Cooking in the Great Outdoors of Laguna de Apoyo

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.

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

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.

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

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.

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

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.

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

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).

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

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.

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

Life Out of the Box Cooking in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

Total cost for meals:

Gallo Pinto = C$36/$1.51

Indian Curry = C$65/$2.73

The deliciousness in photos:


10 responses to “Cooking in the Great Outdoors of Laguna de Apoyo

    • Sorry for making you hungry Robert!! When we come visit you in LA, we’ll make sure to bring some on JB’s famous spicy indian curry 🙂 We’ll pair it with some nice cold Coronas too!

      • Thanks! I can do that, and was planning to cook some beans tomorrow so I’m good to go. Interesting, they seem to like salt in Panama too.

      • Awesome! I cannot wait. BTW, I know an excellent Indian restaurant in Newport Beach. I have some cool friends who would love to meet you guys.
        Happy Thanksgiving and I’m raising a glass of Shiraz to you two.
        Warmth and Peace my friends

  1. How do you make gallo pinto? What is your recipe? My Spanish teacher told me how to make Panamanian beans or lentils here – beans, onion, garlic, oregano, little red peppers (can’t remember their name in Spanish, but they grow on bush type plants), plum tomatoes, salt, some hot pepper if you want. I wonder if that is similar. How fun to cook outdoors! I loved reading your post. If I could email myself there I’d stop by for lunch but since I can’t, maybe I should try beans for breakfast and I’ll think of you!

    • Haha, wish we could send you some of our homemade gallo pinto and curry!! Well, for gallo pinto here it is:
      1lb of beans (black or red)
      1lb of rice

      Soak the uncooked beans in water for a few hours, draining the water and filling the pot back up every hour or so. Then boil them for about an hour (tip: if you soak them longer in water, they take less time to cook). Put a couple of whole garlic cloves in there. Add salt to it as they beans cook–Nicas here like LOTS of salt. But you can salt to your taste 🙂

      Cook the rice in a cooker or with water.

      Then once the rice and the beans are done then mix them together! In Nicaragua, they like the gallo pinto a little crispy, so if you want to try it, put the amount you want to serve into a pan with olive oil and heat up until some of the rice is a little brown.

      Let us know if you end up making gallo pinto and how you like it! Cheers 🙂
      -Quinn & Jon

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