The rocoto chili pepper is a traditional southern Peruvian chili from PunoCuzco and Arequipa.  It is an emblematic product of Peruvian cuisine, and many plates have it as a base, such as rocoto rellenoescribano, as well as chupessauces and stews.

It is undoubtedly in the Andean zone – Bolivia and Peru – where there is a greater number of varieties of Rocotos chili pepper, both wild and cultivated, and has an abundant production.

History of the Peruvian Rocoto Chili Pepper: An Ancestral Food

Dry rocoto berries have been found in tombs in Peru of the Paracas , Nazca , Mochicaand Chimú cultures with an age of up to 2,000 years. Their presence is also documented in textiles, pre-Inca ceramics. 

It has also been found that the man from the Guitarrero community in Ancash , Peru , cultivated it about 5,000 years ago. Without a doubt the Peruvian rocoto chili pepper is part of this country from its origins.

Peruvian Rocoto
Ceramic Nazca with rocotos

The importance of rocoto chili pepper in our diet and culture is documented long before the Incas and today it still occupies a central place even as an ingredient of the boom of the new Peruvian gourmet cuisine or novoandina.

For a long time it was thought that the spicy effect of chili and particularly of hot Rocoto chili pepper (the hottest in its kind) were harmful to health. In the 80s when the country faced path terrorism and one of the worst economic crises in its history, the debates about whether the taste for spice was an indicator of the masochism of Peruvians alternated with the reflection of intellectuals about whether we were viable as a country.

Today, in the middle of a whole process of learning and rediscovering our gastronomic roots, new scientific research such as that of Dr. Azal Paz Aliaga , Director of the Scientific Research and Development Center of the University of San Agustín , of Arequipa (Hipólito Unánue Award) in 2002), they have shown us how wrong we were and how healthy is the Peruvian rocoto chili pepper.

Properties and Benefits of Rocoto chili pepper

Here is a list of Rocoto’s benefits:

  • Rocoto chili pepper is an excellent stomach protectorThe habitual consumption of rocoto is recommended for the treatment of ulcers, gastritis, colitis and in general it benefits the digestive system. As well? Because the human gastric juices (like the saliva of some mammals) have sufficient acidity to neutralize its itching, but also, the capsaicin that the rocoto possesses stimulates the segregation of gastric juices and favors the accumulation of lipids and bicarbonates in the mucosa. of the stomach, strengthening and facilitating the digestive process. In addition, the extra salivation produced in the mouth contributes to a better digestion in general.
  • Rocoto chili pepper is useful to combat diabetic neuropathy : administered as topical capsaicin relieves the pain associated with psoriasis and osteoarthritis.
  • Rocoto chili pepper is good for hypertension : it acts as a dilator of blood vessels, it is advised to relieve discomfort and lower the pressure of people suffering from this disease.
  • The rocoto  chili pepper is a source of vitamin C and helps to fight anemia and excellent Antioxidant : a rocoto has a quantity of vitamin C four times higher than the orange and like other fruits its antioxidant properties are an essential part of a healthy diet recommended for prevent cancer. The combination of high proportions of vitamin C with its desinflamatory and digestive effects is ideal for treatments of anemia: vitamin C helps to absorb iron, capsaicin neutralizes the inflammatory effects of iron capsules in the stomach protecting the stomach mucosa Finally, its digestive and anti-inflammatory effects prevent and combat the constipation problems that this type of treatment produces.

In general, the chemical composition of rocoto includes: water, carbohydrates, proteins, fiber, ashes, calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, capsaicin.

Recipes with Peruvian Rocoto chili pepper

Peruvian rocoto chili pepper
Recoto Relleno

The rocoto goes well with everything. Many Peruvians from the south and north especially can not pass a bite without it having a pinch of spicy rocoto. Some dishes, however, have it as the main ingredient. Here some of them:

  • Rocoto Relleno : One of the typical dishes of Arequipa. It is joked that the explosive itch of this dish is related to the emblematic Misti volcano at the foot of which the city is located. In general Arequipa is known for his propensity to rebellion.
  • Cream of Rocoto : Pleasant complement of many Peruvian dishes. There is no restaurant that does not offer a rocoto cream to show the courage of the diners. 
  • Peruvian Ceviche : A Peruvian flag dish and symbol of bravery that has the rocoto as an essential ingredient. 

Here is a link with more information on how to plant and care for Peruvian rocoto chili pepper seeds and other links: www.rocoto.com

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