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Huacatay, the Peruvian black mint

The aromatic herb attributed with medicinal properties and sometimes known as “Peruvian black mint”.

Today we are going to talk about Huacatay (Tagetes minuta), a fundamental ingredient in Peruvian cuisine, but which might be an enigma for those who were not born in Peru. In our culinary experience, we make good and extensive use of this herb, and you can find it in many of our recipes.

What is Huacatay?

It is a native Peruvian herb related to marigold and tarragon that has been used since Inca times, giving our Peruvian cuisine a unique and special flavor that you can taste in our Cooking Class.

It is said that indigenous peoples also gathered it for medicinal purposes, but nowadays, it is mainly used in Peruvian cuisine as a seasoning to give a rich flavor to sauces, stews, and roasts. It is also used to season poultry, meat, seafood, potatoes, and corn. Above all, it is used as part of creamy sauces.

Because this herb has such a special flavor in Peruvian cuisine, there really is no substitute, although a combination of mint and cilantro comes close. However, it would be better to look for it in Latin supermarkets. You might find it as a green paste with a pungent aroma, similar to that of mint and basil.

Discover it´s flavor in our Andean Cooking Class

Finally, if you want to discover the taste of this famous Andean herb, you can do so in our culinary experience, Andean Cooking Class, where we teach you how to prepare Pachamanca; a representative dish in Peruvian cuisine that includes this “Peruvian black mint” among its ingredients.

Interesting fact

The herb “Tagetes minuta”, known in Peru by it´s Quechua name, Huacatay, can also be found under other names such as epazote, sacred herb, black mint, and aymará wacataya. Other names include southern sone, marigold, khakibos, stinking roger, and wild marigold.

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