Day 2: Nicaragua – One Country a Day

macuaDay 2: Nicaragua


Breakfast – gallo pinto        

Lunch – nacatamales                                                                                                                                

Dinner – indio viejo with rice and maduros                                                                                          

Dessert – rosquillas                                                                                                                                        

Misc – macua

I am a huge fan of any food from South and Central America. I am super familiar with the flavor profiles so I was really looking forward to cooking the meals for this day. In the end I was not disappointed! Today was a little more difficult than the previous, only because it was not a weekend. We are so used to only REALLY making one meal a day (dinner) and having oats or smoothies for breakfast and leftovers for lunch. So it was a ton of work to make 3 full meals on a grad student time table.

gallo pintoFor breakfast we had gallo pinto, the Nicaraguan version of rice and beans. I make a killer rice and beans so I was not too hopeful this recipe would be different but it really was! Salsa lizano is a type of sauce typically used in gallo pinto and I think that is really what made these stand out. It was a little odd for us to eat rice and beans for breakfast, but once we got past the ‘dinner at breakfast’ feel we really enjoyed the gallo pinto. In the research I did for Nicaragua I found that this is a dish eaten very often, for breakfast, lunch AND dinner. One of my friends who has been to Nicaragua confirmed that gallo pinto is indeed everywhere in Nicaragua.


For lunch I made the Nicaraguan version of tamales, nacatamales. I originally bought corn husks to make these in because we couldn’t find banana leaves at the grocery store we frequent. I really wanted to go traditional so we made a last minute trip to our local latin foods store to look for banana leaves…and we found them! They came in a little rolled up pack, so when I unravelled the packet and saw how big the banana leaves were I was surprised. One leaf is taller than I am! Okay okay I guess that not too hard but still!

banana leaf

The nacatamales contained a dough made from maseca (corn flour), sautéed pork with peppers and onions, white rice, sliced potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and a mint leaf. I wasn’t really expecting the mint to be in there, but it really added a nice touch. The nacatamales turned out great! We were planning on sharing the leftovers with friends but we loved them so much we decided to freeze them for use as a lunch or dinner in the future.

nacatamal steps

indio viejo

For dinner we made a soup thickened with maseca (do you notice a trend?), called indio viejo. The chicken soup had vegetables, achiote, bitter orange, seasonings etc. We served it with rice and loved the flavors when we dipped the rice into the indio viejo. I made macua for us to drink with dinner. Macua is a tasty adult beverage containing guava, lemon, simple syrup and rum. It was so yummy and tropical I can see us making these to drink by the pool during a barbecue or two this summer.

rosquillasFinally, for dessert I made rosquillas, a type of corn flour based short bread cookie. By the time I started making these cookies we realize…ok….Nicaraguans really use A LOT of maseca….like A LOT. Which I guess makes sense considering how abundant corn is in South America. We ate corn flour in 3 out of 4 dishes today! Eric had no idea I was baking these cookies and while they were in the oven he stopped me and very seriously (almost concerned) asked…”why do I smell tacos? do you not smell tacos?! We did not cook tacos….” Ha. The cookies did indeed smell a lot like hard shell tacos, but did not taste that way! They were actually a pretty good shortbread cookie. The amount of maseca and the smell of tacos led him to start joking that…if we really thought about the day….we basically had open faced tacos for lunch, taco soup for dinner, and taco cookies for dessert.

Nicaragua did not disappoint! Next up is Austria!

Favorite dish: Nacatamales

Lessons learned: ……maseca…..haha no but in all seriousness

Best moments: Spending time together laughing after enjoying our macua

What we will make again: Nacatamales and macua


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