A variety of corn native to the Andes in South America, purple corn has been grown and enjoyed by the indigenous population for over 2,500 years. Since purple corn was (and still is) their ‘normal’ corn in that area the Incas used it as the basis for most of their food items- tortillas, etc. I find that in most ways- purple corn meal is used just like any other kind of cornmeal in baking and cooking. In addition, they used the corn kernels to make a unique drink called “chichi morada”. This drink was prepared by boiling purple corn with pineapple rind, cinnamon, and clove. This gave a strong purple liquid which was then mixed with sugar and lemons to make a lemonade-like bevarge.
Purple corn, with the advent of the modern genetically modified hybrid yellows, nearly disappeared as a variety of corn. It had a few advantages that allowed it to flourish in the Andes though- it could be cultivated up to 10,000 feet and so was raised my remote villages throughout the mountain range and it tasted better. More recently, our modern sciences have caught up with native wisdom- many cutting edge researchers have found that foods with the natural color purple were high in certain classes of compounds called antioxidants. Even today, more researchers are taking and interest in natural foods and their health benefits. Purple cornmeal has been found to prevent diabetes, weight gain and cancer (Journal of Nutrition- July 2003; Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology- 2004)