Peru’s Answer to Mexico’s Mole?


I am still stuck on the tastiness of the aji amarillo.  The dish I like the best made with this yellow pepper is Aji de Gallina.  I had the opportunity to sample this dish twice, once at Machu Picchu in Raleigh and again when my homestay “Mom” made it in Cusco.  Now, the time I tried it in Raliegh it was delish, however, no comparison to the scrumptiousness of the  Aji de Gallina I had in Cusco.  Nothing like homemade!

I found this great recipe below under South American Food at as well.  It reminds me of Mexican moles – with a pepper and nut base.  Maybe it is Peru’s answer to the moles of Mexico.  Which I am a fan of by the way – chocolate moles, red moles, green moles, black moles – but I digress, to the recipe!  I will give it a whirl this weekend,  I think.

Peruvian Spicy Creamed Chicken – Aji de Gallina

Aji de gallina is a delicious Peruvian classic – slightly spicy and bright yellow from the famous aji amarillo peppers, and rich from the unusual cream sauce made with ground walnuts. This dish is traditionally served over rice, with boiled yellow potatoes and black olives. You can buy frozen yellow aji peppers (they often look more orange than yellow) at Latin food markets. You can also find jarred aji amarillo paste, which works well too. If you can’t find aji amarillo peppers, then substitute another hot chile pepper and add a yellow bell pepper for color.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3-4 yellow aji peppers
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 slices white bread
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 yellow potatoes
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 10 black olives, halved


  1. Cook the yellow potatoes in salted water until tender when pierced with a fork. Let cool, peel, cut into quarters, and set aside.
  2. Place the bread in a small bowl and pour the evaporated milk over it to soak. Set aside.
  3. Place the chicken breasts in a pot with the chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is just barely cooked through.
  4. Set chicken aside to cool. Strain broth and reserve 2 cups.
  5. Remove stems and seeds from the peppers. In a blender, process peppers with the vegetable oil until smooth.
  6. Sauté the garlic and onions with the puréed peppers and oil, until the onions are soft and golden. Remove from heat and let cool.
  7. Shred the cooled chicken into bite-size pieces.
  8. In a blender or food processor, process the evaporated milk and bread mixture with the nuts and parmesean cheese until smooth. Add the cooked onion mixture and process briefly.
  9. Return onion mixture to pan, and add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved chicken stock. Bring to a low simmer, and stir in the chicken. Heat until warmed through, adding more chicken stock if sauce is too thick.
  10. Serve over rice, garnished with the yellow potatoes, slices of hard boiled egg, and black olives.

Serves 6.


“The Soul of Peruvian Cuisine”

Chile Capsicum frutescens                                                                                                                              

One of the Peruvian foods I found particularly tasty was the Aji Amarillo. In Spanish Aji means chile pepper, and of course, amarillo means yellow.  Aji Amarillo is a spicy yellow chile pepper that the magazine the Atlantic called “the soul of Peruvian cuisine.” I had the opportunity to sample this pepper is a couple of dishes both before I went to Peru at Machu Picchu in Raleigh, NC and while cavorting around Lima, Cusco, and Tambopata. The two dishes that are mostly commonly associated with the aji amarillo are Papa a la Huancaína and Aji de Gallina.

Below are some fabulous recipes for making the spicy pepper sauce that tops the Papa de la Huancaína, as well as the that recipe, I found in entry on South American Food at

Inti Foods                                                                                                                                                     

You can even buy the Huancaína sauce online.  I wonder if I can find it in a specialty store as well?  Hmmm… I will let you know if I find it.

Spicy Cheese Sauce – Salsa a la Huancaína

Huancaína (wan-kay-eena) sauce is typically served over cold sliced potatoes in the famous Peruvian dish Papas a la Huancaína. Made with aji amarillo peppers, it is a versatile sauce that goes with many flavors. Serve it as a dipping sauce for bite-size boiled potatoes or raw vegetables. You can adjust the spiciness by using fewer or more yellow chile peppers.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3-4 yellow aji amarillo chile peppers (frozen is fine), or 1/2 cup jarred aji amarillo paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 2 cups white farmer’s cheese (queso freso)
  • 4 saltine crackers
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Remove seeds from yellow chile peppers and chop into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Sauté onion, garlic, and chile peppers (or paste) in the oil until onion is softened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Place onion/chile mixture in a food processor or blender. Add evaporated milk and blend.
  4. Add cheese and crackers and blend until smooth. Sauce should be fairly thick. Thicken sauce with more saltines or thin sauce with milk if necessary.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Cómo Hacer Papa La Huancaína                                                                                                                             

Papa a la Huancaína – Potatoes in Spicy Cheese Sauce

Papa a la Huancaína is dish of sliced potatoes covered in a spicy cheese sauce that is typically served cold, as a first course or luncheon dish. It’s delicious made with yellow or white potatoes. If you prefer a spicier sauce, add an extra yellow chile pepper (aji amarillo).


  • 8 yellow or while potatoes
  • Huancaína sauce
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 8 large black olives, halved


  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling and add the potatoes.
  2. Boil potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Drain water from potatoes and let cool.
  4. Slice potatoes and arrange on top of the lettuce leaves.
  5. Pour huancaína sauce over potatoes, and garnish with slices of hard-boiled egg and black olive halves.

Serves 4 to 6.

Lomo Saltado – A Tasty Treat!

I am still obsessing over Peruvian Cuisine!  One of the dishes I enjoyed several times is called Lomo Saltado.  According to our guide in Lima, Luis, the name literally means to toss in the air.  It is beef with tomatoes and onions that is served over fried potatoes with a side of rice.  (Yes! A double starch!)

The first time I tried Lomo Saltado, was at a Peruvian restaurant we visited in NC, called Machu Picchu, as a preview to our trip during the spring.  The second time I tasted the dish was at a restaurant in Lima.  I enjoyed the dish both times.  However, the most tastiest version of the dish I had was when my Peruvian “Mom” made it for us at lunch during our home stay in Cusco.


Here is a recipe, courtesy of the food network,  for those of you who are adventurous enough to try it!



Cut the steak in long pieces 1/4 by 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Season the steak with salt, pepper and garlic, to taste.

In a deep-fryer or heavy-bottomed pot, heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the pot, to 350 degrees F. Add the fries and fry until golden. Remove them to paper towels to drain.

Add 1/8 cup of vegetable oil to a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the rib-eye. After the meat has browned add the onions and cook until they soften. Add the tomato, vinegar and the soy sauce. Pour in the beer and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. Remove the beef mixture to a serving plate and top with the fries. Garnish with parsley and serve with white rice

Is It Good To Eat?

I was on vacation last week.  (Sorry for neglecting my weekly post on all things Peru.)  I did not go anywhere, but instead had family visit me here at home.  I have to say that seeing your home from someone else’s perspective in interesting.  I take Eastern North Carolina for granted because I live here, but I had a chance to see it from a visitor’s perspective as well last week.

My brother, sister-in-law, and 13 month old niece spend the week with us.  They are foodies as well.  We spent a good portion of the week eating and drinking, as well as talking about eating and drinking.  Because “Baby D” is trying new foods each day, we began talking about what we would or wouldn’t eat.  It spurred a conversation on trying new foods.  I recounted by experience with cuy in Cusco, Peru.

Cuy were domesticated as far back as 2000 BC in the Andean region.  Cuy, or guinea pig, was considered the meat of the common folk during Incan times.  Today in rural areas of Peru cuy are still raised by families as a food and for ritual purposes.  In urban areas it is a traditional dish that is considered a delicacy.

On our visit to Ollantaytambo we visited the home of a local woman who had a slew of guinea pigs in her home.

She raised them for both as a food resource and for ritual purposes.

Al, our guide at Ollantaytambo, spoke briefly about one of these rituals.  Black guinea pigs are considered special.  They are used to cleanse people of illness and evil.  The animal is passed around the entire body of the affected person to absorb the illness or ill energy.  Once the transfer is made, the animal is sacrificed as a way to heal the individual.  Al, explained much more detail than I recount here, but alas this is all I can remember.


On our last night in Cusco, several of us went to the Plaza Grill in the Plaza de Armas to try some of the traditional cusine, including cuy.  The restaurant had both fried and baked cuy on its menu.  We opted for the baked cuy.  Sadly, I did not find it enjoyable.  However, I think it had more to do with the meat being over cooked than the fact it was guinea pig.  I would try it again if I had the opportunity.  We also tried some Alpaca (another domesticated animal that dates back to Inca times) chili and chicharrón.  Traditionally chicharrón is a dish made from fried pork rinds, but there are a variety of cuts of pork that are used which are meatier.  If you have never tried it, I suggest you do, MMMMM….YUMMO!

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& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

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New Bern, NC 28562
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