Nicaraguan cuisine includes a mixture of indigenous Native American cuisine, Spanish cuisine, and Creole cuisine. Despite the blending and incorporation of pre-Columbian and Spanish-influenced cuisine, traditional cuisine differs on the Pacific coast from the Caribbean coast. While the Pacific coast’s main staple revolves around beef, poultry, local fruits, and corn, the Caribbean coast’s cuisine makes use of seafood and coconut.
As in many other Latin American countries, corn is a staple. It is used in many of the widely consumed dishes, such as nacatamal, and indio viejo. Corn is not only used in food; it is also an ingredient for drinks such as pinolillo and chicha as well as in sweets and desserts. Other staples are rice and beans. Rice is eaten when corn is not, and beans are consumed as a cheap protein by the majority of Nicaraguans. It is common for rice and beans to be eaten as a breakfast dish. There are many meals including these two staples; one popular dish, gallo pinto, is often served as lunch, sometimes with eggs. Nicaraguans do not limit their diet solely to corn, rice, and beans. Many Nicaraguans have small gardens of their own full of vegetables. From time to time, flowers are incorporated into their meals.
Commonly used ingredients (including fruits and vegetables) are peanuts, cabbage (shredded in vinegar, this is called “ensalada” and used as a side dish. Sometimes carrots and beets are added.) carrots, beets, butternut squash, plantains, bananas, fresh ginger, onion, potato, peppers, jocote, grosella, mimbro, mango, papaya, tamarind, pipian, apples, avocado, yuca, and quequisque. Herbs such as culantro, oregano, and achiote are also used in cooking.
Nicaraguan National Dishes
Gallo pinto or gallopinto is a traditional dish from Central America, made particularly in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Consisting of rice and beans as a base; Gallo pinto has a long history and is important to various Latin American cultures. The beans in gallo pinto are quickly cooked until the juice is almost consumed, then combined with readied rice, and other ingredients such as cooked bell peppers, chopped onions, and garlic.