A culinary trip through Peru (…alpaca my bags!)
Inspired by the return of some close friends after 8 months travelling the globe, my latest recipe takes us to the culturally rich continent of South America.
With its diverse cultural history in immigration and extreme geography and biodiversity, Peru offers one of the world’s most interesting and complex cuisines. Encapsulating flavours and ingredients from all corners of the world, peruvian cuisine could be described as a hybrid of european, west african and asian cooking.
Helped, yet sometimes hindered, by its geological and economical environment, Peru has developed its own culinary status, using available ingredients in replacement of their traditional counterparts. Developing a cuisine that is also rich in nutrition has been vital for rural communities fending for themselves in the wide expanses of mountains, desert and rainforest. Therefore, ingredients such as grains and legumes are common place in peruvian kitchens, packed full of vital nutrients and sustenance.
Quinoa – a ancient grain that has seen recent exposure in the super-foods world – is a staple grain of Peruvian cuisine, packed with protein and essential amino acids. Originating from the Peruvian Andes, this super-grain has achieved international status in recent years and in turn has brought Peruvian cooking to culinary stage.
As a particular fan of fusion cooking, Peruvian is an exciting cuisine to model. Taking inspiration from four staple peruvian ingredients; quinoa, sweet potato, kidney beans (common beans) and tomato, I have a created a warming, wholesome and healthy soup bursting with flavour and nutrients.
My Peruvian inspired quinoa soup is completed with the addition of pulled lamb and smoked paprika, more recent additions to this South American diet. Chicken, pork and beef have long been staple ingredients since spanish settlement, however, the use of lamb has recently become common place, as a more conventional alternative to the native alpaca meat. This soup recipe is the perfect use for your sunday roast left-overs, working perfectly with pulled meat; from chicken, pork or beef joints as well as lamb.
With mixed spice and garam masala to add comforting aromas from Asia, this recipe covers all migrational cuisines that have influenced this country’s food.
- 100g dried quinoa
- 300g sweet potato
- 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
- 1 red onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 350g passata
- 1 1/2 – 2 pinta vegetable stock
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp garam masala
- salt and pepper
- 1 tin of kidney beans
- Pulled lamb, pork, beef or chicken
- Place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly with cold water – leave aside to completely drain. Meanwhile, peel and cut the sweet potato into small chunks and place in a pan of salted water. Cook for 10 minutes until the potato is al dente and still holding form, then drain.
- In a large pan, lightly fry the roughly chopped onions in a splash of rapeseed oil. Add the garlic once the onions have softened, along with the paprika. Allow to cook for a minute keeping the onions and garlic on the move. Add the washed quinoa and cooked potato to the pan and stir through the paprika, onion and garlic for a minute.
- Add the passata, followed by the stock, mixed spice, garam masala, and salt and pepper. Stir through the pulled meat (reserving a little for the topping) along with the kidney beans. Simmer on a medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the quinoa has cooked.
- Whilst the soup is simmering, heat a tbsp of oil in a frying pan. Once hot, add the reserved pulled meat to the pan and fry until crispy. Remove from the pan and place on some kitchen roll to absorb the excess oil. Set aside for serving.
- To serve, generously spoon the soup into a large mug or bowl. Top with a dollop of sour cream and crispy pulled meat. Finish with a sprinkling of finely chopped coriander and enjoy with toasted pitta or flatbread.