What To Eat In Cusco?

Chicha de Jora

Known as aqha in Quechua, it is a Peruvian drink that was consumed by the Andean man since time immemorial and its main ingredient is fermented or germinated corn known as wiñapo. Its elaboration is still handmade nowadays and it can be found in picanterías and chicherías. Each region has a particular way of preparing chicha, depending on the ingredient used: carob in the north, quinoa, cañigua, molle, purple corn, oca and chuño in the highlands, or yucca in the jungle. Chicha is and was consumed for its nutritional and comforting value, but also for its religious function. At present, it fulfills a social function of integration and we find it in every ceremony of payment to the earth or tinka, which consists of spreading a little chicha de jora to the earth to thank the Apus and the Pachamama deities in the Andean world.


Festive dish and symbol of the richness of products in Cusco. The translation from Quechua tells us cold food or cold spicy, being a snack that contains corn tortilla, toasted white corn, fresh cheese, guinea pig, chicken, jerky, charqui, cochayuyo, serrano sausage, fish eggs and rocoto; all boiled except for the guinea pig that is baked. Its consumption is pre-Hispanic, and nowadays it is offered throughout the year in all the patron saint festivals of the traditional neighborhoods of Cusco. It is also found in the Corpus Christi, which is always Thursday and usually in June, the most important religious festival of Cusco that comes from the Tahuantinsuyo, when the various panacas gave procession to their tutelary mummies to which the Spaniards imposed the images of virgins and saints.

Timpu O Puchero

This stew is typical and festive for carnivals as well as for the days of compadres and comadres. It is a dish of various meats, fruits, vegetables and legumes of the region. A good piece of beef brisket, lamb’s head, bacon and other meats are boiled. When the boiling is ready, whole cabbage leaves, potatoes, chickpeas and rice, previously seasoned, are added. In a separate pot, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears and yuccas are boiled. The hearty broth left over from the preparation process is served separately, and is an expected companion throughout the year.


Another typical dish that represents festivity is baked pork or “lechón” (suckling pig), which can be found in patron saint festivities, markets, restaurants and street stalls. It is also served in the cargos, which are the brotherhoods of dancers and devotees who are in charge of the festivities and rituals of the saints. The piglet, which must be the tender pig that has stopped suckling, can be accompanied by moraya, tamales or bread. The piglets of Paucartambo and Huarocondo are very popular in the region because of the way they are prepared and the traditional way in which they are served.

Pepián De Cuy Y Cuy Al Horno

Guinea pig meat is highly healthy and was widely consumed in the Andes. The pepián consists of a stew of tender corn and guinea pig meat, seasoned with onion and chili. After peeling this American rodent in boiled water, the guinea pig is gutted and cut into four pieces that are sprinkled with corn flour to be fried in very hot oil. In another casserole a dressing of onion, golden garlic and red bell pepper is prepared. The guinea pigs are added to the dressing and peanuts are added. The dish is served with grained rice and boiled potatoes. For the baked guinea pig (totally clean), it is seasoned with different condiments and at the end it is placed inside an oven for its preparation. It can be accompanied with baked noodles, potatoes, Creole salad or fried yuquitas.