This tradition dates hundreds of years ago; and it is almost impossible to know its exact origin. But without a doubt it is a result of the syncretism of indigenous rituals and traditions brought by the Spanish with the Catholic religion.
Recipes for Colada Morada can vary from region to region and family to family. Almost all versions contain basic ingredients like:
- mortiño (i.e., “Blueberry of the Andes” or ) [link]
- mora (i.e., very similar to blackberry)
- piña (i.e., pineapple)
- naranjas (i.e., oranges)
- canela (i.e., cinnamon)
- clavo de olor (i.e., cloves)
- panela (i.e., unrefined whole cane sugar)
- maicena – corn flower base (i.e., cornstarch, black flour or purple corn flour)
- ishpingo (Ecuadorian spice)
- pimienta dulce (i.e., sweet peppercorns)
- bundle of aromatic herbs (huerba buena, arrayan, orange leaves, lemon verbena)
… some will include strawberries, blueberries, naranjilla juice (an Andean fruit), babaco (champagne fruit), allspice and even raisins.
Ishpingo (from the Quechua ‘ishpinku’) is the native Ecuadorian cinnamon tree Ocotea quixos (Lauraceae), found only in a small region of Amazonian Ecuador and Colombia. It is in the same family (Lauraceae) as the common Cinnamon and has a similar aroma. It has been used locally as a spice and flavoring agent since pre-European times.
Colada Morada has its roots in ‘El Dia de los Difuntos’ or ‘Day of the Ancestors’ (November 2), a time to celebrate and pay respects to one’s ancestors. In the small villages, families dress in their finest clothes and carry a meal to the cemetery. It is generally customary to leave one plate for the dead ancestor. This traditional meal includes guaguas de pan and the colada morada.
Guaguas de pan literally translated means ‘bread babies’. The word guagua, pronounced wa-wa, is Quechua for baby or young child.) These bread babies can be up to 12 inches long and are decorated with icing and may have jam or some other sweet filling inside.
In the larger towns and cities, families no longer eat with their ancestors. They spend the day visiting the cemetery and laying flowers on the graves. They may make guaguas de pan and colada morada, but only for eating with their family at home. Nevertheless, the spirit of the Día de los Difuntos carries on as one of the important traditions of Ecuador.