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Pachamanca, typical Peruvian dish

Gastronomy

Pachamanca is a typical Peruvian dish with ancestral cultural roots of the Andes. In 2003, it was declared a National Cultural Heritage. This famous dish has transcended history for its exquisite taste.

Additionally, Pachamanca was recognized and mentioned on important works of illustrious figures, such as Peruvian Ricardo Palma, Argentinian Santiago Estrada, and some other countries. Below, you will learn more about this delicious typical Peruvian dish.

Pachamanca

Pachamanca

Etymology:

The name of Pachamanca comes from two languages Quechua and Aymara:

Quechua: pacha means “earth”, and manca means “pot”; Therefore the meaning of this dish would be “the earthen cooking pot”.

Aymara: manca or mankha means “meal” and pacha “earth”. So we can say it means “earthen meal”.

Pachamanca, Typical Peruvian Andes Dish

Pachamanca is a dish with profound cultural significance for the peasant society of our country. How this dish is prepared is also amazing. The ingredients (Beef, pork, chicken, and guinea pig) are previously seasoned with some species like Chincho, huacatay, pepper, and some others. Then all ingredients are cooked or baked with the aid of hot stones in an earthen oven.

In addition, this dish includes a variety of Andes’ daily ingredients like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, field beans or cassava, and yuca. Pachamanca is not an everyday dish, but a ritual preparation and the origin of a monumental festivity that celebrates life.

At present many people cook this dish on a pot. It is called “Pachamanca a la olla”.

Origin:

In the Andes, the practice of cooking in the ground has a very long history. The remains of underground ovens up to seven or eight thousand years old have been found at archeological sites in the central Andes, and going back five thousand years on the coast. The archeological record shows similar early cooking techniques from around 7,500 BC Telarmachay, in the district of San Pedro de Cajas, in Junín, in Peru’s central mountains. 

Andean man used to cook food using stones buried under the ground. This process has been improved over the years. For example, the Incas are also known to have used this method of preparing food in another recipe called huatia. Today, Pachamanca is prepared for special occasions, and different regions have developed their own diverse recipes using different meats and ingredients.

For traditional Andean communities, Pachamanca is not just a recipe but a rite, one that expresses their deep reverence for the natural habitat on which they depend.

This special dish has received many references in the literature by important figures:

  • Tradiciones peruanas, written by Ricardo Palma
  • From Valparaiso to Oroya (1873), written by Argentinean Santiago Estrada
  • Diccionario de Peruanismos, 1883, by Juan  de Arona, among others.

According to the history, there may had been 100 varieties of Pachamanca, but nowadays, there are 40 varieties in all Peru.  We invite you to try this delicious dish once you have the opportunity.

Where can you eat Pachamanca?

Today, Pachamanca is prepared for special occasions, and different regions have developed their own diverse recipes using different meats and ingredients. However, all of them still use hot stones to cook, and the ingredients to season meat are almost the same. It also includes tubers such as potato, yuca, among others.

Pachamanca = Olla de tierra

Pachamanca = The earthen cooking pot

Preparation begins with digging a pit in the ground, maybe a couple of feet deep, and three or four feet wide. Inside the pit, large stones are placed upon a wood fire and heated until red hot. River stones such as schist are best for this, for their low sulfur content (sulfur could affect the flavor) the heating of stones over a fire. Once they are hot, the fire is put down and some stones are thrown into the pit. Then meat is placed on top. The rest of the ingredients are also put on the hot stones. After all ingredients are put, it is covered with grass and soil and left to cook slowly, from 40 minutes up to an hour-and-a-half.

Although waiting can seem boring, it is actually a festive part of the feast; it’s time to socialize, have a few drinks with family and friends, and feel your mouth water in anticipation.

At just the right moment, the lead cook orders the soil to come off, and the foods are carefully extracted and placed onto serving plates.

Now, let’s see the diverse recipes and ingredients of some regions of Peru!

Junin:

The ingredients are the following:

  • Meat: Guinea pig, alpaca, pork, lamb, and beef.
  • Vegetables and tubers: Potato, fava beans, corn, oca, and sweet potato.
  • Seasoning: Salt, hot pepper, paico, achiote, chincho.
  • Pre elaborated meals: Sweet and salt Humitas.
  • Sauce: hot pepper with cheese sauce (hapchi).
  • Fuel: eucalyptus wood or retama flower.

Ayacucho:

In beautiful land of Ayacucho, known for carnival celebrations, Pachamanca is prepared with the following ingredients.

  • Meat: Beef, pork, chicken.
  • Vegetables: Potato, fava beans, sweet potato, cilantro, parsley, huacatay, spinach.
  • Seasoning: Salt, garlic, pepper, cumin, yellow pepper, chincho, chicha de jora.
  • Pre elaborated meals: Humitas.
  • Sauce: hot pepper with cheese and huacatay sauce (hapchi).
  • Fuel: huarango or molle wood.

Huanuco:

This is one of the cities that promoted the independence of Peru at the beginning of XIX century. These are the ingredients to prepare Pachamanca:

  • Meat: Pork.
  • Vegetables: Potato, sweet potato, yucas, corn.
  • Seasoning: Chincho.
  • Sauce: hot pepper and onion.
  • Chicha de jora

La Libertad:

In the province of Huamachuco, Pachamanca stands out thanks to the delicious lamb, which is its main ingredient.

  • Meat: Lamb.
  • Vegetables: Bananas, potatoes.
  • Seasoning: Salt, garlic, pepper, chicha de jora.
  • Pre elaborated meals: Green Humitas.
  • Sauce: hot pepper with cheese and huacatay sauce (hapchi).
  • Fuel: carob wood.

Ancash:

The richest mango, aguaymanto, Hass avocado, passion fruit, quinoa, Region producer prepares Pachamanca with the following ingredients:

  • Meat: Guinea pig, pork, chicken, and beef.
  • Vegetables: Potato, fava beans, corn, oca, and sweet potato.
  • Seasoning: Garlic, green pepper, huacatay, chincho.
  • Pre elaborated meals: Humitas.
  • Beverages: Chicha de jora or beer.
  • Fuel: eucalyptus or molle wood.

Cusco:

The most beautiful city of the world, land of the Incas prepares Pachamanca a little different from the central highlands. In Cusco, people don’t dig a pit. They just prepare the earthen pot over the ground using stones, one over another. It looks like a wall with a small door to put the firewood. 

After some hours of cooking, you will be delighted with a mixture of delicious smell and flavors. This meal brings people together and ready to have fun eating the fruit of their hard work.

Here you have the link to see how Pachamanca is prepared in Cusco

Pachamanca cusqueña

Pachamanca in Cusco

  • Meat: Pork, lamb.
  • Vegetables: Potato, corn.
  • Seasoning: Salt, huacatay, chincho.
  • Pre elaborated meals: Humitas..

Video of Pachamanca: 

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