Gallo pinto

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Gallo pinto or gallopinto[4] is a traditional dish from Central America. Consisting of rice and beans as a base, gallo pinto has a long history and is important to various Latin American cultures. The beans in gallo pinto are quickly cooked until the juice is almost consumed, then combined with prepared rice and other ingredients such as cooked bell peppers, chopped onions, and garlic.

Gallo Pinto
CRI 07 2018 0120.jpg
Gallo pinto, served at breakfast with fried eggs, plantain, bacon, avocado, a corn tortilla and sour cream
CourseBreakfast and Dinner
Place of originCosta Rica and Nicaragua [1][2][3]
Region or stateCentral America
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsRice, Beans
VariationsRegional variations
Food energy
(per serving)
200 kcal (837 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per serving)
Fat0.5 g
Carbohydrate40 g


Gallo pinto means "spotted rooster" in Spanish. The name is said to originate in the multi-colored or speckled appearance that results from cooking the rice with black or red beans. The term may also be shortened depending on the region.


It is uncertain and disputed which country is the precise origin of the dish.[5] Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua claim it as their own, and its origin is a controversial subject between the two countries.[1][2][3]

Gallo pinto is one of many various Latin American plates which involve the preparation of the most integral ingredients for many cultures: rice and beans. Gallo pinto is considered to be a product of mestizos; a combination of beans, cultivated by Indigenous people of pre-Columbian time, and rice, a grain introduced by the Spanish. The cooking and preparation is heavily influenced by African cooking.[6][7]

Rice, originally from Asia, was introduced by Arabs in Spain and became a main but versatile ingredients in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. With the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the Spanish introduced rice quickly to Mexico and South America. It is suggested that within the eighteenth century, the cultivation of rice became relevant to Central America. Asian rice was cultivated by Africans in the neolithic period, and with their arrival to the Americas as slaves by Europeans, they were already accustomed to eating rice. So this occurred as well with beans, which were cultivated centuries prior in the Americas. On their travels to America, slaves were given bowls and a wooden spoon from which they ate twice a day. They ate primarily beans and European or African rice, along with maize, yams, cassava and sponge cake.[8][9]

As Africans were forced to settle in the continent, various forms of rice and beans began to take form. Because the Americas had many types of beans cultivated by Indigenous people, they gave rise to a range of dishes when combined with rice.[9]


In the Americas, there are many dishes with a base of beans and rice, which vary in their cooking and additional ingredients. Variations exist regionally, as cultures shape the dishes to their own preferences. In countries near or in the Caribbean, these dishes are simply known as rice and beans, in which the dish is cooked in coconut milk. Variations of gallo pinto are the following:

  • Brasil: feijoada
  • Chile: arroz con porotos.
  • Colombia: calentao
  • Costa Rica: gallo pinto; there are three main variations:
    • Valle Central: gallo pinto is more moist, less greasy and is seasoned with chili, cilantro and onions. One variant includes Lizano sauce, an English sauce that was created and patented for the first time in Costa Rica by Prospero Lizano in 1920 with native ingredients and is a version of the Worcestershire sauce.
    • Guanacaste: with a more fatty and roasted gallo pinto; made with red beans
    • Caribbean Coast (Puerto Limón and Puerto Viejo): rice and beans in which rice and beans are cooked with coconut milk and habanero chili (locally known as Panamanian chile) is added.
  • Cuba: There are two main variations:
    • Moros y cristianos: also known as moros, it is made with black beans. If made with red beans, it would be considered congris.
    • Congris: made with red beans, its preparation is different from that of gallo pinto, since the beans are cooked first with onion, green chili, garlic, tomato, bay leaf, touch of cumin and oregano, salt, and dry wine; before they soften completely, the raw rice is added, letting them cook together, until they consume the broth and the rice is dry and loose. The beans are also prepared in their broth with the rice separate.
  • Dominican Republic: moro; made with pigeon beans, similar to Panama and Puerto Rico dishes
  • El Salvador: casamiento; despite not having a Caribbean coast, this dish is very typical in El Salvador.;
  • Guatemala: casado; regionally known as gallo pinto and rice and beans
    • On the Caribbean coast and parts of eastern or eastern Guatemala (Izabal): it is known as rice and beans and it includes coconut milk.
  • Honduras: casamiento
    • Caribbean coast: rice and beans
  • Jamaica: rice and peas.
  • Mexico: pispiote, rice and beans
  • Nicaragua: gallo pinto; made mainly with red beans. In addition, vegetable oil is used for cooking (includes onions). It should be added that in the Nicaraguan Caribbean Coast, as in other countries, it is called "rice and beans" (rice and beans) and is made with coconut milk. The Gallo Pinto can be eaten in Nicaragua at any time and is the main companion of the different dishes sold in a fritanga (food stall).
  • Panama: gallopinto
    • Caribbean coast (Colón, Bocas del Toro): known as rice and beans, and prepared with coconut milk, like in the Dominican Republic.
  • Peru: There are two main variations:
  • Puerto Rico: arroz junto and arroz con gandules; made with red beans or pigeon beans, and prepared with meat all in same pot.
  • Trinidad & Tobago: rice and peas.
  • Venezuela: These dishes may include fried plantains called "tajadas" as it is commonly found in many Venezuelan dishes:
    • Pabellón Criollo: Made with rice, beans or refried black beans and well seasoned shredded beef. It is then surrounded by slices of ripe fried plantain. The plantain give the name "Pabellon con barandas".
    • Arroz con Caraotas: When Pabellón Criollo omits the fried plantains, it has a different name. It is colloquially known as "poor man's lunch" since it is more common in low-income families. However, it can be made and enjoyed by whomever. Fried eggs can also be included.
    • Palo A Pique Llanero: Made with rice, brown beans and well seasoned shredded beef, chicken and pork. It is surrounded by slices of ripe plantain and pieces of potatoes. Some areas like Barinas, Apure or Bolivar add green plantains.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Royal Spanish Academy y Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (2014). «gallopinto». Diccionario de la lengua española (23.ª edición). Madrid: Spain. ISBN 978-84-670-4189-7. Consulted October 19, 2018.
  5. ^ Preston-Werner, Theresa (2020-07-10). "Gallo Pinto: Tradition, Memory, and Identity in Costa Rican Foodways". Journal of American Folklore. 122.
  6. ^ "Ambassade Costa Rica -- Gastronomía costarricense" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  7. ^ Ross, 2001, p. 64
  8. ^ Ross, 2001, p. 62
  9. ^ a b Ross, 2001, p. 63
  • Ross, Marjorie (2001). Entre el comal y la olla: fundamentos de gastronomía costarricense. EUNED. pp. 270 pages. ISBN 9968-31-128-6