There are two ways to make Colada Morada or Mazamorra as it is also known. The first one, which is the traditional way, is using purple corn flour, or harina de maíz negro. The second one is to use cornstarch, or maicena. It is easier to find cornstarch, and it is quicker. For some history on Colada Morada, don’t forget to check my previous post on El Día de los Difuntos.
The challenge of making this drink lies primarily in the fruits that go into it: blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, NONE which are in season right now in the United States. While I try to be an advocate for seasonal produce, SANK GAWD for frozen fruit! Some may think I’ve committed heresy by using frozen berries, but all in the name of tradition. This drink also has pineapples, which I had no problem finding at the grocery store, but frozen or canned can be used as well. If using canned fruit, don’t use the syrup.
In an effort to adapt this recipe to avoid running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I made a few substitutions from the original recipe in terms of the aromatics used. You see, this Colada is very, VERY Ecuadorian, which means it uses a few ingredients that are native to our country. These are naranjillas, which I’ve talked about before here; ishpingo (scientific name Ocotea quixos); and babaco. Ishpingo is Quechua for Ecuadorian cinnamon tree. This tree is only found in a small Amazonian region of Ecuador and Colombia. In case you are wondering, ishpingo looks like this. Babaco is essentially an Ecuadorian papaya. The good thing about babaco is that it’s optional. Phew! Other things that could be tough to come by are orange leaves, myrtle sprigs and a type of lemongrass called hierba luisa. I have included the original recipe as well as the tweaked one, which is as delicious as the real deal. I think this makes a great year-round drink, and it will be awesome to drink cold during the summer. I’m like Mighty Mouse, y’all! Here I’ve come to save the daaaaayyyyy!!!
So let’s start prepping the ingredients and begin with the pineapple. Hack off the top part and wear it as if you were Carmen Miranda. With a serrated knife, remove the rinds and set aside. Core the pineapple and chop some pineapple until you have one cup.
For the Colada Morada we will need to cook two different things simultaneously. In one pot, we will make the water with all the spices, and in the second one we will cook our berries. I know you will feel like you’re head will spin but stay with me, and just shake it off like Carmen Miranda. You’re already wearing the pineapple crown on your head…
For the water with the spices, or aromatics, we will need: Mexican cinnamon barks, whole cloves, panela (also known as pilloncillo), the pineapple rinds, granulated sugar, and lemon and orange rinds. Panela is essentially a brick of brown sugar, and you will need about 4 oz. If panela is unavailable, substitute it with brown sugar. Since I am showing you the easier version, the lemon and orange rinds are substitutes for the myrtle and the orange leaves.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why are we using Mexican cinnamon in an Ecuadorian drink?” Well, Mexican cinnamon reminds me a lot of the cinnamon I was used seeing growing up. Note that I am not referring to the ishpingo. Mexican cinnamon has more of a woodsy aroma compared to the traditional cinnamon sticks like McCormick’s. If you can’t find the Mexican cinnamon, go for the other kind.
Throw them all into a pot with 1 liter of water and bring to a boil. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Your house will smell a bit like apple cider, even though no apples were harmed in the making of Colada Morada.
Once 20 minutes have passed, turn off the heat and add 1/2 tsp of dried lemon verbena and 2 bay leaves, which will help round all the flavors and compensate for the native Ecuadorian spices. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Strain the aromatics and return the liquid to the pot.
So while all this is happening, in a separate pot, bring the blueberries, blackberries, some ground allspice and a liter of water to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes.
Once cooked, blend these berries with 1 cup of naranjilla pulp. If you have a Hispanic grocery store, you will find naranjilla pulp in the frozen foods section. In the event you can’t find naranjilla pulp, you could either use about the same amount orange concentrate, or skip it all together. You can choose to either, a) blend the berries with all the liquid, or b) strain and blend the berries only, and add the strained liquid to the other pot with the other spiced water blend. My food processor doesn’t handle too much liquid, hence this being the way to go for me.
Coladas are thicker drinks when compared to other beverages like fruit juices. Coladas are kind of in between a milk shake and a juice. In order to thicken our colada, we will need cornstarch. Dissolve 1/3 cup of cornstarch in a cup of water.
Strain the berry puree to remove the seeds and add the strained berry juice to the big pot with the other liquids. Turn on the heat for this pot to high.
Add the cornstarch slurry.
Stir constantly to dissolve and cook the cornstarch and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add the diced pineapple and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes on high.
Finally add the strawberries, and if available the babaco. As it returns to a boil, turn off the heat and remove from the stove.
Serve the colada lukewarm/room temperature, or stick it in the fridge and serve cold, which is my favorite way.
Oh, HELLO! Accompany your Colada Morada drink with a Guagua de Pan! Enjoy!