Without a doubt, Peruvian cuisine reflects the country’s multicultural history, a perfect blend of indigenous and immigrant cuisine from Europe, Asia, and West Africa.
As the gastronomic capital of South America, Lima offers visitors plenty of eateries where typical Peruvian food can be sampled. These are the best Peruvian dishes you should try, in no particular order.
For starters, this is probably the first food which comes to mind while talking about traditional Peruvian food. Made out of uncooked fish marinated in lemon juice and spiced with aji pepper and red onion, this classic Peruvian dish comes in a variety of versions. Because of Lima’s vicinity to the ocean, it is the best place to sample your first ceviche.
First popularized by the Chinese immigrants in Peru, lomo saltado comes with a hearty serving of stir fry beef, tomatoes, onions and peppers blended with soy sauce. Moreover, often served with white rice and French fries, this is one of the famous Peruvian dishes that is exemplary of the fusion cuisine of the country.
Cuy – or guinea pig – is a staple meat in the Andes, and cuy al horno is guinea pig baked on a spit with herbs. Try not to freak out at the sight of the baked critter served with all of its extremities intact. If you are not sure how to go about eating them, just dig in with your fingers. Here are other ways that cuy is prepared:
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Cúal de estos dos platos pedirías en Abancay? Este fue uno de los mejores restaurantes de este viaje. Cocina abierta, con leña, familia en la cocina (madre, hijo e hija) y harto pero harto sabor. #viajayprueba #abancay #perutravel #comidaperuana #cuy
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Typically associated with Arequipa, rocoto relleno is a kind of spicy red bell pepper stuffed with sautéed meat and vegetables and topped with cheese. However, although the baking somewhat reduces its thermonuclear properties, this fiery pepper is still extremely hot.
This Peruvian dish is made of shredded chicken with a creamy sauce of ground walnuts, cheese and yellow aji pepper, which gives it its typical, yellowish hue. Furthermore, the mild yet piquant dish is usually served with plain rice and potatoes as well as a purple olive and boiled eggs as a garnish.
Traditional anticuchos are made of beef heart – a practice dating back to the early colonial times when the Spanish conquistadores would take the choicest portion of the cow, leaving the organs for the slaves. Served almost everywhere in Peru, anticuchos come with skewers of cow’s heart marinated with vinegar and spices and cooked to medium-rare in a charcoal oven.
Arroz con pato, which literally translates to rice with duck, is a typical Spanish Criollo dish that will leave you asking for a second helping. This authentic Peruvian food option comes with rice cooked with herbs, beer and cilantro paste and served with a portion of roasted duck.
This version of roasted chicken is a popular Peruvian dish that can be found in almost all major cities around the world. The chicken is marinated with garlic, cumin, and red peppers and is typically served with French fries.
Following is causa, a kind of mashed potato dish that is served cold, generally as an appetizer. A perfect blend of potatoes, meat (chicken or fish), eggs, avocado, celery and olives, this famous Peruvian dish is sure to blow your taste buds.
No list of Peruvian dishes is complete without a mention of alfajor, a dessert consisting of a thin layer of sweet filling sandwiched between cookies. In Peru, that sweet filling is generally manjar blanco, or caramelized milk. Alfajores are often referred to as the cookies of Latin America.
Looking for restaurants in Peru where you can sample these Peruvian dishes? Check out our Restaurant Review page.
Cover photo: Marco Simola
This article has been revised and updated from its original publication on January 9, 2018.
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