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The Land of the Incas at Purple Corn Peruvian Rotisserie Joint

purplecornshrimpAs I meandered along busy Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, the sign Purple Corn Rotisserie Joint caught my eye. It brought back memories of my many trips to Lima, Peru, where I enjoyed rotisserie chicken, ceviche and purple corn. I stepped inside the small shop and noted the stark simplicity of the décor. There are seats for about twenty diners at a banquette and at tables. The walls are tiled in white. The bare bones atmosphere allows you to concentrate on the authentic traditional dishes on the menu. It was Sunday at about noon and a line was forming outside for lunch. They also provide a busy take out and delivery service, if you prefer to dine in the comfort of your own home or office.

I had the pleasure of chatting with owner David Pineda Mayo. Purple Corn has been open for about a year. He said, “I worked in the dining room of a Peruvian restaurant in Portchester for 12 years. Since White Plains is a very busy area, it seemed like an ideal spot for our super casual restaurant or “joint “as we chose to call it. Our goals for the future include opening other spots. The best part of my job is relating to my customers and offering a pleasant environment for both my staff and guests.”

It was time to sample some Peruvian specialties. The wait staff were very helpful in describing the dishes. We started with the very popular ceviche. Ceviche in the Peruvian style can be ordered with fish, mixed seafood, shrimp or as a trio. We enjoyed the shrimp variety. The shrimp were marinated in freshly squeezed lime juice with red onion slivers, fresh cilantro and crunchy kernels of roasted corn. Sweet potato wedges completed its presentation as it always was in the restaurants of Peru. Parihuela is the famous Peruvian seafood soup. At Purple Corn, it is a meal in a bowl. A fish broth is seasoned with aji amorillo, (yellow Peruvian chili), chopped tomatoes, celery, leeks and an ocean full of seafood. Here, there were shrimp, cod fillets, squid and shellfish. This brightly colored bowlful had a whole soft shell crab clinging to the bowls rim. Fish noodle soup and chicken noodle soy soup are other possibilities. On future visits I plan to start my meal with mussels marinated in lime juice, as well as the classic potatoes in Peruvian cheese sauce with olives and hard boiled egg.

Three interesting salads are offered which can be topped with chicken or shrimp. The Purple Corn Salad includes baby spinach, carrots, peas, cilantro, queso fresca, avocado and boiled egg. The Solterito Salad has Peruvian corn, those very large kernels, spinach, avocado, edamame, tomatoes, roasted peppers, black olives and cilantro among its ingredients. I just loved the Andean Quinoa Salad with organic quinoa, baby spinach, avocado, roasted peppers, and shredded queso fresca. A fresh lemon dressing complimented these colorful ingredients which were layered on our plate making the dish pleasing to the eye as well as to the taste.

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The Peruvian cuisine is greatly influenced by its Spanish as well as its indigenous Inca civilization who were worshippers of the sun, which explains the yellow color of many of the dishes because of the use of aji yellow chili. The Incas are responsible for the many varieties of corn, potatoes and healthy grains such as quinoa grown and utilized in their cuisine. There was also a large infusion of Chinese immigrants which explains the plentiful use of soy sauce.

We moved on to the varied entrees. Lomo saldato is a Peruvian classic. Here, the beef is sliced into strips and sautéed with onions, tomatoes and cilantro and flavored with soy sauce. Served with fragrant jasmine rice it is a tasty entrée with a Chinese influence. Chaufa is Peru’s version of fried rice. Its base is jasmine white rice. Roasted red peppers, scallions, egg, bean sprouts and soy sauce are all combined. At Purple Corn, you can enjoy it with added chicken, beef, shrimp, fish or mixed seafood. If you wish to indulge in something fried, try the chicharron des mariscos. This is a fried seafood platter with fish fillets, shrimp, squid and octopus. It was not at all oily and was delicious. A sliced onion salad accompanied it. Other entrees of arroz con mariscos, tallarin verde, spaghetti with Peruvian pesto, and tallarin saldato are offered.

I’ve saved the most popular dish for last. The pollo alla brasa which can be ordered as a whole, half or quarter chicken, is marinated for 48 hours with a fine combination of herbs, spices and wine. Then it is roasted on the kitchen’s special rotisserie which can accommodate 32 chickens. People come from far and wide to savor this Peruvian classic. It is tender within, full of flavor, and crisp and beautifully seasoned outside.

For dessert we sweetened our palate with crema valtreada, a Peruvian flan and some very delicious alfajores, the South American sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Chicha morada, a drink prepared with purple corn, cinnamon and cloves originated in The Andes and horchata a rice, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar beverage are pleasant accompaniments to your meal at Purple Corn.

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Purple Corn is very popular with the take out crowd. They deliver or you can pick up your order.

Purple Corn Peruvian Rotisserie Joint
72 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains
914 339-0900

Recipe: Chicken Chaufa – Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups jasmine rice, cooked
1 cup chicken breast, sliced and sautéed until tender
½ cup diced, roasted red pepper
½ cup bean sprouts
½ cup diced scallions
2 eggs, beaten
Soy sauce, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in large skillet. Add chicken and eggs and scramble together. Add peppers, scallions and sprouts and stir for a few minutes. Add cooked rice and soy sauce to taste. Stir so that the soy sauce is incorporated in the mixture. Serve.

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