Chiri Uchu: Learn how to Cook the Iconic Dish of Corpus Christi
- Published on Sep 05, 2016 Culture
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Cusco cuisine, heir to a rich Andean tradition, owns a great variety of traditional dishes that are popular among the chicherías (chicha bars) and picanterías (restaurants specialized in spicy food) in the cosmopolitan city of Cusco.
The Chiri Uchu meaning cold chili or cold spicy in Quechua is the Cusco’s main traditional dish. This meal with origins in Inca and Colonial times combines ingredients from Peru’s coasts, highlands, and jungle, such as seaweed, fish roes, guinea pig, charqui (jerky), morcilla (blood sausage), potatoes, corn cakes, cheese and rocoto, and it is the most iconic dish of the Cusco cuisine.
The origin of Chiri Uchu
There are many stories about the origin of this dish which go back to the times of the Incas, explaining the reason behind each ingredient in this dish.
– It is believed that it has its origins from the Aynis (an Andean reciprocity work system among families) because, at the end of the day, each Ayllu (family community) shared the best production from their lands with other families and formed a mixture of food from Coast, Highlands, and Jungle to hold big feasts.
– In 1572, the chronicler, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, explained the duality ancient Peruvians applied to their meals, which was divided into “machos (male)” food that came from the soil, and the others classified as “chinas or hembras (female)”, ingredients that are used for this dish such as corn, guinea pig, chicken, seaweed, fish roes, among others.
– With the arrival of the Spaniards in Cusco, the cults and rites were replaced by religious traditions such as the Corpus Christi, which is a Catholic celebration that gathers patron saint and virgin images from all the churches. And the Chiri Uchu has also been part of this evolution, with a fusion of European and Andean traditions.
What do you need to cook a delicious Chiri Uchu?
- One 1.5 kg Chicken
- One Carrot
- 2 leeks
- Whole pepper and salt to taste
- ¼ cup of huacatay (black mint)
- 50 grams of cochayuyo (seaweed)
- 2 chorizos
- 100 grams of white cheese
- 1 rocoto sliced
- 3 eggs beaten
- 50 grams of corn flour
- 130 grams of mashed squash
- Salt, pepper and onion chopped to taste
Preparation of Chiri Uchu begins one day earlier. First, the guinea pig is baked, and then the poultry and beef jerky are boiled in a pot, then chopped into pieces and put in a bowl. The corn cake must be prepared on the day of serving.
Then, the pieces of cheese, morcilla, tullán (guinea pig’s boiled tripe), and rocoto thinly sliced are put in a bowl. Finally, all these are served in a dish to taste (it is recommended to try this dish cold).
Other ingredients regularly added to this dish are fried fish roes and Andean chulpe corn. You can add cheese and rocoto as decoration.
– This dish is commonly served in June during the Corpus Christi celebration as the ingredients thereof were offered as an oblation to god Inti on June 24 which explains the intake of it during this particular month.
– The Chiri Uchu represents the duality of the Inca World and, as it was offered to the sun, a being of heath, this dish must be eaten cold.
Sources: Chumbivilcas, a cooking recipe.