Typical Peruvian Starters

Typical Peruvian Starter & Appetizer

A starter is a good way to introduce you to a great Peruvian meal. Unheard of in Peru until the 17th century most Peruvian starters today often replace a full meal or are also eaten as a small lunch or snack. Below find some appetizers characteristic for the art of cooking in Lima and on the central coast of Peru.

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Ceviche (Cebiche)

The Peruvian national dish is like no other one reflecting the coastal cuisine and its influences. Ceviche is the most popular dish in Peru and the pride of all Peruvians. While there are hundreds of variations, the traditional Ceviche actually just needs 5 simple ingredients: fresh, raw, white fish filet cut into bite-size pieces, marinated and "cooked" in lime juice and seasoned with Peruvian chili peppers, onions and salt.


Some say Tiradito is just Ceviche without onions. Both dishes are made of raw white fish, but for Tiradito the fish is cut into sashimi-style thin stripes instead of cubes. While the fresh fish in a ceviche is marinated in a spicy lime juice sauce, in Tiradito it’s just covered with a piquant lime juice dressing and then immediately served. Popular variations of Tiradito combine the lime juice dressing with aji or rocoto creme.


Anticuchos are skewers consisting of small pieces of grilled meat that are marinated in lime juice, vinegar and spices like aji (Peruvian chili peppers), cumin and pepper. The most traditional and for locals most popular Anticuchos are made of beef heart (Anticuchos de Corazon), but often chicken, beef and fish is used to prepared delicious Anticuchos.

Causa Limeña

Without the traditional Causa, summer in Lima is not the same. For Limeños there is no other food on a hot summer day more popular and refreshing than Causa. While there are hundreds of variations the traditional Causa Limeña is made of layers of cooked, mashed yellow potatoes filled with a variety of vegetables (avocado, onions, choclo and chili) and fish (tuna, shellfish) or chicken.

Papas a la Huancaina

Even if the name suggests that this dish is from Huancayo, a town in the Peruvian Andes, it was actually invented in Chosica, Lima, but by a señora from Huancayo. This delicious, typical Peruvian starter consists of boiled and sliced potatoes with a spicy sauce made of queso fresco, aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili peppers) and milk. Yummy!


Tequeños are known in all Latin America. In Peru they are very popular as starter, light lunch or small snack in the evening at a bar accompanying a Pisco or beer. You find them on every menu in restaurants and no party goes without them. Traditionally only made with a Won Ton wrap like dough filled with white cheese and served with Peruvian Guacamole, in Lima you find numerous variations. Try the ham and cheese, the lomo saltado or aji de gallina filling. Yummy!


Peruvian empanadas (a stuffed pastry) are mostly filled with fried ground beef, onions, olives, hard-boiled egg and raisins. After baking the empanadas are sprinkled with icing sugar and before eating with a little bit of lime juice. In recent years numerous variations became very popular: empanadas with chicken, cheese, ham and cheese, lomo saltado or aji de gallina.


Tamales are a very traditional Latin American dish. They are made of starchy dough, often corn- or potatoes based, to which meats (pork or chicken), cheese, chilies, vegetables, garlic and other spices are added. This mixture is wrapped in banana leafs, properly tied and cooked in boiling water.

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