Food Culture, Recipes

To Get Cuzco’s Tastes You Need the Right Flavors

Cusco's Condiments Are the Secret of Their Food (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Gastronomy is evolving more every day. This is due to the work of our chefs who work to innovate new dishes and ways of cooking in our region. It is also due to the wondrous substances that the chefs add to each of their concoctions, called condimentos, herbs and spices. There are various kinds of seasonings, each with a different flavor and even a different color. These flavorings are necessary for any kitchen and every food preparation.

Huacatay Leaves and Slide Rocoto Ready to Make an Uchukuta (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Huacatay Leaves and Slices of Rocoto Ready to Make an Uchukuta (Walter Coraza Morveli)

Herbs and spices give additional flavor to food, beyond that produced by technique from the natural ingredients alone. They make a dish delicious and enticing. However, they do this without altering the nature flavors of the ingredients. The most commonly used seasonings in Cuzco are ground garlic, pepper, cumin, salt, vinegar yellow aji (hot pepper), red aji (similarly a hot pepper of a different color), huacatay (also known as black mint in English) and more.

Each dish has its preferred combination of seasonings. For example, to make a savory parrillada, a meat grill, you need red aji called panca, ground garlic, cumin, pepper, a bit of vinegar, and salt. All of these ingredients are blended together to make a sauce that is then used to flavor the meat. Once seasoned, the meat is ready for grilling.

A Stand of Condiments at Rosaspata Market (Walter Coraza Morveli)
A Stand of Condiments at Rosaspata Market (Walter Coraza Morveli)

On the other hand, if you wish to make a good lechon you need onion, red panca aji, yellow aji, cumin, pepper, ground garlic, salt and lime. For this preparation the onion is cut into medium sized pieces. The peppers, cumin, black pepper, and ground garlic are blended together and to that mixture you add salt. You mix it with the pieces of onion. Once this is ready you make small perforations in the pork and season it well with the sauce. Then you squeeze limejuice over the pork and leave it to sit all night long. It is now ready to take to the oven. This is how we season the meat to obtain he incredible flavor we associate with eating lechon, one of our great traditional preparations.

Each of the wonderful dishes that are made in our city go through a similar process of preparation where seasonings, a different set and different proportions for each dish. When they go to our tables, no matter the occasion, they bring us the delight and flavor that is typical of Cuzco.

Aji Amarillo, Garlic, Uchuckuta and More (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Yellow Aji, Red Aji, Garlic, Uchuckuta and More (Walter Coraza Morveli)
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