Chicha is a refreshing and nutritious drink that we love in Cuzco. It is a gentle drink with a low alcohol content that is made artisanally in Cuzco. There are different kinds of chichas, from the most known, chicha de jora, or fermented corn chicha, to an un-fermented chicha made from purple corn called chicha morada. Chicha is also made from other ingredients, such as kiwicha or as we shall describe today, chicha from quinoa. We call this white chicha or chicha blanca.
This white chicha is a drink made from quinoa, which is celebrating its United Nations recognized international year right now, along with some herbs to give it a depth of flavor. The chicha also rests, ferments lightly, in order to get the exact flavor.
The herbs have the potential to improve people’s health and they aid in producing good digestion after one drinks the chicha. At the same time they are aromatics that give a good scent to the chicha.
The herbs used to make the chicha are fennel, celery, chamomile, and lemon balm. If you wish to buy these herbs in Cuzco you only have to ask the herb seller in the market for herbs to make chicha and she will know immediately which ones you need.
There are different ways of making chicha blanca, but one of them is as follows.
- 5 liters of water
- ½ kilo ground quinoa
- 1/2 kilo sugar
- 3 rolls of cinnamon bark
- 5 cloves
- Combined herbs (fennel fronds, celery leaves, chamomile, and lemon balm)-1/2 kilo de Azúcar blanca
- Ground cinnamon to taste for sprinkiling on the glasses of chicha before serving.
Bring the quinoa, water, sugar to a boil and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes. About half way through the cooking strain the liquid and return it to the heat without the solids.
Once it has cooked remove it from the heat and place it in a ceramic jar, a raqi as we call them in Cuzco, add a glass of chicha de jora (fermented corn chicha) and let the liquid sit through the night. It will ferment lightly.
The next day stir the chicha vigorously to raise foam. It is now ready to serve. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on each glass of chicha as you serve it.
You can buy chicha blanca to drink and go in the various fairs throughout the city, as well as in the markets, and on many street corners. White chicha is often sold together with chicha morada, or purple chicha, to quench thirst. Fresh chicha is so refreshing it takes us like a cloud to the tops of the cool mountains. In Cuzco we love it.