As I explained in the article, Quinn’s Secret Garden, JB and I have been getting really creative in the kitchen with our various veggies and herbs. So creative, in fact, that we’ve taken our cooking outside the kitchen into the great outdoor jungle. We were both really excited when our employees Cesar and Meylin, agreed to teach us how to set up the fire and cook gallo pinto Nica style. They explained to us that locals here in Nicaragua don’t like cooking gallo pinto over gas stoves because the beans can take up to three hours to cook–that’s a lot of gas! Natural gas is just as expensive in Nicaragua as it is in the States, so most locals makes a good old-fashioned fire outside and lets the beans cook over the burning sticks and bricks.
Gallo Pinto is one of our favorite things to eat, the least expensive thing to make and is the number one staple food in Nicaragua. Ask any local what their favorite food is and they’ll most likely tell you gallo pinto. It’s a simple dish of just beans and rice, but tasty with everything from eggs, meat, plantain chips to just some spicy Chilerno.
Cesar and JB started by taking some extra bricks around the property and placing them on top of each other to make a circular fire pit. Then, they took a bundle of sticks and placed them in the fire pit. To get the fire going, Cesar lit a long piece of plastic, which surprised JB a lot as we were both taught burning plastic was bad for us. Cesar explained that it was the most efficient way to ensure that the fire would light and that it’s what they did all of the time. It worked and it was time to put the beans on the fire. Before we put the beans on the fire, we had soaked them for an hour so that they would soften and take less time to cook. We put the top on and let them cook.
Things got smoky for a while as JB tended to the campfire. Cesar had left for the day, but before he left he told us to make sure we put plenty of salt in while it was cooking and to wait until the beans were “suave”. JB was so inspired by the fact that he could cook over the campfire, that he decided to cook his famous Indian curry. The spicy Indian curry that he has mastered here in Nicaragua takes quite a bit of time as well because it requires the spices and chicken to slow cook until tender. This usually takes over an hour, but it is my personal favorite dish in JB’s cooking repertoire. We got out another big pot, set up another little fire pit, lit it up, picked the veggies & herbs we needed from the garden, and started blending the ingredients together to get the curry going. This was the most fun I’d had cooking ever. We were really using the resources we had around us to get creative in cooking food.
Before we knew it, both the gallo pinto and the Indian curry were finished. The time put into cooking these dishes was well worth it as we had leftovers of this amazing grub for days. The Indian curry seemed to get better by the meal and gallo pinto stayed fresh for days as we used it with every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner).
We opened a couple of cold beers, set up a table in our favorite spot on the terrace in the garden, served up the hot food we’d been cooking for hours and added a few lettuce wraps on the side for a nice cold crunch. We were so excited about our fun cooking adventure all day and couldn’t wait to dig into what we had created. It was the perfect meal and the best Sunday brunch I’d ever had.
Total cost for meals:
Gallo Pinto = C$36/$1.51
Indian Curry = C$65/$2.73