My Guide to Lima, Peru (From a Peruvian)

This has taken me a bit of time to write. We went to Lima back in February before the rest of the world went into lockdown. And even though this is not really a time to travel, hopefully in the near(ish) future it will be again. Lima is not the gastronomic capital of South America for nothing. All the micro climates make my country very rich in agriculture. And you see it in the variety of dishes and different types of local cuisines.

So if you plan to go to Peru, I do advise you to spend a few days eating your way through Lima.

Where to eat:

El Pan de la Chola:

This is an all-day bakery/café. If you love bread, you will love this place. I find that the portion of their sandwiches are large. You can easily share it with two people.  


This is one of my favorite restaurants in Lima, and after years of going there the quality hasn’t gone down. They serve Nikkei food (Japanese-Peruvian fusion). They have two locations. The one in San Isidro has a nice terrace. Their cocktails and mocktails are also great. Reservation is advised as it gets full fast, especially on the weekends. 

El Bodegon:

This restaurant has a large variety of Peruvian dishes. From seafood to old school dishes. If you’ve never had Peruvian food and want to get a good impression of it, this is the place to go. I love their Chicha morada (purple corn drink). I always order it with some lime juice on the side, because most places make it very sweet. I love their grilled octopus, Papa a la huancaina and Causa with crab. Reservation is advised.

Pescados Capitales:

This is a ceviche and seafood restaurant. I love their Leche de tigre with rocoto and grilled octopus. 

Cremoladas Curich:

Cremoladas are slushies. They have a large variety of options to choose from. They are all made from fresh fruit and natural ingredients. I usually go for the one with passion fruit or Lucuma.

Picarones Mary:

Picarones are a type of doughnuts made from squash and sweet potato, served with a syrup. This is a cart that only sells picarones located inside the Kennedy park in Miraflores.


This is an old school café. I love their stuffed churros with dulce de leche or chocolate..

La Lucha:

This is a very popular sandwich place. Their specialty is Pan con chicharron, which is made with pork and sweet potato. They also sell fries and fresh juices. All their sandwiches have meat but if you are a vegetarian, the fries are worth a try. 

Shizen Barra Nikkei:

This is another Japanese-Peruvian restaurant. I loved their tiradito with scallops and rocoto and their scallop nigari with smoked yellow chili sauce. 

Mercado Nº 1 de Surquillo:

This is a market very close to Miraflores. They have many fruit stands, so you can get a chance to buy and try all the exotic fruits from Peru. Try Chirimoya, Mango (the Edward kind is my favourite), Granadilla and Lucuma. They also have juice and food stands.

Where to go for coffee:

Neira café lab is located in Miraflores.

Tostaduria Bisetti:

This one is located in Barranco and they roast their own coffee.

Vegan restaurants:

I wanted to try El Jardin de Jasmin but in the end I didn’t get a chance to go there but it was recommended to me by friends and family. 

Kennedy park:

This is probably the most popular park in Lima. It is known as the cat park. It started when people dumped their cats there and they reproduced. Despite that, kinder people do take care of the strays. You can see food trays and water bowls all around the park. Adoption and neutering campaigns are done there so that they keep it a bit under control. One of our favorite activities when we are in Lima is to first stop by a supermarket. There is a Metro (supermarket chain) right by the park, this is where we get cat food and ham. And then we go around the park feeding the cats. Most of them are very friendly. 

Besides the cats, the park is located in area surrounded by restaurants and bars. And there are often art fairs going on there. At night there are also a few food stands. 


Lima is a big city with a lot of traffic. Taxis are cheap (compared to European prices, or at least cheaper than NL). If you are just staying in Lima, I recommend to use taxis and don’t rent a car. Besides the traffic, people drive like crazy and don’t often follow the rules. You can hail a cab from the street but you need to pay in cash. If you do this, hail a cab that doesn’t look very old, as often their seatbelts don’t work.

When you are at the airport order a cab from one of the stands before you go out into the parking lot, there are a lot of scammer out there. There are plenty of official stands right after the exit from where you get your luggage. The airport is about 45 minutes to 1 hour away from Miraflores. We paid around 16 euros for a cab from the airport to Miraflores. 

If you are going to the airport also order it through an official company, don’t hail one from the street. The airport is far and for long rides it is safer to order it from a company.


You can use your credit card for most restaurants but taxis are cash only unless you order them through an app like Uber. 


Mercado Indio is a market where you can find traditional Peruvian handicrafts. They sell everything from clothing made from alpaca to clay products and silverware. It is the place to go if you want to get souveniers. It is located in Miraflores (Avenida Petit Thouars 5321).

Larcomar is a shopping center overlooking the ocean. It has many restaurants and a supermarket (Wong).

Jockey Plaza is a large mall in the district of Surco. It is about a 25 minutes ride from Miraflores, if there is no traffic. If it’s a hot summer day and you want to escape the heat, this is a good place to go to. They have air conditioning and many restaurants.

Jallpa Nina is an artisanal ceramics shop. They make the tableware for a lot of popular restaurants in Lima. It is also in Miraflores. 

Where to stay: 

Miraflores and Barranco are the best areas to stay as a tourist. These two neighborhoods are next to each other.  They are full of restaurants and you can pretty much walk everywhere.

Miraflores is the most popular one. The Indian market where you can get a lot of traditional souveniers like alpaca scarfs and silver jewelry is in this district. You can go to a shopping boulevard called Larcomar. The Kennedy park (aka cat park) is also there.

Barranco is more the artsy district with galleries. There is a nice concept store called Dedalo there. They also have a farmer’s market there every Sunday morning. It is called Feria Ecologica de Barranco. There is stand there that sells tamales and they are amazing. This is the address of the market: Calle San Martin cuadra 7.


Miraflores and Barranco are usually fine. And by that, I mean there are pick pockets everywhere. We have them in Amsterdam. There are plenty in Lima too, but those two areas are generally safe. You just don’t want to be very ostentatious, or walk by yourself through dark and empty streets for example. Just try not to walk with your smartphone on your hand all the time as that makes you an easy target. And I always keep my purse on my front where I can see it. I am the better safe than sorry type. Just be smart and aware of your surroundings. 

If you would like to get a better impression of Lima through videos, you can always check out my Instagram account @cravingsinamsterdam. I saved all of my Stories from this trip in my Story Highlights under Lima.

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Chicha Morada Popsicles (made with Peruvian Purple Corn)

Chicha morada is a non-fermented purple corn drink from Peru. It is said that this particular corn is packed with antioxidants. But for me it’s not about its nutritional value, that’s just a plus. For me, it reminds me of my childhood. Just the smell of it while it is cooking brings me back to Peru. This is and will always be my favorite drink. If you go to Peru, the chicha morada will taste a bit different at each restaurant. Some add more cloves or cinnamon. Some add more sugar or less lime juice. So you can always adapt it to your palate. If you make it to drink it though, keep it refrigerated for 3 to max 4 days. You can also spike it with Pisco or rum to make it into a punch. A good chicha morada will have a deep purple color, so it will not be a translucent liquid. You can buy the purple corn at stores that sell Latin American products or online.

This recipe makes about 12 popsicles or about 2 littles of Chicha Morada.


500g Purple Corn

Rind and core of one pineapple

4 cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

2 apples cut into quarters

4 liters of boiling water

Sugar to taste (I add about 1/2 cup of sugar)

Juice of 2 to 3 limes (or to taste)


Place the purple corn in a large pot with the pineapple rind and core, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, apples and 2 liters of boiling water. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes. You can also partially cover it with a lid because it does splatter if it gets too hot. Otherwise just lower the heat a bit. After the 45 minutes have passed and the liquid has reduced, add the remaining 2 litters of boiling water. Let it simmer for an extra 45 minutes. You know it’s done when the corn kernels sort of crack and you can see the flesh of the corn.

Sift the liquid and discard of the solids. Be careful not to splatter the liquid over your clothes.

Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Since the liquid is hot, it will dissolve quicker. Transfer it to a pitcher and let it cool at room temperature. Once the chicha morada is cold, add the lime juice to taste. Mix well and then pour it into each popsicle mold. Insert the sticks and freeze overnight.

The next day, carefully remove them from the mold by rinsing them over hot water. Enjoy!

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Peruvian Shrimp Chowder (Chupe de Camarones)


Today is Pieter’s birthday. He wanted to stay in and requested this Peruvian soup he remembers from when we were in Lima. I am very happy to oblige since of course I want to make him something that he really enjoys, but also a mini proud moment since of everything he wanted, he requested something from my home country. This soup is a sort of bisque. It is just very important to get whole shrimp (with shells and heads) since they are the base for this soup. Served with some lime wedges and it’s heaven in a bowl.


This recipe serves 3.


750g whole medium shrimp (peeled and deveined, reserve the shells and heads)

½ red onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of Aji Amarillo paste (optional)

½ cup tomato puree

2 teaspoons of tomato paste

3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped (or any other kind for mashing, you want it to give consistency to the soup)

Handful of rice

2 liters of seafood stock (I boiled 1 crab, 300 gr of vongole, 1 diced carrot, 2 stalks of celery and 1 leek)

2 tablespoons of butter

½ cup of white wine or Pisco


Olive oil

¼ cup of peas

¼ cup of broad beans

½ cup of corn kernels

200ml cream

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

150gr feta, crumbled

½ bunch of fresh coriander, chopped


3 eggs, fried

Lime wedges for serving


To make the stock, just boil the crab with the vongole, carrot, celery and chopped leek for about 20-30 minutes, Then drain and reserve the stock.

To prepare the shrimp sauce, first peel the shrimp and then remove the veins. Reserve the shells and heads. Put the clean shrimp tails in a bowl and reserve in the fridge. (if you want you can reserve 3 whole shrimps and cook them with the shells and then reserve them for decorating the plate)

In a medium pan and over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil. Then add the shells and heads. Cook for a couple of minutes till they are golden. Then add the white wine. Cook until the wine has reduced. Put the shells in a blender; add some salt and about 3 cups of the seafood stock. Blend until smooth and then sift the mixture. Reserve it.

In a large pot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the garlic, Aji Amarillo paste and tomato paste. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato puree. Add the remaining of the seafood stock and the shrimp sauce. Add the potatoes, a handful of rice and some salt. Let it simmer on medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the peas, broad beans, corn kernels and shrimp tails to the soup. Let it cook for about 3 minutes and then add the cream.  Add the oregano, half of the chopped coriander and taste for salt.

Pour the soup into 3 bowls and sprinkle with some feta and more coriander. Place a fried egg on top of each bowl and serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

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Peruvian Aji Amarillo Sauce & Rocoto Sauce (Chili sauces)


Aji amarillo which means yellow chili (even though it is actually orange) and rocoto (a red chili that kind of resembles a bell pepper) are the most popular chili peppers from Peru.

These two are my all-time favorite sauces for pretty much everything. They are great with fries, rotisserie or fried chicken, burgers, you name it! If you go to any restaurant or fast food place in Peru, you will most likely find these. Of course the level of heat depends on the chilies, so it sometimes varies. But most often they are not very spicy, especially the one with aji amarillo. Rocoto sauce tends to be more spicy, but the lime juice balances the heat very well. Whenever I make them, they are gone within the same day. Pieter also goes crazy for them.

You can usually find the aji amarillo and rocoto paste at any store that sells products from South America or online.

This time I served the sauces with buttermilk fried chicken and fried cassava. You can find the buttermilk fried chicken recipe here.


For the aji amarillo sauce:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

85grs of aji amarillo paste (About half a cup, minus one tablespoon)

2 tablespoons of chopped coriander

½ cup of mayonnaise

Juice of ½ a lime

Pinch of celery salt

Pinch of salt

For the rocoto sauce:

85grs of rocoto paste

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Juice of 2 limes

Pinch of Salt

Pepper to taste

1 tablespoon of olive oil


To make the aji amarillo sauce, place the vegetable oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook it until it becomes translucent (don’t brown it). Then add the minced garlic and cook it for an extra minute while stirring.

Blend the onion and garlic mixture with the remaining ingredients. Adjust the salt to your liking. Transfer it to a bowl and store it covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the rocoto sauce, just mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Store it covered in the fridge until ready to use.

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Peruvian Rice with Clams & Prawns (Arroz con Mariscos)


This morning I had to go to the Peruvian embassy to vote so I thought, might as well have a Peruvian lunch.This is my version of the classic Arroz con Mariscos., a Peruvian rice with seafood. It usually also has fish, octopus, squid and scallops. Mine is a simpler version with just prawns and clams. It is like a seafood risotto with chilies, coriander and lime. For this recipe you need 2 kinds of Peruvian chili paste. You can usually find them at Latin American stores or online.

This recipe serves 3.


7 cups of cooked rice

500grs of clams (I used cockles)

400grs of large prawns

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

½ red onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of aji panca (a type of Peruvian Chili paste)

2 tablespoons of aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili paste)

½ cup of white wine

1 cup of fish or seafood stock (you can also use any stock you like)

1/3 cup of tomato puree

250ml of cream

¾ cup of frozen peas

20grs of grated parmesan

½ cup of chopped coriander

Salt to taste

Juice of ½ a lime


More chopped coriander for decoration

Lime wedges for serving


Cook the rice. Once it is cooked, start with the rest.

Rinse the clams under cold water for a couple of minutes. Discard of any that are open and don’t close when you tap them.

In a large pan over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the onion and cook until translucent.

Then add the garlic, aji panca and aji amarillo. Cook for 1 minute while stirring.

Add the prawns and cook until they turn pink and are cooked through. This will only take a few minutes, depending on their size. Remove the prawns from the pan and set them aside.

Add the white wine, clams and stock to the same pan where you cooked the prawns. Cover it with a lid until the clams open. Once the clams are cooked, remove them from the pan and set them aside. Discard of any that didn’t open.

Add the tomato puree to the same pan. Stir to mix it well and then add the cooked rice. Stir and add the cream, Parmesan, peas and coriander. Stir until the peas are cooked. Add the juice of ½ a lime and salt to taste.

To plate up, place the prawns and clams on top of the rice. Add extra chopped coriander and serve with lime wedges.

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Lucuma & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Lucuma is one of those things that bring me back to my childhood and Lima. It reminds me of going out for milkshakes and ice cream when I was little. It is a Peruvian fruit which is high in vitamins and it is a natural sweetener. Considered a super fruit, you can now find it at most health stores. It is easy to add to any smoothies for an extra nutrient kick. The taste is hard to describe for me, but some people say it tastes of a mixture between sweet potato and maple syrup. I love going to the market in Lima and picking some ripe lucuma to make milkshakes at my mom’s place. The smell of it is just divine!


This recipe makes about 2 litters of ice cream.


2 1/2 cups of milk

2 ½ cups of cream

¼ cup of honey

1 cup of sugar

2 vanilla bean or 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence

1/3 cup of lucuma powder

5 egg yolks


In a large bowl, whisk 1 cup of the milk with the lucuma powder. Set it aside.

Whisk the honey and sugar with the egg yolks in a large bowl.

Pour the remaining milk, cream and vanilla (seeds scraped and pod) in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it starts simmering, very slowly start pouring it into the egg yolk mixture while whisking. It is important to pour it slowly and to whisk it fast so that the yolks don’t curdle.

Then transfer the mixture back into the saucepan. Over medium-low heat and using a wooden spoon, stir for about 6 -10 minutes. You know it’s done, when you draw a line with your finger on the back of the spoon and it stays.

Then put a fine mesh sieve over the bowl with the lucuma and milk. Pour the vanilla mixture into the lucuma bowl.

Allow it to cool down to room temperature. Once it is at room temperature, place it in the fridge until it is cold. Preferably leave it in the fridge overnight to give it time for the flavors to develop.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store it in an airtight container for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!

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Beef Empanadas & Cassava Balls Stuffed with Mozzarella


The holidays are nostalgic and this year even more so for me, as we won’t be able to be in Peru for the holidays. But at least I can make some Peruvian food. Empanadas are usually dusted with powdered sugar, some people might find it weird but it actually works pretty well with the filling. The filling is slightly sweet because of the raisins and salty because of the Kalamata olives. We usually eat them with a squeeze of lime juice but I also like it with some salsa criolla.  For the empanada dough, I used a recipe from Epicurious. The cassava balls are usually eaten with a sauce made with Peruvian chilies. Since they are not always easy to find here, I thought of making it more accessible and just serve it with a sriracha-lime mayo. But you can serve it with any sauce that you like. I used mozzarella as the filling but you can also use any other kind of cheese that you may like.

This recipe makes about 17 small empanadas and about 25 cassava balls.

Ingredients for the empanadas:

For the dough:

2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoon salt

113grs cold butter, chopped

1 egg

1/3 cup of ice water

1 tablespoon of white vinegar

For the empanada filling:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

260gr of beef steak, chopped into very small cubes (you can also use minced beef)

½ cup of tomato pure

6 quail eggs, boiled for 3 minutes and then chopped

50 grs of Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

A handful of raisins, chopped

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of oregano

Pinch of sugar

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

3 tablespoons of chopped parsley

For the salsa criolla:

1 red onion, chopped

A handful of chopped parsley or coriander

Juice of half a lime

1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons of olive oil



Chili to taste, chopped

Extras for the empanadas:

Egg wash

Powdered sugar for dusting

Lime wedges


To make the empanada dough:

Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until the butter is mixed in and it resembles sand. Then add the egg, water and vinegar. Mix until you have an even dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the empanada filling:

In a large pan, over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the beef and garlic. Cook until the beef is seared and then add the tomato puree, Kalamata, raisins, sugar, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until the water from the tomato puree has evaporated and has become more of a paste. Turn off the heat and add the chopped quail eggs and parsley. Taste for salt and pepper. Allow it to cool down until ready to use.

Once the dough has chilled in the fridge for one hour, take it out and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll 1 piece out in your floured working area, don’t roll it out too thin though as the empanadas might break while baking. Using a 9cm round mold, cut as many circles as you can.

Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each circle and then close it into half a moon. Pinch the edges with your fingers to seal them. Then using a fork, finch the edges again. Repeat for all.

Brush each empanada with some egg wash. Bake them till golden, about 20 minutes.

To make the salsa criolla, just mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Dust the empanadas with some powdered sugar. Serve them with the salsa criolla and lime wedges.


Ingredients for the cassava balls stuffed with mozzarella:

1 kilo of cassava

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons of melted butter

30grs of grated Parmesan

Salt to taste

A good pinch of garlic powder

A good pinch of onion powder

4 tablespoons of flour

200grs of mozzarella, cut into small cubes or any other cheese that you may like

For the coating:

2 beaten eggs

1 ½ cups of panko, mixed with salt

1 ½ cups of flour, mixed with salt

For the sriracha-lime mayo:

1/3 of a cup of Sriracha

1/3 of a cup of Mayonnaise

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon of honey


1 liter of vegetable oil for frying


To make the cassava balls:

To make the sriracha-lime mayo, just mix all of the ingredients in bowl. Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Peel the cassava and chop it into large pieces. Place it in a large saucepan and add boiling water. Cook until tender, about 30 minutes.

Once the cassava is cooked, remove the tough stem that it has in the middle. Mash it until smooth while it is still warm. Add the butter, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Mix well and taste to see if it has enough salt. Then add the egg yolks and flour, and mix it with your hands until you have a kind of dough.

Grab about 1 tablespoon of the cassava dough, make it into a ball and then flatten it with your hands. Place a piece of mozzarella in the middle and then make it into a ball again. Repeat for all.

Have the beaten eggs, flour and panko ready in separate bowls.

Coat each cassava ball in the flour, then in the beaten eggs and finally in the panko. Set it aside and repeat for the rest.

Place the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it is hot, start frying the casaba balls in batches until they are golden. Just make sure the oil is not too hot, otherwise they will turn golden too quick without the cheese melting in the inside. Place them on a tray lined with paper towels. You can place them in the oven at 120C/250F to keep them warm until all of them are fried.

Serve them with the sriracha-lime mayo or the sauce of your choice.

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