The most commonly eaten foods in Nicaragua are rice and beans. A popular national dish is Gallo Pinto, which brings together rice, beans and onions. Gallo Pinto translates as "spotted rooster," although it does not contain any chicken. The basic recipe for Gallo Pinto is vegetarian, but it may be served with meat or eggs.

 Corn tortillas are also common. They are used in dishes such as nacatamales, which are tamales made of ground corn and wrapped in a leaf, or quesillos, a tortilla with soft cheese and onions inside. Other common foods are tomatoes and plantains. Food is expensive, and people do not eat meat very often. Fish is more commonly eaten in coastal areas.

Outside Managua, safe drinking water is not always available, so people sometimes buy bottled drinks. Refresco, a sweet fruit drink, is very popular and can be bought in a plastic bag from street vendors. Some of the fruits used in these drinks are mangoes, pomegranates, tamarinds, papayas, oranges, limes and guavas. Café con leche, or coffee with heated milk, is popular in the mornings. Nicaragua also produces a rum called Flor de Caña, which is recognized as one of the best in the world.

 Meals in Nicaraguan homes are often informal. Food preparation can be time-consuming, since Nicaraguans make their food from scratch, even grinding corn to make tortillas. Lunch is the main meal and may last more than an hour.

Two common fast foods that can be purchased in the streets are fritos and bahos. A frito is a meal served on a plantain leaf. It might include plantains, gallo pinto, fried cheese, barbequed meat and salad. Baho is a combination of a number of chopped ingredients such as cassava, ripe plantains, green (unripe) plantains, tomatoes, onions and meat.

 Nicaraguans who have their own gardens grow some of their food. They may also sell surplus produce from their gardens, so that they can buy other things. Many poor people do not get enough to eat, and malnutrition is common.

  Gallo Pinto

450 g red beans, pre-cooked
250 g white rice, pre-cooked
2 medium-sized onions


Fry the beans with some oil and drain them. Fry chopped onions and add to the beans. Add the pre-cooked rice and fry for a few minutes. This is the basic recipe. Optional additions include red or green peppers, cilantro, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Gallo Pinto may also be served with scrambled eggs, fried cheese, fried ripe plantains or meat.