This afternoon we had a cooking lesson at the Nicaragua Mia Language school in Granada. Before the lesson we tried to memorise as many cooking implements and ingredients as we could by playing ‘pairs’ with cards! This went fairly well until we realised we were using the same word for knife and spoon!
The recipe was a typical dish and was delicious and easy to make so I recommend anyone trying to replicate.
Platanos maduros y queso, gallo pinto y ensalate con fresco de pina y naranja
Ingredients: (amounts are approximate!) This served 5 easily.
- 5 - 6 Plantain (Platanos)
- 5 small Onion (Cebolla)
- 4 – 5 v large Tomatos (Tomate)
- 6 – 7 small or 1 – 2 large Green sweet Peppers (Chiltoma)
- 6 segments Garlic (Oja)
- 3 – 4 stalks Celery (Apio)
- 2 – 3 handfuls Coriander (Cilantro)
- Rice – already cooked (measure per number of people) (Arroz)
- Kidney beans – already soaked (2 -3 tins) (pinto frijoles)
- Slightly smoked cheese grated (Queso)
- 1 large Pinapple (Pina)
- 6 – 8 Oranges (Naranja)
- 2 Limes (Lima)
Cut (cuccha) the ends off the plantain and peel, then cut in half and put in a pan of water. Put the pan on a medium heat on the hob (cochina) and allow to come to the boil. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes. They will expand and look slightly soft. Take off the heat, drain and set to one side.
Whilst the plantain are simmering dice the onion, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, celery and coriander. Heat a frying pan with some oil and add half of the onion, peppers, garlic and coriander and all of the celery. Soften the veg for 5 – 10 mins and then add kidney beans and keep stirring for about 5 – 10 minutes. Now sprinkle in the rice and continually stir for about 10 – 15 minutes. Take off the heat and keep warm in a bowl ready to serve.
Place all the plantain onto a plate and take a spoon back and use it to mash the plantain as seen below. Make the mash as smooth as possible. Place to one side.
For the salad pour the remaining onion, peppers, garlic, and coriander into a bowl. Also add the tomatoes and stir well. Juice the limes and pour the juice into the salad along with a pinch of rock salt. Set to one side.
Take a piece of cling film about twice the length of a plate and place it centred onto a plate. Then spoon some of the mash onto the cling film and shape into a round tortilla. Smooth it out and add cheese on top. Then lift the cling film end nearest to you and fold it over the top so that the tortilla folds in half and looks like a Cornish pasty with the cheese inside. Smooth the edges to ensure the cheese is sealed.
Heat a deep frying pan with a fair amount of oil and then add your plantain parcel to the oil gently! Leave to gently fry (do not deep fry and cover in oil). Once it looks like the bottom side is browned turn it over. This will take about 10 minutes – the key is to have the heat low – medium and fry gently.
Whilst these cook you can juice the oranges and slice the pineapple. Add to a blender and blend until you get a smooth juice.
Your meal is now ready to pull together! Serve some of the gallo pinto (rice mix!) along with the salad and one of the ´plantanos maduros y queso´. Pour a refreshing glass of the juice and you have your Nicaraguan meal!
Plantain is very popular in Nicaragua – it has appeared in nearly every meal we have eaten so far in various forms. Rice and beans are also very important in the diet. What I’ve enjoyed so far about the food in Nicaragua is the simplicity, yet variety of ways of using relatively few ingredients. The use of lime in salads and meat gives a subtle kick and the sweet flavour of the plantain balances with the rice and beans to make a delicious meal!
Do try to make this yummy Nicaraguan dish and please let me know your thoughts below!