October is known as the Purple Month in Peru, in honor of the Señor de los Milagros. To celebrate, I’ll be posting 3 recipes in the next 3 days: a drink, a dessert, and a cocktail — all with the same chicha morada base. What is chicha morada? It’s a purple corn elixir that dates back to the Incas, and which was enjoyed for social, spiritual, and medicinal purposes.
The inspiration to make a base that could be used in other recipes came from The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces, where he includes a base recipe to make a purple corn punch. Here, I use a few different ingredients for the base, and made enough for 3 other recipes. The key ingredient, however, is the same, dried purple corn. In San Francisco, I found Peruvian purple corn at Evergreen Market in The Mission district.
But wherever you are, I urge you to seek out the key ingredient for this elixir. Set a couple hours aside to prep and simmer the corn. Strain it, let it cool, and save the elixir in an airtight container, refrigerated. Because you never know when you’ll need some for social, spiritual, or medicinal purposes. And over the next 3 days, I’ll give you the right recipes for each occasion.
- 3 cups dried purple corn kernels
- 12 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- peel of 1 apple
- peel of 1 orange
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a nonreactive pot to make the base, cheesecloth for straining, and an airtight container for storing the elixir.
- Remove the dried purple corn kernels from the cobs by hand and measure 3 cups.
- Place all ingredients in a pot over high heat. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce to a simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.
- Strain the liquid into an open container and let cool.
- Store refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks or until ready to use.
Approximately 8 cups of elixir.
Since this is a base, it contains no sugar. Rather, sugar is added when making the drink, dessert, or cocktail. The elixir should have a deep purple color, and the corn kernels should have cracked open. If the liquid lacks color or the kernels haven’t cracked open, simmer for longer.