The Proven Platter – Nicaragua, July 2022

Indio Viejo, or old Indian, is a flavorful and hearty stew with a curious name. Folklore claims that the dish got its name from an indigenous chief who did not wish to share his dinner with two Europeans passing through his area. As the story goes, the chief was enjoying some of this stew and when the visitors asked what he was eating he said an old Indian to discourage from wanting him to share.

I got this recipe from my friend Briana Torres who translated her family recipe from Spanish to English.


Indio Viejo

Notes: I added the words and phrases in italics to clarify parts of the original recipe lost in the translation. I used a slow cooker to stew the beef for easier shredding. I tested this recipe with chuck roast, but any less expensive cut will shred well. Stay away from expensive cuts of beef, which do not shred well and will therefore change the texture.

For the tortilla dough, I soaked 12 oz of shredded corn tortillas in a food processor with enough water to cover the pieces, for 1 hour before blending with the other ingredients. The achiote and bitter orange marinade can be found online or homemade if you cannot find them in a market near you.


To cook the meat:

2 lbs. of beef
1/2 an onion (to cook the meat)
1 sweet pepper
1/2 a head of garlic


To prepare soup:

12 oz of tortilla dough in pieces
6 oz of dry cheese (queso)
1 spoon of achiote (achiote paste is a popular coloring and flavoring in Central American cuisines and is made with annatto seeds, cumin, pepper, coriander, oregano, cloves, and garlic.)
1 pinch of pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup of oil
1 onion in slices
1 sweet pepper in julienne strips
bitter orange (naranja agria marinade)


Cook the meat in enough water with all the ingredients (first list). Shred the meat finely, strain the soup (liquid) and save it. If using tortillas, leave them soaking in water for one hour. Blend the tortillas with garlic, pepper, and achiote. Add the eggs and mix it well with the soup (liquid- saved from cooking the meat), in a way that creates a thick mix.

In the oil, fry the onions and sweet pepper together with the meat. When they are well fried, add the mix of tortillas and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, moving it constantly. At the end add mint and the juice of the bitter orange.

Serve with white rice and platano maduro (fried ripened plantains).


Recipe and photo credit: Georgia Reader