This is my easy and proven recipe for Ecuadorian colada morada. In Ecuador, this spiced purple corn and berry drink is prepared for the Day of the Deceased celebrations. This traditional recipe is made with a mix of fruits, spices, herbs, and purple corn flour.
Colada morada can be translated as a spiced berry and purple corn drink. It is prepared for the Day of the Deceased celebrations in Ecuador. Ecuadorians celebrate el Dia de los Difuntos, or Day of the Deceased, on November 2nd. This celebration is similar to and different than the better-known Mexican Day of the Dead (November 1). It’s similar in that it is a day to honor and remember all the loved ones who have passed away. People go to the cemeteries to visit the tombs of their deceased family members. They take flowers and clean the gravesites.
As with most Latin holidays and events, any special day has a food aspect. In this case, one of those food components is this delicious thick purple drink called colada morada. This drink is made with fruits like pineapple, a mix of berries, spices, aromatic herbs, and purple/black corn flour. It is typically served with bread shaped in the form of dolls called guaguas de pan – literally bread babies. It is common to see stalls in most cities selling these bread figures and purple drinks in the center of cities and towns up to a few weeks before November 2nd.
The traditional preparation of colada morada uses local fruits, spices, and herbs. Some of which are difficult to find outside of Ecuador. As with many of my other recipes, I have adapted this recipe over the years based on the ingredients that can be found in the US or Europe. Just in case you are in Ecuador, some of the additional ingredients that have been left out include a delicious fruit called babaco, spices called ishpingo, and arrayan. Some variations also add passion fruit and other fruits, just as most other typical Ecuadorian dishes, the recipe will vary from one family to another – with each one claiming that theirs is the best version.
Colada morada is usually served warm, though it is also just as good served cold. Like any concoction – be it drink, soup, or stew – made with a variety of ingrediets and spices, it tastes even better the next day. Colada morada always tastes better if made with fresh fruit. However, frozen berries work perfectly fine.
My kids love this drink and would like to have it more often than a few times during October/November. As a result of this request, I also have an easy version of the colada morada recipe that uses easier-to-find ingredients and can prepared faster so it can be made more frequently.
Ecuadorian Colada Morada: a spiced berry and purple corn drink
- 1 cup purple or black corn flour can use corn starch –aka maicena – as a replacement
- 14 oz naranjilla or lulo pulp thawed if frozen – use passion fruit or pineapple juice if you can’t find naranjilla juice
- 2 cups blackberries frozen or fresh
- 2 cups blueberries frozen or fresh
- 2 cups strawberries sliced
- 1 pineapple peels and core + 2 cups finely diced
- 1 ishpingo Cinnamon flower – omit if you can’t find any
- 5-6 cinnamon sticks
- 4-5 whole cloves
- 4-5 all spice berries
- 1 star anise
- 12-14 oz panela or brown sugar adjust to your taste
- A few lemon verbena leaves fresh or dry
- A few lemongrass leaves fresh or dry
- 2 pieces orange peel
- Additional aromatic herbs: arrayan ataco (purple amaranth), orange leaves
- 12 cups water (8 cups for the pineapple skins + spices part, and the remaining 4 cups for the berry mix)
- Additional fruits that can be added: babaco, peaches, apples, pears, ciruelas
- Place the pineapple skins and core, cinnamon, spices and panela or brown sugar in a large pot with 8 cups of water. Boil for about 20-25 minutes.
- Add the lemon verbena, lemongrass, and orange peel.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and strain.
- In a separate pot, add 4 cups of water with the blueberries and blackberries, boil for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool down until safe to handle, blend and strain.
- Mix the cup of the purple corn flour with 1 cup of the spice pineapple liquid until well diluted.
- Add the strained berry mix, the naranjilla juice, the spiced pineapple liquid and the diluted purple flour mix to a large pot.
- Cook over medium heat, stir constantly to keep it from sticking, bring to a boil.
- Add the pineapple chunks and reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the strawberry slices (and any additional fruits). Serve warm or cold.