Nicaraguan Enchiladas

Recipe provided by Debora Espinoza, Bluefields, Nicaragua

Nicaraguan enchiladas


8 large corn tortillas (store-bought or homemade)

Vegetable oil for deep-frying


1 pound of ground beef

1 cup rice

1 large onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon ground annatto seed or achiote paste (optional)


3 eggs

1/2 cup flour

Cook the rice according to package instructions and set aside. Sauté the peppers, onions, ground annatto and ground beef together until the meat is cooked. Combine the meat mixture and fully-cooked rice, adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and flour together to form a batter. Set aside.

If you have a deep fryer, heat to about 375 degrees. Otherwise, a deep pot filled halfway with oil (enough to cover the enchiladas) will work fine.

Heat corn tortillas in a skillet for a minute or two, turning once. This will make the tortillas more pliable and easier to fill prior to frying. Once soft, remove the tortilla and place a spoonful of meat and rice mixture at the center of one half of the tortilla. Be careful not to overstuff. Gently fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling. Apply the egg and flour batter around the tortilla’s outer edges, as if it were glue. Gently pressing with your fingers, seal the enchilada shut. It’s helpful to fill all of your tortillas this way first and have them ready to fry one after another. When they are all assembled, you’re ready to begin frying. Lightly cover each enchilada in batter prior to dropping it into the hot oil.

Fry enchiladas one at a time. Enchiladas are done once they float in the oil and the shell is golden brown.

In Nicaragua, enchiladas are often served with slaw made of shredded cabbage, vinegar, and either hot sauce or finely diced habaneros or jalapeños.

Yields 8 enchiladas.

Debora stands with her daughter in front of their home.

Debora stands with her daughter in front of their home.

Debora is a survivor of domestic violence, who supports herself and her children by operating a small cooking business from home. Her specialties include Nicaraguan-style ground beef enchiladas, tamales, and frito, a typical local dish of fried chicken and spicy cabbage slaw served atop fried plantains.  Read her full story here.

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