Regional Gastronomy (Northern Argentina)

2020/01/12 Regional Gastronomy (Northern Argentina)

The cuisine of Salta is a mixture of traditions that combine different cultures, both Andean and Spanish and indigenous, later emerged in Argentina and more properly in the region, gastronomy that has influenced it considerably giving rise to a wide variety of nutritious and tasty dishes.

Popular and distinguished, Salta's cuisine stands out in Argentina for its great variety and tradition being, today, one of the most sought after and consumed.

Regional Food

Locro: (Quechua ruqru or luqru) is a kind of stew based on squash, beans and corn. In Salta, it is usually prepared with red sausage, bacon, fresh meat and offal such as fat belly or beef chinchulín. Optionally, pork is added, denominating it as "pulsatile locro" (with "leg" and "pig's horn").
Cooking is simmered for several hours and when served on the dish, the soup is crowned with a spoonful of melted fat pellet with paprika and chopped chives.

Tamal: (náhuatl of tamalli, meaning wrapped) is a food Andean origin, prepared with cornmeal, wrapped and cooked in its own leaves (husk). Salta is prepared with onions sauteed in fat pellet well seasoned, chili and beef, pork or beef jerky and cooked in pot with boiling water and salt.
Different authors refer to the pre-Hispanic era the tamale was not only a popular food but also of the nobles and priests in special ceremonies of fasting. Archaeological evidence shows the tamale as part of the Inca daily life, which was also used in religious rituals, in offerings and tombs.

Annually in the month of July, in the town of Chicoana, Argentina holds its National Tamale Festival.

Steps in the preparation of the humitas.

Humita en chala: humita or huminta (from Quechua: jumint'a) is an Andean food; It basically consists of a pasta or corn dough (ground corn, grated or crushed) lightly seasoned, wrapped in the leaves themselves (chala) and cooked in a pot with boiling water and salt.
Prior to its wrapping, pieces of cheese, basil, squash, milk and onions are added to the fat paste (optionally included: morrón and goat cheese, typical of the region). Unlike tamale, humita is seasoned to a lesser extent and no meat is added. Because the corn (corn) is of a sweet taste, two varieties of humita are offered: salty and sweet.

Guatia: roast of several cuts of meat, wrapped in leather, which is cooked underground. It is in the town of El Jardín where Salta celebrates its Provincial Festival of Guatia annually in March.
Chicha: comes from an aboriginal voice (kuna chichab) that means corn. It is a drink derived mainly from the non-distilled fermentation of corn, widely spread by native peoples since pre-Hispanic times only in sedentary aborigines, since it was necessary to grow corn and that would not be possible with continuous migration. Of Inca origin its use was ceremonial and only for festivities; It was considered as "the elixir of the Incas".
With a mild flavor and not many alcoholic grades, it was and is elaborated in an artisanal way, which is left to ferment in jars or clay pots. Its elaboration was carried out only by elderly women who had great experience and knew how to give it the right point. Until the Spanish colony, corn chicha was the main alcoholic beverage produced in the country and, in the twentieth century, was the favorite drink of the aborigines of northern Argentina. In Salta it is still a non-industrialized homemade beverage and its preparation and consumption is still in force, which is consumed mainly in traditional festivals such as the burial or burial of the carnival or during the celebration of Pachamama; in religious festivities such as the day of all saints and of the faithful departed; and, more specifically in the puna, in special events such as the inauguration of a house (flechas) and the marking of animals (indicated). Annually in the month of March, in the town of La Caldera where ancestral manufacturing persists, Argentina holds its National Fiesta de la Chicha.


Chilcán: it is a drink based on cornmeal. First it was done only with roasted cornmeal and boiled water; later and over time the toasted sugar and milk were added replacing the water.
Aloja (drink): used by aboriginal people from the north and Chaco region of Argentina, it is still in force today. It is an alcoholic beverage based on the fermentation of the carob fruit, chañar and other wild fruits. The matacos prepared it by fermenting the carob and sweetening it with wild honey, while the tuffs drank it in the skulls of their enemies cut like glasses.
Añapa: sweet preparation based on ground carob and milk consumed as a dessert.
Patay: loaf made from locust bean flour (fruit of locust bean).
Arrope: of Quechua origin, it is a very sweet syrup of pulp and fruit juices such as prickly pear, chañar and carob. It has jelly consistency and is used as an accompaniment to goat cheese.
Other products and meals
Other foods of Andean origin based on corn and / or squash that can be tasted are: corn cake, potato pie, carbonate, frangollo similar to a soup that is made with corn kernels (corn) broken or ground and Anchi, which is a dessert made from corn grits, sugar and lemon juice (it is served with orange or lemon peels, hairs and / or raisins).

Also, you can find, in different recipes and meals, purely Andean products such as:


  • Charqui or charque: Quechua ch'arki is a type of dehydrated meat covered with salt and dried in the sun. This technique was used by aborigines to conserve meat for prolonged periods. It was initially used for camelid meats such as guanaco or llama, although charqui can be prepared with almost any meat; Throughout the centuries and with the arrival of the Spaniards, the charqui of beef took more importance, who were the ones that imported the animals to America, although the "chalona" can also be found thus naming the lamb or sheep charqui.
    Quinoa: Like the potato, it was one of the main foods of the Andean peoples. It is believed that it was also used for cosmetic uses.
    Kiwicha: Quechua Kiwicha, was also known and used by native peoples.
    Beans: called tarwi or tarui, were used to make stews in some of their parties; They were consumed fresh or dried. Currently, one of the oldest varieties called "pallar" continues to be cultivated in valleys and streams in the northwest.
    Potatoes: tuber of net South American origin as well as sweet potato and goose, were the staple food of the Andean populations. The Incas cultivated and harvested up to 200 species of potatoes, which differed in color and size, although not all of them were known in Salta.
    Chili pepper: an important ingredient in foods from the Andean cultures with which almost all food was spiced. There are sweet and spicy peppers, among which the locoto (green or red), the quitucho and pellets stand out; with a variety the paprika is made that flavors and colors many preparations.
    Coca leaf: considered as the sacred leaf of the Incas is used for infusions or simply as “acullico” that is kept in the mouth. Although in Argentina the cultivation of the Coca plant is prohibited, its consumption and possession is not regulated under Law 23,373.
    The Nougat Salteño is also one of the typical Salta meals mainly sold in the cold season
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