For thousands of years ancient cultures high in the Peruvian Andes produced a refreshing, fruity and healthy (at least if you go easy on the sugar) non-alcoholic drink called Chicha Morada that with the arrival of the Incas spread throughout the empire and later was refined with ingredients brought to the country by the conquering Spaniards.
Still super popular, especially with kids, and not less delicious today Chicha Morada is one of Peru’s signature beverages you shouldn’t miss.
Traditionally it is prepared by boiling Peruvian purple corn (maiz morado) with pieces of pineapple, quinces, cinnamon and cloves in water and then add lime juice and sugar to taste.
The result is a deep purple, refreshing drink with a pleasant fruity flavor and a homey touch of cinnamon and clove; something different, but something you never tasted before and so good.
And while today you can get Chicha Morada in Peru and abroad bottled or as drink powder – both mostly containing artificial flavors and coloring and lots of sugar, these are no comparison to the home-made original.
And preparing Chicha Morada at home is really super easy with our recipe below. Only small setback: you need of course purple corn, best fresh, frozen will do. You can get it at most Latin American food stores and even at online shops such as amazon.com.
Health benefits of Chicha Morada and purple corn
Ready-made Chicha Morada, which mainly consists of water, artificial flavors and coloring and lots of sugar, surely hasn’t got any health benefits. But when preparing it from scratch and either reducing the sugar content or using healthier sweetening options, you get all the goodies the purple corn, the fresh fruits and spices have to offer.
The Peruvian purple corn, the main ingredient of Chicha Morada, has one of the highest contents of anthocyanins, powerful pigments that give the kernels their color and have shown antioxidant properties.
Even though only proven in virto (there are no substantial clinical trials until now), the anthocyanins in purple corn improve blood circulation, lower the blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce cholesterol. They help fight diabetes and obesity.
Additionally, anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties, encourage connective tissue regeneration, promote collagen formation and decrease chances of developing serious eye diseases.
The other ingredients of Chicha Morada enhance and complement the effects of the purple corn with similar and related properties.