Chicha a term used in some regions of Latin America for
several varieties of fermented beverages, particularly those derived from
maize, but which also describes similar non-alcoholic beverages. Chicha may
also be made from manioc root (also called yuca or cassava), or fruits, and
Left: A glass of
homebrewed chicha de jora from Peru.
It is traditionally prepared from a specific kind of yellow maize (jora) and is
usually referred to as chicha de jora. It has a pale straw color, a slightly
milky appearance, and a slightly sour aftertaste, reminiscent of hard apple
cider. It is drunk either young and sweet or mature and strong. It contains a
slight amount of alcohol, 1-3%.
Chicha morada is not fermented. It is usually made of
ears of purple maize (choclo morado) which are boiled with pineapple
rind, cinnamon, and clove. This gives a strong purple-colored liquid which is
then mixed with sugar and lemon. Chicha morada is known as api in Bolivia
and is generally drunk as an accompaniment to
While chicha is most commonly associated with maize, the word is used in the
Andes for almost any homemade fermented drink, and many different grains or
fruits are used to make "chicha" in different regions.
Left: Chicha morada
peruvian style, boiled in a pot with pineaple
and purple corn.
Chicha de jora has been prepared and consumed in communities
throughout in the Andes for millennia. The Inca used chicha for ritual purposes
and consumed it in vast quantities during religious festivals.
Chicha de jora is prepared by germinating maize, extracting
the malt sugars, boiling the wort, and fermenting it in large vessels,
traditionally huge earthenware vats, for several days. The process is
essentially the same as the process for the production of beer.