A delicious Costa Rica recipe from Desafio


From our Kitchen to Yours: Fresh Flavors from the Desafio Kitchen
by Christine Krishnan, Desafío Adventure Company

I remember several years ago we launched a new tour kayaking and rafting down the picturesque Rio Arenal during the rainy season. The best thing was that the tour ended right at our house on the river.

When we first started running the tour, Suresh and I thought it would be fun to try out some of his mother's natural and yummy fusion Costa Rican-Indian recipes to serve to our clients.

Suresh and I were there everyday personally cutting up fresh veggies and spices and putting out an all-you-can eat spread for the handful of clients on our tours. We thought it would be a more-unique touch compared to the usual rice and beans while eating out at a restaurant after a tour.

We then found some nice, young ladies to help us out in the kitchen and honestly they have taken the cooking to a whole new level of local cuisine.

We are happy clients come away raving about the food on our tours. Not only do we do home-cooked meals for our canyoning tours, but if you do mountain biking and safari floats, you'll likely be treated to our fresh, flavorful buffet.

Wanna know what's cooking?

One of the many things that sets Desafio Adventure Company apart is our attention to detail for our home-cooked meals. We strive to only use the freshest ingredients right from our garden and our cooks have been trained to incorporate healthy cooking techniques for all of our delicious meals.

We go beyond the usual “Casado" or “Married" meal -- the traditional rice and beans with a choice of meat which Tico families typically serve for lunch and dinner.

You might have a chance to try the following yummy recipes after a fun day with us or try these recipes at home, too!:

Beef Tomato (or Chicken) Vegetable Stew

Even though I'm a vegetarian, I can appreciate good beef and chicken -- especially when the cows or chickens come from local farmers that haven't been beefed-up with nasty chemicals and hormones. I've heard people mention the beef and chicken in Costa Rica has a different flavor – for example, USDA-grade beef is said to taste sweeter because the cows eat hyper-sweet corn and grains while our cows are mostly grass-fed (and consquently refertilize the small lots of land where they munch.) Our well-loved, grass-fed cows give the meat a distinct, natural flavor.

What you'll need:
• • 1 kilo of cubes of beef or chicken

• • 5 cloves of garlic

• • 2 plump red peppers

• • 2 medium-sized white onions

• • 3 large juicy tomatoes

• • half-cup olive oil

• • A handful of fresh cilantro

• • 4 stalks of celery

• • 1 diced large chayote, 2 diced potatoes and 2 large diced carrots

• • 2 tbsp white vinegar

Here's how to make this Costa Rica recipe of Beef or Chicken and Vegetable Stew:

• • Chop up the red pepper, onion, 2 garlic cloves and onions and throw them in a large pot with the olive oil.

• • Cook thoroughly.

• • Remove from heat.

• • Add the beef or chicken.

• • Add the 3 diced tomatoes and 2 tbsp of vinegar

• • Cook until tomatoes are soft.

• • Add the cilantro, celery, chayote, potatoes and carrots.

• • Cook until vegetables are tender.

Feeds about 6 hungry adventurers!

Picadillo de Platano (Zesty Plantain Appetizer)

What you'll need:

• 2 medium-sized green plantains diced into cubes
• 3 cloves garlic minced
• 1 medium onion minced
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup red bell pepper diced
• 5 medium sized mushrooms, diced
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• 2 small tomatoes
• 1 cup water
• 3 tablespoons Costa Rica “Salsa Lizano" (if you can't find it back home, you can almost get a similar flavor with 3 tablespoons fresh tamarindo and dash of soy sauce)
• salt & pepper to taste

Here's how to make it:

Green plantain: Be sure that the green plantains have been refrigerated overnight to make them easier to peel. To peel them, cut it along one side lengthwise. Loosen the skin with the knife. Using your thumb, peel the skin off. Dice the plantains into cubes. Let them soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Add the onions, garlic pep- pers and cilantro in a large saute? pan at medium heat. Saute? for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the blended tomatoes, Salsa Lizano, plantains (drained) and salt/pepper. Stir this until the plantains are well-seasoned. Add the mushrooms and 1 cup of water. Cook covered over low or medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This healthy appetizer serves 4.

Fried Yuca: You've probably seen this curious potato-like tuber vegetable all around Costa Rica, especially near the Arenal Volcano. You can spot fields full of the tall, thin stalks everywhere – we dig it up and ship it off to Miami where they call it “cassava." In India, it's called tapioca and here, we call it yuca. Look out French fries – here comes Yuca Frita!

What you'll need:

• 4 medium-sized yuca
• one-fourth cup olive oil
• 4 clove of garlic finely chopped

• Salt

Here's how to make this delicious Costa Rica dish:

• To peel yuca: cut a long slot along the side and peeling using the side of the knife.

• • Cut in pieces 3 to 5 inches long.

• • Optional: allow to sit in water for about 1 hour to release some of the starch.

• • Boil with salt, until soft. Avoid over cooking.

• • Drain water.

• • Heat the oil and garlic in a skillet, add yuca.

• • Salt lightly.

Send us photos of your Costa Rican creations when you get home and try out these Costa Rica recipes on your own!

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