12 Traditional Peruvian Dishes You Have to Try in Lima
Peruvian cuisine is rich in diverse flavors and textures, from the popular ceviche to more traditional dishes like aji de gallina. Whether you’re looking for something light or hearty, there’s something for everyone on this list of 12 Traditional Peruvian Dishes You Have to Try in Lima.
About Peruvian Cuisine
Peruvian cuisine is known for its diversity and complexity. Dishes are made with influences from the country’s ancient civilizations, including coastal fishing cultures that predate the Inca Empire like Wayúu and Moche, as well as pre-Incan Andean civilizations such as Chavín de Huántar. The ingredients of a dish can correspond to different parts of Peru’s geography: tropical fruits come into season in areas closer to the equator; high mountains make unique contributions at elevations above 2000 meters (6500 feet).
The dishes found here show how Peruvians often combine elements from all over this huge country – many times these combinations are very sophisticated and complex. As an example, take ceviche, a seafood dish made with lime juice (fresh from the country’s coasts), red onions and tomatoes. But not only that; potatoes are also chopped into it to make the texture richer – this is something you would find in coastal fishing cultures like Wayúu of La Guajira or Moche of Lambayeque.
All these dishes have their own story behind them, they represent different parts of Peru’s geography while still retaining their unique flavor. In Lima, Peruvians love eating ceviche because we can go down by the sea anytime we want! But I recommend trying many other wonderful dishes as well!
The first dish on our list is a traditional Peruvian seafood ceviche. Ceviche consists of raw fish that has been “cooked” in an acidic mixture consisting typically lime juice, lemon or vinegar with salt and chili pepper. Ceviche can be found all over Latin America but it originated from Lima’s waters! The cold climate around the coastal region creates just the right environment for preserving fresh ingredients such as shrimp, octopus, squid and clams among others which are common to this dish. One bite into a perfectly prepared piece of ceviche will leave you feeling refreshed and satisfied!
Why do I love this dish? It’s delicious because of its refreshing flavor while still being complete protein packed with healthy fats coming from the fish.
It can be found all over Latin America but it is most popular in Peru!
One bite into a perfectly prepared piece of ceviche will leave you feeling refreshed and satisfied because of its refreshing flavor while still being complete protein packed with healthy fats coming from the fish.
2. Aji de Gallina
Aji de Gallina is a traditional Peruvian dish from the department of Ancash. It’s made with chicken, onions, peppers and roasted red pepper sauce. This dish has become popular because it encompasses all types of flavors; sweet, spicy and savory which are usually present in many other dishes in Peru. The hot sauce used for this dish is made with roasted red peppers.
Aji de Gallina translates to “chicken stew in the style of rooster.” The name comes from its similarity to a traditional Spanish dish, Ajiaco, which also has chicken and potatoes.
Although the ingredients for this dish may not be difficult to find, it can still be quite time consuming to make at home depending on how much work one would like to put into making their own food (chopping vegetables) or purchasing them already chopped up at a supermarket or groceria.
This dish is a favorite among many Peruvians and would be delicious at any meal of the day. One could always serve this with rice, potatoes or other vegetables to make it more filling.
3. Lomo Saltado
Lomo Saltado is one of the most popular dishes in Peru. It’s a stir-fry dish made with beef, onions, tomatoes and french fries. Lomo saltado has become so famous because it combines all the flavors that are common to Peruvian cuisine like potatoes (from Juliaca), an Amazonian pepper called Ají amarillo or “yellow chili” for its bright yellow color; Aji panca which also gives this dish some richness and flavor as well as sauce from Huancayo.
4. Alpaca Meat
Alpaca meat is a popular dish made from the indigenous camelid of Peru. Alpacas are originally domesticated animals that come in two varieties, Huacaya and Suri which differ only because Huacayas have thicker hair on their neck than suris do.
The alpaca has been an important part of this country’s culture since pre-Hispanic times; they were used as pack animals for carrying goods between different villages due to their ability to walk great distances without getting exhausted or thirsty. Today, the white fur once prized by Inca society can be sold at high prices and purchased by tourists who want to bring back something special from their visit here!
This delicate meat should not be overcooked so it maintains all the flavor it naturally has. If you’re sensitive to red meat, this might be a good choice for you because the alpaca is of a lighter color and has less fat than beef or pork.
The best way to prepare this dish would be by turning it into stews like cau-cau which are made with fresh vegetables such as potatoes, onions and peppers; served over rice with milk sauce on top (crema de leche). It can also be made into bistek en salsa verde where the meat is pan fried in olive oil before being served with various green sauces that include olives, parsley and chili pepper among others.
Alpaca meat is pricier than other meats but it’s worth the expense if you’re looking to indulge in an alternative protein.
5. Papas a la Huancaina
Papas a la Huancaina is another traditional Peruvian dish that’s made with potatoes, milk, eggs and cheese. It can be spicy or not depending on the peppers used in its preparation and how much of it you put into your recipe.
The name comes from one of Peru’s most popular sauces called “Huanchinac” which is also what gives this dish some of its flavor as well as color; the sauce includes ingredients like garlic, cumin seeds, onion powder and white vinegar among others. These components are mixed together to make a type of paste before being cooked for 30 minutes until all flavors have been combined adequately so they combine completely with each other to make an aromatic sauce (huancina).
Anticuchos is a dish made from grilled beef heart skewers. This popular street food can be found on many corners in Peru and while most are traditionally served with some type of green sauce, it also has different variations like anticuches con queso which have cheese as one of the ingredients or just simply be eaten alone without any kind last-minute additions to make them more flavorful.
The word “anticucho” comes from the Quechu language meaning “to eat little by little”. They’re fairly easy to make; they only require a few minutes marinating before being put onto the grill for about five minutes each side.
7. Cuy (Roast Guinea Pig)
Cuy or Guinea pigs are a popular dish in Peru for special occasions like weddings. They were originally domesticated by the Incas and used as an alternative to meat because of their ease to raise, ability to convert feed into body weight faster than other livestock animals and they reproduce more quickly.
The Cuy is one of the most traditional dishes here that was eaten before it became illegal in 1977 due to its high fat content; today we can enjoy this classic Peruvian dish once again!
It tastes best when prepared with potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and tomato sauce. It’s usually served whole after being baked on low heat until cooked inside out so you have crispy skin on top while also maintaining tenderness from within. The head and feet are usually cut off to make it easier for consumption.
While we can’t be too sure what the future has in store, one thing is certain and that’s the importance of being open-minded about trying new dishes when traveling because this world would be a boring place if there were no variety!
8. Rocoto Relleno
Rocoto Relleno is a dish that’s not only popular in Peru but it can also be found in other places like Ecuador, Colombia and Chile. There are many variations to this recipe which include filling the rocotos with cheese or meat; sometimes they’re stuffed with potatoes too!
The sauce for this dish typically includes ingredients such as garlic, onion powder, ground cumin seeds, white vinegar among others before being cooked for about 30 minutes until all flavors have been mixed well enough so you get a rich consistency from them when combined together (huancina).
There has been some debate on whether these dishes should continue to be served because of their high fat content but if enjoyed once-in-a-while there shouldn’t be any cause for concern as long as it’s not on a regular basis.
Causa is a dish that consists of mashed potatoes mixed with cooked corn, avocado and mayonnaise. It’s usually served cold but you can also find hot variations like causa rellena which has a filling inside the potato shell like chicken or tuna before being topped with cheese, boiled egg slices and tomato on top.
This dish is one of Peru’s most popular ones and it was actually created by accident when an employee at El Bolivarcón restaurant in Lima accidentally dropped some mashed potatoes onto the grill instead of putting them into her soup pot as she had been instructed to do earlier that day. When they were done cooking they looked so appetizing everyone wanted to taste this new creation!
The owner then decided to put them on the menu and it’s been a national dish ever since!
10. Arroz con Pato
Arroz con Pato is a traditional Peruvian dish that’s made using rice and duck meat. It was created by the indigenous people of Peru but it has spread to other countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Chile where they’ve come up with their own variations as well!
This dish is a fairly simple one that doesn’t require too many ingredients. It’s often cooked in the Andean region of Peru and it includes rice, garlic sautéed with onions and then mixed together before adding water while slowly cooking until all liquid has been absorbed by the rice (about 20-25 minutes).
The duck is usually cut into small pieces or shredded before being added to this mix along with salt, pepper, cumin powder, vegetable oil and some chopped tomatoes for extra flavor. The best way to prepare this dish is over medium heat so you get crispy skin on top!
11. Caldo de Gallina
The next dish on our list is a Peruvian chicken soup that’s fairly simple to make. This traditional recipe consists of ingredients like onions, garlic, bay leaves and cumin before adding water; it then needs at least 30 minutes to cook in order for all the flavors to be well-mixed together!
Caldo de Gallina has been around for quite some time as this type of broth was traditionally made with leftover poultry from previous meals which would provide plenty of nutrients while also saving money because you weren’t having to buy more meat just for one meal.
It can taste better if served alongside rice or noodles but there are other variations where potatoes or squash is used instead (depending on what’s available). What we love about this dish is that it’s filling but also doesn’t leave you feeling heavy or sluggish afterwards.
12. Leche de Tigre
The last dish on this list is a Peruvian seafood soup that’s made with fresh ingredients. It includes fish, onion, garlic and cilantro before adding water; it then needs at least 30 minutes to cook in order for all the flavors to be well-mixed together!
Leche de Tigre means “tiger’s milk” which refers back to when indigenous people hunted tigers (which were considered sacred) as they believed drinking their blood would give them strength and vigor.
This popular dish has its origins from Peru but you can also find variations of Leche de Tigre served throughout other countries like Ecuador or Colombia. There are many different versions depending on what type of seafood is available so some include shrimp while others use only squid or octopus.
Excited to try authentic Peruvian dishes?
Peruvian cuisine is rich with foods that have been around for centuries due to a strong indigenous influence which makes it unique from other countries’ cuisines!
You can find most Peruvian dishes being served in Lima, Peru’s capital city and they’re usually affordable or inexpensive – making this country perfect if you want to try many new dishes without breaking the bank.