation is pig’s feet.  This dish also includes onions, garlic, bay leaf, papa canchán (a variety of potato), tomato, vegetable oil, parsley, spearmint, pepper and oregano to taste.

You must try all these delicious dishes in the mythical city of Cusco!

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