By no means a complete guide to Peruvian food terms that you’ll encounter in restaurants throughout Peru, this handy guide does contain many of the common terms. This list will be updates as my vocabulary increases.
The anticucheria is where you go for anticuchos in Peru. See the definition of anticuchos below.
Peru’s most famous street food is the anticucho, a skewer with chunks of meat that’s marinated in an ají sauce.
Cow heart on a skewer is Anticuchos de corazon, and it can be found in any antichucheria. Platters of anticuchos are usually served with a boiled and peeled potato that is sometimes fried in the beef fat on the grill. Yum.
Caldo – A water-based soup with large chunks of vegetables, rice, and a meat. Caldo de pollo is similar to a chicken noodle soup (served with rice instead of noodles).
You will usually find canchu chullpi served with ceviche, these small crunchy corn kernels looks like corn nuts, and are usually added to a ceviche and/or the accompanying broth.
Cebiche – Another spelling of Ceviche (see below for definition).
Ceviche – A Peruvian dish of fish that uses citrus juices to ‘cook’ raw fish. Typical servings of Peruvian ceviche include red onion, kelp seaweed, canchu chullpi (see above for definition), red peppers, and lime juice.
Very similar to Chinese fried rice. You may find it with added chorizo, chicken, egg, or langostinos (see below for description).
Chela – A slang term for beer. Vamos por unas chelas?
A delicious water with a deep purple colour, which is made from purple corn with cinnamon and pineapple, has a complex fruity and slightly acidic taste. Read how to make Chicha Morada.
The fusion of Peruvian and Chinese food is Chifa. You’ll find many Chifa restaurants throughout Lima and other cities in Peru, and most are an inexpensive and filling option. Read our reviews of Chifa restaurants in Lima.
Guinea pig is a traditional Peruvian food which is available at some restaurants specializing in Peruvian cuisine.
Empanadas – A typical Peruvian savory snack that looks like a Pizza Pocket or calzone. Typically filled with cheese, meat, etc.
Gallena – The Spanish word for hen. Caldo de gallena is a hen (or chicken) soup. You may also gallo (rooster) in place of gallena.
Hojas de Coca
Coca leaves. You might see bags of coca leaves in markets and shops. Chewing the coca leaves helps with altitude sickness in Cusco, Arequipa, Machu Picchu, etc.
Langostinos – The term for shrimp in Peru.
Mate de Coca
Coca tea. Used for its medicinal and curative properties, coca tea is very common in Peru. It can be compared to a chamomile with a somewhat grassier taste.
Palta – The Peruvian word for avocado. You may see Palta or Aguacate on the menu – both mean avocado.
Sopa – The Spanish word for soup. Read our review of Siete Sopas in Lima.