Gallo Pinto


Gallo pinto is the stable of the Nicaraguans. They eat Gallo pinto for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is very common for people to eat it several times a day. The dish is so popular that you can even buy it in fast food chains such as MacDonalds. Gallo pinto is popular because it is nutritious and cheap to make.

The dish can have small variations depending on what the cook was able to get their hands on that day. It is common that Gallo pinto is served with tortillas and, if the person can afford it, a small piece of chicken.

The Painted Rooster

The name gallo pinto is spanish and means “speckled or painted rooster. The dish gets is names from that fact that the white dish with brown spots looks a little like a rooster or hen. Many other Latin American countries have similar dishes in their cuisine. Examples of this includes Tacu tacu in Peru, Moros y Cristianos (“Moors and Christians”) in Spain and Casamiento (“Marriage”) in El Salvador.

The dish consists of rice and beans. It can contain a multitude of different vegetables and spices. Each family has their own preferred way to make the dish. Some prefer to add some chilli to have a hooter dish while other prefer the taste of cilantro. Some prefer to add platano and other vegetables to get a more filling dish.

Gallo pinto is the national dish of Nicaraguan and Costa Rica.


  • 1 lb (450 grams) fresh or re-hydrated red beans. (Nicaraguan Gallo pinto contains red beans, Costa Rican black beans)
  • 10 sprigs of cilantro. ( Do not use it if you do not like it. If you do not you can use another spice such as dill weed instead.)
  • 1 onion
  • ½ sweet pepper (use a hooter pepper if you like spicy food.)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups white rice
  • ½ salt
  • Oil for frying the rice and the Gallo pinto.

Making Gallo Pinto

  • Re-hydrate the beans by soaking them in water over night. You can skip this step if you are using fresh beans. The result is similar regardless of what type of bean you use. Dried red beans are usually easier to find.
  • Place the beans in a wide pot. Poor water into the pot. The water should cover the beans completely. I usually added about an inch of extra water. If you want crunchy beans you should add the salt now. If you want softer bean you should wait and add salt later.
  • Bring to pot to a boil. Once it boils yo should lower the temperature and let the beans simmer until they are finished.
  • While you are waiting for the beans to finish you should cut all the vegetables in small pieces.
  • Put a frying pan on the stow and add a little oil. Turn on the heat.
  • Add the rice to the frying pan. Saute it for a couple of minutes on high heat. You should be stirring and folding the rice continuously. The rice would not burn. If it does you need to use a lower heat. Frying the rice this way prevents it from going too soft.
  • Add the chop vegetables and continue to saute everything for 2 more minutes, keep stirring everything.
  • It is time to add the chicken broth. Once the chicken broth is in the pan you should bring everything to a boil.
  • Put the lid on the frying pan and let the rice simmer for 20-35 minutes. Check on it regularly to see when it is finished.
  • Add the beans and mix them into the rice by stirring.
  • Taste and add mote salt if needed.
  • Remove excess water and fry everything for a few minutes. Add a little oil while frying.

It takes a long time to make this dish so it can be a good idea to make a lot of it at the same time and then freeze it. Gallo pinto can be stored and reheated without problems.