Chicheme: Panamanian Maize drink


Today’s recipe is one of Panama’s favorite. Chicheme is a very refreshing “drink”, perfect for summertime, although you can eat it warm too for a comforting winter breakfast.

The origin of the name comes, probably, from the náhuatl language (chicha or fermented corn wine) or the guna (kuna) dialect (chichab or corn).

It is quite simple to make, so you will be able to enjoy it in no time


  • 250 g dry cracked corn
  • 1 can evaporated milk or 3 cups of milk.
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 6 cups of water


Start by soaking the corn in water overnight. The next day, drain and rinse well and put in pot with water, cinnamon and cloves. Cook until the kernels are soft. You may use a traditional cooking pot for this or a pressure cooker (like I did!). With the traditional pot it will take a few hours to cook and you’ll need to make sure to add more water if i gets too dry. With a pressure cooker you will need 20-25 minutes once the steam starts to flow.

Once the maize is fully cooked and soft, let it cool for a while, then remove cinnamon and cloves, add milk and sugar and allow to cool completely before put it in the fridge.

If you are using evaporated milk, you may need to add a bit of water too to achieve the right texture. Chicheme has to be creamy but not too much. Bare in mind that it will thicken once cold.

I hope you enjoy making and drinking this recipe!

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