Aji Charapita

Q – “What are these?” A – “Little yellow fire balls!”

Aji CharapitaMy first introduction to this hot pepper came soon after I had arrived to Peru and on my very first trip to the jungle. My Spanish was limited, and that is a nice way to describe it. I was staying with a very humble family who wanted to be sure I got at least a taste of the food from the jungle. We traveled by colectivo, a taxi which collects several people to go on a long journey together for less that a private taxi but more than a bus would cost. She repeatedly told me that the trip would take about 20 minutes.

After almost an hour, we arrived at the Plaza de Armas, the Main Square, of Aguaytia and searched for juanes, my {now} all time favorite dish of Peru. Instead of eating them there, we traveled all the way back home and shared the juane, tacacho and spicy sauce. The cute little yellow balls seemed adorable and irresistible. With my mouth on fire and my Spanish limited, I named affectionately named these as “pelotitas amarillas de fuego” or “little yellow fire balls!”

Aji Charapita essentially grows wild and is only recently being processed and used commercially, although it is considered the first of the jungle chile peppers to reach the world market. In English, it is called Wild Peruvian Chili Pepper. The plant produces hundreds of very hot, .25 inch round “Tepin like” peppers. The charapita is part of Capsicum frutescens family and it from the hottest chili pepper species in the world.

Here in Lima, Aji Charapita is not available everywhere. I find fresh peppers at open markets like the BioFeria or jarred peppers in the supermarkets.


Gretchen Noelle

My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country. Here on Provecho Peru you will find Peruvian recipes in English, American favorites prepared overseas, news about Peruvian Cuisine and interesting tidbits about life in Peru.

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5 Responses

  1. irene says:

    muy rico, con tu pescado pango y tu hinguiri.

  1. April 13, 2012

    […] cocona, peeled and finely diced 10 aji charapita (more or less, depending on your taste), cut in half 3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed key lime juice […]

  2. April 13, 2012

    […] Aji Charapita The aji charapita is small, round, orange and comes from the Amazon region. This pepper is consumed primarily in the jungle of Peru and is said to be a aphrodisiac. Aji Charapita is also known as Charapilla. (Capsicum annuum) […]

  3. December 21, 2012

    […] pico de papagayo (instead of pico de gallo) which was a tomato pineapple combination, and an aji charapita […]

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