This weekend, Peru is celebrating 191 years as an indepent country. There will be parties and parades in every neighborhood of every city, and people will travel around the country to celebrate, the way only Latin Americans know how to celebrate. Restaurants all over the country expect millions of diners, eager to indulge in their favorite Peruvian dishes, and Peruvians living abroad will probably get together and make big, loud, music-filled banquets, with lots of Pisco Sours included, of course. It is for them that I want to share the recipe for our cherished mazamorra morada today, because what better way to celebrate Peru’s birthday, than with the most typical of our desserts?
If you’re reading this and you’re not Peruvian, and especially if you’re not a Spanish speaker, I know the name of this pudding sounds a bit complicated; even intimidating. But if you try it, you will find out that the actual dessert is much simpler than its name. It is made with the same water used for chicha morada (minus the sugar and lime juice), with the addition of dried fruits, sweet potato starch, and sugar. I love 2-in-1 recipes like this. You make a refreshing chicha morada one day, and the next you can use it to make a wonderful dessert!
Years ago, eating a mazamorra morada was a bit of a chore, because the dried fruit used always had seeds, and one had to keep discarding them with every bite. Nowadays, however, the fruit comes seeded… much better for everyone! I like to experiment and change things every now and then, so sometimes I add dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries to this homey dessert, instead of the usual prunes and guindas. Peruvian food purists would never forgive this sin, but I think it’s a great combination. Instead of pineapple, you can also add chopped peaches, for example -they are in season in a lot of countries-. Another thing that I do different is eating it cold from the fridge, as opposed to most Peruvians, who like to eat it warm, especially during cold winter evenings, and love to mix it with arroz con leche, a dessert that they call sol y sombra (“sun and shade”).
However you decide to make it and eat it, have a blast this weekend, and join us in the celebration. Happy birthday Peru!
* Tip: If you can’t find sweet potato starch, what we call harina de camote, substitute with potato starch, snow white in color and very silky to the touch . This is not the same as potato flour, so don´t be confused. Corn starch does not work either.
- 3 pounds ears maíz morado (purple corn)
- 3 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
- 1 Granny Smiths apple, peeled and cored
- 1 quince, peeled, cored and chopped
- 9 cups water
- ½ cup prunes
- ½ cup dried apricots
- ½ cup sweet potato starch (or potato starch)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 lime
- Ground cinnamon
- Break the dried corn in several pieces.
- Put in a heavy saucepan along with the cloves, cinnamon sticks, pineapple peels, apple and quince peels and cores, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and cook partially covered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until reduced to 6 cups.
- Strain, reserving the liquid. Discard the solids.
- In the same saucepan put the liquid, 2 cups chopped pineapple, chopped apple, prunes, apricots, and sugar. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes to soften the fruits.
- In a bowl, dissolve the potato starch in a little purple corn liquid or water, and add to the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook for 5 more minutes.
- Turn off the heat, and add the lime juice.
- Serve in ramekins or glasses, sprinkled with ground cinnamon