Purple Peruvian Goo — Mazamorra Morada

22 Jun

A while ago, it was requested that I include more vegetarian recipes here on my blog.  My best intentions to the contrary, I have utterly failed to do so.  (I suppose it’s easy enough to make my Chicago-style pizza vegetarian; just leave off the sausage.)  That request has caused me to realize just how central meat is to my cooking—at least to the cooking that I’m excited enough to write about.  Regardless of the meal or course, meat seems to factor into my recipes fairly frequently.

There is one course though into which you’d really really have to try to incorporate meat.  That course is dessert.  So, that is what I will write about today: dessert.

IMG_0372

This is not just any dessert mind you, this is a Peruvian dessert.  At Tania’s urging, we’ve been doing a fair bit of Peruvian cooking.  And this time, we made a dish called mazamorra morada.  Mazamorra is…well, it’s a purple goo.  With fruit in it.  It’s a purple goo with fruit in it.  I can’t really think of how better to describe it.  It’s kind of like a pudding I guess, and kinda sorta like Jello—but not really.  (Incidentally, they really like Jello in Peru.  Maybe sometime I’ll get around to writing about torta helada, or Jello cake.)

Lots of purple corn, plus fruit rinds and spices.

Lots of purple corn, plus fruit rinds and spices.

Once everything is in the pot, just cover it all with water.

Once everything is in the pot, just cover it all with water.

Mazamorra morada is purple because the primary ingredient is purple corn.  The process by which mazamorra is made is actually relatively simple.  You fill a big pot with lots of purple corn, a bunch of fruit rinds and spices, cover it with water, and boil it for a while.  Then you strain it a bunch of times, add more fruit, a ton of cornstarch, and eventually when it’s nice and thick, you let it cool.  Easy right?

Everything turns REALLY PURPLE not too long after the boiling starts.

Everything turns REALLY PURPLE not too long after the boiling starts.

Well…there is one complicating factor: Tania happens to be obsessed with mazamorra morada.  I was first introduced to the dish when Tania and I traveled to Peru last year.  The version I tried was made by the mother of Tania’s friend Vicki, who Tania proclaimed, made the best mazamorra morada in all of Peru. (A distant, distant, second is apparently the version made by an old woman who sits outside of a sketchy bus station in a not so great part of Lima. I didn’t insist on trying that one so that we could compare.)

So, you can imagine that the pressure was on when Tania proclaimed that she wanted to make mazamorra morada here at home.  I am in no way Peruvian.  Up until this past year, I had had no experience cooking Peruvian food.  And so, not only was I being asked to cook what is probably Tania’s favorite Peruvian food, the baseline against which it would be compared was going to be the best version of that favorite food in all of Peru.

Oh.  And she was going to serve it as a dinner party.

First things first, I had to get purple corn.  Now purple corn isn’t something you can walk into and buy at your average grocery store.  Not even at Whole Foods.  I ended up obtaining my via the internet, from a place called Amigo Foods.  Other places I’ve seen it locally though are: Saraga International Grocery, Los Galapagos, and Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati.

Corn in hand, the rest of the process was easy.  Or relatively so.  The recipe I had comes from the Art of Peruvian Cuisine, a book I’ve written about before.  Unfortunately, that recipe called for a bunch of other fruits that I didn’t have on hand.  Tania declared however that she didn’t care which fruit was in the mazamorra, just as long as it had lots and lots and lots of it.

So here’s the recipe.  If I made a fruit substitution, I’ve included in bold which fruits I actually used. No bold means I just used what’s called for.

Mazamorra Morada

1 large quince (substituted 1 apple)

1 small pineapple

1 large apple

1 stick cinnamon

3 cloves

2 lbs ears of purple corn

1 3/4 (50 g) dried apricots

1 3/4 (50 g) plums or apricots (substituted more dried prunes)

1 3/4 (50 g) prunes

1 3/4 (50 g) sun dried peaches (substituted more dried apricots)

1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar

3 1/2 oz (100g) cornstarch

Ground cinnamon

Juice from two key limes

Letting the dried fruit soak.  I ended up doubling the dried fruit and using less fresh.  It worked, but I'd probably stick closer to the recipe next time.

Letting the dried fruit soak. I ended up doubling the dried fruit and using less fresh. It worked, but I’d probably stick closer to the recipe next time.

1. Soak the dried fruit overnight.  (I soaked in boiling water for about an hour instead.) Peel the quince, pineapple, and apple.

2. Place purple corn, fruit peels, cinnamon, and cloves in a large pot.  Cover with about 3 liters of water and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has taken on a deep purple color.  (The water turned purple awfully quickly, so I kept boiling for the full time.)

3. Strain liquid and put aside a small amount to cool.  Return the corn to the rest of the liquid and boil again for a few more minutes until the corn kernels start to burst open.  (My kernels never burst, so I eventually gave up on this step.  It turned out fine.)

4. Remove the corn and strain liquid again through a fine mesh sieve or muslin-lined strainer.

5. Dice the pineapple, apples, and quinces.  Add the soaked dry fruit to the purple corn liquid and then add sugar and the diced fresh fruit.  Bring the mixture back to a boil.

Fruit added, just returning to a boil.

Fruit added, just returning to a boil.

6. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch thoroughly in the previously reserved cold corn liquid.  Stir into the fruit mixture.  Lower the heat and cook, stirring with a metal spoon (Do not use wood, you’ll end up with a purple spoon!), until the mixture thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.  (Mine thickened much sooner than this, but I kept going for most of the time called for.)

7. Stir in the lime juice and remove from heat.  Pour into an 8×11 serving dish (I think a 9×13 would work better) or individual cups and let cool.  Serve dusted with cinnamon.

I definitely needed a bigger dish -- in the end, I ended up using two.

I definitely needed a bigger dish — in the end, I ended up using two.

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One Response to “Purple Peruvian Goo — Mazamorra Morada”

  1. Janean July 2, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    This dessert looks amazing, but I have to quarrel with your implicit assertion that desserts are the only vegetarian food worth cooking! Try harder!

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