Pachamanca is the traditional Peruvian dish common in the central Andean region. The word Pachamanca comes from the Quechua indigenous language with ‘pacha’ meaning earth and ‘manka’ meaning pot. This tradition supposedly dates to before the Spanish conquest in 1532 and was a form of ritual to celebrate life and fertility and to thank ‘pacha mama’ or mother earth for providing food.
Oscar from the El Albergue hotel met us in reception and took us out to the farm where the stones had already been heated up for the Pachamanca. The heated stones are placed in a fire pit and then the meat (chicken, lamb and pork) is placed directly on top of the stones along with potatoes and sweet potato. This is all covered with more heated rocks plus a layer of fresh herbs and fava beans from the garden.
The mound is then covered in a cotton fabric to keep the dirt out followed by a thick layer of earth. When finished the oven looks literally just like a mound of earth!
While you are waiting for the food to cook, Oscar will take you on a tour of the organic farm that provides 90% of ingredients for the Pachamanca as well as products for the Albergue restaurant. They grow many varieties including typical local plants like huacatay (black mint), inca berries and quinoa, and raise their own rabbits, ducks and sheep.
The layers of earth, fabric and rocks are removed after just twenty minutes to reveal golden, crispy, tender meat, well-cooked potatoes and beans which are immediately served on your plate. Colourful salads picked that morning along with traditional sauces including huacatay and huancaina complete the spread. Everything is perfectly set up family-style on long outdoor tables, surrounded by the stunning mountains and a great view of the Ollantaytambo ruins.
It’s definitely nice to try a traditional pachamanca when in Peru and El Albergue has the perfect set-up with a rustic dining area set in the stunning surrounds of Ollantaytambo with a great view of the ruins.
The Pachamanca is a different culinary experience and is great to try when in Peru. Food is rustic, tasty and extremely fresh, and is enjoyed in a relaxing country setting. We loved this option for a different type of lunch before heading off to Machu Picchu.
Best of Peru Travel Recommends:
- Make sure to book in advance. Minimum of two people required.
- If you’re interested in nature and organic farming allow time to have a decent visit of the farm. Oscar is very passionate about what he does and it is a pleasure to spend time with him learning about the local plants and organic farming.