Peru Homemade: Ají de Gallina

Although going out and experiencing new restaurants in Lima has been extraordinary, there is something to be said about a good old fashion homemade meal. We’ve been blessed with the option if we ever we are in need of food we are always welcome to take a 15 minute walk over to bae’s aunts’ house and we will be met with food abundant. One such day we walked over to have a family lunch and I was introduced to one of Peru’s classic meals, Ají de Gallina.

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Now if you aren’t aware of this already, one of the main attractions in Peru is the gastronomy. It has 2 restaurants in the top 10 of the world’s best restaurants. (click here for the full list. We had the opportunity to go to one that I’ll talk about next post) It’s the main reason I started this blog in the first place, I knew I was in for a treat while I was here. What I didn’t expect was for bae’s family to have one of the best chefs I’ve ever met working for them who was going to make me amazing food on a weekly basis. ( #blessed ) Isabel is a force in the kitchen and after tasting her Ají de Gallina I knew I had found my sensei for studying Peruvian cuisine.

The simplest way to describe Ají de Gallina, besides calling it perfection, is to say it’s shredded chicken (like pulled pork) that is mixed in a creamy ají amarillo sauce that’s been thickened with bread, evaporated milk, walnuts, and parmesan cheese. It is traditionally served with yellow potatoes (papas amarillas)  that are smothered in the chicken and ají sauce (as bae’s aunt told me you must completely cover the potatoes with the sauce, it’s imperative!), topped with a hard boiled egg and black olives, with a side of white rice (obvi!). So I asked Isabel to teach me her ways and I figured I would grace the rest of the world with pics of my kitchen adventure. One day we will have smell/taste-o-vision, but for now I hope these pics will suffice!

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Chef Isabel teaching us the proper ají peel

 

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Click here to look at all pics

This is seriously one of the best meals I’ve had in my entire life! The sauce is so flavorful and the shredded chicken makes the perfect match. I can’t wait to bring this recipe back to the city, it will definitely be a new staple!

Isabel you are my hero and this post is dedicated to you and all that you’ve done for us! <3<3<3

Thanks for reading!

Xoxo,
ItsSajdaa

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Cusco, I Love You

I have to repeat myself here and say I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place as magical as Cusco. You are in a bustling little city while surrounded by lush mountains everywhere you look. It’s breath taking. They almost look like someone threw a green velvet blanket over them, they’re picture perfect.

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Although we were only there for a few days we definitely made the most of it!  Tours of ruins, alpaca textile factories, and you know a casual cleansing from a shaman.

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Click here for more pics

Other than the landscape I’ve was also captivated by some really incredible food during my stay in Cusco. Here are my favorite spots!

Cholos

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It’s a perfect little hidden beer garden! Definitely the type of place you could see opening up in Astoria. (Queens if you’re not familiar with NYC hoods)  A wonderful beer selection and dynamite drinking food.  This is a perfect place to just grab a beer and chill.

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Turkey sandwich and fries! OH yeahhhhh

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Classic cheeseburger and fries

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Anywhere cute pups will just come up to your table is a the place for me!

L’atelier

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This cute little gem may be a steep climb away, but it is well worth it. Little trinkets everywhere, gorgeous views, and a pot of Mate de Coca for something like 7 soles, I was sold!

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La Feria

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Located in the main plaza in Cusco center, this popular spot came as a recommendation that did not disappoint. The menu full of Peruvian classics, you can’t go wrong.

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Egg soufflé on top of thinly sliced potatoes in a cream sauce. Almost like a potato gratin. Yummo!

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Lomo Saltado  with a fried egg! Yass hunty!! The steak was so tender I could die!

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The pièce de résistance was my CHICHARRON BABY!!!! Who doesn’t want fried pork all day everyday? Well, I guess vegetarians and vegans, but they have kale so good for them.

Eusebi & Manolo Cafe

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This quaint little coffee shop was a life saver on Labor Day! Mama needs her cappuccino’s and bae needs his hierba luis tea! I spied on the couple next to us that had the waffles and DAMNN they looked good! I wish I snagged a pic, but that would have been awkward.
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La Bodega 138

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We hit this spot at just the right time, boy can it get crowded after 8pm! It’s because they have a brilliant drink selection and…IMG_5392.jpg

PIZZA!!!! So yes I already had pizza in Peru before this, but it was sad and disappointing, but this? This was perfection! And with a little Peruvian flare we got the pie with arugula, prosciutto and aguaymanto. Aguaymanto is known in the states as “goldenberry” or “Cape gooseberry”.   It’s like a sweet and tart cherry tomato. Here’s a closer look at this beaut of a pizza

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The atmosphere of this place is certainly why it’s also so popular, look at these poster they have up

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I mean really, these are literally my life mantras on the wall.

La Osteria

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This was also a wonderful hidden gem. A fusion of classic Peruvian flavors and Italian cuisine. Just really comforting pastas and wines.

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Your classic Bolognese with house-made pasta

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Bae’s favorite, Ossobuco with a pasta and pink sauce side. I’m not a hug fan of bone marrow, but I appreciate the artistry.

 

Cocoliso

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Now my blog may say coffee and fries, but as someone who has worked in many a tea shop, I am also a big fan of teas, especially chai and I was blown away by this place which is located in the same little nook as La Osteria.

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Like L’atelier there were trinkets and things, but what was brillant about this place was not only how tranquil and relaxing it was to just sit here and enjoy some tea, but also that the shop is both a cafe and a high end alpaca clothing boutique. The designs in the place were out of this world. It look a lot of effort to not buy anything. (Not for lack of need or desire, but for lack of space in the backpack I had brought with me) I could really see myself spending so many evenings and afternoons in this space. It was the most comforting moments of my entire time in Cusco.

 

I really do have a love affair with this city, and I could absolutely see myself spending a lot more time there, but for now Chao Cusco! It’s been real!

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Thanks for reading!

Xoxo,
ItsSajdaa

 

 

Chifa and Churros!

Although we can all enjoy the self -satisfaction that comes from eating a healthy diet high in leafy greens and nutrient rich veggies, life is about balance. And balance to me includes sitting on the couch eating a small (who am I lying to, I get a large)  General Tso’s Chicken with pork fried rice while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.  In honor of this I will be sharing with you my experiences with some of Peru’s classic cravings, Chifa and Churros!

Chifa

A quick history lesson just so we are all in the loop, Chifa is a Peruvian cuisine that is a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian flavors. This beautiful blend of food came to be due to the influx of Chinese immigrants into Peru during the late 19th century. With the ending of slavery in 1854 came a labor shortage and thus Chinese immigrants came to fill in the void.

For my first go around I of course went with some Chifa experts (My boyfriend and his best friend) to the wonderful Chifa Chung Yion-Union in Barranco.

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It was actually one of the most comforting experiences I’ve had so far. Just like your everyday NYC chinese food restaurants I walked in and was immediately hit with the fragrance of fried food and grease and instantly began salivating.

We decided to order some of the classics for my first go around. First up, wontons! Although in New York I would normally order cheese wontons the ones here are filled with chicken, but other than that the texture is very similar and was served with the usual sweet and sour sauce. Yummmmm!
You can also see in the pic below that I ate my Chifa the traditional way,
CON INCA KOLA!!!!!!!

 

Next up was of course Chaufa which comes from Cantonese and means “fried rice” We went for a veggie version, with mushrooms,  bean sprouts and green beans, but like all good fried rice it came with egg mixed in. A touch softer in texture than what I had come to expect from fried rice, but super flavorful! Also it made me realize, I should really add more bean sprouts to my diet.

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Our last course, since this place does serve family style, was Chicken Chi Jau Kay. It is a thick battered, flattened chicken breast, almost like Milanese, that is then smothered in a rich brown sauce. The batter although thick is simultaneously airy creating a wonderful crunch as you bite into it. From what I could research about the sauce I believe it is an oyster sauce base which gives it a super rich flavor.  This Chi Jau Kay was served with cashews, which isn’t traditional, but  I thought was a wonderful addition and giving another layer of texture, but also a nice almost buttery flavor to the dish.

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Chicken Chi Jau Kay

All inall it was a very successful Chifa experience, and although it is a Peruvian classic I felt right at home.

Churros

The complete history of Churros is still debatable, but it I believe in this case it is safe to say that they take their lead from their Spanish colonizers.  In case you aren’t familiar with this delightful snack. Churros are made from choux pastry dough and then fried to perfection. Now if you live in NYC you might get your churros from the lovely latin women who sell them in the 14th street subway station when you transfer from the L to the A,C,E, but here in Miraflores, I was taken to Manolo!

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Here’s what’s fun about the bae taking me there…we were not planning on getting churros! We were just innocent hungry bystanders and they’ve got their beautiful display of churros right up front for all to see, and what you expect me, a now food blogger, to just walk by? No, so we went in, and just like at Chifa Chung Yion there was something vaguely familiar to this place. We sat down at our round little table bathed in fluorescent light and I took a look at the menu and at the decor and it clicked, we were in Lima’s equivalent to an New York diner! Too many food options on the over glossy menu, super durable dishwear, and glass cases to showcase all their desserts and specialty food items, I was home! I was still in the mood for the classic however so we ordered the plain churros, just sugar on the outside, with the hot chocolate dipping sauce…WHAT!!!!!! If the latin women selling churros in the subway added that to the menu I think new yorkers would go insane. It would be the new version of the Turnstyle market. The churros were beautifully crisp on the outside, soft and airy on the inside and then dipped in a super thick hot chocolate. I was more than glad we stopped. IMG_4594

You can see bae’s hand in the picture wanting desperately for me to stop taking photos so he could eat 😛   Thankfully we are not staying too close to this place or all of my soles would be spent right here. Although there is a place in Barranco not to far where I think I can try churros filled with Manjarblanco…

That’s for another post!

Hope I didn’t make you too hungry with this one 🙂
Thanks for reading!

-ItsSajdaa

P.S. If you wanna read some more about Chifa and its history here are a few links!

Chimu Blog
Immigration Talk
The Culture Trip