Drink your fruit with a Colada Morada

Colada Morada with a few of the common fruit ingredients

Imagine a fruit smoothie that isn't smooth. Instead, it's thick, sweet, made with purple corn flour, and has chunks of various fruits in it so that you both drink, and chew, your way through a cup. It might not sound particularly delicious from that description but once you try a colada morada you'll likely be coming back for more.

What's the big idea, here, anyway? Fruits, corn, spices, flowers, and leaves - all these ingredients mixed and cooked together into a thick drink that is served hot or cold? The answer goes way back, 5000 years back!

From pre-columbian cultures inhabiting the territories known now as Ecuador, early peoples collected pineapples, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries in the sub tropical zones. As soon as these people started using fire and clay pots to cook the collected fruits, they realized they could transform them into a tasty “colada” by mixing them with starches such as corn, potatoes and quinoa. This is the origin of these traditional types of hot Ecuadorian drinks.

With time, it made perfect sense for these multi-ingredient concoctions to be used to celebrate the beginning and the end of the harvest, sort of as a symbol of the beginning and the end of life. Even later, these customs evolved to celebrate the journey of life in Andean cosmology, especially in the months of October and November.

You will especially find many vendors offering up colada moradas around the November 2nd “Day of the Dead” celebrations in Loja.

So what, exactly, goes into this unusual drink? Well everybody has their own "secret" family recipe, of course. The best I can do is give you a list of some of the many possibilities for making the drink and if you have enough of them lying around then you might look up a recipe online. But seriously people, this is a complicated and time-consuming refreshment to make so I really recommend just find someone else selling it rather than making your own.

Ingredients suggestions (use some, or all, of the following)...

ciruelas (plums)
ishpingo cinnamon flower
cinnamon sticks
all spice berries
star anise
whole cloves
panela (or brown sugar)
lemongrass leaves
lemon verbena leaves
orange peel
arrayan ataco (purple amaranth)
orange leaves
purple or black corn flour
naranjilla juice

One last tip you might not see anywhere else - I mentioned smoothies earlier. Because colada morada is made very thick and sweet, it is possible to make an "instant" smoothie by mixing unsweetened yogurt into an equal part of colada morada. Just give it a quick stir and you have a very acceptable unsmooth (chunky) smoothie!


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