Colada Morada: Traditional Purple Corn Beverage in Ecuador

Galapagos Culture, Galapagos Dining

My first time tasting colada morada was in the Galápagos Islands.

A lady dressed in a dirty apron stood outside the Municipal Market in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. She had a huge aluminum pot filled with a steaming purple soupy liquid. A ladle came out of the soup, bringing with it unidentifiable chunks, and a waft of steam. I ordered a cup.

It was hot, thick, spicy, and strangely delicious.

What is Colada Morada?

Colada morada sold outside the municipal market

After living in Ecuador for two years, I have gotten to know this weird purple drink better, and the traditions that surround it (which are little known to tourists.)

Colada Morada is a purple corn and fruit-based drink that is made with

  1. purple corn flour
  2. sugar
  3. blackberry juice
  4. mortiño (a species of wild blueberry)
  5. cinnamon
  6. ishpingo (a local herb) and other spices.

The chunks are tropical fruits such as pineapple or strawberries depending on the whim of the chef.

It is often served with a type of bread called guaguas de pan. Guagua  is the Quechua word for baby, and these rolls are neatly formed into the shape of a swaddled baby and decorated with bright frosting. You can drink colada morada hot or cold, and dip the “babies”into it.

The Traditions of Día de los Difuntos

Dia de los Difuntos is celebrated in Ecuador on Nov. 2, but the festivities and ubiquitous colada morada are seen in late October. It translates to All Soul Day, or Day of the Deceased.

guaguas de pan – bread babies

Indigenous families in Ecuador celebrate this day by bringing the favorite food dishes to share with their family by their graves at the cemetary. The colada morada represents the blood of departed loved ones.

Finding Colada Morada in Galápagos

If you would like to follow my steps and try this unique beverage, make sure you have a free day without any activities planned and head off the beaten tourist path. Take a taxi ($1) to the Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market where fruit and vegetables are sold to the locals). Just outside the market are informal street food vendors. If it is nearing Dia de los Difuntos, you will definitely find colada morada.

The rest of the year, you may also find the vendors selling it off-season, as I did.  If you don’t see that, you can try some of the other delicious but strange street-food specialties.

Have you tasted the colada morada and guaguas de pan? Let us know in comments!

Meet the Author

Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on this site and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on CuencaCultureShock.com

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