Chicha Morada

Chicha Morada

Chicha morada is a Peruvian beverage and a non-alcoholic take on the traditional saliva-fermented chicha.

The term ‘morada’ is taken from the type of maize used in this recipe – maiz morado or, in plain English, purple sweetcorn.

As part of our Home Ed project on the Inca Empire we decided to host an Incan Feast and chicha morada seemed like the perfect drink to make for it – sweet, alcohol-free and delicious either hot or cold.

Unfortunately, I was unable to source any fresh or dried maiz morado in the UK, but I was able to get hold of some authentic Peruvian purple corn flour. Having found a couple of recipes online that used the flour opposed to the whole cob or dried kernals, I decided the flour was better than nothing – and the idea of purple flour was in itself a novelty!

Whatever the form, I’m always happy to try out new ‘superfoods’ – a title this particular type of corn can lay claim to thanks to its colour; the anthocyanin that produces the colour also acts as a powerful antioxidant.

These are the ingredients you will need to make approximately 2 litres of chicha morada:

2 ltrs water

1 fresh pineapple diced or sliced OR 800g tinned pineapple chunks or slices in juice

2 green apples

3 cinnamon sticks

1 tbsp cloves

150g purple corn flour

6 tbsp honey

Juice of 5 limes

Put all the ingredients except for the flour, honey and lime into a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.

Chicha Morada

Next, add the flour – the mixture will immediately turn a deep, rich purple. Stir the mixture almost constantly as you bring this to the boil to prevent the flour sticking to the base of the pan and burning, and to get rid of any lumps.

Chicha Morada

Turn the heat down, cover the pan and leave it for an hour to simmer, stirring occasionally. If you want a thicker, smoothie-like drink, the apples can be mashed as they soften.

Once this hour is up, remove the heat and add the honey and lime juice. Stir well.

Find a suitable bowl or container to strain the mixture into. When I first started doing this I was aiming for a thin fluid and began by using muslin cloth to filter the mixture. However, this proved difficult and time-consuming, so I substituted the cloth for a basic strainer and accepted that the consistency would not be as expected.

Chicha Morada

The mixture may need a little teasing with a spoon to get it flowing through the strainer.

Finally, decant your drink into your vessel of choice – straight into a glass still warm for an immediate pick-me-up (this makes a perfect winter warmer), or into a sealable container where it can be cooled and left refrigerated for about a week.

Serve chilled with an extra squeeze of lime juice for a cool fruity refreshment.

Chicha Morada

This particular batch was a thick, smoothie-like drink and delicious both hot and cold. It initially reminded me of a spiced cider and the cinnamon and clove combination harkened to the treats of the Christmas season.

Whilst my attempt may not be a genuine chicha morada, the hallmark of this drink – its glorious purple colouring – was a delight to behold. I also wonder if the consistency makes this particular concoction less a chicha morada and more an ‘api’ or ‘Inca’s Dessert’ (a hot gruel of purple corn and fruit).

One day I hope to get a chance to try a ‘real’ chicha morada made with fresh maiz morada (anyone want to sponsor a trip to Peru?!), but the results of this first experience of something I call chicha morada were satisfying enough.

Quite apart from the taste sensation of this drink, we have enjoyed discovering and preparing new foodstuffs as a family and had the joy of sharing our learning journey with good friends through our Incan Feast.

Project Planning & The Organic Organisation of Home Education

The theme music plays, evoking memories of time spent in childhood reveries about mystery, exploration and other worlds. The Mysterious Cities of Gold, an adventure revolving around an orphaned boy and the search for Inca gold, was a favourite TV series of mine as a child, and famous cultures of old that built magnificent temples and tombs always held a fascination for me; a fascination which remains to this day.


And now it seems that, through his mutual love of a TV programme, FreeToBeP is becoming as captivated as I was about the journey to ancient civilisations in search of secret places and secret knowledge.

As a home educator who takes a semi-structured yet child-led approach to our family learning, I’ve jumped on this as an opportunity to begin our first proper ‘project’ as an HE family: The Incas.

We’re currently forming a plan of what we can do, things that will satisfy FreeToBeP’s visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning style. Even just doing preliminary online research for possible activities, we’re both taking in new concepts and learning new facts – we test the sound of new words on our tongues as we learn what quipus are and what chicha is; FreeToBeP giggles nervously as he ponders the fate that would befall our friends’ pet guinea pigs in Peru (guinea pigs being ‘cuy’, a favourite meat dish of the Inca empire); and I grin in anticipation of knowing I will soon be purchasing some purple flour.

The ruined Inca city Machu Picchu (Creative Commons image. Copyright: Peter van der Sluijs)
The ruined Inca city Machu Picchu (Creative Commons image. Copyright: Peter van der Sluijs)

The further we tread on our path of home education, the more I realise how compartmentalised conventional schooling is. Once upon a time I viewed my Year 5 project on the ancient Egyptians as ‘just’ history. In forming a plan for our own ‘history’ project, it quickly becomes apparent how holistic such projects actually are.

During our first day of brainstorming activities and points for discussion, our list of project components covers history, geography, cultural studies, geology, religion, cuisine, politics, archaeology, art, engineering, human biology, mythology, mathematics and literacy.

In successive posts I hope to share some of our activities with you, which will hopefully culminate not only in a child (and mother!) who can wax lyrical about the Inca empire but also in a whole project plan for others who wish to pursue the same subject.

FreeToBeP has already started constructing his Minecraft Inca city, complete with booby-trapped temple. For me, some background reading: free books available on Kindle – History of the Incas and (a novel) The Treasure of the Incas.

history of the incastreasure of the incas


How do you plan any family projects? Do you ditch a ‘plan’ and just let it flow? Any other fans of The Mysterious Cities of Gold out there? Let me know below 🙂