In this five part series, Chef Nico Vera presents the rich culinary history of Peru through the lens of a five course meal. Follow along as he breaks down Peruvian flavors, transporting us to the land of Incas and beyond. Read Part One and Part Two.
The Spanish also brought African slaves to Peru, many of which worked in sugar plantations or as servants and cooks to the wealthy families in Lima. Despite the class difference, however, there was no denying that the Afro-Peruvians were true masters in the kitchen, and one of their many specialties was desserts. The desserts they created are hundreds of years old, and cooking them makes me feel like an alchemist, stirring ingredients over a low ﬁre, as if a creating a medicinal potion that will lift even the lowest of spirits.
One of the most unique Afro-Peruvian desserts is Frejol Colado, or black bean pudding. It may look like chocolate, but make no mistake, this dessert is made from a black bean purée that is slow cooked with milk and sugar, and infused with the ﬂavors of anise and cloves until it's creamy enough to serve topped with toasted sesame seeds. The only word that can describe it is manjar, which can be roughly translated as sweet delicacy or nectar that is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.
Nico Vera is a Peruvian chef and Pisco mixologist based in San Francisco, California, where he promotes Peruvian food and culture through pop-up dinners and cocktail classes. You can find his recipes and calendar of events on his blog, Pisco Trail.