Pachamanca in Peru – Best of Peruvian cuisine!
Pachamanca has been an important dish in Peruvian culture since the time of the Inca Empire. It is generally beef, lamb, pork, alpaca, chicken, guinea pig, and marinated with herbs and spices. It includes potatoes, beans, cassava, plantain, corn, peppers, pineapples, cheese, and other local ingredients. All this is baked underground with the aid of hot stones.
What is the meaning of Pachmanca?
Pachamanca is a compound Quechua word; Pacha means “earth,” and Manka means “pot.” It’s an underground hot stone barbecue prepared by Andean people since the time of the Incas.
History of Pachamanca
Pachamanca is not just a dish; it’s a part of the Andean culture, a social ritual where the people can feast on vegetables and meats provided by mother earth. Pachamanca is Mother Earth, and pachamanca is the food that provides for Mother Earth.
In the Andes, cooking underground connects with nature; it’s a way to enjoy what nature provides to us. Pachamanca is only prepared for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, or important holidays. In 2003, it was declared a National Cultural Heritage.
The ingredients for Pachmanca will vary depending on the region where it’s prepared and the season.
Beef, lamb, alpaca, pork, chicken, duck, guinea pig, and even fish can be placed in the pachamanca.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, fava beans, cassava, fresh corn, corn, and chilies are included in the baking.
Bananas, plantains, and pineapples can be included.
- Herbs and spices:
Huacatay, red peppers, yellow peppers, cumin, garlic, salt, chicha, orange juice, and salt.
The meat must be well marinated with all herbs and spices; it’s better to season the meat the night before to get a good taste. Locals use fresh products from the area.
The preparation of the Pachmanaca has the following process: this recipe is from our trekking chef Rosa who worked leading our trekking team for years.
Step 1: Marination process
Chop the meat (chicken, pork, lamb, beef, etc.) in small sizes, about a kilo or two maximum each; the meat must be too thick to help infuse flavors to the meat. It is too thin to burn; 1 kilo or 2 with a minimum of 2 inches will cook perfectly.
Before marinating, pierce some holes in the meat with a fork to make it easier to absorb the sauce. You can also use a knife for beef and similar.
To prepare the sauce: Blend the Aji Panca, yellow chili, garlic, cumin, rosemary, and Huacatay, and add vinegar, black beer, soy sauce, lemon juice, orange juice, chica if possible, and salt.
Make sure you cover all parts of the meat and leave it sleeping in the sauce overnight.
Step 2: Make an earthenware oven.
Make a hole in the ground about 10 cm deep where you need to build an earthenware oven using stones; you need to wash the stones previously.
Place the big rocks on the bottom and the small ones on top. You need to build a half dome with a wide doorway from where you will set fire.
Step 3: Heating the stones
Once your stone is ready, place the wood carefully and light a fire; you must keep it on fire for about 1 hour until the stone and very hot. The inner part of the over must be white; this indicates that the stones are hot enough to cook the meat.
Step 4: Place the ingredients
Before setting off the fire, make sure you have all ingredients ready around the oven and ready to put, this way, we will not waste time, and the oven won’t get cold.
First, take a bowl with clean water, add salt, and with the help of herbs, sprinkle slowly to clean the hot stones while still on fire. This will add a salty taste to all our ingredients.
You can also sprinkle the salt in the potatoes and sweet while still wet and leave it to dry before placing them in the oven.
Step 4: Bury with herbs and soil.
Once you remove the fire, carefully destroy the dome, remove the hot stone with the help of thick gloves or tongs, and put it on a clean side.
At the base of the oven, place the potato first, only one layer, then another layer of hot stones, add another layer with meat, and always covers with stones; at the top layer, you can add beans, plantains, guinea pig, or anything that can cook easily.
Cover with herbs such as Muña or clean grass; you must cover all areas to avoid contact with soil.
On top of the herbs, you can cover them with a rug, local use clean plastic.
Once you make sure that there is no way soil enters the oven, cover everything with soil about 5 centimeters deep. You must make sure all areas are covered. Otherwise, the heat will escape. The cooking will take about 45 minutes.
Step 5: Time to eat
After 45 minutes or one hour, get your pans, bowl, and gloves to remove the hot stones and start removing carefully every layer.
There is nothing better than trying a piece of baked potato or meat right out of the oven, so have your hand clean and feel free to try first. It’s important to have all the tables set up ready, and as soon as you remove all the baking ingredients, you need to go to the table and eat when it is hot and tasty.
You can accompany with salads, sauces, vinaigrettes, wine, and Cerveza. We recommend having hot tea after meals to help with digestion.
Pachamanca a la Olla
Pachamanca ala olla means that the pachmanaca will be prepared in a pot. This style of preparation is popular in the cities where it’s not possible to build a stone oven and use a wood fire.
The ingredients are the same; the marination process is the same. To cook the Pachamanca ala Olla, you will need a big pot to place the following.
- Step 1: Places herbs at the button of the pot; this is enough to avoid contact with the ingredient with the water we will put in the bottom.
- Step 2: Put water in the pot; make sure it is not a lot, a maximum of 5 cm deep.
- Step 3: Place the ingredients layers; think meats first.
- Step 4: Start cooking with a slow fire; the pot must be very well covered, and the cooking process takes about 1 hour.
You can accompany it with salads, vinaigrettes, and wine.
Pachamanca in our Trekking Tours.
TreXperience is the only tour operator to Machu Picchu, including pachamanca in all our alternative tours with three days or more.
During Inca Trail tours:
Due to government restrictions, pachamanca in an earthenware oven is not possible during the Inca Trail Tours. However, some of our chefs might surprise you with a Pachamanca a la Olla.
During Alternative Treks:
Our trekking chefs will prepare pachamanca in all our Alternative Trekking tours for three days or more.