Colada morada or spiced berry and purple corn drink is a traditional Ecuadorian drink made with fruits, spices, and purple corn flour. Colada morada 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 both similar and also 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, they take flowers and clean the gravesites.
As with most Latin holidays and events, there is always a food aspect to any special day, in this case one of those food components is a thick purple drink called colada morada. This drink is made with fruits, spices, and purple/black corn flour. It is typically served with sweet breads shaped in the form of dolls called guaguas de pan – literally bread babies. It is very common to see stalls selling these bread figures and purple drinks in the center of cities and towns up to a few weeks before November 2nd.
Colada morada or spiced purple corn fruit drink is a traditional Ecuadorian drink made with fruits, spices, and purple corn flour. Colada morada is prepared for the Day of the Deceased celebrations in Ecuador.
- 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
- 8 + 4 cups water
- Additional fruits that can be added: babaco, peaches, apples, pears
- 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.
The traditional preparation of colada morada uses local fruits, spices and herbs; some of which are very difficult to find outside of Ecuador. As many of my other recipes, I have adapted this recipe 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 a good served cold. Similar to any concoction – be it drink, soup, stew – that is made with a variety of fruits and spices, it tastes better when it’s a day old than when it’s freshly made. 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 that can be made more frequently.
Step by step preparation photos for Ecuadorian colada mora or spiced berry and purple corn drink