Traditional Food in Peru

Traditional Food in Peru

Peru is a country of incredible contrasts. Landscapes range from the sprawling Amazon Rainforest and cavernous canyons, to the soaring Andes Mountains punctuated by ancient Incan citadels. Similarly striking juxtapositions can be found within Peru’s culinary culture. Traditional food in Peru features a balance between hot and cold, sour and starchy, bold and delicate. And with a wealth of influences also coming from other countries, Peruvian dishes stand out among the gastronomic crowd. In our humble opinion, getting stuck into a fresh plate of ceviche, while sipping on a tangy Pisco sour, is one of the best ways to experience this South American nation. After all, smell and taste are both essential parts of sensory memory; so, what better excuse to eat your way through Peru if not to make some lasting memories?

  1. Ceviche
  2. Causa
  3. Lomo saltado
  4. Aji de gallina
  5. Cuy chactado



Peru’s national dish and now a worldwide favourite, ceviche features minimal ingredients but is big on flavour. Fresh fish is marinated in lime juice, onion, salt and hot chillies (known as ají), and served alongside boiled corn (choclo) and sweet potatoes (camote). The name comes from the Indigenous Quechua word siwichi, meaning fresh fish, although other nations have since crafted their own variations on this zesty recipe. Ceviche also comes equipped with its own drink options; try the longstanding tradition of mixing the leftover marinade (salt, lime and chillis) with Pisco (Peruvian brandy) to make a salty shooter. Or if you’re in the mood for a soft drink, the juice left once you’ve finished eating your ceviche is called Leche de Tigre (tiger’s milk) and touted as a foolproof hangover cure.



A native Quechan dish that’s found all over Peru, causa literally translates to ‘the cause’. The story goes that following the war between Peru and Chile over 100 years ago, all that remained in the aftermath was the humble potato. Although this didn’t stop the Peruvian people from crafting a delicious dish that has stood the test of time. The soldiers’ wives mashed up meaty yellow potatoes and added oil, lime and ají, to create a cold potato salad. Today, this traditional food in Peru is served with layers of tuna, avocado and tomato in between the creamy mashed potato.


Lomo saltado

Peru’s take on Chinese stir-fry, lomo saltado features tender strips of beef marinated in soy sauce and stir-fried with onions, tomatoes, ají amarillo and various spices. The Chinese-inspired dish came about when woks arrived in Peru, brought by Chinese immigrants. Similar recipes have since stemmed from the flavourful stir-fry, such as tallarín saltado (noodle with lomo saltado). Carby accompaniments include French fries and fluffy white rice.


Aji de gallina

Traditional food in Peru borrows flavours from all over the globe, and aji de gallina is thought to originate from a European chicken dish made with Arab seasonings. Nowadays the dish is beloved by the people of Peru and combines shredded chicken, bread, pecans, onion, garlic and eggs (although every family has its own distinct recipe). The result is a wonderfully warming meal that is usually consumed as comfort food during the winter months.


Cuy chactado

One for the more adventurous foodies among us, cuy translates to guinea pig, while cuy chactada means fried guinea pig. You’ll want to skip this one if you’re a firm veggie, but there’s no denying that cuy chactado is one of the most well-known traditional foods in Peru. Traditional recipes suggest stuffing the animal with local herbs, before roasting it over an open wood fire and serving with potatoes. Ancient wisdoms purport that if you find a tiny fox-shaped bone in the guinea pig’s ears and drink it with chicha de jora (Peruvian corn beer), you’ll be blessed with psychic abilities.

Written by Luisa Watts